"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

The Mystery Team, Victorious

Well, I did not see that coming.

So it appears that Cliff Lee is indeed going to Philly — and apparently for tens of millions less than the Yankees (and presumably, Rangers) offered.

I can’t say I’ve seen an athlete do that too often, so not that he’ll be going hungry or anything, but I have a lot of respect for his decision. Well, in a sense. Anyone who takes millions of dollars less than they could make in New York, to live in Philadelphia, is not someone I feel I understand very well. Really? (“…Her?”). They’ve got one hell of a rotation there now, and I suppose that was part of the appeal for him. Maybe the guy just really loves cheese steak? Ah well, to each their own.

Particularly if Andy Pettitte doesn’t come back (… COME BACK ANDY! How does $25 million sound?!), next year’s Yankee pitching staff is looking a little Mitrish. As much as many of us thought a seven-year deal would likely be a drag on the team by the fifth or sixth year, it sure would’ve looked pretty in 2011. Now Brian Cashman is going to have to scramble faster than he scrambled down the side of that Connecticut office building in an elf costume. But hey, as Jon DeRosa put it last night, “On the bright side, we are now primed for 2015. Do not mess with us in 2015.”

Feel free to panic, rationalize, or remain in denial, as you prefer, below.


1 Steve Flack   ~  Dec 14, 2010 12:49 am

I have no respect for a man who goes back to the team that traded him a year ago. It's like a woman going back to her abusive husband.

2 Emma Span   ~  Dec 14, 2010 12:50 am

[1] You have to wonder what the hell they were thinking, trading him, if they were just going to do this.

3 Raf   ~  Dec 14, 2010 12:50 am

[1] That's a new one... The team traded Lee because he didn't want to sign a contract with them.

4 monkeypants   ~  Dec 14, 2010 12:52 am

[2] They effectively traded a couple years of Lee him for long-term Roy Halladay, so you can't really argue with the move. That they were able to get Lee back on top of adding Oswalt last year is just gravy.

5 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 14, 2010 12:54 am

Is there even anyone to scramble *for?*

God help me if I see Wandy Rodriguez on this team in a week.

6 tommyl   ~  Dec 14, 2010 12:54 am

[2] [4] They already had Doc at the time. The trade was to restock their farm system which was depleted after trading for Halladay.

I think the important question for Lee is now: Pat's or Geno's?

7 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 14, 2010 12:57 am

Oh, good, Amaro says Joe Blanton is on the trading block.

We're so beyond screwed.

8 monkeypants   ~  Dec 14, 2010 12:57 am

[4] Yeah, but the way I read it was that they added Doc with the intention of trading Lee. That they restocked their farm system with Lee which was depleted by the trade for Doc is just another way of saying that they effectively traded Lee for Doc.

I don't know, maybe I am giving the Phils too much credit for planning.

9 tommyl   ~  Dec 14, 2010 12:58 am

Anyone know if Aaron Small is still available?

10 tommyl   ~  Dec 14, 2010 12:59 am

All else said, Philly has to be the favorite to make the Serious out of the NL now. That's one hell of a rotation.

11 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 14, 2010 12:59 am

Sabathia, Hughes, Burnett, Nova, Mitre.

It actually gets worse every time I look at it.

12 China Joe   ~  Dec 14, 2010 1:01 am

They can't panic and do something stupid - trade the farm, overreach for some mid-level starter. The front office needs to regroup and hash out a long term plan. If 2011 ends up like 2008, so be it.

13 Bronx Boy in NC   ~  Dec 14, 2010 1:04 am

You can call this rationalization or denial, but: meh.

Not just the contract, though I do think that's a dodged bullet. We've also seen a pretty dicey rate of return on "NY adjustment factor" from guys who came from very different environments. If he signed, who could say with any certainty it wouldn't have turned into a Kevin Brown situation? A risk worth taking for three or four years, but not seven.

I just can't get worked up over one guy. If I wanted to do that, I'd be over on some tennis or golf blog. There's a whole clubhouse full of guys who are already Yankees, and those are the people I'm here to root for.

Honestly. All this winter argle-bargle is basically just the Laundry Olympics, no matter how much we try to turn "hot stove" into a beloved brand. Call me when they're stretching in Tampa.

(But, uh, call Andy Pettitte first.)

14 moismycopilot   ~  Dec 14, 2010 1:08 am

Is there anyone being shopped around other than Greinke who's worth trading for?

15 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 14, 2010 1:10 am


16 monkeypants   ~  Dec 14, 2010 1:10 am

[14] Probably not, though my guess is that the Yankees at least sign a bottom-of-the-rotation innings eater...maybe something like eating Mark Buehrle's contract.

17 Raf   ~  Dec 14, 2010 1:12 am

[6] Neither; Jims Steaks is where it's at; http://www.jimssteaks.com/

[8] That's the way I read it as well. Had Lee signed a contract extension with the Phils, they never would've traded for Halliday, nor would they have traded Lee to the M's. You're right in [4] that the Phils got the best of all possible outcomes.

18 moismycopilot   ~  Dec 14, 2010 1:13 am

[4] So they effectively turned one season of Lee into Oswalt? Impressive.

19 Raf   ~  Dec 14, 2010 1:18 am

[12] Pitching wasn't the problem in 2008.

20 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 14, 2010 1:20 am

And Holy Christ, can you imagine the bullpen moves Joe will make with three five inning pitchers at the end of the rotation and two lefties at his disposal?

I'll be drinking every single night.

21 tommyl   ~  Dec 14, 2010 1:21 am

[17] I'm an Ishkabibble's fan my self. Jim's is ok, but I prefer Geno's to it.

22 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 14, 2010 1:23 am

[19] It didn't help anything.

23 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 14, 2010 1:27 am

I wonder if Cashman regrets nixing the July deal over Nova or Nunez? If Montero develops, he'll still come out ok, but if not, that could turn out to be one of his biggest blunders.

Meanwhile, the Yankees really have to regroup quickly. Cashman needs to give Andy a call and really impress upon him the need for a decision. Then, I think the best bet is to find a solid starter (a Buerhle type). With those two moves, the Yankees would be on par with Boston and at least a clear WC favorite (remember, the Angels and Rangers haven't gotten better either). The real impact could come in October, when the Yankees will once again rely immensely upon Sabathia.

24 Raf   ~  Dec 14, 2010 1:29 am

[22] Regardless, the offense was a bigger culprit than the pitching in 2008. FWIW, they allowed less runs in 2008 (4.49 r/g) than they did in 2009 (4.65).

25 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 14, 2010 1:30 am

Was Joba for Haren ever a real trade proposal?

26 moismycopilot   ~  Dec 14, 2010 1:30 am

[20] When you put it that way, you'll only be drinking 3 out of every 5 nights. That's almost moderate!

27 monkeypants   ~  Dec 14, 2010 1:30 am

[23] Look for Joba to get traded. Hopefully they flip into someone who helps a little.

28 Raf   ~  Dec 14, 2010 1:31 am

[21] Ishkabibble? I'll have to try it the next time I head out to Philly.

29 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 14, 2010 1:36 am

[27] Not sure what they could get for him at this point. I think a package of Joba and Gardner could have been enticing, but now the Yankees probably can't trade Gardner.

All things considered, this has been a very bad offseason for the Yankees. I wonder, however, if Hal isn't a little happy about possibly having a massive profit margin this season.

30 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 14, 2010 1:38 am

[24] if the idea is that the offense can drag the pitching staff across the finish line, should we not be worried that we have three starters that are at least 35, coming off some of the least effective years in their careers and injury prone?

31 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 14, 2010 1:40 am

[29] Its a terrible off season, but largely through no fault of their own, unlike last year's terrible off season.

And I'd certainly hope Hal knows that the good will from 2009 died in game six.

32 moismycopilot   ~  Dec 14, 2010 1:43 am

[23] Well, if Lee were going to go and sign with the Phillies anyway, then Cashman made the right move. Even if Montero doesn't hit his ceiling, he would be too high a price to pay for a half season rental player.

I think that Joba will get sent to some other team. They've messed him up too badly to be a successful starting pitcher, and they need someone who can give them innings. That or start a "lucky seat gets to be the starting pitcher" promotion.

33 monkeypants   ~  Dec 14, 2010 1:44 am

[29] I think they could get some value for Joba. Surely some other team would be willing to take a chance on a cost controlled young pitcher who has the potential to start (despite how the Yankees have handled him).

You are correct that the Yankees can't really trade Gardner now (unless they change plans and target a corner OF). That means that Joba might be one of the few MLB-ready trading pieces they have.

34 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 14, 2010 1:45 am

Oh God. Cashman's Sidney Ponson fetish hasn't flared up in a while.

35 monkeypants   ~  Dec 14, 2010 1:47 am

[32] The organization's incomprehensible handling of Joba does seem to be coming back to bite them now that he (apparently) can't be trusted even to step in as the fifth starter.

36 Raf   ~  Dec 14, 2010 1:48 am

[30] Despite "three starters that are at least 35, coming off some of the least effective years in their careers and injury prone," they still led the loop in runs scored.

37 monkeypants   ~  Dec 14, 2010 1:48 am

[34] That's because he has soothed it with a big dab of Mitre.

38 tommyl   ~  Dec 14, 2010 1:50 am
39 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 14, 2010 1:51 am

[31] I guess you could argue that Cashman wasn't able to "hustle" Lee, or failed to read the tea leaves and allowed other opportunities to pass, but for the most part, you're right. What he can't do, however, is throw his hands up.

[32] I have a feeling two months in New York would have changed his mind, but that's just a guess.

[33] Another team may take a chance, but for what? The Yankees need a top of the rotation starter, and Joba alone can't bring that back.

40 moismycopilot   ~  Dec 14, 2010 1:53 am

[35] Maybe if they started him off in the minors to stretch him out, but it's doubtful. And I feel really mean saying this, but it doesn't look like he's keeping himself in any kind of physical condition this offseason.

41 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 14, 2010 1:54 am

[39] I don't want a move for the sake of a move either. If he can somehow pull a top line starter out of thin air, great. Don't trade for some back end guy for the sake of getting someone.

42 monkeypants   ~  Dec 14, 2010 1:54 am

[39] They could use a top of the rotation starter, but they only really *need* a starter who can give innings. Joba could go a ways toward obtaining a player like that.

43 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 14, 2010 1:57 am

You can easily paint a disaster scenario (Gardner regresses, Montero bombs, Arod and Jeter continue age-related declines, Posada is injured/doesn't adjust to full-time DH) or a rosy scenario (Jeter and Arod rebound; Tex rebounds; Gardner is for real; Granderson is 2nd half player; Posada flourishes as DH) on offense.

The key question is the rotation. The Yankees have an ace (assuming he is fully recovered from knee surgery), which puts them in decent shape. They also have a #4 with potential in Hughes. I'll be kind and say AJ can be a decent #5. That leaves two holes. Pettitte could be a #2/#3 and someone like Buehrle (my new campaign) could be the same. I think that gets them in the playoffs. No other team in AL really has stable of horses, so coshould be enough in October too.

44 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 14, 2010 1:59 am

[42] I really hate trading or signing mediocre talent. Might as well just send Nova out there.

45 monkeypants   ~  Dec 14, 2010 2:01 am

[40] It'll never happen. Joba will never start again for the Yankees. That ship sailed long ago for reasons that are still not entirely clear to me.

I predicted last season they would trade him. I am more convinced now than ever he'll be gone before the next season starts.

46 monkeypants   ~  Dec 14, 2010 2:03 am

[44] except with Nova you are going to have to deal with innings restrictions. I have no problem trading for mediocre talent of the price is right. A 200-inning, league average starter would help this rotation immensely.

47 monkeypants   ~  Dec 14, 2010 2:04 am

[43] I think I'll join your Buehrle campaign.

48 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 14, 2010 2:04 am

[42] I am not a fan of innings eaters, unless you mean quality innings.

49 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 14, 2010 2:04 am

It seems like every time we pursue that type of pitcher it blows up in our face

50 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 14, 2010 2:10 am

Read that Lee called Daniels personally, while the agent called Cashman. I think that is very telling.

51 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 14, 2010 2:11 am

Well, he did play for the Rangers and not the Yankees. I think thats probably all it meant.

52 monkeypants   ~  Dec 14, 2010 2:12 am

[49] You mean like Andy Pettitte when he resigned as a one-year veteran innings eater?

[48] Providing innings is quality in itself since it will help preserve the bullpen. In any case, it is unlikely that a starter who throws 200 innings will be *so* bad, otherwise he would not be allowed to go deep enough into games to get to 200 innings. In any case, I was assuming a sort of league-average guy.

53 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 14, 2010 2:18 am

[52] Andy Pettitte is better than league average.

When was the last time we signed or traded for a guy to be a "back end starter innings eater" and it was something less than awful? Lieber? There are alot of Wrights and Lidles and Igawas and Vazquez's in there.

54 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 14, 2010 2:19 am

[51] It's only two phone calls. After all the time invested, I would have thought he'd call Cashman too, but I guess they never made much of a connection.

[52] Some innings are not quality, but if they can get league average/200 IP, it would be a welcomed addition. I think that's Buerhle's floor, which is why I think he is a perfect fit. Being lefty and holding runners well doesn't heart, especially with Boston having so many LHs and the Yankees catching situation in flux.

55 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 14, 2010 2:22 am

[52] Livan seems to throw 180 innings every year

56 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 14, 2010 2:23 am

I feel like Veruca Salt after she was denied the golden goose. Is that normal?

57 monkeypants   ~  Dec 14, 2010 2:25 am

[53] In 2008 Pettitte's ERA+ was 98. The Yankees signed Sabathia and Burnett in the off season and had Joba and Hughes (and Kennedy?---I can't remember) vying for rotation spots. When they signed Pettitte for a year, no one was expecting him to be any better than league average, providing innings and stability in a rotation that was supposed to feature a couple of youngsters.

It is true, though, that Andy has far exceeded expectations the last two seasons (save for his injuries last year).

58 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 14, 2010 2:31 am

[57] That was also the first time in Pettitte's career where he was worse than league average. It was not a shock for Pettitte to pitch that well.

If we go out and get, for the sake of argument, Jeff Suppan, we sort of have a ceiling we're dealing with.

59 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 14, 2010 2:52 am

I'm going to get some sleep, wake up in the morning and see a way the Yankees aren't fucked.

I'm being optimistic.

60 joejoejoe   ~  Dec 14, 2010 3:00 am

This leaves money to sign Bruce Chen!

61 Simone   ~  Dec 14, 2010 6:13 am

What horrible news to wake up to! Oh well, Lee took less money to go to the Phillies so I am not bashing him.

I bet we don't hear any talk about the need for the salary cap.

The Yankees' pitching is up shit's creek. What a nightmare.

62 Simone   ~  Dec 14, 2010 6:21 am

However, I do blame those Yankee fans who heckled Cliff Lee's wife. Dumbasses. I bet she wasn't thrilled by the possibility of heading to NY.

Brian, better go magically find some pitching because the Yankees are screwed with this rotation. Maybe Joba will become a good starter if they stop messing with him.

63 randym77   ~  Dec 14, 2010 6:36 am

Holy hell. You don't see players leave $50 million on the table very often.

The Phillies are gonna have a killer rotation, assuming they all stay healthy.

64 randym77   ~  Dec 14, 2010 6:41 am

[60] Probably not smart to abuse players' wives. At least good players. ;-)

But that can't be it. If they just hated NY, why not pick Texas instead? That contract could have been worth over $160 million. Clearly, it's not that he hates us. It's that he likes Philly.

65 mhoward120   ~  Dec 14, 2010 7:05 am

Well, I suppose once the NBA season is over, we can make a run at Melo.

66 mhoward120   ~  Dec 14, 2010 7:19 am

Or, the Yanks can hire Sal Alosi to shadow Lee around.

67 rbj   ~  Dec 14, 2010 8:32 am

Ivan Nova, you need to go 6 innings each game now, not 4.

I could understand Texas -- 3 hours away from family & all that. But take less money & years to play for Philly? They've got a much shorter window for the WS than the Yankees.

At least we're spared a $20 million 38 year old Cliff Lee stinking up the joint, battling elbow issues.

68 The Hawk   ~  Dec 14, 2010 8:43 am

The "funny" thing is, the contract the Yankees offered may have been an albatross - the Phillies one is much more reasonable. If the Yanks had offered him the same deal there'd be no silver lining whatsoever.

69 ms october   ~  Dec 14, 2010 9:00 am

fuck it.
i'm very curious to know the reasons why lee chose philly, doubt we ever really will, but whatever.
rothschild best be hard at work with aj; cc needs to recover; hughes to continue to develop; andy absolutely has to come back; nova has to be waiting in the wings; and joba has to be turned into something useful.
i am on board for the buerhle campaign.

70 ms october   ~  Dec 14, 2010 9:00 am

ugh, there is far too much swearing amongst us to moderate our swears!!

71 RIYank   ~  Dec 14, 2010 9:03 am

[68] It looks like the Phillies' deal is not a lot more reasonable, actually. Jerry Crasnick: $120M over 5 years plus vesting option.

Ken Rosenthal: with vesting option $135M over 6 years.

So the Phils basically offered one year fewer (than the Yanks).

Eh, I have mixed feelings. As The Hawk says, it would have been very costly in the long term, too costly, if we'd got him, but it would have been more fun this year, esp. this coming October. But I think the team is still fine, assuming Pettitte can be enticed into returning. I mean, in what way would the pitching staff be worse than last year? By getting rid of Vazquez??

72 Dimelo   ~  Dec 14, 2010 9:06 am

Embrace the chaos!!! I actually love this, I'm glad Lee didn't come here and I'm glad Cashman has to figure it out. Let's see how creative he can get with a package to get pitching to fill-out the rotation.

For now....I'm screaming: Let's go KNICKS!!!!!

73 Chyll Will   ~  Dec 14, 2010 9:09 am

(blink-blink) the world didn't just end? And Yankee Stadium is not sitting on a tiny island in the middle of a humongous crater??

Well I'll be damned.

I don't know how to feel at this point. It was such a waste of time to fret in retrospect; he probably never wanted to come here after the way his wife was treated and basically used the Yanks to drive up the price; a nice bit of revenge there. I'll bet though that the Phillies came in at the last minute and convinced him that they not only wanted hi, but he would solidify the best rotation (on paper) in modern history. Sort of LeBronish, but without the self-promoting hypocracy.

So, we potentially dodge a bullet, provided we don't overreact and start trading everything in sight for high hopes wrapped in a mediocre record. There's plenty of winter and spring to make some positive moves. What I accept is that there are some people who play the game that no amount of money is going to make them do something they don't want to do. Good for them. Hey, maybe we can swing a trade for King Felix now? Nah...

Yanks have to start trusting their development at some point. If not, then what's the point of having them?

Overall, the best thing to come out of this right now is that we don't have to face Cliff Lee in a crucial series during the regular season; even if it's during the despised interleague play. I'm gonna go with thinking this is a blessing in disguise.

74 ms october   ~  Dec 14, 2010 9:09 am

the thing i lament more than losing out on lee is what i think was the complete mishandling of joba. going forward the yanks have to be able to develop their young pitchers. with all those "b" named pitchers in the pipeline, it is important for one of them to make it. granted hughes seems to have developed well, but i don't think the yankees handled him as well as they could have either.
the yankees are typically going to make the bigges offer to a fa they want - he will then decide whether to accept or not. there is not much else to do with that end of things.

75 nyhmr21   ~  Dec 14, 2010 4:46 pm

First comment here.

I have been reading the interesting things about Lee signing with Philly, but as of yet no one has commented on the atrocious behavior of Yankee fans towards the Ranger's wives. I am sure that these seats were not in "Bleacher Creature" territory and one would expect a better class of behavior in that section.

I really hope that when these fans read about Lee's decision they are very happy and if the Phillies win the WS multiple times in the next 5 years they pat themselves on the back.

They can also read this and rejoice http: http://tinyurl.com/26way35

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver