Thoughts on the Cliff Lee non-signing

December bombshell: Lee signs with the Phillies
Yankees Agree to Terms with Russell Martin
See you in October, Cliff. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

When the news of Cliff Lee agreeing to a contract with the Phillies broke late last night, I was preoccupied by trying to get the site back online after yet another issue with our host. I was frustrated all night and didn’t know if it was because of the technical issues, Lee, or both. After a night of sleep, it’s easy to say it was both. But I digress.

There’s a lot running through my head right now about what losing out on Lee means for the Yankees going forward, so I’m just going to bullet point it because that seems easiest…

  • It’s obvious that the Yankees have long coveted Lee, even before the non-trade in July. They made him an extremely competitive offer to join a perennial contender, and Lee simply said no. There’s nothing more Brian Cashman and the rest of the front office could have done, he just said no. There’s no one to blame.
  • Part of me thinks that if the trade had gone through in July and Lee spent the second half of 2010 in New York that the odds of him signing long-term with the Yankees would have gone up astronomically, but we just don’t know if that’s true. He could have left for the Phillies anyway, in which case the Yanks would be out Jesus Montero (but potentially up on World Championship).
  • I said it yesterday and I believe it even more today: the Yankees absolutely can not run out and make a knee-jerk reaction trade for a pitcher just because they lost out on Lee. That’s only going to make matters worse. Prices are through the roof at the moment.
  • Please, let’s just give up on Joba Chamberlain the starter already. Yes, this is a perfect opportunity for them to move him back into the rotation, but they’ve been very clear about their intentions to keep him in the bullpen. It’s extremely likely that they just don’t think he can hold up under the starter’s workload.
  • Let’s cut the “we’re DOOMED!” crap. The roster as it is is probably a 90 win team, more if Pettitte returns. We all know that the team they have right now is not the team they’ll go into the 2011 postseason with. Just get in, anything can happen in a short series.
  • Joe will have more on the payroll a little later today, but the Yankees have something like $25-30MM burning a hole in their pocket right now, and that’s going to be spent somewhere. About half will go to Pettitte if he returns, and some of the remainder will probably go to Russell Martin and soon. I bet he’s signed within 48 hours, but then again I was optimistic about signing Lee at this time yesterday.
  • How about all that garbage about how Texas had an advantage because of their proximity to Lee’s home in Arkansas and the lack of income tax? The Rangers reportedly made the best (largest) offer, and he still said no. As usual, the impact of that stuff was over-reported and over-stated.
  • On the bright side, the Yankees will in all likelihood keep their first round pick (none of the four remaining Type-A’s fit), which means two top 50 picks and three top 80 picks in a stacked draft class. Silver lining.

So that’s it, there’s nothing you or I or the Yankees can do now. Lee is headed to Philadelphia, and the Yanks have to move on with their offseason. We should start to hear some rumors about potential pick-ups very soon, which should make for some good copy.

December bombshell: Lee signs with the Phillies
Yankees Agree to Terms with Russell Martin
  • Gonzo

    Draft picks! I know the budgets are seperate, but can Cash give D-Opp more money to play with for this draft?

    • Dave

      20 million worth of IFAs is a nice consolation prize.

      • Mike Axisa

        It’s impossible to spend that much on IFA’s in one year, unless you grossly overpay. The three best IFA’s this year signed for less than $9M total.

        • Gonzo

          Can Cash shift some FA money to the draft budget this year? You know go full Theo on this draft?

          • Mike Axisa

            Have you seen Boston’s farm system? I’d rather they not go Theo. Go Friedman if anything.

            • Gonzo

              I meant with the spending. According to Callis and KLaw they had a great draft this year.

              • Mike Axisa

                The Yankees spend enough, $8M a year is a ton. I don’t have any trouble with their drafting at all.

                • Gonzo

                  So no more money for the draft is what your saying?

                  • Mike Axisa

                    I wouldn’t expect it. The ML budget and draft budget are separate.

                    • Gonzo

                      Well that’s a dikfur.

                    • emac2


                      If a company is so stupid as to split up their budget in such a way as to dismiss the use of extra money in one area because it’s supposed to be used in another management needs to be changed.

                      If you have an extra 20 mil to spend you figure out the best way to spend it without forcing restriction based on where it was originally budgeted.

                      In this day and age where prospects are the golden currency, and especially where you can cover a big bonus but trade the player with the small annual salary due, putting that 20 mil into IFA’s and buying out college options for drartable players might be the best option for getting stars in future trades.

                    • pete


                      It doesn’t work that way. The reason they keep the budgets separate here is because of the enormous discrepancy in the value of dollars at the ML level versus the draft/IFA level. The difference between an $8m draft and a $20m draft would be negligible because of the slotting; the best players will still largely be taken up by other teams, and the lower-level players are all such extreme longshots that it would be absurd to lay down that kind of money just to try to ensure that you sign every player you draft, and wind up with probably 3-4 quality big leaguers out of it.

                      The team’s draft budget will always have a soft cap to prevent reckless spending based on delusional dreams about amateur players. The ML budget, meanwhile, will always receive preference because the team’s #1 job is to field quality major league talent. The minors are a resource for that, but to depend on them excessively would be extremely dangerous for a team like the Yankees. Moving money from the ML budget to the MiL budget would represent an extraordinary misallocation of resources, as it would move money that provides valuable big-league talent and flexibility to an area of MUCH higher risk.

          • Dustin

            Cashman is no Theo!

            • pete

              thank god

              • pete

                actually, let me amend that: I like Cashman exactly as he is as a GM. He’s responsible, intelligent, and keeps an eye on the future. My only beef with him is with Joba, and I’m sure he simply knows something we don’t about Joba’s health – we can speculate, he doesn’t have to.

                That being said, though, I also think Epstein is a perfectly good GM, and would have no problem having him on my team. I think Crawford was an extreme overbuy, as was Matsuzaka, but any GM of a rich team with a expectation to win every year will overbuy sometimes, including Cash. I personally prefer Cashman, but I think both are exceptionally competent at what they do. The only GM in the game who I think is significantly better than those two is Andrew Freidman.

        • camilo Gerardo

          “It’s impossible to spend that much on IFA’s in one year, unless you grossly overpay. The three best IFA’s this year signed for less than $9M total.”

          Cashman: “Challenge Accepted”

          • pete

            nice HIMYM reference. That show gets way too much hate ’round these parts

    • JobaWockeeZ

      Go overslot with our 1st roudner since every remaining type A sucks.

    • king of fruitless hypotheticals

      Draft picks get us to the ’11 WS how?

      • Gonzo

        My original post was about the ’11 WS how?

      • emac2

        Ritalin might help allow you to think about something other then the immediate future.

  • MS

    I know we shouldn’t panic, but I will anyway. What does it take to get Felix Hernandez in here? Is it possible? Mariners will still come in last with or without him so they should load up on prospects. Montero, Nova, and Joba for Felix?

    • Mike Axisa

      No. To all of it.

      • Gonzo

        Can we also put a stop to the Joba has a high trade value?

        • Guest

          Co-sign. Joba is a middle-reliever right now. His trade value has plummeted.

          It’s almost as if relievers aren’t as valuable as starters. Strange.

          • Gonzo

            I think when people put Joba in a trade tell them to switch in Hughes and watch them squirm.

            • king of fruitless hypotheticals

              that’s awesome.

              you should try that with AJ!!!

              • king of fruitless hypotheticals

                no wait…nm…

    • Guest

      Normally, when people make the whole “they’ll come in last with or without him” argument, the point is that the guy is too old so he won’t be around long enough for the team to to get good.

      Felix Hernandez is 24 years old. Repeat–24 years old!!!

      If it takes them five years, half a decade, to get good, he will still just be entering his prime. He is 7 months YOUNGER than Joba.

      Its not going to happen.

  • mackeyse

    a voice of reason..thank you! its far from the end of the world for yankee fans– on the brightside at least he is in the NL.

  • king of fruitless hypotheticals

    ZOMG SANITY!!!1!!

    My only hope is that Roth IRA and AJ are spending LOTS of quality time together…if AJ regresses halfway to his career mean then we’ll be fine for the top 3 pitchers, Nova is a perfectly capable #5, any of those guys in AAA can hold down the #6. I’d prefer not to see Mitre (has Guadin signed yet? i keed) as the number four but it wouldn’t kill us.

    Frankly, we don’t even have to have Martin. Lots of good to be had in the next week!

    • Gonzo

      C’mon, we need Martin. We need one win this offseason.

  • MrJigginz

    Ooh,I forgot about the draft picks.Not a HUGE silver lining,but it’s a good thing in a draft like this one.

  • Guest

    Anyone else pretty pumped that he went to the National League, at least?

    Obviously I would have loved to see him the Bronx. But, hey, if we see him again in a meaningful game, that means we’re in the World Series. I’ll take that.

    • A.D.

      Yup, definitely happier he’s there than a AL rival

    • CBean

      Yes, several of my Mets fans friends have reminded me that this is actually a more horrific day for them. Though as a Mets fan, they seem to be pretty used to being kicked in the teeth.

      • jim p

        A Metfan friend just told me he and friends worked out a guaranteed 40 losses in ’11 against Phils, Braves, Marlins, Yanks.

  • zs190

    I don’t buy the idea that Rangers made the biggest offer.

    Phillies offer
    5 yr, 120 million, 12.5 mil buyout after 5th or 27.5 mil vesting option for year 6

    Rangers offer
    6 yr, 120 million or 6 yr 138 million with heavy deferred payments

    Yankees offer
    6 yr, 132 mil, 16 mil player option for 7th year.

    It seems fairly obvious to me that the biggest offer he got was the Phillies offer and he took it.

    • Gonzo

      Holy shyte, I didn’t realize there was a $12.5mm buyout!

    • Mike Axisa

      Phillies: $132.5M in guarantees
      Rangers: $138M in guarantees (assuming no interest on the deferments)
      Yankees: $132M in guarantees

      • zs190

        Even with no interest on the payment, deferred payment has less present value. Obviously we don’t know how it is deferred but from Heyman’s wording, I think it’s fairly safe to assume that they are deferred for quite some time, reducing present value significantly.

        • Mike Axisa

          $6M significantly?

          • LawStudent

            Could be, depending on how much is deferred for how long. Also depends on what kind of interest/inflation rate we’re assuming.

          • zs190

            I bet it’s structured to be more than that considering the alternative offer was for 6 yr 120 million. Exact numbers depend on how it is deferred, but I would guess that it isn’t much more than the 6 yr 120 million offer, maybe a couple million more in present value.

      • ZZ

        A player option is guaranteed money. Just semantics to think of it otherwise.

        • zs190

          This is true. Although I would imagine the vesting terms were probably reasonable enough that he would perceive it as fairly reachable. Yanks’ offer has more guaranteed money but it’s not a ton more and Phillies’ offer could easily exceed it.

          • ZZ

            I’m really interested to see the terms of that vesting offer.

            The thing about pitchers though is that you just never know with injuries. The vesting option could look easy to reach today but Lee gets hurt one year or something and suddenly maybe it is not so easy to vest.

            • Mike Axisa

              It triggers with 200 IP in 2015 or 400 IP in 2014 and 2015. Not a sure thing for a 35-36 year old.

      • ZZ

        I also trust Sherman more than Crasnick who said they offered $138 + the option. Crasnick is the only one saying $132 million.

        • zs190

          Heyman also said it’s 132 million for what it’s worth. Crasnick is usually not early but fairly accurate in the past.

          • ZZ

            Gotcha. Didn’t see that from Heyman.

            Either way the Yankees offered the most because that player option is essentially guaranteed money. One other thing I don’t buy is that Cashman wouldn’t have upped the offer a bit if Braunecker came back to him.

      • Chris

        My reading of it was that the $15M was included in the $120M (that’s usually the way it’s reported).

    • Doug

      can i ask what’s probably a stupid question. what happens if the 6th year doesn’t vest?

      • zs190

        He gets the buyout of 12.5 million if it doesn’t vest, it sounds like.

        • Doug

          oh, so if it doesn’t automatically vest, there is no 6th year?

          • zs190

            That’s how I interpreted it, yeah.

            • Doug

              okay. so it’s basically, 5/$132.5 or 6/$147.5 (if vests)

              thanks for the knowledge

    • cliff

      From Rangers VP Greenburg he is stating out of Texas that Lees agent countered with a guaranteed 7th yr& he said Lee would sign the contract on the spot.

  • Johnny

    The Red Sox and Phillies both look really strong on paper, but we all know they don’t play the game on paper. Just ask the SF Giants. Just get to the playoffs and anything can happen.

    • goterpsgo

      SFG = flash in the pan.

      • Johnny O

        SFG = WS Champs

        • goterpsgo

          Will they repeat? I doubt it.

          • Mike Axisa

            Doesn’t take away from what they did. Repeating’s extremely tough.

      • Sweet Dick Willie

        SFG = 2010 World Series Champions

  • Doug

    Assuming no unexpected trades for an ace, how much you see us shelling out for Yu Darvish next year, Mike?

    • Mike Axisa

      Cashman said he think posting fees are a waste of money (after Igawa, of course), and Darvish is going to take a ton. I bet they bid, but won’t get him. I bet the Mariners do.

  • John Maddon

    Considering all we lost this year was Javy Vazquez’ negative WAR and maybe Andy Pettite’s partial season 2 WAR contribution, and the team run differential equated to 98 wins, I think the team should still has the chance to put up 95 wins right now. The offense is beastly, and Jeter/ AROD decline will be canceled out by positive regression over last year.

    • ChrisS

      I don’t assume anything positive about Jeter and A-Rod.

      Next could likely be worse than this season.

  • ro

    As a devoted Yankee fan, the most shocking thing about this is Lee turning down the Rangers. I suppose I understand the rational why (future payroll). Truth is, Lee just didn’t want to pitch in NYC. There is nothing wrong with that and I am a huge Cashman supporter. I think he is a terrific GM and always, ALWAYS is well informed and educated on all subjects. He is not at fault here.

    Frankly, this Lee thing concerned me. Of course I wanted him here, but the contracts being thrown around for this guy were absurd. Yeah sure, he is a control pitcher versus power and that should preserve his arm some, but other than 2 seasons the guy has not been historically dominant. I think the Yanks lucked out twice now. Let’s hope that’s the way it unfolds.

    Let’s face it too, the Mariners suck and there are no immediate signs of improvement. Sure they have 5 more years with Felix, but half of that will be on below .500 teams. It’s not going to happen tomorrow, but I immediately move him to the top of the list of “wants” Its not like the Yanks don’t have the pieces to make it work.

  • Beantown Bombers Fan

    Wait, the sun came up this morning? The world didn’t end because the Yanks didn’t get Lee? Thanks to you guys at RAB for consistently providing thoughtful insight without the rampant homer spin seen on soooooo many other blogs.

    • Bob Stone

      That’s well put. I second that thought.

    • jsbrendog (returns)


  • Gonzo

    Anyone else kind of psyched that Cash drew the line in the sand and stuck to it?

    • Bob Stone


    • goterpsgo


    • ro

      Yes sir..

      Let’s keep in mind Cashman was the first man into the battlefield only a few days after Lee technically became a free agent with a visit to his home. He did everything right. We did everything right, now it’s time for Lee to prove he didn’t do everything wrong..I can take solace in that.

    • Slugger27

      i wouldnt say im “psyched”… but i was pulling for the rangers to win lee if the 7/161 reports were true

    • king of fruitless hypotheticals

      I wanted to be original, but ‘Yes.’ was already taken…

  • Mike

    I like Lee but I thought that was too much money for a guy who is 32 and was in the minors only 3 years ago. Lee is a ticking time bomb. And before anyone starts in on how great the Phillies rotation is; remember Halladay 34, Lee 32, Oswalt 33 (34 mid season). Thats an old starting 3!!! Chances are that 1 or more will not make it through the season.

    • A.D.

      Still a hell of a rotation, and they’re only locked into Lee real long term

    • Ray Fuego

      That was my thinking when I heard he signed with them. Im not wishing ill fate on anyone but I have a feeling two of them will be on the DL with issues next season.

  • A.D.

    I think you go to Rothschild here and ask him of all the guys potentially available, who could he do the most with, thus giving the Yanks opportunity to maximize trade value

    • king of fruitless hypotheticals

      What if he says Joba, AJ, Nova and Javy?

      • matt damon wayans

        Javy signed with the Marlins. He will not pitch for the Yankees next year.

  • Mattchu12

    On the plus side, I can simply fully believe in the notion that was nagging at me the whole time I wanted to see Cliff Lee in pinstripes.

    He has only really ‘special’ in 2008, 2009, and 2010. And even in 2010, his second half wasn’t all that much to brag about. He was phenomenal in 2008, very good in 2009, and as stellar as his first half of 2010 was (in a pitcher friendly park with great defense), he was nearly a 4.00 ERA pitcher in the second half.

    Don’t get me wrong, I wanted him bad. And I think he’s a great pitcher. But all along, I’ve had that nagging voice in the back of my head saying a six or seven year deal worth north of 20 million per is an awful big commitment to a guy who has had three above-average years at age thirty-two.

    • ro

      It’s going to be a little painful for a few days and sure it may translate to the rotation/field next season, but I share the exact sentiment and I think the Yanks lucked out here. Of course this is the day after type of comment many will expect. I shared that same nagging feeling and I am relieved that this didn’t happen only because of contract length (6 and 7 years). It the most positive way to look at this and its comforting to know that the Yanks have a lot of flexibility going forward.

    • goterpsgo

      Have fun losing again in the Series, Cliff!

      That said,

      But all along, I’ve had that nagging voice in the back of my head saying a six or seven year deal worth north of 20 million per is an awful big commitment to a guy who has had three above-average years at age thirty-two.

      I thought I was the only one who had a voice saying that in my head…

    • king of fruitless hypotheticals

      i got a dollar that says part of Ninja Elf is relieved just a little bit…

  • Mike Myers


    Thanks for trying to make me feel better. However, I still feel awful.

    Im going to pretend he is scared of the NY media cuz he is gonna get Pavano type hurt….yea, thats the ticket.

  • James A

    Heres a guy who could fit in well to Yankee Stadium, has a pretty friendly contract (3 club options) and I’ve seen at various times could be available: Fausto Carmona
    Obviously you wouldn’t want to give up a huge package for him, but if Cashman could pull that off at the right price I’d be excited

    • A.D.

      Also intrigued by Fausto, still on the right side of 20, nice bounce back last year, and as you noted good team deal

    • paul a

      Forget Carmona.The two guys Cash should be targeting are Garza and Buehrle.Both of whom are very much available.

      • pete

        Garza is “very much available”? To the Yankees? I doubt it.

        I think the notion of Tampa as sellers was contingent on the Yanks’ signing Lee. I don’t think they’re a weak team at all, and neither the Yanks nor the Sox look like really heavy favorites. Tampa still has a fantastic rotation – probably the best in the AL East, their defense is excellent, and I don’t think their lineup will be quite as terrible as people are expecting.

    • Hughesus Christo

      Fausto “I don’t strike anyone out” Carmona? Someone call in the bomb squad.

  • RL

    the Yankees absolutely can not run out and make a knee-jerk reaction trade for a pitcher just because they lost out on Lee.

    Repeated for emphasis!!!

    • Gonzo

      But Felix, Josh Johnson, Matt Cain, and Adam Wainwright are ripe for the picking!

  • Ray Fuego

    Well, now I expect Pavano to go to Texas, Royals have said they need solid up the middle players and that Rangers don’t fit for a trade. Now they’re in the same boat as we are, looking for a viable plan b.

  • Colin

    I just really really want to see Jesus now. It would be awful if we trade Jesus and go into the season without him OR Lee

    • Slugger27

      not if trading jesus got us a quality SP

      • RL

        “not if trading jesus got us a quality young, cost controlled, elite SP”


        The only way Jesus should be traded is for a Greinke, Johnson, Felix-type starter, not just a “quality” starter.

        • RL


  • mike c


  • LawStudent

    Not the end of the world, Atlanta’s rotation in the 90’s was supposed to let them win multiple championships and that didn’t happen. Although, this Philly team is probably better on offense. Losing Werth helps balance it out a bit at least.

    • JobaWockeeZ

      Domonic Brown makes it up a little.

      • FIPster Doofus

        Maybe in the long term. In the here and now, I doubt he comes close to matching Werth’s production. The Phillies lost a big-time outfielder on the wrong side of 30 and added a big-time pitcher on the wrong side of 30. We’ll see what it does for them.

        • Hughesheretoabuse

          come 3 years the Phillies will be screwed, plus- dont they have to get rid of a Victorino or Utley to accomadate Lee’s salary?

  • jay destro

    hey mike, tell your own fellow RAB’er Ben to get on board with the JOBA IS A STARTER going out the goddamn window as well.

  • Do Not Feed the Trolls!

    Lee signs elsewhere and Carl Pavano is going to get a big payday.

    This cant be life….

  • Hughesus Christo

    I refuse to believe the Yankees are dumb enough to think Ivan Nova, for example, is more up to starting than Joba. It makes no sense. And He’s useless in his current role. He needs to be starting whether they think he’s “up to it” or not. That’s his only role with this team.

  • mike

    I’d get Pettitte to return and put Nova in the 5 slot. Then sign Soriano, Wood, and Feliciano to strengthen the bullpen

    thats all we can do now

    • Hughesus Christo

      I have no interest in forfeiting a first round pick to give Soriano and absurd contract. That’s why re-signing Wood is so attractive. There’s no pick to lose.

    • Slugger27

      we cant just get whoever we want, as we found out last night

      those relievers (not an issue with feliciano) would have to be ok with being a setup man

    • Mike Axisa

      Soriano = extreme fly ball pitcher
      Wood = extremely lucky during his time in NY
      Feliciano = not that good

      All overpriced. It’s been proven time and time again that big money on relievers is a waste.

  • Wil Nieves #1 Fan

    I’m eager for the next Fan Confidence Poll.


  • Pessimistic Fan

    Assuming that no knee-jerk reactions occur with the team, can we start looking forward to the draft?

  • Phishin’

    Damn, I was just going to ask if there was any chance to trade for Josh Johnson, then I looked at his contract. I don’t think even the Marlins are that stupid (at least heading into 2011) because he is ridiculously cheap

    11:$7.75M, 12:$13.75M, 13:$13.75M

  • James A

    Chien-Ming Wang, Brandon Webb, Justin Duchscherer, Rich Harden, Mark Prior, Ben Sheets
    whose the best option out of that group to take a chance on with an incentive/minor league deal to add depth and hope they regain their form?

    • JobaWockeeZ

      Sheets and Dushscherer. Though I wouldn’t give anything north of 5 million guaranteed dollars for them.

      I’d rather get a number 2 or 3 by trade. Nothing too costly hopefully.

  • nsalem

    Great Post No need to panic and absolutely no need to overreact. We don’t need to make a trade this week, this winter and maybe not even till mid season. One door closes and one door opens. We were going to overpay Lee and one day we may very well look back at this drama with a smile on our faces. Lee reminds me of Mike Scott in the sense that he came out of nowhere in his late 20’s to become the dominant ptrcher in baseball for a short time. His season and post season in 1986 (at age 30 or 31)can be compared to Lee’s recent seasons and he would have commanded the same kind of attention as a free agent if he was on the open market today,. Though he remained an excellent pitcher it would not have been a great investment and he never returned to his 1986 levels.
    Andy, despite what he says will probably not retire. The only pitchers in the last 130 years with 240 plus wins who have retired voluntarily after good seasons were Al Spaulding and Mike Mussina.
    Mussina is of a different mindset then most pro athletes amd Spaulding had this idea to start a sporting goods company (smart move Al). Pitchers on that level never leave on top unless they can’t lift their arms anymore. Seaver, Gibson, Carlton, Palmer, Spahn they all had very unhappy endings. Look it up the list goes on and on of all time greats who were shown the door.
    The Sox don’t scare me. Beckett’s year was as bad or worse than
    AJ’s. Lackey is starting to get up there in years and is pitching below the league average and I don’t see that changing. There offense is improved, but it’s still not as scary as it was in 2003 and 2004. Relax don’t panic this is not the end of the world. We did our best and we didn’t get our man. Blaming Cashman for this situation is close minded and just a frustrated knee jerk reaction.

  • Joe

    Greinke is who I wanted all along, Please go get him… Didn’t like Lee… he has had 2 good years for Pete’s sake, calm down aside from his Cy Young year… he has been nothing special

    • Optimum

      Oh sure, now he’s nothing special. I’m upset that Lee’s not coming here either, but let’s not play the “he’s not so great, anyway” game. Besides, Zach’s only had ONE great year.

      • RuleroftheBones86

        so has Lee, optimum….

        Both have had only one full great season. The difference- Lee is already at the end of a pitcher’s prime years and has chronic back issues, while Zach has not even enter his prime and is physically sound.

        So, in my opinion, presently:
        Zach sightly >> Lee

  • James A

    Fuentes, Wood, Feliciano, Guerrier, Dotel, Choate, Jenks are all in play from here… if we can’t have the rotation we wanted, lets build a dynamite bullpen

  • bottom line

    I agree with everything in this post.

    As Mike says, no need to panic, especially now as teams will see us as desperate.

    I do think they should throw some money at Andy. Having two lefties (if not three) against that Boston line-up will be important.

    Would also really try to strengthen the pen which I see as fairly weak right now without Wood and with Joba an enduring mystery.

    I hate the idea of Mitre as a starter but I like Nova. And I would remind people who cite his trouble getting through lineups a third time that this is a very common pattern with young pitchers. We had a couple of guys like that in the early 90s. Both would pitch well as rookie starters for four or five innings, then walk a man or two and give up a bomb. The Yankees stayed with one– Scott Kamieniecki — and he became a pretty good fifth starter whren healthy. They gave up the other one — Doug Drabek– and he went on to be one of the best pitchers in the NL for about five years.

    I would not trade Montero, Banuelos or Betances for a short-term fix.

  • Johnny O

    Very sad about Cliff Lee but time to move on. Definitely glad he’s in the NL although Philly was probably the worst option in the senior circuit.

    Hope for Pettitte for one more year, sign Martin for 1 year (plus club control for next year), make a semi-aggressive play for Nolasco and let’s get it on! Brackman, Laird, Warren for Nolasco? I have no idea if that’s enough but worth a try. Wouldn’t give up Jesus or ManBan and would prefer to hold on to Dellin.

    Spring Training here we come.

  • theyankeewarrior

    I would really like to see the Yanks go with CC, Hughes, Andy, Aj and either Nova or minor move for a vet SP.

    If Buherle can be had for a reasonable price, I wouldn’t mind paying him to eat innings for the next 2 years as a veteran lefty in YSIII.

    Also, I think there will be many more options available at the trade deadline in August. Many of those deals involve eating money, which we have PLENTY of now.

    Let’s make sure get get Martin and a solid LOOGY first, maybe even snag a set-up arm like Wood while we’re swimming in dollars.

    The playoffs are WELL within reach, but at this point, it’s hard to imagine the team getting far without Andy.

    Start the bidding at 1/14 and go from there.

  • Reggie C.

    Gavin Floyd is plan B. Cashman has got to bolster the middle of the rotation. Keep Nova OUT of the rotation!

    • JobaWockeeZ

      +100. Floyd would be a good number 2. And it’s Kenny Williams so I wouldn’t be surprised if Pena + Nunez gets it done.

    • FIPster Doofus

      Getting Floyd would definitely lessen the blow. It’s either him, Greinke (pipe dream), Nolasco – whom I don’t want – or table scraps.

  • CaptialT

    Do the Yankees get a compensation pick for Lee signing with the Phils. Afterall, according to all the post season press reports, he was guarenteed to sign with NY so it is just like they lost a free agent.

    Long live Jesus

  • Screw lee

    In a few years when lee sucks and the Phillies are stuck paying him 25 million a year, and Montero is hitting .300 with 30-35 bombs a year while making 750k a year.. we will forever be grateful that trade never went down

    • RuleroftheBones86


      + 21 (Jesus future number. If anyone has to inherit my hero, O’neil number let it be the Montero ;)

    • pete

      Man, people really don’t want to accept the fact that Lee is friggin incredible at pitching, do they?

      • the tenth inning stretch

        Almost all of us know how good he is. But we find solace in the fact that Lee is due to begin his decline soon while still raking in ridiculous money, while Montero will still be raking while approaching his prime years at team-friendly money.

  • Januz

    Mike is 100% right about Montero, I really think the Yankees lucked out, when Seattle backed out of the Lee/Montero Trade, because they preferred Justin Smoak. In my humble opinion, there would have been nothing short of no other options that was going to keep him from going to Philadelphia, and out of The Bronx, Arlington or anywhere else but Philly. This is essentially Carmelo Anthony’s position with Denver and the rest of the NBA…….. Knicks or nothing.

    • RuleroftheBones86

      Can’t wait for Melo & A’mare ushering the rebirth of my beloved Knickerbockers to former glory and relevance. Hope Donnie Walsh realizes he has all the leverage and somehow avoids giving up Landry Fields. Hoping we can steal Anthony for Gallo, Randolph, expiring Curry contract and some cash. Pipe dream, but I really like that Sanford guard, Fields, for our future championship bench.

      /can’t control my giddiness over the eventual sight of two in their prime superstars making me proud of the Knicks again in tens that it forces an off topic speech’D

  • pat

    Big Dell might be ready middle of next year. Same with Manny. Kinda pumped this might possibly mean these guys will get a chance to compete for a rotation spot in 2012.

  • EVH 5150

    Maybe Roger will appear in George’s box…

  • ADam

    The Yankees absolutely can not run out and make a knee-jerk reaction trade for a pitcher just because they lost out on Lee. That’s only going to make matters worse. Prices are through the roof at the moment.”

    — Agreed… See Kei Igawa

    • RuleroftheBones86

      Hey! Speak no ill of the Triple-A hall of Famer or face the consequences of his mysterious visor glare!!!

      What’s next making fun of Shelley Duncan, Juan Miranda or the immortal Jon Albadeljo.

  • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

    “They made him an extremely competitive offer to join a perennial contender, and Lee simply said no. There’s nothing more Brian Cashman and the rest of the front office could have done, he just said no. There’s no one to blame.”

    I’m not so sure that’s totally true. In this situation, you had the Yanks, Rangers and Phillies competing for Lee. Lee had already pitched for both the Rangers and Phils and, as far as we know, had really good experiences with both of those clubs. Also keep in mind that the Yanks have, in recent seasons, exhibited an operating philosophy that is tied to being King Kong when they need to be in the free agent market – they’ve basically shown a willingness to pay – and at times overpay – to get what they want, so that they can use their most abundant resource, money, instead of losing talent.

    All those things being the case… If you were of the mind that the Yanks should have made their absolute best effort to sign Lee, aren’t you kind of scratching your head this morning, at least a little bit, and asking how/why the Yankees didn’t put an offer on the table that was clearly superior to the offers made by the Rangers and the Phillies? That’s the advantage the Yankees have, the advantage of being able to walk to the table and put down the best offer and make someone choose an inferior offer if they want to go elsewhere. The offers the Yanks made, as far as we can tell right now, were not clearly superior to the other offers out there. I think you have to consider whether that was a tactical mistake made by Cashman.

    (As usual with my comments, a few caveats – I was not of the “sign him at any cost” crowd, I’m not killing Cashman, etc. I just think we need to look at this critically to evaluate what happened here.)

    • king of fruitless hypotheticals

      maybe there IS a bottom to that bucket…

    • Zack

      Cashman previously admitted that you go the extra year/money to get the guy you wanted, he said that in an interview regarding CC and Tex this year.. Yankees obviously wanted Lee, that’s not the question. Cashman not going to 160m+ (the extra mile) seems that there was an actual budget from above, IMO.

      • Tim

        Or that in this instance, unlike 2 years ago and contrary to media opinion, the team actually wasn’t “desperate” to get their guy. Nor should they have been. Lee is great, but not “$25+ million over 7 years guaranteed” great.

        • RuleroftheBones86

          absolutely all of this.

    • slim

      Totally agree
      Cashman has to take the blame here.

      Press is spinning this like the Yankees bid far more and he choose a lesser offer, but all 3 offers are close and the Phils offer is more per year.

      Yankess have the resources and Cashman called Lee’s agent’s bluff and lost to the mystery team.
      Rangers offer was about equal to the Yankees, Yankees did not offer enough, bottom line.
      Lee would be signing here had Cashman stepped up to the plate and offered another 2m per year and now becuase of 2m bucks per year they are going to have to overpay with talent for a pitcher or have a poor rotation.
      With no plan B in sight, Yankees had to make the highest offer and quite honestly they didn’t.
      Martin signing is the first of a few bad reactionary moves to come.
      This is the year Cashman ruined Christmas!

      • Tim

        Please see comment above, and step back from the ledge.

        • RuleroftheBones86

          all that furious typing resulted in not much gain, slim.

          Folks like you, slim, should be ashamed for posting such idiotic statements about one of the premiere Gm in the game today. Hey, slim, let me guess you were one of the guys who probably destroyed Cash for not getting Johan, right?

          Guess, what Cash proved so many, including myself, very wrong and now we have two front-line pitchers and not one broken down middle- line southpaw.

          Is there a backup plan to Lee like CC was, not at the moment but have faith in Brian to make his move at the right moment with this loaded farm system.

          Trust in the Ninja-Elf!! And give thanks for him being STAT- Standing tall and tough- with our offer of joining baseball’s greatest team to go along with his peer & pal CC.

          P.S. No, shorty jokes, Brian is tall…for a ninja-elf thats for sure ;-)

  • Jorge

    I’m over this. I want to move on.

    If there have been lines in the sand drawn throughout the off-season so far the Yankees, there’s no reason to stop that practice now. Decide on the limits of what you will give up, who is “untouchable,” and proceed. There is no “tit for tat” here. Contrary to what sports-talk radio thinks, there is not a need to “answer back.”

    If I were running the Yankees, Montero would continue to be off the table, as would more than one of the Killer B’s. Go for a mid-rotation guy (no, I have no clue either who that is. I’m a social worker by trade), get Andy Pettite back in here, solidify the bullpen a bit, and see where it gets you come June/July and re-evaluate then.

    My interest is the team winning series, plural, not a series, singular.

    And I will beat the dead horse just once: the one thing I’m angry about right now is that Joba Chamberlain is not going to be entering his third season next year in the middle of the Yankee rotation. Things would be looking mighty different right now if that was the case.

  • Zack

    While the Lee situation has a depressing ending, I’m going to be pissed if some team just takes Blanton or Ibanez without the Phillies eating major money.

  • Granderslam

    I’m wondering if Yu Darvish will be their primary target, once he is posted, next season maybe.

  • It’sATarp

    This all great and stuff and i was happy that we don;t have a 7 year contract…but thinking about Andy retiring and Nova and mitre as fifth starter options is basically kill my optimism. Especially since every one around us except maybe the rays (altho they have hellickson and desmond jennings going into 2011) makes me feel less optimistic about this half a rotation.

    • Zack

      I would agree with your if this was May, but there’s a 0% chance the rotation goes CC, Hughes, AJ, Nova, Mitre.

      • pete


    • J

      I think if Andy retires we go out and trade for someone – probably a Floyd/Nolasco type rather than Greinke. If Andy comes back we will probably stand pat.

  • JobaWokee

    A s a true yankee fan, I am so glad that the yankees did not get let. Being more like Sandy ALderson on the mets is the better way to be. Keep your money for the future so we can sign a better pitcher in 5 years. Lincoln is on the one dollar bill.

  • JobaWokeeZ

    Being a true yankee fan, I am personally glad that the Yankees didn’t sign Lee. Being more like Sandy Alderson of the Mets and not making any big signings is a good thing for the Yankees wonderful franchise. The saved money from this offseason will help the Yankees sign a better player next offseason. As the mets fans say, “There is always next year!” By the way Lincoln is on the 1 dollar bill now.

  • burbankbogey

    Good article and I’m glad Cash stood pat. I felt going to 7 years was a mistake to begin with. We got Martin so that is a nice addition and adds some flexibility. Focus on the bullpen and getting that finished. See if we can Andy back to help in the rotation. Any thoughts on the Angels as a trading partner? ESPN mentioned as a possibility Weaver or Santana for a bat? Don’t know if I like those options and obviously based on price.

  • J. Scott

    I’m still thinking that after his arbitration hearing/award process is completed Joba will be back in the rotation.

    The thing that never made sense to me was why the Yankees positively tripped over one another to get to a microphone to assure everyone that Joba was, essentially, a middle reliever. I mean, this was a guy who might well be included in a trade. How in Heaven’s name are you enhancing his value by saying he’s pretty much being spotted in the least valuable slot on a pitching staff? Even if you THOUGHT that, why would you go out of your way to make that public? What’s the point? I’m thinking this was all aimed at his upcoming arbitration hearing.

    • Guest

      Interesting theory. Pretty dastardly behavior on the part of the Yanks, if true. I also think this is highly unlikely. Why would they submarine Joba’s trade value just to shave a few hundred thousand dollars of an arb. ruling? That would be extremely penny wise and pund foolish.

      I, like many here, am a part of the Joba the starter club. It is clear to me that the Yankees are not card carrying members. Essentially, people who know way more than I do about Joba’s health, make-up, etc., do not think he can be an asset to the team as a starter.

      Since I trust Cash/the organization’s judgment, I just have to believe that they have made the correct decision based on a complete set of information (much of which I do not have access to).

  • EndlessMike

    People are acting like Cliff Lee left over $20 million+ on the table but he’s player option can vest for $27.5 million and a $18 million op-out cluase. He didn’t leave as much money as people are saying he left more years on the table.

  • virginia yankee

    –as I have written – Cashman spent too much tim on Lee, Jeter – not enough on preparing for the future — spending money on the available free agent is the obvious and easy work — taking a risk on a trade is much harder — now he and the Yankee leadership are free to do a total review — it is a 3 dimensional game but they have the resources

    This is terrific for the Yankees beyond 2011 where we expected a healthy Lee would have made a difference. The issue for me has been the aging position players and relative underperformance going forward.

    — the NL is much more attractive than the AL for any P — assuming his assessment that the Phillies will be is the WS hunt for the next 5 plus years he made a great choice — if they are not then a poor one — P needs hitters and fielders and the Phillies have had a great deal of turnover with stars — potential stars. It also appears that a “marginal” NL team can make a one season jump in competitive performance more easily than an AL team — so his choice may backfire but Lee had on the field competitive assessment with both Rangers and Phillies of the Yankees — I believe he did not like the position player assessment during his HOF stretch

    What for the Yankees now — with Jeter, posada, arod cano and tex they have position player mobility only in the OF -unles Tex can and would play 3B again

    – construct an OF for the next 7 — 10 years.

    — Do something with Montero – the move to Martin as “starter” is suspect to me
    — Montero supposedly had improved enough to get him in the lineup — at C,
    — even if initially able I THINK HE GROWS OVERSIZE QUICKLY — so maybe Martin is a wise “hope” that he will find his absent performance, a least he is a defensive upgrade
    — 3B, can Montero understudy ARod — I have written that I believe his hip is a very big and worsening issue, impacting his entire physiology — tried in minors and found wanting
    — play 1B with Tex moving back to 3B where he started

    if none of those “works” for any reason TRADE HIM FOR A PIECE or pieces that do — perhaps he can be a DH but that seems to deliver less value than he should command in a trade

    — maybe there is a Montero for SS trade that grabs the Jeter or ARod replacement (ARod moving to DH) – allowing a 2 yr development at SS or 3B

    SIGN ANDY — Use the minors for P — test these guys — if the 3 pitches are in the repertoire the transition is mental — get on with it — if Andy retires then find the best low cost – years committed replacement

    — 2011 will be tough with the Sox improved and the Rays – The Yankees do not have the depth to be a plus 90 win for certain —
    — CC, Hughes, Pettit, need to equal 2010 — very likely
    — AJ and Vaquez replacement have to be 50 % better; that is a “hope”
    — Find an innings eater who can go 12 and 9 or better –who is avail at reasonable price

    — Tex, ARod, Granderson, Gardner, Swisher have had injury driven slumps and are prone to more – hopefully they are injury/slump free

    — Jeter and Posada are proud men – hopefully they can provide better production than 2010

    — awful lot of hopes — looking like 1997 Orioles

  • matt damon wayans

    There are no starting pitchers in baseball, sans early 2010 Casey Kelly that is, that I would be comfortable giving up Jesus Montero for/would even be available. Liriano, Hernandez, Hamels, Wainwright, Johnson and the like are not even valid ideas because either their team is relying on them to compete, they are the only reason to watch whatever team they play for or they are just too costly overall. We are better off filling the holes in our rotation with bargains this year and then letting our young pitching talent grow into those spots.

  • Craig

    Cashman’s really screwed this up royally. His mistake was not making Lee an offer early on with a 72 hour time limit so he could have moved on Carl Crawford after Lee turned them down. Signing Crawford not only would have weakened the Red Sox significantly while improving the Yankees but it would have spared some minor league chips by making Granderson available to trade for pitching. To make things worse, there’s no good free agent starting pitching available for at least the next 2 years.

    • the tenth inning stretch

      No way Lee and Braunecker would’ve been bullied into accepting an offer with a deadline that early into free agency.

  • Tank the Frank RETURNS!

    It’s been discussed at length already but I just want to echo the sentiment that other teams are going to ask for the world from Cashman in a trade for a pitcher. The Yankees are in a very bad position for negotiations right now. I personally think Greinke is non-factor right now because of this issue. The Yankees didn’t seem to match the Royals’ needs in the first place, and even if they did find common ground, the price has gone nowhere if not up at this point.

    That being said, what makes most sense for the Yankees is to acquire a mid-roation arm that won’t cost top prospects. I personally want no part of Mark Buehrle. I think Nolasco is the smart choice here. I don’t see any reason for the White Sox to unload Floyd. It’s obvious they’re trying to compete this season…but we’ve stranger things from Kenny Williams.

    The most obvious choice staring the Yankees straight in the face is to move Joba into the rotation. Forget about the past. Forget about what may or may not happen to his psyche if he’s moved back to the bullpen at some point. Have him come into Spring Training competing for a rotation spot with Mitre, Nova etc. The Yankees (obviously) need starting pitching depth especially with Lee signing elsewhere. Cashman needs to focus on having Mitre and Nova as the 6th and 7th options instead of the 4th and 5th options.

    The Yankees missed out big time on Lee and alternatives are going to have to be explored. The Yankees would be foolish not to explore this option. Mike A. has noted there’s no need to make a knee-jerk reaction. The BEST candidates are already in house (plus Pettitte). Make your best play to bring Pettitte back, add an arm like Nolasco (Floyd would be nice) and transition Joba as a depth move. Until he re-signs, I consider Pettitte a non-factor/luxury. Go into the season with:


    Then see how the pitching market develops mid-season.

    • Craig

      Plus if one of the Killer B’s starts off well in AA, they may be a candidate for the back of the rotation or the bullpen down the stretch.

    • Jimmy McNulty

      Fuck No to Nolasco. Javy Vazquez 2.0, at best. Too many fly balls in the Stadium is an awful awful thing. He’ll allow 30 HRs over 200 innings. No fucking thank you.

  • Jimmy McNulty

    Part of me thinks that if the trade had gone through in July and Lee spent the second half of 2010 in New York that the odds of him signing long-term with the Yankees would have gone up astronomically, but we just don’t know if that’s true. He could have left for the Phillies anyway, in which case the Yanks would be out Jesus Montero (but potentially up on World Championship).

    Agreed completely. The non Cliff Lee trade has me ambivalent. I hated when people said “we’ll get him for just money” that’s was stupid then and even stupider now. Montero is no sure thing, hope for the best, I guess.

    I said it yesterday and I believe it even more today: the Yankees absolutely can not run out and make a knee-jerk reaction trade for a pitcher just because they lost out on Lee. That’s only going to make matters worse. Prices are through the roof at the moment.

    Agreed completely, Cashman did his best last night and through the negotiation processes. Keep the farm they have, I already have enough concerns about this team’s long term roster construction…lets not give me any more.

    Please, let’s just give up on Joba Chamberlain the starter already. Yes, this is a perfect opportunity for them to move him back into the rotation, but they’ve been very clear about their intentions to keep him in the bullpen. It’s extremely likely that they just don’t think he can hold up under the starter’s workload.

    No. They fucked the dog on moving him to the bullpen so soon, and they’ve fucked up in several other moves…at least write a shit load of articles about how this is miles better than Sergio Mitre. I don’t have faith in him, at all, but I at least want to give him a chance to prove me wrong.

    Let’s cut the “we’re DOOMED!” crap. The roster as it is is probably a 90 win team, more if Pettitte returns. We all know that the team they have right now is not the team they’ll go into the 2011 postseason with. Just get in, anything can happen in a short series.

    Yeah, and one key injury to many of the aging players on the roster and they miss the playoffs. Furthermore a team that spends 190M on a team probably has higher goals than just 90 wins. Or they’ll trade away great prospects for a worse pitcher. The last time they traded for a pitcher they got Javy for Arodys Vizcaino.

    On the bright side, the Yankees will in all likelihood keep their first round pick (none of the four remaining Type-A’s fit), which means two top 50 picks and three top 80 picks in a stacked draft class. Silver lining.

    Great. They can draft more high K low power outfielders, more weak hitting middle infielders, and fail to sign the one good player that they’ve drafted. Don’t get me wrong, I like the farm as is…if anything I want to get more prospects not trade them away for a two starter or anything. But, they haven’t really drafted all that well in the last five years. Of the players that they’ve drafted in the past decade one of them cracks the starting nine (Brett Gardner) and one cracks the rotation (Phil Hughes), while there’s two that contribute to the bullpen (Chamberlain and Robertson), and there’s not a whole lot of others contributing across the majors either. Just Ajax and IPK, if anything they should spend more on the IFA market.

    • Bulldozer

      Yeah, you’re right. Draffting is so easy. The Yanks just keep screwing it up.

      • Jimmy McNulty

        In the past ten years, they’ve produced four guys that are on the 25 man.

    • pete

      this isn’t a 190M team right now. It’s a $170m team. By the time it’s a $190, or $200, or $210m team, it very well could (and presumably will) be a 95+ win team

      • Jimmy McNulty

        I’d rather just have them stick with a cheap-ish mediocre Yankee team then try to go all in.

  • Kyle

    Don’t make any rash decisions. Get Pettite and go into the season with your number 5 up for grabs in ST.

    Keep the financial flexibility until it becomes imperative to make a move. See how far the stable can take you before doing anything.

    My fan confidence will plummet to sub-zero if they turn around right now and trade Montero + the farm.

    • Kyle

      If this is true I will make sweet man-love to Cashman on the spot.

      • From Joel Sherman of the New York Post: “One Yankees executive likened what they now face as losing out on Microsoft stock and instead having to diversify the portfolio to keep it strong.” The Yanks have added Russell Martin and will probably look into innings-eaters or reclamation project starters. They’re also expected to add two relievers and a righty-hitting fourth outfielder. So, they’ll spread the wealth.
      •GM Brian Cashman preached that “Plan B is patience.” He feels that prices will go up with teams, and I assume agents, sensing blood in the water. He’s also willing to wait until the season to make an acquisition.
      •Cashman says Lee’s decision “doesn’t affect” Andy Pettitte, who remains undecided but is feeling the pull of retirement a little stronger than normal.
      •Cashman talked about the failed Lee trade from July and said he’s grateful it didn’t happen. At this point, he says “It would be a rare situation for me to include Montero in a deal.”

  • ShuutoHeat

    Heh, Yankees haven’t even played a single game and it isn’t even 2011 yet but I think people are jumping off the bridge already.

    Would be amazingly funny, if Rollins starts next season with a bold cocky prediction about his oh so amazing team with their golden rotation. Then they fall flat and never reach the WS.

  • mustang

    ALL THIS!!!!

    Thank you Michael.

  • Claudell

    I have to say that I don’t think many Yankees fans seem too panicked about losing out on Lee. All of my friends agree with me that I sucks, but that it’s not some sort of death blow to the organization. And, I think we all sort of knew that the Yanks would be overpaying Lee for the last 1-3 years of a seven-year deal, anyway. So, in the long run, they may be better off.

    I know… That doesn’t help them win the WS in 2011, but the Yanks can’t always live year-to-year on FAs. Cashman will get it done another way.

  • the tenth inning stretch

    So…if the Phillies end up coming to NY in the World Series, I’m thinking Yankee fans will definitely not be doing good things in Kristin Lee’s heart.

    • JP

      Of course, if the Phillies don’t make the playoffs at all (long shot but still possible), then that would be the epic fail to end all epic fails!

  • JP

    My thoughts on the Cliff Lee non-signing: It’s in a way good news for us because we won’t have to face him more than once in the regular season, and also because it’s really bad news for the Mets! Now they can STFU!

  • Jasphil

    Cliff Lee’s a great pitcher, but I honestly think the Yanks are better off without a 7-year $xxx million deal. It was a smart move for the short term, but long term it would have hampered our ability to be flexible. Even how great A-Rod is, does anyone think that we’ll still want that contract or a player with declining skills in 3, 4 or 5 years?

    Funny how the media is calling this a “blow” to the Yanks not getting Lee. Give me a break. When the Red Sox spend like maniacs it’s called “wise”. When the Yanks do it, it’s “evil”.

    See you all in October. Deep into October. Again.