It’s good to be Cliff Lee

RAB Winter Meetings Chat
Cashman confirms that Pettitte is leaning towards retirement
Braunecker and A.J. at the 2005 Winter Meetings (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

The winter meetings are just about six hours old now, and sadly the Yankees have yet to sign Cliff Lee. In fact, they haven’t even made an official offer yet. It’s okay though, because Jayson Stark says the Rangers haven’t either. Darek Braunecker, Lee’s agent, spoke to reporters for a few minutes in the lobby of The Dolphin not too long ago, and said that he is still trying to set up a schedule to meet with teams this week. “[It’s] too early to say,” said Braunecker when asked if his prized client would sign this week.

Lee is actually out on some deer hunting trip this week, but his agent will obviously keep him abreast of any major developments. Braunecker has all the leverage right now given the other (read: uninteresting) pitchers still available on the free agent market and he knows it, giving his approval of Jayson Werth’s monster deal and saying that it’s “good to be Cliff Lee.” He also emphasized that his client has proved “he can pitch anywhere,” which he has over the last two-plus seasons.

The slow-developing market for Lee isn’t terribly surprising, but as fans it’s rather annoying. We want some movement on this front and we want it now, but it’s in the best interests of Lee’s camp to be patient. Once Carl Pavano comes off the board the free agent pitching market will be simply atrocious, and the trade market doesn’t offer many alternatives. Shaun Marcum is a quality pitcher, no doubt, but the Brewers had to surrender their top prospect to acquire him. Quality pitching does not come cheaply, and for Lee the price will only go up the longer he waits.

I suspect that we’ll see some very serious progress with the former Cy Young Award winner this week, whether it be in the form of an offer or two or ten or an outright agreement. Remember, Braunecker is an agent and every single word that comes out of his mouth is carefully designed to benefit his client and nothing else. This thing will get settled soon enough, the Yankees will make sure of it.

Update: An of course two seconds after I post this Buster Olney reports that the Yankees will meet with Braunecker about Lee today. They also met with him in Arkansas last month, as you remember.

RAB Winter Meetings Chat
Cashman confirms that Pettitte is leaning towards retirement
  • Caleb Gindl

    I think we’ve found Julian Assange.

    • Luis Sojo the Pasta Eating Machine

      Damn… beat me to it!

      • ND Mike


  • Monteroisdinero

    Deer hunting? In Central Park?

    • murakami

      He can always take a drive to the Pine Barrens.

      • Sweet Dick Willie

        Maybe he can find the Russian.

        • murakami

          I anticipated this :D.

  • Luis Sojo the Pasta Eating Machine

    Darek Braunecker is Julian Assange!

  • Fair Weather Freddy


  • murakami

    I’m in on Lee after being wary of another long-term over-30 guy. I took note of the non-hack approach taken by SF and the fact that they did a lot of damage with stuff on the outside of the plate.

    But: AGon’s presence in ALEast changes my mood on this (even though there’s a 7-for-10 success rate for AGon vs. Lee thus far – something like that, any way. We’ll learn what familiarity breeds, I suppose).

    The good thing about it is, if he can maintain the razor sharp control he’s mostly demonstrated in the postseason, it will be worth not having to have upchucked the farm for a starter in a trade (I have given up all hope of the Yankees actually trying to use in the rotation a talented arm they already have under their hood, Joba Chamberlain, which is what I would have done last year, allowing us to keep Vizcaino instead of dealing for Javy, but water, etc. As things stand, if Upton is seriously available, I would try to spin Joba plus for him, and sign Crawford for a Crawford-Grandy-Upton OF.).

    If CC is healthy, Andy is back and healthy, Hughes continues his progression, and we get the kind of season out of AJ I suspect we will, why then, Lee would make our staff tremendously deep. The latter years are a concern, but oh well, the dye appears to be cast in terms of the Yankees’ intentions and mind-set that they “must” have this guy.

    • JGS

      even though there’s a 7-for-10 success rate for AGon vs. Lee thus far – something like that, any way.

      Yea, it’s 7-10, with four doubles and a home run too. Keep in mind though that four of those hits (and three of the doubles) came in this game, where Lee clearly didn’t have it going.

      • murakami

        That’s useful to know, thanks. Yeah, and even without the one game there, it’s too small a sample. AGon is so dangerous that I really have done a complete reversal on my Lee stand. In an ALCS, having 3 lefty starters will be very useful, especially at our place, even though AGon will slug all over the field.

    • Bulldozer

      The Justin Upton would require so much more than AGon. Saying Joba and some pieces makes me believe that you don’t have a good idea of how much it would take to get TJU.

      • murakami

        Well, as you don’t know the pieces I would include, you’re jumping the gun. Didn’t list them because it was an aside.

        I will say this though, if Towers demanded too much, I just would live without Upton.

        AGon’s situation is different, for sure, but I don’t recall comparing them. His contract alone points up that most teams with dinero are already locked in with slugging 1B.

        • Bulldozer

          I never said definitively you said this or that. I just said your proposal “made me believe” that you undervalued TJU. That’s based on the fact you led off your trade proposal with Joba. I inferred that he would be a headliner or close to it. I mentioned the AGon trade because Joba doesn’t entice me as much as AGon’s haul.

          That said, what would you include specifically for TJU?

          • murakami

            I just posted this, try again:

            Joba, Gardner, Swisher, Romine, Warren. Maybe I sweeten with Stoneburner. If I absolutely must, I part with Brackman, albeit most reluctantly.

            My intent is to get it done and keep the Killer Bs (certainly Betances and Banuelos), Montero, Sanchez and Hughes. I think if I manage to do that, I consider it a win.

            The thing is, Towers may rate some of our guys higher than other GMs, because he was here. But that could work in the other direction also.

            • Bulldozer

              It’s not in your original post. Instead of starting a thread war, I am just going to say ok.

              • murakami

                No, you misunderstand.

                I posted who I would deal in response to your question, and for some reason it didn’t take.

                • Bulldozer

                  Ah, gotcha. Thought you were being flip.

                  • murakami

                    No. What I might have said was I just TRIED to post this.

                    Also, if I had to include Brack, I obviously pull back Stoneburner and possibly Warren as well. Seems to me two young arms with big upside would be sufficient, considering what else is in there. Warren would be the easier to part with than Stoneburner, if I had to throw him in in addition to Brackman (ouch).

                    • Bulldozer

                      I see Warren and Stoneburner as relievers, so I don’t value them that highly, but maybe Towers would.

                    • murakami

                      Yet if SB can develop that third pitch, he becomes starter material. I love Warren’s smoothness, but on stuff alone SB would be the one I’d want to hang onto.

                    • Bulldozer

                      Yeah, the minors are filled with players that could be special if they develop a 3rd or 4th pitch, and some of the do with great success. I just see TJU as a player you trade for players that have already developed those tools.

    • king of fruitless hypotheticals


  • Fair Weather Freddy

    Why is everyone so worried about Lee in later years? Pettite is 39 and still pitching effectively. Lee is same type of pitcher.

    • murakami

      Oh, I dunno…Kevin Brown, Randy Johnson…?

      It won’t be a big concern if the Yankees start walking the talk about developing from within. If, during Lee’s twilight, we have successfully integrated Betance and/or Banuelos, and Hughes is well entrenched, it won’t be that significant.

      If we sign him for six years I will live with it. I am just not all that convinced the Yankees have the patience to water arms in the system and allow them to grow and adapt gradually. If Lee proves to be like Andy, as you suggest he may, that would actually help the Yankees not fret and either rush the kids or give them up.

      We have to graduate our pitchers with top of rotation stuff, like Betances. Other teams are locking their younger guys up now.

      • pat

        Of all the people to pick Randy Johnson is literally the worst possible example to prove your point.

        His 32 to 39 year old seasons-

        131 wins
        1662.2 ip
        2247 K
        1.090 whip
        12.2 k/9

        As well as four consecutive Cy Young awards.

        • Kiersten

          As well as four consecutive Cy Young awards.

          head explodes.

          • JGS

            And he should have won a fifth at age 40–245.1 IP, 2.60 ERA, career-best 0.900 (!!!!) WHIP, 290 strikeouts, 6.59 K/BB, 7.4 bWAR, 2.30 FIP, 2.60 xFIP, 9.9 fWAR.

            But he was only 16-14 for an atrocious (51-111) Arizona club.

          • CBean

            I hope Lee can suck that bad for us.

            • murakami

              As bad as Game 7 Kevin Brown??

              As soon as they named that game’s starter, it was over. Everyone in my section knew it. We all just sat there, understanding that we were going to sit there and suffer.

              No, I would rather not go through that again.

        • murakami

          Randy Johnson helped us win the division by beating Boston repeatedly, as I recall. But he sucked in the postseason. He was past it.

      • Chris

        Brown was great from age 32-39. The Yanks got him too late.

    • jeremy

      people are worried just because of the potential that he blows up and sucks/gets injured for the last 3+ years and then they’d be wasting a TON (22m+++) for the guy.

  • Bulldozer

    I was fairly calm and certain about signing Lee, but the Werth signing spooked me. Anyone else get that feeling from the Werth signing?

    • Not Tank the Frank

      I’m not so much spooked as I am deflated that the Yankees will now proabably have to offer him AT LEAST six years if not seven to sign him. I was always hoping for a five-year deal. If Cash can pull that off…

  • LunaticFringe

    Kevin Brown and Randy Johnson may not be the best posssible negative comps for Clff Lee@37[Lee’s 37 year old season would be the last of a 6 year contract]. Brown had an injury shortened 37 year old season (threw just 63 innings); but he came back at 38 and threw over 200 innings with a 169 ERA+. Randy Johnson had an ERA+ of 188 in his 37 year old season.

  • murakami

    House Boy Sweeney on Fatcessa for those who want to tune in.

  • Jimmy McNulty

    The Rangers were originally planning on offering four years, but they changed their plans.