Archive for Irresponsible Rumormongering
The Yankees, says Buster Olney via Twitter, are going hard after Russell Martin. The club is “now taking an aggressive approach” in conversations with the recently non-tendered former Dodger backstop. Olney says the fight for Martin is between the Yankees and the Red Sox with others lurking on the periphery.
According to previous reports, the Yanks view Martin as a potential starting catcher which speaks volumes of the club’s assessment of Jesus Montero‘s defensive capabilities. Last Friday, the Bombers nearly traded Francisco Cervelli to the Dodgers for Martin, but the deal fell through at the last minute. While his would be a small signing, Martin could play a decent role on the 2011 Yanks if he makes it to New York.
Here’s one from Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan that’s just designed to send Yankee fans into a tizzy: A source close to Zack Greinke says the mercurial ace would consider pitching in New York. “I wouldn’t put it past him to go to New York,” Passan’s source said. “I don’t think he’d rule out anybody. He says he likes New York. Especially because they’re winners. He wants to go to a team that wins. He’s got a list, but in the process, a lot of people have lists.”
This development essentially flies in the face of everything we’ve heard about Greinke so far. The right-hander, who has struggled with social anxiety disorder and depression, has reportedly been adverse to joining the Yankees, and his no-trade clause requires him to consent to a deal to the Bronx. Still, Passan reports that the Yanks and Royals have discussed Greinke and that the no-trade clause ” isn’t the impediment it’s been made out to be.” If Cliff Lee slips through their fingers or Andy Pettitte retires, the Yanks could very well begin to explore packaging some young talent for Greinke.
Sometimes a huge detail slips through the cracks. That happens often during the hot stove season. Yet, even as I’ve kept abreast of most developments, this Tim Brown column at Yahoo escaped my attention yesterday. That’s a shame, because it contained quite the interesting tidbit:
An industry source said Monday the Yankees have offered Cliff Lee(notes) nearly $140 million over six years, but Lee continues to hold out for a seventh year.
On the RAB Radio Show yesterday I predicted that Lee would eventually sign for those six years and that $140 million. But until Brown published that column all we’d heard is that the Yankees “are in the $115 – $120 million range for five years.” We hadn’t even heard they’d made that a formal offer. For them to offer six years at $140 million at this point seems a bit unbelievable.
If true, I don’t think Lee will hold out for that seventh year for much longer. No team, not even the Rangers, is likely to match six years at $140 million. Lee might be trying to coax it out of someone, but once it’s clear that no one will bite I imagine he’d sign that contract with a mile-wide grin on his face. That might not be the largest total contract for a pitcher, it would provide Lee with the highest average annual value for a pitcher in history. Considering his age, I think that’s as big a win as he can expect.
Still, something about this doesn’t make sense. Why would the Yankees make this offer right at the start? How did everyone let this tidbit slip for a full day without regurgitating it? I really don’t think the Yankees would offer a sixth year on their own volition. Rather, they’d do so in reaction to an increased bid by Texas. Again, I think the Yankees eventually get to that 6/140 spot, but I’m not sure they’d try to blow away Lee with it in the same manner they did Sabathia. But it’s possible, I guess.
As Mike and I discussed on yesterday’s show, chances are Lee won’t sign until the Winter Meetings. We’d all love a Thanksgiving present, but with Lee reportedly seeking to induce a bidding war, there’s little to no chance of that happening. His next press conference, I expect, will be at Yankee Stadium. But I wouldn’t bank on that until December.
Via Buster Olney (Insider req’d), the Yankees have some interest in free agent catcher John Buck, but they’re unlikely to offer him more than a one-year deal given the young catching they have coming up through the system. With Jorge Posada expected to take over as the full-time designated hitter, having a veteran catcher around to provide insurance behind Jesus Montero and Frankie Cervelli would be a wonderful thing. That said, Buck is going to try to cash in on the best year of his career (2.9 fWAR) as he should, so there’s a next-to-zero chance that he’ll settle for one year.
If anything, I expect the Yanks to sign some veteran to a minor league deal to stash in Triple-A, similar to Chad Moeller last year. There’s also a very real possibility that they’re trying to drive up the price for the Red Sox, who have legit interest in Buck.
The Hot Stove League can be a funny, funny thing. Signings and trades tend to happen at isolated moments around the Winter Meetings, before Christmas and in early-to-mid January, and the weeks in between are filled with rumors and whispers, speculation and distortion. While Cliff Lee remains the free agent prize this year, the Yankees and their fans will be focusing on the homegrown hero and team captain. Today, we saw how discussion and speculation about Jeter can blow up into something it is not.
What grew into a furor by the afternoon started innocently enough with a pair of radio interviews with Hal Steinbrenner. While talking first with Michael Kay and then with Mike Francesa yesterday, Hal began to talk about Derek Jeter‘s negotiations, and as he mentioned that the Yanks were a business, he also mentioned the team’s interest in signing Jeter. But, he warned, he wanted a deal that was good for both sides. “There’s always the possibility that things could get messy,” he said.
Uh, oh! Things might be messy. It’s amazing how quickly a possibility of things getting messy turns into “Yanks warn of messy talks with Jeter,” as the headline on The Post said. ESPN had a similar take.
Today, the Internet exploded all over again when Jon Heyman, the King of Speculation, let loose what can only be termed his opinion as couched in an anonymous source. A few hours ago, he tweeted that “industry sources suggest” that Jeter could ask for six years (and be signed through age 42 as A-Rod is). The Yanks want him for fewer years. He elaborated in a season preview column:
There are early indications the talks with Jeter may take awhile. Some industry sources still say they wouldn’t be surprised if he initially sought to obtain a six-year deal to match the expiration age of Alex Rodriguez‘s contract, which would put Jeter at 42. The Yankees haven’t opened talks yet with his agent, Casey Close, and while it’s unconfirmed, there are a few early hints that the team may be thinking about a deal of about half that length, perhaps three guaranteed years.
So now we have “some industry sources” who “wouldn’t be surprised” if Jeter “initially sought” a six-year deal. It’s also “unconfirmed” but there are “a few early hints” that the Yankees would counter with a three-year deal. It’s somewhat shocking this paragraph made it past a Sports Illustrated editor considering the 2000 pounds of salt with which we must take it.
Right now, we don’t know what Jeter wants, what the Yanks are willing to pay or how long it’s going to take. But if this is the best rumor we’ve got, it isn’t worth listening to Heyman when he says, “Jeter could take awhile [sic],” and the only thing getting messy so far are the journalistic standards in place for reporting unfounded rumors.
Via Jon Heyman, “people close to” Royals’ ace Zack Greinke say there’s no chance the righty would accept a trade to New York. Greinke has some sort of convoluted no-trade clause, and it’s only natural that he’d be connected to the Yankees after Kansas City put him out on the market.
The anti-Greinke camp was pretty strong given the concerns about his bout with social anxiety disorder and the MSM-made pressure cooker of New York, so this should make them happy. Sure, there has to be some concern when you’re dealing with something like that, but Greinke is a special case; a supremely talented 27-year-old with three straight years of no worse than 4.9 fWAR. Usually you move mountains to acquire a player like that, and who knows, they still might.
Via NPB Tracker, agent Don Nomura called the Yankees a “dark horse” in the bidding for Japanese righty Hisashi Iwakuma. I don’t know about you, but this sounds like a classic case of an agent trying to drive up the price by looping the Yanks into the mix. I posted about Iwakuma yesterday, and we have zero indication that they actually have interest in acquiring him, at least until this report from his agent. The posting process started today, so we should found out a results in the next week or so.
You may have seen this report yesterday, indicating that former pitching coach Dave Eiland felt his opinions were “de-emphasized” after his return from a month-long personal leave of absence this past June. Well, Mark Feinsand spoke to Eiland himself, who said the report was “absolutely ridiculous and simply not true.” Glad he cleared that up. He also declined to speak about the circumstances of his dismissal, which should come as no surprise.
Even if the the relationship between Girardi and Eiland did deteriorate after the leave of absence, it’s still pretty much a non-story. When established big leaguers like A.J. Burnett and Javy Vazquez pitch as poorly as they did down the stretch, they’re to blame. Not the coaching staff.
What if? What if? What if? What if Andy Pettitte retires? What if Cliff Lee stays with the Rangers? What if the Yankees are left empty-handed on the open market and are forced to contemplate a rotation with only CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, A.J. Burnett and a whole lot of question marks? Those are the questions of which nightmares are made for Yankee fans.
As the ALCS plays out, the Yankees know they have a mini pitching problem on their hands. Last year, they used just three starters en route to their 11-4 run through October, and this year, they saw A.J. Burnett spit the bit in a pivotal Game 4, which also happened to be his first start since October 2. Their supply of reliable pitchers has dwindled, and that number could sink even further.
We’re awaiting the end of a series against Cliff Lee, and many in baseball seem to think that Game 7, if it comes to it, could be the last time Cliff Lee faces the Yankees for a few years. If you can’t beat, the saying goes, throw enough money at him so he’ll join you. If it’s about the money, as Patrick Rishe at Forbes explored earlier this week, Lee will land in New York. He could make around $180-$200 million in salary and endorsements if he signs with the Yankees, and the Rangers, despite their new-found wealth, can’t even begin to approach a $25 million annual commitment for Lee.
But it’s baseball, and we can’t predict it. If Lee re-ups with Texas, the Yankees will look to the trade market, and as we know, the Royals will listen to offers for Zack Greinke, the 2009 Cy Young Award. The mercurial right-hander is owed $13.5 million in 2011 and 2012, and the perennial small-market Royals would love to clear some salary.
On the surface, Greinke is an alluring target. Despite suffering through a down-year — by his standards at least — the 27-year-old has some impressive numbers over the last three seasons (and for what’s it worth, Buster Olney’s sources think that Greinke’s numbers were down because he was bored in Kansas City last year). He’s made 98 starts with an ERA of 3.25 and a FIP of 2.98. He’s given up less than a home run while averaging 2.2 walks and 8.4 strike outs per 9 innings. He won’t come cheap, and because my trade proposal is bound to suck, there’s no point speculating. If the Mariners wanted Jesus Montero plus for three months of Cliff Lee, we can only imagine what the Royals should want for two full years of Greinke.
Olney, who first broke the Greinke story, listed his most likely destinations a few days ago. Interestingly, the top 13 unlikely destinations are mid-market teams that are a player or two away from competitiveness. Those are the franchises that could truly stand to benefit from a Greinke trade. The Yankees and Red Sox, says Olney, are among the ten teams with the pieces to land Greinke and perhaps the need too. He writes:
The first question that both teams would ask before seriously pursuing Greinke is how they think he would adapt to their high-pressure markets. Keep this in mind: The Yankees do have excellent catching prospects, and the Royals need catching, and even if they sign Cliff Lee, they would not hesitate to make a Greinke deal if they thought he could adjust to New York. GM Brian Cashman always has believed in shooting for high-end pitching.
Therein lies the rub — or two rubs. As Jon Morosi reported yesterday, Zack Greinke has a restrictive no-trade clause. This year, he can block trades to 20 teams; next year, that number sinks to 15. Both the Yankees and the Red Sox are on that list and seemingly for a good reason. Greinke has suffered from a social anxiety disorder and depression, and the various beat writers and scouts who have at least a passing knowledge of Greinke and his make-up question whether or not he would be able to handle the pressure of pitching for the beasts of the AL East. Think Javier Vazquez Redux.
In an ideal world, the Yankees would be able to separate Zack Greinke the pitcher from Zack Greinke the person. They could trade from their depth and take on Greinke’s modest salary. After all, he’s making less than A.J. Burnett and is a near-lock to outperform A.J. over the next two seasons. But it’s impossible to take Greinke’s arm without his head, and that might very well be a deal-breaker. Greinke is an appealing name for the Yankees, but it just wouldn’t work out for those two.
Earlier this week, rumors out of Arlington set the Internet abuzzing. The Rangers, reported USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, were on the verge of signing a 20-year, $3-billion TV deal that would guarantee them $150 million in annual payments for the rights to their games. With a new ownership group in place and a playoff berth secured, everything has been coming up roses for the former Washington Senators, and that TV deal, towering over the Dodgers’ $45 million intake, would be the highest for any team that doesn’t own its TV station.
When the final details emerged, the dollar figureds were tempered slightly. The deal will be worth closer to $1.5 to $1.6 billion with the Ranger’s annual take set between $75 and $80 million. Fox Sports will throw in an $80-million signing bonus that the Rangers will receive before the 2011 season. Obviously, this influx of cash concerns Yankee fans because of Cliff Lee and Cliff Lee alone.
For the Yankees, Lee is the one who got away this year, and not everyone was too upset by the machinations of the Mariners at the trade deadline. Because the Mariners wanted to wrestle Justin Smoak away from the Rangers and saw him as a better fit for Safeco Field than Jesus Montero will be and because of concerns over the additional prospects included in the deal, Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik sent Lee not to the Yankees in early June but to the Rangers. The Yankees and their fans wanted to have Lee this year to wrap up the AL East and their 28th World Series championship, but they instead were willing to settle for a postseason acquisition.
With this money though, the Rangers could potentially be on footing nearly even with the Yanks when it comes to the dollars. If the Rangers see Lee as a potential cornerstore to a developing rotation and if he propels them through October to the franchise’s first ALCS or even World Series appearance, the Greenberg/Ryan ownership might be willing to part with a few years of TV profits to keep their ace. This TV deal guarantees at the very least that the Rangers will have an additional $60 million in revenue over their previous deal. The club has money to spend, and if two very rich teams want Lee, he will have money showered upon him.
Even with the Rangers’ new-found wealth, money isn’t an obstacle for the Yankees. They’ll have Javier Vazquez‘s contract off the books and owe A-Rod less in 2011 and subsequent seasons than they paid him in 2010. Derek Jeter won’t be making $22.6 million either. Plus, the team has a revenue stream that allows them to up their payroll if need be, and Lee is clearly the club’s off-season priority.
That said, the winter’s decision will likely be a personal one for Lee. Even as the Rangers cakewalked their way to an AL West title, Lee went just 4-6 with a 4.25 ERA in 14 starts. He’s allowed 99 hits in 101.2 innings, and his home run rate more than doubled from 0.4 with the Mariners to 1.0 per 9 innings with the Rangers. His Texas FIP though is still a cool 3.13, but when rumors emerged in August that Lee wasn’t a big fan of Texas, you could almost hear the Yanks’ executives rubbing their hands with glee.
So Yankee fans should beware. With the Rangers’ revenue and success, they are bound to be active players in the free agent market this year, and that market begins with Cliff Lee. Three months ago, I was ready to count my chickens before they hatched, but today, I’ll hold my breath for two months and hope that Lee wants to come to New York as badly as New York wants him.