Sunday, December 19, 2010

Greinke on the Move

Well that will put an end to any speculation before it begins. Just two days after we hear that Zack Greinke demanded a trade to get out of Kansas City he is on the move to the Milwaukee Brewers.

Good for Greinke to finally be out of that baseball hell-hole that is KC. I wish he had gone to a larger market, preferably New York, so he could silence his critics who say he can't hack it in a larger market. Nobody knows how Greinke would respond to that type of media environment, but if you take a quick read at Joe Posnanski's blog he gives a good idea that Greinke might respond more to big games and big pressure than many would think.

Either way its a shame the Yankees never really got in on it. Good luck to Greinke and here's hoping him and Yovani Gallardo lead the Brewers to some playoff runs.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Lee Shuns Yankees for Ex

I suppose its an old story. Guy falls in love with team, team dumps him for flashier player, guy can't get over team and comes crawling back.

At least that's how the story reads to me. The Phillies and their "genius" GM Ruben Amaro decided to trade Cliff Lee during the offseason after he pitched them to the NL pennant and won the only two games Philadelphia would win in the 2009 World Series.

The move was stupid and Amaro admitted as much when he made the deal to acquire Roy Oswalt from the Astros in July. Luckily for him Lee and his family held no ill will toward the Phillies for bouncing them to the Pacific Northwest. Lee inked a very lucrative deal with Philadelphia (Don't let anyone tell you he took less money, if you maxed out the value of both the Yanks and Phillies offers, the Yanks only come out ahead by about half a million) and will become part of the most touted rotation this side of the Braves circa 1996-2000.

One last thing about Philadelphia, don't let anyone tell you the Phillies are a World Series lock. Sure their rotation has now reached a historic level, their once vaunted hitting has regressed quite a bit. Raul Ibanez has begun showing his age dramatically, the loss of Jason Werth leaves them depending on rookie Dominic Brown and platoon player Ben Francisco to replace elite level production and defense and their middle infield is rapidly aging. Oh and Ryan Howard still strikes out a ton.

But Ii digress to the Yankees who will feel the hurt from this rejection in the short term. The Yankees will need help for the rotation next year and they will be in a world of trouble if they can't convince Andy Pettitte to come back for one final season. Even if you are being generous, there are only two solid pitchers for New York in CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes. A.J. Burnett is a huge question mark and beyond that is the great unknown.

Brian Cashman probably has some kind of back-up plan that he was hoping to avoid should Lee go elsewhere, but clearly it wont replace what Lee would have brought to New York next season.

The Yankees wont deal for Zack Greinke or Felix Hernandez or Josh Johnson. In the case of Greinke it would deplete the farm system too much right now for Cashman to justify the move. Hernandez and Johnson are just pipe dreams Yankee fans will spout over the next few months.

As a Yankee fan though I can take away some kind of a silver lining. The Yankees struck out on Cliff Lee twice. The first time they were able to hold on to Jesus Montero which will be a huge plus when it comes to rejuvenating the Yankee lineup with a youthful bat. This second strike out will save them millions of dollars. If the Yankees had signed Lee their payroll would have sky rocketed and if you believe the Yankees have some semblance of a budget, it would have severely impaired their ability to field a competent team. In 2014 the Yankees would have had close to $100 committed to just four players and that doesn't count arbitration eligible players either.

The long and short of it is the Yankees will suffer next season. They may still make the playoffs and compete, but Cashman will have to pay in prospects at some point this offseason or before July 31st to get that other front-line pitcher the Yankees desperately need. Three or four years from now though, the Yankees may be happy that this one got away... I doubt it though.

Lee Surprises Everyone

Everyone expected Cliff Lee to go to the Yankees. It probably wouldn't have been much of a shock if he went back to Texas, but Philly? Now the Phillies have what we all thought they should have had two years ago, Halladay and Cliff Lee at the front of the rotation.

Lee signed for five years $120 million spurning the Yanks and an additional two years and $34 million. But before we celebrate Lee as a martyr there is a clause in the contract that triggers an option year for $27.5 million if he pitches at least 400 innings aggregate over the final two years of the deal. That's hardly guaranteed money, but it's not impossible.

In the end he had to choose where he felt comfortable pitching. I have often wondered how much money does a person need to make where it just doesn't matter anymore? What is the real difference in someone's lifestyle between $120 million and $154 million? Either way you look at it, Cliff Lee is set for life and so are his kids. He just liked Philadelphia better.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Spending the Money

Theo Epstein has sent a clear message to the yankees and all of baseball this week. That message is we are not afraid to invest in the right players. The Red Sox added All-stars Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford this week, at the tune of almost $300 million combined. These two additions have made their line-up, though primarily left-handed, the best in baseball. I liked both moves.

Casey Kelly was a very good prospect, but to get a player like Gonzalez the Sox had to give up some of their own talent. People have been speculating about this deal for the past 3 years and some high-profile names have been linked with a trade with San Diego. I was happy the Sox were able to keep all of the young talent already in the Major Leagues. (Buchholz, Bard, Ellsbury, Kalish, etc.)

Coming into the off-season there were two big name corner outfielders available: Carl Crawford and Jason Werth. I always thought Crawford was a better fit for Boston. Crawford is athletic, can hit and steal bases. (Think of the Sox outfield in the final innings of games, they would have 3 centerfielders-Ellsbury, Crawford, Kalish.) Also, remember the Sox passed on re-signing Jason Bay last winter which saved them cash that was now available for Crawford.

I don't think the Sox are finished making additions. They still need help in the bullpen and I think Theo will be able to add someone like Scott Downs to add some depth behind Papelbon and Bard. Also, there are rumors the Sox might bring in Russell Martin as insurance for Salty. We will see how it plays out in the coming days. I will leave you with the pleasant sight of the 2011 Opening Day line-up of the Boston Redsox; it is a thing of beauty.

Ellsbury CF
Pedroia 2B
Crawford LF
Gonzalez 1B
Youkilis 3B
Ortiz DH
Drew RF
Scutaro SS
Saltalamacchia C

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Gonzalez Deal on Hold

Finally, I thought. The Red Sox had themselves a legitimate power bat and a quintessential first baseman in the likes of Adrian Gonzalez. But a contract extension was a sticking point and the two sides ran out of time. The deal could still get done however.