Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Yankees Don't Need To Panic

  • Concerned? Yes. Panicked? No:

With the "do it now" nature of the sports world these days, there's a movement to respond immediately when one plan doesn't come to fruition.

Whether or not it's intelligent is irrelevant; at least they did something. Only when the reactionary response is calculated----sometimes years into the future----is there a true judgment to be made as to its wisdom.

The Yankees lost out on Cliff Lee. Certain circles of Yankee fandom are playing the blame game----it's the fault of GM Brian Cashman; Lee's wife; Hank and Hal Steinbrenner; Lee himself; the fans who supposedly spit on Lee's wife----anyone and everyone.

Someone has to pay they say. But it's like an earthquake or a volcano eruption----it happened and nothing can be done to change it, so it's best to move forward as best you can.

It's not Cashman's fault. He did all he could. As much of a nebbish he's seemed to be at times, he's proven himself to be a cunning wheeler-dealer and at least as adept at hustling free agents (as he did with a reluctant C.C. Sabathia two years ago) as the late Boss, George Steinbrenner was when he romanced the likes of Reggie Jackson with dinners at 21 and guided tours around the city.

It's not Kristen Lee's fault. She's from the South; she may have preferred a Southern sensibility or at least an atmosphere in which she was familiar like Philadelphia where they had friends from Cliff's time there in 2009. But we don't know if she was adamantly against New York; we don't know anything regarding the couple's private wants, needs or preferences. And what if she didn't want to live in New York? So what? That's what free agency is all about; it's more than money, it's going where you want to go.

Hank and Hal Steinbrenner authorized a massive amount of cash to be offered for Lee. They're running the Yankees as more of a business than their father did, it's true. If George were still alive, Lee would be a Yankee. I don't doubt that; but it's not as if they lowballed Lee.

As for the fans who supposedly spit, cussed at and threw beer on the wives of the Rangers players' families, Lee has been a professional baseball player for 11 years----he's seen it all. The fan stuff was a minimal part of the decision at most. It's not as if the Phillies fans are known for their delicacy; in fact, they torment their own players worse than they attack opposing players.

All of this is epilogue to the saga of Cliff Lee's Free Agent Foray.

Lee's a Phillie again; the Red Sox have made two gigantic moves to get much better; and all the Yankees have done is engage in a somewhat brutal negotiation with their team captain, Derek Jeter.

What now?

Cashman is preaching patience.

This is the smart, well-thought-out decision. Capricious maneuvers lead to mistakes. The Yankees are still a good team. They're a good team that is coming to grips with the concept that players won't take every single penny on the table; that the Yankees don't simply get what they want because they're the Yankees; and that there are arenas where players feel they have a better chance to win.

Cashman implied that they can go into the season with the team as constructed and improve on the fly. They've done it before. Who can say which pitchers might be made available at mid-season? What happens if the Cardinals have a down year and they start a sell off; Chris Carpenter might be on the market.

How about the Rockies? Perhaps if they have a bad year, they'll listen on Ubaldo Jimenez. Jimenez is signed through 2014, but he'd command more on the market because of that.

I mentioned other names yesterday. Chad Billingsley might be out there; if the Angels fall from contention, there's Joel Pineiro or Ervin Santana; hey, this would be funny----Dallas Braden!!

The Yankees have historically been able to make championship moves at mid-season. Some have been bold, others under-the-radar. Cecil Fielder, David Weathers, Graeme Lloyd, Chad Curtis, David Justice all came at mid-season. Other contributors were unexpected and arrived from the minors----Aaron Small, Orlando Hernandez and Shane Spencer for example.

It's not a dire situation in which they've been shunned and all hope is lost.

That said, they do have concerns; not worries, but concerns. They're not young; they're very short in the starting rotation and the bullpen is questionable also; right now, they're the third best team----on paper----in the American League behind the Red Sox and White Sox; they're not much better than the Tigers or Twins either.

But it's December and winning or losing the Hot Stove title is meaningless once the games start. The Mets won so many Hot Stove championships in the past 25 years that it's hard to keep track of them; but they only won one title in reality and it's reality that counts.

  • Viewer Mail 12.15.2010:

40ozLiz writes RE the Yankees and my assertion that the Derek Jeter negotiations were a bad off-season omen:

Bad omen indeed!!!

I admire the lack of bluster or savagery towards anyone in your to-the-point comment.

Jeff (Street Boss) at Red State Blue State writes RE Ruben Amaro Jr. and the Yankees:

Wow. Impressed by Amaro. Very, very impressed. And to think I called that guy every derogatory term in the book.

Also, I think I speak for every non-Yankee fan when I say:


The irony factor alone would be worth the disaster that would surely unfold.

It would be worse than the Mets bringing back Bobby Bonilla because at least Bonilla----for all his problems with New York and the media----performed close to his career numbers as a Met; the first time around anyway.

Mike Fierman writes RE Cliff Lee and what he could've bought with the extra $$ from the Yankees:

but what of that sad empty space on Lee's wall where that Chagall or Picasso might have gone?

I don't think Lee is into priceless works of art. I believe he likes to hunt; so one would assume his walls would've been adorned by creatures that are only available for pursuit on an exclusive enclave for the super-rich.

I'm talking a zebrapotomas or a monkeyshark.

Kevin Mogee writes RE Cliff Lee:

Somehow Lee doesn't seem like a collector of fine art, but who knows? As far as turning down the money, who are we to judge? $40 Million is a LOT of money no matter how much you have. I think he does deserve some credit for turning down the Yankees on principle and signing with the Phillies. Would anyone blame him for taking the extra 40? I hardly think so. It's easy for us to say that once you have that much money, "what's another few million?" But in reality which job would you take; same job function, but almost 40% more money? I don't think I need to answer that.

It is a lot of money, but it's really hard to blow that kind of cash even if one is remarkably stupid of wasteful and Cliff Lee doesn't seem to be the type. The old adage of, "if you do something strictly for the money, you earn every penny of it" fits perfectly here; especially since there were clear ancillary issues coming into play as he made his choice.

I was on with Sal at SportsFan Buzz today talking about Cliff Lee, Carl Crawford and all the other stuff that's gone on in baseball. Go to Sal's site for the I-tunes link or click The SportsFan Buzz: December 15, 2010 to listen directly.


Joe said...

I posted a comment yesterday but it did not go through. Anyway, I agree about Lee; It's his choice, let him go where he wants to. And yes, Cashman did what he could. He presented the best offer, and it was turned down. I guess some fans think that he should have offered Lee his own statue already or something to lure him.

Matt said...

It's not at all a sure thing that Lee won't some out financially ahead when all is said and done. Look how much the Yanks have paid Andy Pettite for his late 30's. Lee will only be 37 or so when this deal is up and he is a lefty.

She-Fan said...

I love the idea of Dallas Braden as a Yankee! Then he could move to Manhattan, change his area code and say, "That's how we do it in the 212."

Jeff said...

Braden would have to pay a lot of money for a 212 area code in New York these days. Those all got used up years ago, which bred the 718 and all that followed.

(I believe the above was also the plot to a Seinfeld episode but I could be wrong.)