"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Winter Meetings Day Two (Open Thread)


There was a press conference in Boston yesterday to introduce Adrian Gonzalez as the newest member of the Red Sox. 

“I’m very excited that everything was able to be worked out,” Gonzalez said, “and I’m very excited to be here in Boston, and ready to beat the Yanks.”

That was cute, trying to fit in on the first day. It just about sums up the difference between the Yankees and the Sox. You’ll never hear a star player in New York mention the Red Sox in his debut press conference (okay, maybe Johnny Damon did, but that’s different). Gonzalez is a load as a player and I’m sure he’ll cause some real agita next year. But this was cute.

All eyes remain on Cliff Lee. He’s been such a good nemesis for the Yanks the past few years now I’m starting to feel that he’s going to foil them again, leaving us with uncertain thoughts about A.J. Burnett to keep us warm this winter. If the Yanks lose out on Lee and Andy Pettitte retires, we’ll have something to chew on, won’t we?

Update: The Nats are hungry to be Money Boss Players.

Update: Cause for celebration: Jay Jaffe has been elected to the BBWAA.

I went to the winter meetings once, back in 2003. I shared a room with Jay who was the first blogger I ever met (lunch at Christine’s polish diner on 1st Avenue, February, 2003). I am thrilled by this news. Few are more deserving than Jay. Raise a glass with me!

Update: Nah, it’s not the Nats who supposedly have a 7 year offer out there for Lee. But it is someone, according to Jon Heyman.


1 Dimelo   ~  Dec 7, 2010 9:46 am

It's to the point that every one of their FA says the same thing. I think John Henry and co. give these guys the same script -- "the fans will love you if you say something bad about the Yankees".

2 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 7, 2010 9:56 am

I'm not sure this is a 90 win team without Lee and Pettitte, led alone a world title contender.

3 Dimelo   ~  Dec 7, 2010 10:11 am

[2] I think that'll be a good thing. Every once in a while it's ok to suck. I'm one of the few people not rooting for Lee, I want our GM to get creative and figure shit out for once. He just gives a blank check to every problem and then stands tough on other issues.

4 Alex Belth   ~  Dec 7, 2010 10:17 am

3) You mean like not trading Phil Hughes for Santana?

5 Diane Firstman   ~  Dec 7, 2010 10:29 am

Well, maybe throw Joba out there every 5th day for the entire season, and finally see if you really do have a 10-cent head with a $1M arm.

6 OldYanksFan   ~  Dec 7, 2010 10:32 am

[3] I kinda agree. I think at 5/$118m, Lee might be worth it. But 6 or 7 years leaves a really bad taste in my mouth.

Anyone look at NEXT years crop of FAs and see what $100m+ might buy?

And the Sox are at it again!
"Red Sox target Magglio Ordonez in search of right-handed bat"

7 OldYanksFan   ~  Dec 7, 2010 10:33 am

[5] Me likey.

8 Chyll Will   ~  Dec 7, 2010 10:35 am

[5] (Cue laugh track from "all-knowing" Yankee higher-ups)

9 Jon DeRosa   ~  Dec 7, 2010 10:35 am

[3] C'mon, look at the outfield. Granderson, Swisher and Gardner show three different creative approaches. Trading the farm, trading for an undervalued commodity, and reaping the benefit from the farm. (Throw in the fact that he correctly IDed gardner as better than melky when that was far from a sure thing.)

He broke the bank for CC and Teix, but I think that he's shown ample creativity in other areas.

10 Cru Jones   ~  Dec 7, 2010 10:41 am

I wasn't very anxious about the $$$ and years leading up to CC, but, for Lee? Stressed!! Dude's career isn't consistent enough for 6/7 years, dude is old compared to CC and he's a ticking time bomb, injury-wise, IMO. Maybe if his two 2010 WS starts were better....(unfair & ridiculous, I know).

At the same point, there's so much money sunk into this team, they can't just let it sink for lack of pitching. Please, no Jesus for Greinke, either.

[3], [9] Also, I was pretty psyched for Melky-Javier....Didn't work out for anyone, but, I thought that was a pretty good/creative/aggressive move.

11 Jon DeRosa   ~  Dec 7, 2010 10:42 am

[3 & 6] Why is it OK for the Yanks to have a bad year now because they don't sign Lee, but not OK for the Yanks to have a bad year in year 6 of a Cliff Lee contract because they signed him?

To me, I'd much rather secure the present and worry about year 6 of the deal when it comes. A lot of things could happen to salvage the future between now and then, there's not much else that can be done to salvage 2011.

12 Dimelo   ~  Dec 7, 2010 10:47 am

[4] Yes, just like that. I want more of that than giving large checks to more mercenaries.

[9] Those players are great role players, but if you are going to make an impact then get a pitcher that's a solid #2, do your homework instead of paying Lee till he's 38 years old. I'd much rather that. It doesn't have to be the bestest ever #1 pitcher, it can be a good pitcher that will fit in nicely to what we currently have in our rotation.

Halladay is commonly called a true #1, but he couldn't stop the Giants. I'm not the GM, I don't get paid to have the answers but I do know that the answer can't continue to be sign the Yanks up for more FA pitchers. Whatever happened to Cash's plan from a few years ago? It's like he has a plan or he doesn't have a plan.

13 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 7, 2010 10:51 am


Not a hell of a lot.


Its better than this awful class, but no one we should be saving our pennies for.

14 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 7, 2010 10:58 am

If you closed your eyes and listened to the AGon press conference, he sounded just like Arod, in voice, speech pattern and content. It was pretty uncanny.

15 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 7, 2010 10:58 am

[12] When the Yankees aim low, they tend to get burned. The past decade is littered with "nice complimentary pitchers for the middle to back of the rotation" who flamed out in spectacular fashion. From Denny Neagle to Sterling Hitchcock to Jeff Weaver to Jaret Wright and Cory Lidle and Kei igawa and Javier Vazquez., going for mid level pitching hasn't been working.

16 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 7, 2010 11:02 am

[9] [11] I agree with you. The Yankees have been creative in some areas, which has allowed them to spend big money in others (realtive to their inflated budget).

[12] Role players? All three were very good last season...among the most productive on the team. Trying to find an ace by being creative is not the best way to go. The Yankees are better off paying top dollars for proven prime talent and trying to get creative with the rest of the roster. There is no way to find a player like Lee by being creative.

17 Raf   ~  Dec 7, 2010 11:51 am

The Yankees are a triple threat in that they can sign a player like Lee, trade for a player like Lee (at least have a deal in place until the M's changed their mind), or develop players from within. True they didn't trade Hughes for Santana, but they went out and signed Sabathia anyway.

Cashman has shown he'll make a big deal, when it's warranted (Knoblauch, Clemens, Rodriguez, Abreu, etc), promote from within when warranted (Chamberlain, Gardner, Wang, Hughes, Cano, etc), and sign players when warranted (Sabathia, Mussina, Teix, Damon, etc)

[15] It isn't just the past decade; Terry Mulholland, Xavier Hernandez, Dave LaPoint, Pascual Perez, Britt Burns, Richard Dotson, etc, etc, etc... The Yankees (and other organizations for that matter) have had pitching signings that haven't worked out.

18 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 7, 2010 12:22 pm

Oh, *everyone* is going to have bad pitching signings. I'm just saying that I'd rather shoot high than aim low. If Sabathia falls off a little, he's probably going to still be pretty good. If, [generic number four starter candidate] falls off a bit, he's horrendous.

19 Diane Firstman   ~  Dec 7, 2010 12:22 pm

And this morning ... the judge in the McCourt case ruled in favor of Jamie, which throws the ownership of the Dodgers into total cluster****.

20 rbj   ~  Dec 7, 2010 12:39 pm

Congrats to Jay!

21 Raf   ~  Dec 7, 2010 12:41 pm

[18] Generic number 4 starters are near replacement level, if they fall off, they're going to be horrendous.

22 doodoobrown   ~  Dec 7, 2010 12:42 pm

[15] and [18], you guys are right on. Take the shot with the big guns. It's the Carl Pavanos and AJ Burnetts of the world that screw things up. I was nervous about the Lee signing originally, but I'm totally on board now. I'll take my chances with a lefty who doesn't walk batters any day of the week.

23 The Mick536   ~  Dec 7, 2010 12:53 pm

Congrats to Jamie. Frank be one of the great saps of the 20th Century. From O'Malley to Rupert to Frank. Sounds like an infield with a lot of holes.

24 Shaun P.   ~  Dec 7, 2010 1:22 pm

[20] Indeed - hats off to Jay (the drink will have to wait until tonight)! The BBWAA continues to improve.

[19] [23] Wow - that's amazing. I can't imagine Bud is going to be happy about this.

[22] et al - I'm with everyone on aiming high. I'm just not convinced Lee is high. I think you must put his postseason performances out of mind, completely. If you can't, repeat after me - "Jeff Weaver was an arguable World Series MVP candidate in 2006".

When you look at just the regular season, from 2008-2010, Lee did this:

667.3 IP, 2.98 ERA, .63 HR/9, 1.3 BB/9, 7.23 K/9, 6.5 K/BB

Very stingy with the walks and the home runs, a nice strikeout rate, and the ERA is of course very nice.

However, in the preceding 679 IP, covering 4 years (2004-2007) . . .

4.76 ERA, 1.35 HR/9, 3.08 BB/9, 6.6 K/9, 2.2 K/BB

So Lee isn't Mussina, a guy with almost decade long track record of sustained success. Lee is closer to Sabathia, who was an average-to-good pitcher, and then turned in 3 fantastic years and hit free agency. However, Lee didn't peak as high as Sabathia did, or at as young an age. This suggests to me that Lee's downslope is going to come sooner and the results won't be pretty. Knock 2 or 3 K/9 off Sabathia's peak of 10, add 1 BB/9, and you still have a very good pitcher (see 2010). Knock 2-3 K/9 off Lee's peak and add 1 BB/9, and you've got an OK pitcher who's going to be in trouble soon.

Anything more than 3 years is going to be trouble.

25 Jon DeRosa   ~  Dec 7, 2010 1:36 pm

[24] I agree, If you're not sold on him, hard to endorse a mega-deal.

I tend to to argue that the 2004-2007 stats should be ignored, or mostly ignored, because he's clearly such a different pitcher these days. But it makes me uneasy because I can't point to the tangible thing that flipped the switch for him. It's not like he added a knuckle-ball or something in 2008 that just changed everything. He just got better. I trust that after 3 years, it's not a fluke though, but I can see someone else not making that same conclusion.

26 Raf   ~  Dec 7, 2010 1:39 pm

[12] The plan has always been the same; develop from within, whatever can't be developed or traded for, can be bought. The Yanks have always been buying pitching, be it Cone, Rogers, Key, Gooden, Hernandez, Mussina, Wells, etc

[22] I think Minnesotans may disagree with you on Pavano.

27 Chyll Will   ~  Dec 7, 2010 2:07 pm

[22,26] Florida, too (on both counts)

It will be interesting whoever besides the Yanks end up with Cliff Lee; the press led by the usual local yokels will scream that it's a terrible loss for the Yanks, but they won't remember that if he breaks down or returns to mediocrity in year three or four. If the Yanks do get him, it's the Yanks being the greedy overprivileged ruination of baseball again.

How many of these fools gritted their teeth when they had to admit that Cashman was right to pass on Johan Santana and pursue CC; they won the WS on their first try with him. And remember, the Yanks are all about winning the WS; everything else is a failure. In that context, you have to go with Cliff Lee at his peak and plan for his eventual fall from grace as soon as the ink dries or sooner.

Let's agree that without freak injury, Cliff Lee is good for at least two or three more years of top-notch pitching, and if not, well there's no salary cap keeping them from adding someone else either by trade or promotion. Six years oughtta do it, and if not; well hey, it's baseball, go and build your own Cliff Lee. It just would be nice to have one already while you're doing that.

28 The Mick536   ~  Dec 7, 2010 2:19 pm

[26] Let's see about them buying or trading for arms. They traded for at least 7 HoF pitchers: Jack Chesboro, Red Ruffing, Gaylord Perry, Waite Hoyt, Catfish, Phil Niekro and Goose. Whitey Ford was home grown. Lefty Gomez home grown, also. Not sure what this means, but fun looking it up.

For Emma, Hoyt traded to Detroit for Yats Wuestling. Hoyt turned out to be almost as much of a steal as "Babe" Ruth.

29 MDF   ~  Dec 7, 2010 4:45 pm

[11] Jon DeRosa: "I’d much rather secure the present and worry about year 6 of the deal when it comes. A lot of things could happen to salvage the future between now and then, there’s not much else that can be done to salvage 2011."

Exactly. .

I am also wondering when sports fans became faux owners/general managers, more concerned about the team's financial bottom line than it's place in the standings. As far as I am concerned, if signing Cliff Lee means winning more games this year and next, then I'm all for signing him.

The real difference between the Steinbrenner Yankees and the many, many major league also-rans is that the Yankee ownership has followed the approach that Jon DeRosa spelled out: (1) spend big (2) to win now.

It seems to me that many Banterites, caught up in fantasies of ownership, would prefer an Arte Moreno (or even Pittsburgh) approach to roster decisions over that of the Steinbrenner's.

30 Chyll Will   ~  Dec 7, 2010 5:08 pm

[29] I don't think it's that simple; I figure many here are trying to decide if his present body of work coupled with what to expect outside of unexpected accidents justify the amount of expenditure the Yanks are considering, and how much of a real impact those moves make on the Yanks' broader and future decsions. I will explain further when I get home...

31 Chyll Will   ~  Dec 7, 2010 6:04 pm

[30] (ahem) Okay, I think most here agree Lee would considerably upgrade the rotation by the nth degree, period. Few teams could survive a one-two combination like CC and Lee, coupled with the anticipated run support. If Hughes takes a step forward and survives a full season without losing steam and Andy decides to give it another go, you're looking at a huge percentage of series wins during the season, not to mention sweeps. Lee's impact would be immediate and the chances of them winning two more WS significant.

But at what cost to the future? That's the crux of the Banters' concern; if Lee somehow becomes Barry Zito in year four or five, not only are you stuck with a virtually immovable contract, but you waste a roster spot for how many more years it took to sign him. It's easy enough for me to say "win now, pay later", but as we've fairly concluded, long-term contracts for the most part tend to end badly for the team paying the bill. You're basically gambling that Cliff Lee will be Mike Mussina at the end and not Barry Zito, Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, Johan Santana, Mike Hampton, John Smoltz... A.J. Burnett...

With Lee, you very well could have two years of glory and four-plus years of mediocrity. Or you can have five-six years of greatness. Which one seems more likely, and how much are you willing to pay for that? And how much are you willing to pay MLB to afford the luxury? And what happens if instead of two years, you get one? Banterites are not typical in how we decide what is the best option for the team (The Daily News/Post said so!!!) and so I give everyone the benefit of the doubt that they have good reason to feel the way they do either way. It's academic even before it becomes "mute".

I agree with Mattpat; throwing two-type money at a four-type pitcher is not going to make him a two. I would rather have a number one or two who happens to pitch fourth than a four who has to pitch two.

32 Jon DeRosa   ~  Dec 7, 2010 10:06 pm

[31] i pity the team that signed barry zito to that huge contract and wasted a roster spot on him.... oh wait. if he turns to shit in year 3 or 4, worry about it then. in the meantime, enjoy the parades.

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