Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cliff Lee takes his talents to South Street, rejects Yankees and Rangers

It was a good day yesterday. Brett Favre's streak was over, which put joy in my heart. And I was sound asleep last night, dreaming peacefully, when Squawker Jon called me and woke me out of my slumber to deliver the big news -- that Cliff Lee had signed with the Phillies. I went all, "Whaaaattttt!!!!"

I'm not shocked in the least that Cliff Lee is not a Yanks. I've been skeptical all along that he would sign with the Bombers, thanks in no small part due to his wife. And while pretty much everybody in the media assumed for most of the winter that the Yankees would win the race due to money, I didn't buy that, either. Squawker Jon and I spent a lot of time arguing about this, as I wrote this weekend:
As I have written before, I have been very skeptical that the Yankees would sign Cliff Lee. Squawker Jon and I have been arguing about this offline for the last two months. He figures the Yankees always get what they want. I contend that if anybody might turn down the Yankees' money, it's Lee.
What does shock me is that Lee is taking his talents to South Street, instead of staying in Texas. But hey, look on the bright side, Yankee fans: As one of my brothers reminded me this morning, at least we'll have Derek Jeter at the top of the lineup and at shortstop again for the next four years!

I heard the talk yesterday of the Phillies being the mystery team, but I decided not to put much stock into those rumors after somebody on Twitter named IncarceratedBob said wrongly on Saturday that Lee signed with the Rangers (I was going to wait for what Red from Shawshank had to say!)

The biggest loser here has to be Brian Cashman. Squawker Jon says all Cash is capable of doing as a GM is writing a check, but he wasn't even able to do that effectively this time around, given that Lee is taking less money and years from the Phillies.

Aside from the fact that the Yanks had to spend a month kissing Derek Jeter's tuchis instead of negotiated with Lee, I found nothing cute or charming about Cashman spending the weekend before the winter meetings dressed like an elf, and rappelling down a building.

George Steinbrenner's name gets used a lot these days -- What Would George Do? seems to be a big mantra in the fan base. And I'm not going to claim that if The Boss were alive that Lee would be a Yankee; after all, John Smoltz turned down Steinbrenner and the Yankees after the 1996 World Series. That being said, as I wrote earlier in the month, Steinbrenner would never have allowed Cashman to have spent critical hot stove time dressed as an elf.

It showed exactly how much esteem Lee had for the Yankees when he personally called Jon Daniels, the Rangers GM, to say he was signing with Philly, while Cashman only got a call from Lee's agent.

I hope Cashman came up with a Plan B when he was hanging off the side of that building, but I'm doubtful. And I certainly hope that his offseason plans don't again involve giving failed Yankees a second chance, like the No. 2 free agent pitcher out there, Carl Pavano!

There has been a lot of talk since last night about how Cashman failed in not including either Eduardo Nunez and Ivan Nova in that possible trade for Lee. Could the Yankees have gotten to the World Series with Lee? Yes, but given that it turns out that CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte were both injured, I don't know if they would have been able to beat the Giants. At any rate, Lee might very well have stiffed the Yankees again this winter, leaving them without Jesus Montero as well as the other prospects in the deal.

One other thing -- I've admired the Philadelphia Phillies for being the NL's version of the Yankees, but now they've gone too far. Break up the Phillies!

What do you think? Tell us about it!


Mark the Spark said...

First off, the Rangers were a former employer of Lee's so I have no problem with him calling them personally to tell them he wasn't excepting their offer.

Look, just because the Yanks can write the biggest checks doesn't mean they will always get their man. Lee had a comfort level with both the Phillies & Rangers. After 2 seasons & 4 clubs, Lee wanted familiar surroundings. I have no problem with his decision.

And just like the Yankees found a way to "survive" when the best pitcher on the market, Greg Maddux turned down their money in 1994, the Yanks will find a way to be competitive without Cliff Lee.

Steven said...

I have to agree with Mark. Lee was a bit of a flake in this whole thing and he obviously decided at some point he wasn't really digging the Yankees. In those circumstances, probably better he not come. I actually think this is a worse day for the Mets.

BrooklynGirl said...

I too agree with the previous posters. The Yankees should be just fine without Lee. I always thought 7 years was too risky for a 32yr old pitcher with recent back problems(Kevin Brown anyone?). If Pettite comes back and Burnett can return to his 2009 form they should be fine. The key will be to stay in contention and pick someone up during th summer for the stretch run.

Anonymous said...

This one BoSox fan can only snicker at the whole mess. Couldn't have happened to a better bunch the the Yankees and their fans!

Uncle Mike said...

1,168 miles from Benton, Arkansas to Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

I guess Cliff Lee decided it was better to be close to Pat's Steaks than to be "close to home." Come to think of it, I'd rather be close to Pat's Steaks than be anywhere near Dallas! (67 miles is a lot when you've got that kind of a craving.)

Wonder what his wife Brenda -- I mean, Kristen -- has to say about this? Sorry, had her confused with someone else for a minute. Oh well, better Brenda Warner than Anna (still Mrs. Kris) Benson!

Lisa Swan said...

Eh, this is nothing short of an embarrassment for the Yankees, given how hard they lobbied, no matter if they would have overpaid for him.

And David, if the shoe were on the other foot, I'd be snickering at Boston fans, so I can't fault your joy!

Anonymous said...

Lisa .... They'll be no joy in the Evil Empire this Christmas! Bah Humbug to the Yankees!

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