We got lucky


When the Jesus Montero for Cliff Lee trade fell through, the worst case scenario was that Lee would come back to haunt the Yankees in the playoffs.  While that certainly could happen now, I’m here to tell you that even if the Rangers beat the Yankees spearheaded by two complete game shutouts from Lee, we should be happy the trade didn’t go through.  As good as Lee is, the future of the Yankees is better off with both Montero and a great chance at getting Lee than being left without either of them in 2011.

Would Lee have been easier to sign this offseason had the trade gone through?  Maybe yes, maybe no, I really can’t say.  I would venture to guess that there is no major difference, even if Lee came to the Yankees and absolutely loved it, there’s no way he was taking a penny less to stay in the pinstripes.  What would have happened, however, if he had a brief time in the Bronx and it didn’t go well?  What if his wife was harassed at the park?  What if he bombed in the playoffs and got killed in the press and booed off the mound?  Considering just how awesome he is, these are pretty unlikely, but worth thinking about nonetheless. If Lee had a 4 month stint in New York that was a disaster (or even 2 bad starts that spun the whole experiment as a disaster), wouldn’t the chances of him being in a Yankee uniform in 2011 be even worse?

As it is, Lee can be sold on New York from afar.  He will likely be offered the most money.  He can talk to former teammate and friend CC Sabathia about how great things are here (and of course CC could feel differently if he bombed in the 2009 playoffs).  I think the odds are great that Lee signs with the Yankees, and I think the odds would have been great at resigning him had they traded for him, though I don’t necessarily think those odds would be increased.  Because of that, I’d much rather go into 2011 with a guarantee that Montero is in the organization and hope that they sign Lee than go into 2011 without Montero and still not be guaranteed at re-signing Lee.  Before anyone goes there, the Type A pick the Yankees would have gotten for Lee (had they traded for him and he walked) wouldn’t be close to a replacement for Montero.

Often when we think about the Lee trade that wasn’t, we forget that the Yankees were trading for Cliff Lee the pending free agent.  Just like there is no guarantee now they’ll sign him after the season, there’s no guarantee that had the trade been complete they would have resigned him.  Can you imagine if Jesus Montero, the Yankees best hitting prospect since Derek Jeter had been traded for a 4 month rental?  That would have been a disaster, even with the increased 2010 World Series odds.  Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good (see wonderboy Theo Epstein with Vazquez, Contreras and Pavano), and I think Cashman got lucky that the Mariners backed out of this trade.  Down the line, whether Lee ends up in pinstripes or not, not trading for Cliff Lee will be a blessing for the Yankees.

Categories : Musings
  • Esteban

    Someone could say “flags fly forever” but getting Lee doesn’t guarantee anything, as seemingly dominant a Sabathia-Lee-Pettitte-Hughes would appear to be.

  • http://twitter.com/#!/iiKeane JobaWockeeZ

    Great article. Completely agree. Look if the Yankees are interested in you and you want a big payday why wouldn’t you go to FA? Unless the Rangers win the whole thing which is doubtful Lee has the greatest chance of being a Yankee.

    Will the value that Jesus can give you be worth 4 months of Cliff Lee when you can just wait it out and get him after the season? I don’t think so.

  • Big Stein

    it makes me wonder what was Cash thinking.

    • Art Vandelay

      Going for the kill ? Or this is twice now they almost traded Jesus. Granted it’s for top of the line pitching but still, maybe the organization knows something.

    • steve (different one)

      Not really. He was thinking “this trade maximizes our chances for a world series trophy in 2010″

      Plenty of good arguments for why it was too much to pay for that, but it’s extremely easy and obvious to see what Cash was trying to do.

  • Tarik

    Right on. This almost exactly like the Hughes/Melky for Johan scenario. Why trade away your best prospect in Hughes for an ace when you can get an ace (CC) during the offseason for only cash.

    • vin

      The big difference is that the Yankee front office saw 2008 as a sort of rebuilding year anyway. Maybe with some luck they would make the playoffs, but they wouldn’t be a real contender.

      • mattb

        Agreed. Though I also suspect the Yanks project Lee moving forward better than they did Johan. I’ll go to my grave saying that whatever else Cash ever did or does, resiting the pressure to pull the trigger on the Johan deal was no doubt a once-a-decade type of decision that transformed the franchise, particularly vis-a-vis Boston. Cash got the better pitcher and the ability to add Tex at the direct expense of Boston pretty much instantly flipped the rivalry on its head.

        • Ted Nelson

          While I am very happy with the way things went, I would point out that Johan had the same FIP as CC this season and is a pretty darn good pitcher in his own right.

          • Esteban

            In the NL, and he had surgery again this year.

            • Ted Nelson

              While there’s a trend, there’s no rule that a pitcher will do better in the NL. Top guys like Cliff Lee and Dan Haren have done as well or better in the AL as NL when being traded NL-AL. Santana was a dominant pitcher in the AL, so it’s not like he hasn’t done it. The surgery is a question mark, but that can happen to any pitcher. Santana is only signed through his 34 year old season (team option for 35)… If I were a Mets’ fan I would not be upset with Santana. Under the circumstances, though, yeah I’m happy the Yankees didn’t do that trade.

              • mattb

                Oh I’m not trashing Johan at all, he’s been an ace for the Mets and I would say pre-shoulder he was likely about CC’s raw equal talent wise, when looked at in the vacuum. But I’m of the view that Cash and co really did affirmatively believe that CC was not only the better bet to maintain his stuff over the life of the contracts, the innings eating is huge, yeah they have the same FIP, but CC tosses an extra 30-40 innings. It’s escaping me whether FIP is standardized at all for league and park factors, if it’s not in terms of the latter, Johan’s FIP is going to benefit vis-a-vis Citi simply by virtue of pitching in that cavern. I’m a Johan fan, he’s nasty and he competes, but I think the Yanks saw some red flags that have been somewhat borne out, this now being the second straight offseason he’ll go under the knife. Which is not to say that CC’s arm won’t fall off tomorrow, but his track record suggests it won’t; just the insane durability alone is, for me, a unique quality CC brings to the table, only guys like Doc, Lee, at least a couple of the last years, now king Felix, are even in that ballpark.

              • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUvg7Empjfg Captain Jack

                Ehhh…I think if Cliff Lee spearheads through the Yankees leading Texas to their first WS title, signs with Texas where he’s the most loved man in the city especially since the Cowboys blow now, and Montero busts you’ll be singing a different tune. While that is definitely the worst case scenario, it’s a totally realistic scenario. I wouldn’t be counting my chickens before they hatch if I were you.

      • Tarik

        I don’t know. I think you would be hard pressed to find anybody in the Yankee front office who would say that 2008 was a “rebuilding” year. They suffered from injuries to CMW, Posada and A-Rod, and ineffectiveness from Hughes, Kennedy and Cano. They had to rely on Rasner and Ponson for too many starts so they lost a lot of games. Still, they were only 1 game back in the wildcard at the trade deadline and 4 games back in the division, so Johan could have made a very real impact. Sure, the 2010 Yankees are a much better team than the 2008 Yankees but I don’t think the 2008 team was so bad as to say they were “rebuilding.”

        • mattb

          Certainly wasn’t a “rebuilding year” in any traditional sense, though it was supposed to herald the ascent of each of the big three to the rotation. If CMW and JoPo stay healthy, arguably that was a playoff team, but it didn’t have the pitching to win playoff series. Hence, Santana, of course, but I think part of the consideration was that when you’re handing out record setting seven year contracts, projecting durability and continued effectiveness for much of the life of the contract are huge. I think even holding all else equal, Cash wanted CC, not Johan, and all else wasn’t equal. And if I had to pick a guy for today, let alone the future (and even forgetting about the shoulder surgery, I’d take Phil over Johan every day of the week. The Santana contract has every bit of potential to end up being a disaster for the Mets at this point.

          • Ted Nelson

            Again, I think you’re underselling Johan.

            • steve (different one)

              Agreed from a numbers standpoint, but think about it: if he was a yankee, he’d be on the DL. The yankees would be screwed considering he went down after the trade deadline. Same thing happened last year.

              Also, his shoulder injury casts SERIOUS doubts over the rest of his contract. I’d be surprised if he is an elite starter ever again. He has the same injury as posada, who can’t throw for shit anymore.

        • vin

          The term the Yankees used, even before the ’08 season, was that it was a “transitional” year.

          They had their fingers crossed that a lot of older players would produce (Giambi, Mussina, Pettitte, Posada, Mo). Some did, and some didn’t.

          They were also banking on their 3 young starters (including Joba) producing. The reliance on the young guys may not have precluded them from making the playoffs, but they certainly wouldn’t be the strongest contender. Especially considering Moose was running on fumes entering the season, and Wang wasn’t the swing and miss pitcher you need for postseason excellence.

          Even if their gambles all paid off, they wouldn’t have been as strong a team as the Sox, Rays or Angels. That’s the definition of a “transitional” year for the Yankees.

          • Ted Nelson

            I think that’s a fair point about their mindset, but I also think it’s a fair point that getting Santana could have made that transition a whole lot quicker. Santana, Moose, Pettitte, Wang would have looked like a nice playoff rotation with Joba and IPK competing for 5th starter. The offense was not exactly a problem. You’re no longer counting on 3 young pitchers going into the season at that point, just 1 of 2 to be your 5th starter. And the Yankees are still counting heavily on 3 of the 5 “old guys” you mention with Jeter now solidly in the same club. I think the transition was more about young players transitioning into the line-up, mentality, and future plans (i.e. losing a lot of free agents with some big names set to hit the market).

            • mattb

              This isn’t meant as sarcasm, I’m genuinely curious: suppose they do the Johan deal, what do you think last offseason would have looked like? One has to assume that you’re not signing all of CC, AJ and Tex. Intuitively, it would’ve made sense to go AJ and Tex, so you already had your stud ace, but I think the Yanks had such panic over the state of their pitching post ’08 that there’s a chance they still sign CC, and that means no Tex. And they simply wouldn’t be world champs had they not acquired Tex. A true top 15-20 player, in his prime, does everything well and with almost robotic consistency – he;s a player you want years to sign (also the caliber of player that you might move, say, a Montero for). And not only would Johan be on the DL now, he also would’ve missed the ’09 postseason completely. Additionally, it was never totally apparent what Minnty’s true asking price was, e.g., there was some reporting that they were looking Wang/Melky/Kennedy, which would seem like the steal of a lifetime now, but at the time would have essentially swapped a B ace for an A ace – an improvement no doubt, but then your ’08 rotation would’ve been Johan/Andy/Moose/?/>, i.e. Rasner and Ponson would still have been getting those starts given Hughes’ ineffectiveness and ultimate injury. And finally, Hughes has to be considered. I view the tradeoff as Johan + one of CC/Tex versus CC, Tex and Hughes and that’s an undeniable win for Cash. It’s not a slight at Johan, more just about making the best use of your resources given the circumstances.

  • Dream of Electric Sheep/ still haven’t register /too lazy

    Getting Lee would have made the Yanks a prohibitive favor in the playoffs over anyone else. In thinking along line of win now and WS M.O. that the organization set forth every year. I understand why Cash did it.

    I love home grown talents, so I wasn’t too upset that someone with the potentials of Montero did not get traded.

    I simply look at this as a trade that did fell through.

    There is no guaranteed in any future events. But I was pretty confident that had the trade had gone through it would not have been a rental. I am pretty sure that’s how Cash looked at it as well.

    • http://twitter.com/#!/iiKeane JobaWockeeZ

      It probably wouldn’t have been a rental. I agree. Problem is why pay twice for Lee?

      Even if Cash is doom and gloom about Montero, which I hope he isn’t, he should trade him for someone else. Wait for Lee and use Montero’s stature as a highly regarded prospect to get someone else that won’t be a FA after the season is over.

      If Montero was included for a deal with say Tommy Hanson or something then go for it.

      • Dream of Electric Sheep/ still haven’t register /too lazy

        Joba, I have no idea how the Yankee brass viewed Montero at that time. I think given the win WS every year M.O. Cash probably thought Lee would have offered greater chance of do so. That’s why he did it.

        Also, I wonder if the narrative would have be any dif. If Lee pitched LN and shut up out.

        I look at it as a trade that fell through. No regret either way in this case.

        • http://twitter.com/#!/iiKeane JobaWockeeZ

          I think given the win WS every year M.O. Cash probably thought Lee would have offered greater chance of do so. That’s why he did it.

          Again I agree. Lee gives you a greater chance of winning every year. So does keeping Jesus and signing Lee.

          • mrgfeeny

            yes, keeping both does..NEXT year…

            however, as easy it is to say “oh well just wait til next year”, you never know what next year will bring. The rays are still going to be a good team, and the red sox are still there.

            I know people are saying that you shouldn’t pay twice for cliff lee–but unless they win the world series this year without him–they wouldn’t. And although there was no guarantee they would win this whole thing with him–it certainly increases their odds.

            It reminds me of a question someone asked mike in the game chat: Would you rather win the world series this year or have hughes become an ace for the next 10 years (something like that). You pick the world series win. Would trading montero set the franchise back in the future? Probably. But whenever you have a chance to win a world series, you ALWAYS go for it. It’s ALWAYS worth it.

            • http://twitter.com/#!/iiKeane JobaWockeeZ

              The Yankees are never content with just one. If you want to win forever you can’t trade every prospect away.

            • Ted Nelson

              “But whenever you have a chance to win a world series, you ALWAYS go for it. It’s ALWAYS worth it.”

              I disagree. If you’re going to win once and hurt the franchise for the next 5-10 years as a result of the moves you made to do it I do not think it’s worth it. Maybe if you’re the Cubs… but the Yankees won last year, have a good chance this year, and any reasonable forecast would give them a good chance next year (especially if they sign Lee). In 5 years, when Cliff Lee is at some stage of going from veteran in his prime to veteran on the decline you might be really happy the Yankees kept Montero, the young stud entering his prime and helping the Yankees stay in contention for even more WS rings… not just the 2010 one, even if they don’t win the WS this season. I am mean heaven forbid you “only” make the ALCS or WS…

              • Ted Nelson

                Not to mention “the chance” part of it… Say you hurt yourself for the next 5-10 years AND Cliff Lee gets injured AND your team does not even make the playoffs this season… Was it worth it?

      • http://www.twitter.com/deanezag Zack

        Agreed, I’m hate paying the price of prospects, then giving the guy a market-deal too.

  • vin

    I was in favor of the trade at the time (although begrudgingly). But you make a good point. I’m sure plenty of irrational fans and media members would be hard on him if he had the same back trouble with the Yanks as he had in TX.

    All I can hope for is that the Yankees sweep TX, and Cliff comes out of the series healthy and signs with NY in the offseason. There’s too much potential for dominance with that signing. The Yanks don’t need to spend their money elsewhere (besides Jeter and Mo re-upping).

    I don’t expect a lot of moves this offseason. I can’t see the OFers going anywhere – they provide too much value for a very reasonable price. The IFers are obviously locked in. And Cashman has shown the desire to get a look at the young guys for the bench and ‘pen early in the season.

    I do, however, expect Lee to sign. If he doesn’t sign, then the Yanks have a big hole in their rotation that they probably won’t want to fill with another FA. Which means they would either use Joba or Nova as the 5th starter, or make a trade – Javy Vazquez style. I think the Yanks would rather use cash to acquire a starter than prospects (and cash too).

    • mattb

      Other than Lee, 3 FA starters intrigue me to varying degrees, none being a great solution.

      Kuroda, depending on the years he’s looking for. I’d gladly pay him Javy money if he’ll sign for two years. Concerns, of course, he’s 36, NL guy, not a horse. But he’s a terrific pitcher. Really good stuff, not fringe NL stuff, he can throw four pitches for strikes in any count, he doesn’t walk guys and he keeps the ball in the park, hence a sporty 3.46 FIP on his career. As a back-end stopgap option, one could do worse.

      De La Rosa – love love the stuff, but he’s not cheap already and probably too expensive to take a flier on. But man, the stuff is nasty.

      Webb – Most likely, sadly, dude’s shot, but I sure wouldn’t mind having a look.

      But yeah, otherwise, it’s the trade market – and there may be some interesting possibilities, especially given that if the Yanks aren’t getting Lee, there’s always the option of moving one of Gardner/Granderson as part of a package for a starter.

      I will say that if Lee doesn’t sign, this club better pray that its not the year Andy decides to go home to the family.

  • badadvice

    Lets go foward 12 years from now and Jesus Montero signs a 5 year 160 million dollar contract. He’s been a yankee starter for 10 years and put up A-rod numbers. Your a 25 year old guy reading about how the yankees almost trade him for a 4 month rental and your shocked that you’ve never heard this story.

    I’m 53 and never new the yankees almost traded Jeter away. It can happen and yes Jesus Montero could be nothing in 6 years.


  • Joe

    win win situation is we win the WS, get Lee in the offseason, and have the best offensive prospect in baseball

  • mattb

    Nice article. My view is that it’ll be years before one can really assess whether the Yanks were lucky – but that in and of itself supports the notion that it’s a complex scenario, with a ton of dimensions and one simply can’t rationally argue that it’s a no brainer in either direction. Personally, I was always more concerned with this team needing Lee for the next three years than for this post-season. Moving a piece like Montero just so that Lee can make a handful of post-season starts probably doesn’t have the risk-return profile you’d be looking for. Suppose for a moment that it was CC on the market, you moved Jesus in order to have CC be your post-season horse and then you get last night. I strongly suspect the Yanks win this series with Lee on the other side. But I think it’s undeniable that the club’s chances of winning a title would have be improved with Lee matching up against Doc or the Freak. But it’s an unknowable. If someone could somehow write it in stone, acquire Cliff Lee, take care of your business in the first two rounds and Lee will carry you to a ring, then probably I wish we’d made the deal. I just think particularly given how as a relatively young guy at 29, really falling in love with the game just as the dynasty was in its infancy, that ’01-’08 demonstrated just how damn hard it is to win rings and it’s a special, special thing to do, even more so, IMHO, if you repeat. I’m gonna love watching Montero rake and I hope I’m gonna also be loving having both him AND Lee for years to come, but that said, if this club’s pitching proves short in a world series, even though as noted, acquiring Lee wouldn’t have guaranteed anything, I’ll certainly always wonder about whether he would have been the difference. Here’s to the Yanks just taking care of business so I don’t have to wast time wondering.

  • Big Stein

    Slightly off topic:

    CJ Wilson will be a free agent after 2011. He’ll be 31 and with only a low, low 700 innings pitched (he was a reliever his first 4 seasons).

    This is definitely someone the Yanks should target. What makes him so attractive is he’s a lefty with such so much tread left on the tire.

    2012 rotation: CC, Lee, Hughes, CJ, AJ. (the killer Bs are still 2 to 3 years away).

    • vin

      I think next year will be a big year in decided Wilson’s future. As you mentioned, he had always been a reliever until this year. It’ll be interesting to see how/if the drastically increased workload affects him next year. He started in the minors, but that was a long time ago.

    • http://soxandpinstripes.net Angelo

      You’re getting way ahead of yourself. A lot can happen between right now and the 2012 season.

      • Ted Nelson

        Very true, completely agree.

        Also, Wilson is not going to be cheap if he repeats 2010 success. He’s going to get a long-term deal into his mid-30s. The Yankees have a plethora of potentially cheap, young options, so I’d like to see what they do in 2011 before we get ahead of ourselves and have 4 of 5 starters on HUGE deals into their mid-30s.

        Even if the Killer Bs, and Joba, Nova, Noesi, Warren, Stoneburner, etc., etc. are 2-3 years away, by the way, the Yankees will have next to zero rotation flexibility if they do continue their success and look like top end ML starters… (Brackman would be 27 by 2013 also…). You can’t have too much talent, but considering how much the CC, Lee, Hughes, Wilson, AJ rotation will cost you (probably like $90 mill per or something…) I’m not sure I would make that huge commitment to all those old guys.

    • mattb

      I want to him see him start another year and stay at such a high level, but if he does – and I have no real reason to doubt it, with his ability to throw so many pitches, I wonder how he cam3 to ever be a reliever in the first place – I’d def be into that depending on what the market’s looking like and the dollars he’s asking for.

    • http://kierstenschmidt.com Kiersten

      What makes him so attractive is he’s a lefty with such so much tread left on the tire his face.

  • vin

    The Yanks are in the business of winning the WS. Every championship they win just continues to reinforce the brand. This team with Cliff Lee would be an absolute steamroller. Winning the WS holds tremendous value for the franchise (more than we probably realize)… that’s why they’re willing to trade Montero, and not willing to let ARod walk in ’07.

    • http://twitter.com/#!/iiKeane JobaWockeeZ

      Right, they want to win this year and the year after and forever. It’s easier to do that with Cliff Lee and Jesus Montero than just Cliff Lee.

      • vin

        +28, +29, +30, ….

        • Reggie C.

          I’d like to think that Montero would play an integral role in achieving WS wins 30, 31, etc…

          I dont think we can reasonably expect Montero to come out the gate like Heyward did, but with that kind of hitting ability i expect Montero to contest Carlos Santana for best hitting catcher for at least a half decade.

          • larryf

            We’ll cut him some slack. After all, Willie Mays was 0 for 5 in his first game. We’ll give Jesus 2 or 3 games…

  • Reggie C.

    Cashman nearly accomplished trading a top 2 hitting prospect in all of baseball for a top 5 SP. Apparently, the Royals are willing to listen to trade offers to unload Greinke (see rotoworld). Greinke is still very much a top 10 pitcher, but with more serious risky intangibles than his peers. Here’s hoping Cash isnt tempted to dangle Montero for Greinke.

    Though i think the Royals would be wanting pitchers so … who knows. Ultimately, i cant think of a pitcher who might hit the trade market who’s worth giving up Montero.

    • Ted Nelson

      I wouldn’t be so low on Greinke. It’s absolutely a risk, but he has tremendous stuff and the Yankees would assumably do their HW. People didn’t think Moose would be a good fit in NY either. I’m not saying definitely trade Montero for him (I probably would rather not and just keep him), but if you are going to trade Montero for a pitcher he’s one of the better options.

      • mattb

        Completely agree, I’m not advocating for anything other than an open mind – do your research and go through all possible channels to get a sense of what the guy is all about. My understanding id that he has social anxiety disorder. That can be related to, but is by no means, equivalent to a more generalized panic disorder. I’m not shrink, though both my folks are, and the diagnosis is really what it sounds like, it pertains to panic/inability to function in certain types of social settings. It’s treated with both medication and with therapy. We’re talking about problems in intimate social settings. A dude with a severe generalized panic disorder simply isn’t able to function at a level needed to win a Cy with any club. You talk to him about finding a comfortable suburban home, he can even get fairly rural if he wants to go just slightly north of Westchester. No need for him ever to be in Manhattan if he doesn’t want to be. Dealing with the media circus is the trickiest part and the Yanks would need to establish workable support systems that Greinke and his doctors can embrace. Otherwise, though, social anxiety doesn’t mean performance anxiety, it’s not as off moving from the mound at Kaufmann to the mound at YS2 in and of itself ought to to exacerbate his condition. Dude pitches just fine when he goes on the road in big markets. But ultimately, this is one of those where the player truly has to embrace the idea for it to work. If that’s a possibility, I’d see no reason Greinke couldn’t do just fine here.

    • Mike in Sunrise

      Reggie, absolutely agree. No on a trade of Montero for Greinke. Has anyone here been watching Posada catch this year? He is truly a DH playing catcher. He wasn’t great in his hay day, but now he is 39 and should catch twice a week next year at most. Montero needs to catch 3 days a week and DH the balance. Cervelli can have the third day. This is a must!

  • http://twitter.com/#!/iiKeane JobaWockeeZ

    Hmm with Greinke rumored to be on the market I wonder if Cash tries to get him. That’s something I’d be willing to use Jesus for. Don’t know if he can actually pitch in NY due to having a sucky and stupid media but it may be worth a shot.

    Had a ‘down year’ but mostly attributed to the Royals -44 UZR. Yanks are like +12 IIRC.

    CC, Lee, Greinke, Hughes, AJ is ncie but probably a pipe dream.

    • http://www.twitter.com/deanezag Zack

      While their defense sucked, his K9 also dropped to 7.40 (after 9.5 and 8.14 previously). Kinda wanted him to semi-repeat last year before I label him as a Top 10 pitcher who I’d give up the farm for.

  • Mike HC

    hahaha, I really hope that does not go into the Yanks decision making process. What if Cliff Lee’s wife gets harassed in the park, then the move would be a disaster, hahaha

    • UWS

      It wouldn’t go into Yanks’ decision making, but it certainly could into Lee’s, which is what Steve H is saying in the article.

      • http://www.twitter.com/deanezag Zack

        Exactly. Wasn’t one of the main reasons Bonds never wanted to come to NY because how his father was treated?

        • Andy In Sunny Daytona

          Yeah, it was. And Griffey never wanted to come here because Billy Martin, in a probable hangover rage, yelled at him for playing cupball in the tunnel from the lockeroom. Good decisions, guys. I hope they enjoy looking at their World Series Rings fingers in their old age.

      • Mike HC

        If you think pitching for the Yanks down the stretch and in the playoffs would have a negative impact on his decision to come to NY, then I don’t want him anyway. I want guys that love and thrive on playing in the NY.

        And, the Yankees decision making process is an extension of Cliff Lee’s in this case, because Steve H was analyzing the move from the perspective of whether it was a good or bad for the Yanks that the trade did not go through. I highly doubt the Yanks contemplated the possibility of Cliff Lee’s wife getting harassed, thus, making Lee’s mind up to not play on the Yanks, thus the Yanks should not make the trade to avoid that scenario.

        I know the line was a bit tongue in cheek, worst case scenario, devils advocate, so no big deal. It just made me laugh, thats all.

  • mattb

    FWIW, by all accounts, Mrs. Lee was happily planning with Mrs. CC where the Lee’s would live in NY – she certainly seems amenable. It’ll be between the Yanks and TX – TX came through its Chapter 11 with a ton more cash flow than one would have thought and Ryan will go to the mats to keep him – and the NY bid will have to be even higher to offset Tx having no state income tax. That said, my guys says Lee in Pinstripes. He’s sneaky quiet, but I think he wants the stage.

    • http://kierstenschmidt.com Kiersten

      Mrs. CC


    • Andy In Sunny Daytona

      What pitcher WANTS to play in Texas?

      • Ted Nelson

        Possibly one from the area (Arkansas), sort of like Pettitte and Clemens before 2004.

        • Andy In Sunny Daytona

          They played in Houston…..sorry, I meant what pitcher wants to play for the Rangers. 105 degrees in the summer, balls flying around like a gay porn set, Nolan Ryan smirking at your “pitch count”. Screw that mess.

          • Ted Nelson

            Obviously I’m a Yankee fan, but the Texas starters seem pretty happy. When you’re looking at being really insanely rich or really, really insanely rich… living in an area you like has to figure into it. Hopefully Lee likes NYC as much as or more than Dallas… I don’t know much of anything about him personally, guess I’ve heard that he’s somewhat of a hick who likes to hunt and such though. Increased odds of winning the WS every single year hopefully puch NYC over the top.

            (It might not be 105, but August in the city isn’t all that pleasant either… I have no interest in living anywhere in Texas, but people from there seem to love it.)

            Was just throwing the needle buddies out there because there is a precedent for spurning the Yankees to pitch in Texas.

    • Ted Nelson

      I don’t know every team’s financial plans, but I would not be surprised if at least a 3rd team emerged. Then again, the Yankees offer might make even Texas a non-factor.

      • mattb

        Agree in theory but I can’t find the team in practice. At least not any time that he’d consider leaving Tx for. I suppose one always thinks Anaheim, but I think Crawford is there guy – though I suppose if I had to choose a third club, it’d be them. Boston has other needs to address and a ton of pitching locked up long term. The Mets could conceivably pay him, but if he’s coming to NY, he’s coming here. No one in the NL West or Central can afford him, except maybe the Cubbies, and again, he’s not leaving a winning environment for that., Phi’s ben there done that. I suppose Atlanta would have interest but they probably can’t pay him. He seems like a happy enough fellow, though he’s already sending the message loud and clear that he wants to be paid at least CC money. Not to mention he seemed to genuinely love being in Philly and wanted to stay there. And I agree with the other commentator, Arlington’s a tough sell even if it is regionally convenient. Hitter’s park, lots of ballgames in 100+ degree heat. Lee sort of arrived at his greatness later in his career and as such, my guy is that he wants to spend the prime years on the biggest stage. Can’t hurt that he and cc are so close either, it’s a compelling rationale, come along and let’s be the best 1-2 combo of lefty starters MLB’s seen since who knows when.

  • Sick Nwisher

    Great article Steve, I can not agree with you more.

  • kenthadley

    As good a hitting prospect we think Montero is, it is hard to ignore the fact that Cash has tried to trade him twice in the last year….admittedly for primo pitching, but it seems that he’s very open to moving Montero, and I have my doubts that we will see Jesus in his prime in NYY land….when Cash starts of offer prospect names it seems they eventually go….when he’s very adamant about including them (Hughes), they stay……just sayin’

    • http://www.twitter.com/deanezag Zack

      when Cash starts of offer prospect names it seems they eventually go


      Every single Yankee has been included in trade rumors. Was IPK & Jackson offered in more trades than Hughes, Joba or Montero?

    • Ted Nelson

      offered twice for top 3-5 pitchers in the world does not necessarily equal very open to moving Montero… just sayin’

      The FO’s view of Montero also has to change a little now that he’s torn up AAA at 20 for 1/2 a season, compared to when he was struggling mightily and offered for Lee.

      You may be right, though, and they may view Montero as a more valuable trade chip than player… If/when they sign Lee to fill out their rotation, though, that might change. Before starting pitching was a relative weakness for the Yankees in the short-term, but the line-up was/is stacked and raking. With Lee and Sabathia up front, the rotation would no longer be an immediate concern. I suppose they could still get one more young righty to move AJ to the 5th slot and cement Joba/Nova out of the rotation, but a young cost-controlled hitter who may still be a year away may be more valuable long-term with some good ML ready and high minors starting candidates.

    • mattb

      See, I look at it as Cash is completely closed-minded to trading Montero unless it’s for not just prime pitching, but for the two guys who may be the best starters in the league in Lee and Doc. No guarantees, but I don’t think many out there believe that Montero isn’t going to seriously rake for a lot of years. If his positional situation was more clarified, he’s probably be flat untouchable. Frankly, they actually really need the kid to be able to catch, both in that there’s going to be a need at that spot soon (and yeah there are some other interesting internal options, though Romine for me took a hit in terms of what he projects as), really as early as next year when I’d be surprised if Jorge gets 90 starts behind the plate. If he can just be good enough to be able to catch twice a week, it ought to be enough, for now he can be the full time DH the other days. To the extent Jeter signs a long desl, it’s not ever going to turn into a DH situation, his bat won’t carry it, he’ll be on short until he either simply is unable to do it anymore or he’s beaten out for the job. At that point, he’ll ride off into the sunset or he’ll be a bench player. Arod’s a different story, though, I’m of the belief he still has some years at third left, but I don’t see how they’ll be able to ultimately keep him out of the DH slot at some point.

      Not like Jesus has be Pudge in his prime back there. If he hits as advertised, he’d have to be laughably incompetent behind the dish to not provide good value.

  • http://unclemikesmusings.blogspot.com Uncle Mike

    The Yankees got lucky? Yeah, they got lucky they faced the Rangers bullpen! Darren Oliver? What’s the matter, Nolan, couldn’t activate yourself? No, the matter was Arthur Rhodes and Armando Benitez weren’t available! Ah, but Kerry Wood was… and he was available to the Rangers at this season’s trade deadline, and he’s from the Dallas suburbs! How did these bozos miss that?

    Face it, if Cliff Lee doesn’t go 9 — and even if he does, and it’s only tied after 9 — this could be a sweep. Cue the chant: “You can’t beat us!”

  • larryf

    Best hitting prospect since Jeter. Jesus has the ability to combine the best of ARod and Jeter. Hit for average/power/all fields.

    He is slower than both of them but whatever speed Jeter has he doesn’t get results on his grounders with a man on first.

    BTW, that gidp ball that Gardy beat out was a thing of beauty.

    • Ted Nelson

      I think Nick Johnson would have something to say about being the best hitting prospect since Jeter… It’s easier to forget him since it didn’t work out (not as sexy or optimistic to say “since Nick Johnson” and “since Derek Jeter”), but he was an absolute monster and BA’s #5 prospect pre-2000.


      • Slappy White

        Nick Johnson was NEVER the hitting prospect that Jesus is. Montero’s power potential is off the charts and he can hit for average. Cant we all just let this “Nick Johnson” thing go ?

        • Ted Nelson

          Just click on the link above and then click on this link: http://www.baseball-reference......nter001jes.

          Compare their stats. Nick Johnson put up a .550 SLG% in AA at 20, while Jesus has not matched that in AA or AAA. His OPS was over 1.000 two straight seasons, which Jesus has not done at any level.

          Forget about what Nick Johnson has done since then, and try to put yourself back in 1999. There is no guarantee that Jesus becomes a great ML hitter, no matter how likely it is. Nick Johnson was a great hitting prospect on line with Jeter and Jesus. How he did in the majors is irrelevant, because we have no idea how Jesus will do.

          • dan

            johnson broke down…….

  • Poopy Pants

    Can we file this under ‘No shit, Sherlock’?

  • Pat D

    So anyone see that Michael Kay said Cliff Lee cheats with resin on his cap?

  • dan

    this year we win without lee,next year we win with him, with montero in the lineup by september…………whats not to like?