How far will the Yankees go for Cliff Lee?

What Went Right: CC Sabathia
Link Dump: Catcher Defense, Downs, Greinke

We’re still waiting for the Yankees to officially offer Cliff Lee a contract. That might not come for a few weeks now — as Joel Sherman notes in his latest column, the Yankees are privy to the planned bidding war for Lee’s services. This could lead the Yankees to take the opposite approach as they took with CC Sabathia two years ago. Whereas then they made a huge initial offer, here we could see them come in with their monster offer a bit later in the process. How large an offer will they make? Sherman gives us a hint.

Rangers officials, however, have told friends in the industry that they assume the Yankees will go to a place financially — specifically in years offered — that Texas probably cannot follow. The Rangers might be able to afford it, but unlike the uber-rich Yankees, they cannot absorb it on the payroll if Lee’s performance declines steeply because of age and/or injury.

(But…but…the income tax!)

That the Rangers can even afford Lee for one year is a fairly recent development. When they traded for him in July they needed Seattle to kick in $2.5 million of the $4.2 million remaining on Lee’s $9 million contract. The Rangers were working through bankruptcy proceedings at the time, so it was surprising that they were allowed to take on payroll, period. But MLB made an exception. Then, in September, the team signed a new TV deal that would pay out $3 billion over 20 years. That supposedly set up the Rangers to increase payroll and retain the players that helped them capture the AL West crown.

That might not actually be the case. As Jayson Stark notes in his latest Rumblings & Grumblings, the Rangers won’t see the full effects of that TV deal for a few years.

One baseball man with knowledge of the Rangers’ massive new TV deal says people are overestimating the impact that contract will have on their ability to bring back Cliff Lee.

For one thing, the new deal doesn’t kick in until 2015, when Lee would be in the fifth season of his next contract.

For another, Rumblings was told, the new Rangers ownership has already used a large chunk of the upcoming TV money, which it collected up front as a signing bonus, to help finance its purchase of the franchise.

And, finally, the Rangers are about to lose their status as a revenue-sharing taker, which was allowing them to collect $8 million to $15 million a year.

So the bottom line is that this TV deal is not going to be worth an extra $80 million a season, as some people have speculated, and will have only minimal impact initially. Which means the Rangers still have to decide if it’s a sane business decision to outbid the Yankees in years and dollars on a player the Yankees seem determined to sign. We wish them luck on that.

Stark’s and Sherman’s stories seem to jibe. The Rangers will certainly benefit from this new TV deal, but perhaps not to the degree that would allow them to spend $20 to $25 million annually on a pitcher — even if that pitcher is Cliff Lee.

We should still expect the Rangers to bid aggressively on Lee, even if they ultimately won’t go to the Yankees’ lengths. This will certainly have an effect on what the Yankees pay — remember that bidding war that Lee and his agent want to enact. The end result could be a five-year, $125 million contract (with a sixth year option, opines Sherman). That’s a ton of money, especially considering the other high-end contracts on the Yankees’ ledger, but it’s probably the figure necessary to land Lee. That, however, does not make it a good idea.

ESPN New York’s Mark Simon recently looked at the 52 pitchers who have signed a deal of four years or longer since 1991-1992 and found that only four produced an ERA+ of 120 or greater for the length of the contract. That’s a bit misleading, of course. There were some pretty horrible pitchers signed to deals of four years or greater. Cliff Lee is quite a bit better than guys such as Jeff Suppan, Chan Ho Park, and Barry Zito. This is the challenge we face when comparing free agents to their predecessors. How can you accurately forecast the outlook for an outlier?

Cliff Lee is clearly in it for the money, and the Yankees have the most of it. That allows them to be a bit reckless where other teams require restraint. The Rangers might want to keep Lee, but they might not be in the best position to do so. We saw what happened the last time the Rangers went out of their way to overpay a player. After their first ever World Series berth, would they be willing to take that same risk again 10 years later?

What Went Right: CC Sabathia
Link Dump: Catcher Defense, Downs, Greinke
  • Dick Whitman

    I’m as big a Lee fan as there is. I believe he should be the AL Cy Young this year. I think he’s the best pitcher in the American League.

    I also think 5 years/$125 million + option is too much. I would assume the option would be for more than $25 million, again too much. With hindsight and history, the only pitcher I’d pay $25 million annually is Roy Halladay and that’s if he was 4-6 years younger. Present day, absolutely not.

    The reason C.C.’s contract works is because of the opt-out. Here you’re committing 5 years no questions asked to a guy who hasn’t had 5 better than average seasons and is on the wrong side of 30.

    • Steve H

      CC’s opt out is his decision though. If he was hurt or sucked he wouldn’t opt out and you’d be stuck with the full 7 years and $161 million. Because CC is healthy and awesome he will opt out and likely get the equivalent of an 8 or 9 year deal for $180-$200 million. Either way CC is going to get all of or more than his 7/$161.

      • Dick Whitman

        I don’t care about how the deal turns out for C.C. It was strategically smart for the offseason 2009 Yankees. They didn’t know how their pitching situation would turn out in 2011. Hughes and Joba were huge question marks. They didn’t have A.J. signed yet. It was clear they needed a workhorse who could produce quality innings and a lot of them. C.C. fit that need. If he was better than expected, he would opt out, the Yankees could reassess their going forward rotation after the 2011 season and make an educated decision. If he was worse than expected, well that was a risk the Yankees were willing to take considering his track record (more accomplished over a longer period of time than Lee present day) and their needs at the time.

        Today, that situation is very different. The only way I seriously consider a 5/$125 is if I really don’t think C.C. is the answer going forward after 2011. I don’t believe that’s true.

        • Steve H

          I get that. CC was more of a need, Lee is more of a want. But the opt-out doesn’t help the Yankees in any way shape or form.

          • Dick Whitman

            I disagree. It allows the Yankees the flexibility to assess their rotation as a whole again after the 2011 season.

            They now have the flexibility to assess whether or not C.C. is their guy after 2011. And they understand where Joba and Hughes fit in their overall plan. In 2009, most of us thought they’d be integral parts of the rotation going forward. We now know that Joba is not that. We’re still at least a year from determining where ManBan, Brackman & Betances fit. After C.C. opts out, the Yankees can make those decisions with better information rather than not having the option.

            I don’t see how the opt out does not help the Yankees. If C.C. commands more money, than Cashman & Co. need to make the decision if he’s worth that to them on the wrong side of 30, leaving his prime years. And if he does command more money, who is going to give it to him? Few teams will be able to afford that contract.

            • Ted Nelson

              He is not a free agent, he has the option of becoming a free agent should he so chooses. The Yankees cannot take it as a given that CC is opting out.

              • Dick Whitman

                History says it is likely C.C. opts out, especially with the way he has pitched over the past 2 years.

                • Ted Nelson

                  The point everyone is making and you are ignoring, though, is that the Yankees did not know going into that contract that CC would opt out and he still might not opt out. The Yankees were willingly taking the risk for the entire contract length.

                  If you’re Brian Cashman you cannot play monday morning QB and jump in your hot-tub time machine to give Halladay and CC money after they’ve been successful… you have to make your decisions and take your risks in real-time.

                  • Dick Whitman

                    Please, name all players who have had a $10 AAV on their contract that did not opt out if they had the ability to.

                    I’ll wait.

                    • Ted Nelson

                      You are ignoring the point people are making. You are using hindsight. I have no idea who has or has not opted out. The fact is that CC might have pulled a Carl Pavano type Yankee career and the Yankees would have been on the hook for the entire contract. No one said he isn’t opting out. The only thing people said is that going into the contract, the Yankees were willingly taking the risk of the entire contract.

          • Jimmy McNulty

            I think Lee is more of a need, if they want to win a World Series this year or next I feel as if Cliff Lee (or a pitcher of his caliber) is a need. Remember, this is the Yankees not any of the other loser teams in baseball, the World Series is the expectation here, anything short of that is considered a failure. Before any of you assholes think that’s a stupid or unfair thing to say, how many times in the past sixteen years has there been a year where the Yankees weren’t division favorites, and possible WS contenders (some years in the post Rocket-Era the pitching has prevented the Yankees from contending for a rock).

            CC is a great pitcher, but he can’t do it all by himself, Hughes has flyball issues, Andy has injury and age issues, and AJ has injury and terribleness issues. They need someone else that they can count on in the playoffs. We saw last year that the Yankees had no better than the second best playoff rotation and that really bit them in the ass and left them in several precarious positions. You can’t always expect the team to come back from three+ down in three innings.

            • Ted Nelson

              I’m pretty well in favor of signing Lee, but the Yankees need for pitching doesn’t mean you can call anyone who thinks it’s too risky/short-sighted to pay Cliff Lee $25 mill when he’s 36, 377 years old an “asshole.”

              • Jimmy McNulty

                The “assholes” are those who think the expectations the Yankees place upon themselves, especially now, is WS or bust every year. I mean, it’s an unrealistic expectation to an extent, but there’s been 107 World Serieses since the Yankees became a franchise, and since then they have won 27 of them and appeared in 40 of them. That, and spending 200+ million dollars a year, creates high expectations.

                I agree it’s a risky deal, but that’s the way free agency goes. Bear in mind, Cliff Lee isn’t your typical 32 year old starter. He has fewer innings on his arm than CC Sabathia had when he was a free agent, he has the best fastball command of any LHP I’ve ever seen, and he just hit his stride at age 29. There’s other pitchers who have had similar career paths and been pretty successful.

                • Ted Nelson

                  I’m on board with signing him, just saying that it is a big risk and worth debating a little.

      • Poopy Pants

        “CC is healthy’

        He just had knee surgery and ate shit in the World Series allegedly because of his knee.

    • Clay Bellinger

      The only guy you’d pay $25 mil annually is Halladay? How about if Felix Hernandez was available?

      How is the opt out the only reason the CC contract works? It’s a players option…its good for CC to have, not the Yankees.

      • Dick Whitman

        I personally wouldn’t give that to Felix. I think he’s incredible, but I’m just very weary of the workload on the arm of a 24 year old heading into his age 27-30 seasons. It’s a little too high risk for me.

        I also stated I would pay Halladay that today, with the benefit of hindsight and his track record. I doubt I would have said that 5 years ago.

        • Clay Bellinger

          I understand that there are always going to be injury concerns with a pitcher, but I think that the Yankees would be glad to offer King Felix a 25 mil per year deal at 8 or 9 years in a heartbeat if they could.

          Since this is pretty off-topic, I’ll just say that yes, if it came down to it, I’d offer Lee 5yrs/25 mil per.

          • Jimmy McNulty

            I mean really do you think the Yankees are going to let ten million dollars over five years get in their way? If they win just one Word Series during that five year contract do you honestly think they’ll give a shit about that extra two million a year?

            • Clay Bellinger

              Nope!…and neither would I.

              • Jimmy McNulty

                Yeah, I mean it’s not like it’s a 5/150 deal or anything like that, I do believe the Yankees have a budget, but I believe that budget is flexible for elite players. An extra two or three million a year isn’t anything to lose Cliff Lee over.

        • Ted Nelson

          You are very risk averse, Dick… If you want to get elite players and consistently contend for a championship, you are going to have to take some financial risks at some point.

          Also, who cares what you would now pay Halladay for his previous performance 5 years after the fact? The Yankees are not in that position. If you’re not willing to pay anyone top dollar at the time no matter their track record, you’re going to pay medium dollar for mediocre players and probably have a mediocre team.

          • Dick Whitman

            That last sentence made my head explode.

            • Ted Nelson

              I don’t mean to jump to conclusions, Dick, but if you’re not willing to pay even the TOP, TOP, TOP pitchers in the game their market values, you’re going to have a hard time consistently filling out your rotation. You can say “I’d have a really strong farm, etc…” But that’s just too much speculation. Free agent pitchers are just expensive… I don’t think I have to bother listing examples of mediocre pitchers who still got huge deals. Assuming your farm system will always produce quality pitchers and rummaging through the bargain bin is ***more risky*** IMO than paying great performers what they’re worth when you’re sitting on a pile of money like the Yankees are.

              • Dick Whitman

                Market value?

                You’re talking about giving Lee the highest AAV (not counting Clemens pro-rate) of any pitcher ever. There’s no way to assess if that’s the actual market value.

                There’s no market for the Lee if it’s just the Yankees willing to go north of $23 AAV.

                • Ted Nelson

                  I’m not talking about giving Lee anything. I’m talking about paying the least amount it takes to sign him, which is his market value.

                  And $23 mill v. $25 is $2 mill… That’s about 1% of the Yankees ML payroll… At some point you’re splitting hairs over relative crumbs. If you don’t sign Lee, also, you’re looking at probably getting a worse value in free agency or trading serious prospects to fill out the rotation. You have to also consider the opportunity cost.

                  “There’s no way to assess if that’s the actual market value.”

                  Yes. If someone else is willing to pay just less than that, the market has determined it’s what he’s worth.

  • Gollumbar

    CC was younger and has an opt out. Lee and wife appear to lean toward Texas b/c of its proximity to Arkansas. Lee knows the money is in NY but is that all he wants? I have a feeling he stays in TX

    • Clay Bellinger

      When have Lee and his wife leaned toward Texas because it’s closer to Texas?

      One AL exec’s thoughts: “Lee is all about the money. His agent is all about the money. And the Yanks have the most money.”

      • Clay Bellinger

        *…because it close to Arkansas

        bad typo haha

      • OldYanksFan

        Yup… these guys are all nice whores. They always go for the money (and ego).

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          Vera Walker: Mr. Calhoun, I’m an honest ho. And all my hoes is honest.

        • Clay Bellinger

          Yup, and honestly they probrably should. I’m sure many factors are weighed into these decisions, but pitching at Lee’s level is a unique talent that only lasts so long. He might as well make as much money as possible while he can cause it won’t last forever.

    • Thomas

      Lee knows the money is in NY but is that all he wants?

      Based on what many analysts thought/think, yes right now all he wants is the most money.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        It’s not about the money.

        • Oliver Queen

          If I were a professional baseball player, I’d get all the money I could. Then when I’m done playing, there would be plenty of time to live close to Arkansas or wherever I want to.

          Maximizing your income isn’t something to be ashamed of.

          • Ted Nelson

            No matter how much or how little money I had, I would do everything in my power to never live close to Arkansas… but that’s just me.

        • Jason @ IIATMS

          It’s always about the money.

          (unless it’s not)

          We’ll see with what Lee is offered!

    • B-Rando

      I’ve seen reports which state that being so close to Arkansas is actually something Lee would not prefer…

      • Ted Nelson

        Definitely something I would not prefer… Let’s see… New York City as a multi-millionaire, with multiple country houses is Arkansas or where ever I damn well please? Living near Arkansas? Not a terribly hard decision IMO.

    • Andrew

      If Lee wasn’t all about the money and actually valued settling down near his home state, wouldn’t he have opened the possibility of signing an extension with the Rangers and forgoing free agency altogether once he was traded there? He’s been quoted a few times over the last two seasons that he wanted to test free agency. And that is usually code for “I want to have a crazy big pay day thanks to the open market competition for my services”.

      • MikeD

        Agreed, although even if his ultimate desire is to stay in Texas, it would be to his advantage to become a free agent to push the Rangers to give him more money.

        It’s been speculated that perhaps he’s using the Yankees to get more from the Rangers. Not sure why people also don’t speculate that he’s using the Rangers to get more money from the Yankees.

        I think he wants the money. He wants a chance to win consistently. He’ll be a Yankee.

    • Steve H

      Remember when CC wanted to play close to his home in California?

      • Jimmy McNulty

        I’m also positive that CC’s house is nicer than Cliff Lee’s too.

      • Ted Nelson

        And California (the Bay Area specifically) is actually a desirable place to live. I don’t mean to be ignorant or mean, but I have never driven through a more depressing place than Arkansas.

        • Jimmy McNulty


          • Ted Nelson

            I found Oklahoma more tolerable… At least some decent landscape and sunsets. Arkansas = pig farms and Jesus signs (no offense to Christians, I just found it a little extreme that every billboard had a religious message… both a comment on possible religious extremism and the lack of a local economy to occupy that advertising space with anything else).

            • Ted Nelson

              That’s just my opinion, though. I’m sure there are plenty of happy people in Arkansas.

    • Kiersten

      I mean, it’s not like he’s going to take the most money and go play for the Pirates. Getting the most money and playing for a team that has a chance to win the World Series every year is a pretty sweet deal, I couldn’t imagine anyone turning it down.

      It’s like Swish said, no matter what they say, every player wants to be a Yankee.

      • andypettitteisastartingpitcher

        some do not. Ichiro is one.

  • Another Bronx Dynasty

    Create a bidding war & Texas will wind up where they found themselves on the A-Rod deal.
    In the age of fiscal responsibility this seems very irresponsible especially for a franchise that was on the brink of Bankruptcy.

    Nolan Ryan needs to keep his ego in check.

  • Yank the Frank

    I just hope the Yankees don’t end up in a bidding war against themselves ala A-Rod.

  • OldYanksFan

    Many, many things rolling around in my head….
    OK, #1. How much can the Rangers afford? The have a bunch or Arb guys in for decent raises, not the least of which is Josh Hamiltion. At $3.25m last year, you have to thibk he will be at least costing them $10m MORE in a few years. And will they sign Lee if it means they can’t keep Hamilton?

    The Rangers payroll was $65m. If they go up to $80m, Lee would represent more then 25% of payroll. I don’t believe Texas can afford that, or feels that it would be good judgement. When ARod was there, the payroll was $100m and ARod was 25% of it. And a 30 year old ARod is worth more then a 32 yr old Lee. And how did that turn out?

    So…. here’s my main concern.
    I don’t want the Yankees bidding against themselves.
    They is no reason to ‘overwhelm’ Lee until we see what the Rangers offer. If the Rangers go 5/$100m (doubtful), then 5/$115 from the Yankees might look pretty good. Why even talt about 6/$140m?

    And 2010 WS or not, the Yankees still have a much better chance of reaching the PS in some of/each of the next 5 years. Shouldn’t this be important to Lee?

    If I’m Cashman I start at 4/$90m or 5/$105m and see if Texas EVEN comes back with an offer.

    • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      “They is no reason to ‘overwhelm’ Lee until we see what the Rangers offer.”

      Just a minor point but I think one that some people overlook too often: We, and the Yankees, might not (and even probably will not) ever know what the Rangers have offered. It’s not like the Rangers are going to cc the Yanks on an offer they deliver to Lee.

  • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

    ESPN New York’s Mark Simon recently looked at the 52 pitchers who have signed a deal of four years or longer since 1991-1992 and found that only four produced an ERA+ of 120 or greater for the length of the contract. That’s a bit misleading, of course. There were some pretty horrible pitchers signed to deals of four years or greater. Cliff Lee is quite a bit better than guys such as Jeff Suppan, Chan Ho Park, and Barry Zito.

    All of that.

    I’m so disappointed that the linked ESPN article didn’t list the full 52 pitchers. There’s a shitload of Russ Ortizes and Jaime Navarros and Horacio Ramirezes and Denny Neagles in that grouping of 52 where the sin wasn’t giving the player a hefty 4+ year deal and being disappointed to find out that they couldn’t give you a cumulative 120 ERA+, the sin was ever thinking that that particular scrub was even capable of a SINGLE season of a 120 ERA+ and thus giving him anything more than a one year, incentive laden contract in the first place. I’d love to see that list of awful initial contract decisions layed out in full glory.

    The lesson of that list isn’t “Don’t give out four year contracts”, it’s “Don’t give multiyear contracts to non-elite pitchers at all.”

    • Clay Bellinger

      I read that too and was thinking the same thing. That list would be fun to look at.

      As you said though, there’s a difference in offering a “good” pitcher a 4+ year deal than there is in offering a top 5 pitcher a big deal.

    • vin

      “I’m so disappointed that the linked ESPN article didn’t list the full 52 pitchers. ”

      They don’t want their readers reaching the same conclusion that you did. It’s not so much the length of the contract, as it is the quality of the pitcher in the first place.

      Also, part of it has to do with the whole Pre-Arb/Arb/FA timetable that players are subjected to. Most high-upside college pitchers will reach their primes sometime between their 4th-8th seasons. If they don’t become FA’s until their 7th season, then their best seasons will most likely be behind them during the latter half of their new contracts.

  • Jake H

    I think a 4 year contract with 2 club options that vest if he pitches 200 innings each season and the other club option vests if he pitches 200 inning in the option year.

    • Clay Bellinger

      That would be awesome, but I don’t think that Lee and his agent would go for it. They’ll want the guaranteed money.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      … with 2 club options that vest if he pitches 200 innings each season and the other club option vests if he pitches 200 inning in the option year.

      That sounds like a potential Magglio Ordoñez 2009/2010 (or Jason Bay 2014, if you prefer) type albatross. No thanks.

      • Jake H

        While it could be the same situation I don’t think that Girardi would override what his GM is saying and that’s what it appears that Jimmy L did for Detroit.

      • Matt Imbrogno

        What’s the max in years you’d like to see? Five?

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          Yeah, five. I could live with a sixth option year, but only if it’s a team option, not a vesting one. Make the buyout higher to appease Lee, but keep it a team option.

          • Matt Imbrogno

            I like it.

          • Jake H

            I like that. How about a vesting option then a club option?

            • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

              The Yankees don’t really do vesting options. When was the last time we offered a vesting option? I’m drawing a blank.

              • JGS

                Mo’s 05-06 deal had a vesting option for 07.

                • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                  Thanks. The exception that proves the rule?

              • Jake H

                That’s a good point but the Yankees don’t give out 5 year contracts to pitchers often lately.

                • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                  2/5 of their starting rotation, prior to any potential Cliff Lee acquisition which would sure push that number to 3/5, have 5-year contracts.

          • Clay Bellinger

            I’d rather see the deal max at 5 too, but if they were to discuss the contract that Jake proposed I’d like it. Maybe he ends up with an extra year, but it’s not like those last 2 options could vest if he were to go Pavano on us and disappear. Probrably not worth discussing though, I’m sure Lee will get at least 5 guaranteed years.

          • Jimmy McNulty

            I can live with a vesting option if he makes 150 starts in a five year contract, or something close to that.

  • OldYanksFan

    We should also nix on the CC comparions… except maybe using CC’s salary a at top, batshit crazy level for Lee.

    The Winter of 2009 Yankees had just totally missed the PS, had virtually no pitching, didn’t have Teix, didn’t have AJ, and hadn’t won a WS in 9 years.

    The Winter of 2011 Yankees just made the ALCS, doing this while their 4 biggest bats all had shitty years, and 2 of their pitchers had career shitty years, and had won a WS just a year ago.

    You simply can’t compare these 2 situations.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Counterargument: We might need Lee now just as much as we needed CC then, because the AJ contract might have gone belly up already (and we’ve lost some starters from our inventory, like Wang and Joba) and those 4 biggest bats having shitty years might well be an ongoing phenomenon (they’re old).

      Our need for an additional frontline starter is pretty close now to what it was then.

      • Tom Zig

        To expand:

        We don’t know if Pettitte is even coming back, and if he does, he’s a year older and had multiple injuries at the end of last year.

        CC, the man, he just had knee surgery. Surgery no matter how minor is always concerning.

        AJ – all I can say is: ??????????????

        Hughes: Big step forward for him this past year, but he isn’t done developing. Needs to work on throwing something other than a cutter or a fastball.

        For a team that is looking to win the WS every year, are you confident in that rotation?

        And to counter the stupid “let’s develop our own prospects, let someone else have him” argument I hear on the radio: what do you think we’re doing? Signing Cliff Lee means that we need one less prospect to get close to his ceiling. Ivan Nova is not the solution.

        • JobaWockeeZ

          Ivan Nova may not be the solution but Cliff Lee isn’t the only option.

          • Tom Zig

            Seems to be the only good option, really. Greinke isn’t an option. The FAs not named Lee are crap.

          • Mr. Sparkle

            Then could you expand on who the other options are? I haven’t seen any free agents that look much better than Ivan Nova.

        • Mr. Sparkle

          And to counter the stupid “let’s develop our own prospects, let someone else have him” argument I hear on the radio: what do you think we’re doing? Signing Cliff Lee means that we need one less prospect to get close to his ceiling. Ivan Nova is not the solution.

          Well said. Remember what happened the last time the Yankees decided to go with two mostly unproven prospects in the rotation (adding a third mid-season?) The chances that even one prospect turns out to be the real deal are remote. Now people think they’re going to turn two or even three prospects into effective major league starters in one season and still contend on top of that? Boy, are people’s memories short or what?

      • OldYanksFan

        Counter-Counter argument:
        (Caveat: you can only go so far with the ‘what if our guys don’t perform argument. If enough guys don’t perform, then Lee doesn’t do much good helping us finish 3rd.)

        1) AJ just had, by far, his worst year. The guy is a head case, but he still has great stuff. I think it’s a safer bet to guess he has a better year then last

        2) ARod and Jeter had WAY down years, and Teix and Posada had down years. One would hope that the combo of these 4 produce more, maybe significantly more, in 2011

        3) Phil had a great W/L year, but his ERA of 4.19 was a tad WORSE then league average, and his 1.248 WHIP wasn’t great. Was not this kid the Phranchise? With no innings limits and another year of maturity, the under/over says he has a better year.

        Lee would be a great addition but the cost, especially against our future payroll, must be considered.

        But again, my main feeling is Texas can’t afford him, and we should bid against Texas, not ourselves.

        And this thread is about Cliff… not CC.
        So Dammit! DON’T ARGUE WITH ME!

    • Accent Shallow

      You are making all kinds of sense here.

      Lee isn’t worth near 5/125.

      • Clay Bellinger

        If you believe in the fangraphs values, Lee’s been worth about $90 mil over the last 3 years…so he’s at least “near” it.

        • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          Maybe he has been near it, but he’s not signing for 2008-2010.

          • mike c

            you really don’t think lee is going to be one of the best pitchers in baseball for at least the next 3 years?

            • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

              I didn’t say that.

              • mike c

                well then are you saying that you’re not able to accurately predict that cliff lee’s value over the next few years can be approximated his 08-10 performance?

                • JobaWockeeZ

                  He’s saying that the 2008-2010 values won’t necessarily be the same for 2011-2016.

                  • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                    Thank you.

                    No sinister ulterior motive behind my comment, just pointing out that performance for the past three years doesn’t necessarily support throwing 6 years/$20M+ at a guy.

                    • Clay Bellinger

                      Of course they don’t and nothing in baseball is a sure thing, but his performance over the last few years is still a key part of predicting the next few years as it is with every player. In Lee’s case, his recent performace suggests that he will be a dominant pitcher for the next few years. If it costs the Yanks 5 years/$125 mil, then it may very well be worth it. Every big or long-term contract is a risk. Sometimes they work (Mussina), sometimes they don’t (Pavano). Fortunately, the Yankees have the financial ability to weather a bad contract.

                      A large part of the reason that Lee is worth it is the timing of his free agency. There are no legit plan B pitchers for the Yanks on the market.

                    • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                      I don’t have the time to really get into this in detail right now, but I think several points many people are accepting as gospel are debatable.

                      Quick shots:

                      – The Yankees do have the financial wherewithal to withstand some mistakes, but people take that point too far. The Yankees can be stung by a long term, huge money financial commitment not working out.

                      – There is a plan-B if the Yanks don’t sign Cliff Lee. In fact, there are probably any number of plan-Bs. This is not like the ’08-’09 offseason, when the Yanks had a seemingly-shaky and aging Pettitte, a question-mark in Wang and a young Joba in the rotation and were coming off of missing the playoffs and were moving into their new stadium. This team doesn’t need to sign Cliff Lee the way that team needed to sign pitching.

                      I get why the Yanks want Lee, I get why fans are so amped up and want the Yanks to get Lee, and I’m not saying I don’t want Lee in pinstripes. I am, however, much less certain about this entire scenario than a lot of people are, I’ll admit that much. I’d say I’m a little surprised at just how excited just about everyone seems to be to about having a third pitcher in the rotation with a gigantic contract, on top of the position players with gigantic contracts, but I guess it’s not all that surprising.

                  • mike c

                    true, but outside some kind of major injury it shouldn’t be that far off in terms of value

                    • JobaWockeeZ

                      True. But there is father time to affect Lee. Sure he’ll likely age better than most but with his wacky career anything can happen. Pitchers can be strange creatures.

                      Lee’s 2008-2010 has been so crazy good that it’s going to be very tough to repeat.

                    • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                      Like JobaWockeeZ said… Father Time is lurking, as are injuries, tougher competition in the AL East, yadda yadda.

                      I’m not saying the guy’s not awesome, but I do think people might be a little too excited about him. Anytime you give a 5+ yr deal to a pitcher it’s a risk, and this happens to be a 32 yr old pitcher.

        • Accent Shallow

          If you believe in the fangraphs values


          The Fangraphs values aren’t really correlated with the top salaries, so . . . nope.

          • Clay Bellinger

            Well that’s why I said “if”. My point is that he’s worth somewhere in the area of $25 mil per year and it’s not crazy to pay him that much.

            Just curious…what do you mean by “aren’t really correlated with the top salaries”? You’d like their values to match up with the actual real-life salaries of each player?

  • mike c

    how far will the yankees go? the highest offer by another team + 1 year and 2MM per

    • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      They probably won’t know what the highest offer by another team is.

      • Steve H

        Hence how Damon ended up in NYY. He told the Sox what the Yankees were offering and the Sox didn’t believe him.

        • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          Exactly. People seem to think the Yanks can just find out what the highest bids are, add a year and a few million to the pot, and get the deal done, but that’s not the way the world works. You have to do a serious analysis of what the player is worth to you, what you think he’s worth to other parties, what those parties can spend, what the player wants, etc., and work off of that analysis and your best analysis of the news (i.e. what the player tells you other teams have offered, etc.). No team is going to call the Yankees and tell them what they’ve offered to a player, that would be negotiation-suicide.

  • Januz

    The way Cashman is conducting contract negotiations, is taking his time, and not rushing into bad deals (Like Hank did with A-Rod). We are seeing this with Jeter & Rivera (Like they did with Tex, and on a smaller level with Mason Williams & Wilton Romero). The Yankees are actually operating from a position of strength when it comes to Lee. Obviously a lot of teams cannot afford him (Which helps), but beyond that, they have a ton of young pitching “Killer “B’s”, Bryan Mitchell, Stoneburner, Encinas etc, which can be traded for starting pitching during the season if need be.

  • Tank Foster

    He’s worth whatever he gets paid. Do the formulas which calculate salaries relative to performance data take into account that the Yankees must overpay for almost any star player, for a variety of reasons?

    That said, I think Lee will be a big disappointment at 125/5. If he’s 29, maybe I give him 6/155, but at 32, meh, I think we’ll end up unhappy.

    Almost no matter what he costs, it’s probably the correct move to sign him because if we don’t, a competitor in our league, or division even, probably will, and because there aren’t many (any?) comparable, large impact players coming down the FA pipeline any time soon. So they may “have to” take him, because there’s no other choices for improving the team.

    But like I say, I think he’ll be a disappointment. We’ll be seeing him firsthand, every week, and we’ll be unhappy that he’s not the perfect pitcher who has dominated us in playoff games. He’s human and got beaten twice by a weak offensive team in SF. He’s probably never going to be better than he was this year, and he may never again be as good as he was this year.

    Personally, I’d rather they didn’t sign him, maybe hoping for the chance for King Felix some day…

    • mike c

      you might end up unhappy, but you could very well end up with 3+ WS rings. let’s get crazy and have some fun

      • JobaWockeeZ

        You could end up with 3 WS rings but you may end up with a team maxxed out on payroll for eyars to come with no clear replacements for their older hitters.

        It’s baseball, I’ve been told we can’t predict it. But in the end I’d probably get Lee and hope the Rangers don’t bid near CC territory.

  • Sal

    Texas is not getting Cliff Lee. All this talk about how Nolan Ryan is determined to sign him and how they are going do what it takes to get him is all nonsense. They are doing this to appease their fan base and puting up a so called effort to sign him.

    • OldYanksFan

      Correct! Texas must save it’s pennies to hold onto Hamilton.
      Dammit! Cashman is bidding against Hank!

  • Jerome S


    Suck on it, Texas.

  • OldYanksFan

    If we don’t drop a zillion dollars on Lee, has anyone looked at the 2012 FA list? Why… Albert Pujols is there!

    We could sign Sir Albert to play 1st…
    and move Teix from 1st to 3rd…
    and move ARod from 3rd to SS…
    and move Jeter from SS to LF…
    and move Gardner from LF to CF (where he belongs)
    and move Grandy from CF to RF…
    and trade Swisher for pitching!

    I bet ya’all didn’t think of that…
    did ya?

    • Hughesus Christo

      Sure as hell didn’t. And for a reason.

    • Jimmy McNulty

      Pujols already said he wants to sign an extension with St. Louis.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        He also wants a ARod contract, which might be just beyond the bounds of what the Cardinals could/would give him.

        • Jimmy McNulty

          It’s Albert Fucking Pujols, they’d burn down Busch Stadium if he leaves. I think StL gives him something like 9/240.

      • Oliver Queen

        I’d also like to sign with St. Louis.

    • Klemy

      I’m not familiar with your style of posting, so I can’t tell how serious this is.

      • Clay Bellinger

        I was thinking the same thing.

  • Anthony Murillo

    I’m already tired of this offseason, I’m tired of hearing the names of Cliff Lee and Derek Jeter. I realllyyyy wish we can fast forward to Lee’s press conference at Yankee Stadium. What a great day that’s gonna be.

    • It’sATarp

      I’ll already Pre-ordered my future yankee Cliff Lee jersey. And am getting tickets to his future no hitter against the red sox.

  • Jimmy McNulty

    How far are the Yankees willing to go? As usual, Sly Fox said it best:

  • Ted Nelson

    Another thing the Rangers have to consider is that they’ve got a pretty young team. They have a few semi-clunkers coming off the books and some prospects coming up, but most of their core is going to get a lot more expensive in the coming years. If re-signing Lee means losing multiple guys down the road, you have to consider that. Hamilton, Kinsler, Wilson, Colby Lewis, Cruz, Andrus, Hunter, and Feliz **COMBINED** to make under $15 mill last season…

  • CP

    ESPN New York’s Mark Simon recently looked at the 52 pitchers who have signed a deal of four years or longer since 1991-1992 and found that only four produced an ERA+ of 120 or greater for the length of the contract.

    That’s a pretty steep criteria for success. Mike Mussina’s first contract with the Yankees would probably be considered a success, but he only pitched to a 117 ERA+ form 2001-2006.

    • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      Yeah I had the same gut reaction. 120 ERA+ is pretty high, especially over such a long time-period.