Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Moving On

The Yankees missed out on Cliff Lee. He took less money to go to Philly, and that's just fine. All you can do is make your best offer, and in this case it seems that the Yankees offer was the best financial offer. He turned it down for other reasons, and that is going to happen. It's not going to happen very frequently, as it seems that the last major free agent that the Yankees went after to really turn them down was Greg Maddux. So it is definitely different.

But outside of being something we are not used to (which makes it seem like a bigger deal), this is not the big deal that it is being made out to be. Listen, there is no doubt that Cliff Lee would have made the Yankees better. A lot better. But as I wrote in one of my first posts of this offseason, the Yankees didn't need Lee. Not the way they needed Sabathia two years ago, not even the way they needed Teixeira two years ago. He was going to be someone who was going to make them look a lot better in terms of their yearly quest to win a World Series. But he was not someone they needed to get them in the mix of the game's elite teams.

That's because they are already there. They won 95 games last year, fell two games short of the World Series, and have Hall of Famers or All-Stars up and down their roster. Do they have holes? Of course they do. But the only player they are really down from the successful 2010 team is Andy Pettitte, and there is still a chance he comes back. There is also more than three months left until Opening Day. Cliff Lee was Plan A to fill out the rotation. They just found out 24 hours ago that he wasn't coming. There is time for Plan B to fill out the rotation and/or bolster the bullpen. The offense that scored the most runs in baseball remains intact. Russell Martin is a definite candidate to be energized in a Yankee uniform, as the talent is there. At the very least, he provides great catching depth along with Posada, Montero, and Cervelli.

It's times like these that I often wonder what a big Pirates fan is thinking. The Yankees lose out on a big free agent and the immediate implication is that there should be panic. I'm sure that fan would love to have that be the Pirates' biggest problem.

Lastly, it's not all about your team's ability. If Andy Pettitte returns, the Yankees are very similar to what they've been the last two years. For the time being, the American League does not look like it is going to be as tough as it was in those years. The only major things that have changed in the AL landscape is that Boston and Tampa Bay have swapped places, the Rangers and Angels have gotten a little worse, and the White Sox and Tigers have gotten a little better. The question you have to ask yourself is, would your trade the Yankees roster for any of those? Without Pettitte, you'd be thinking very strongly about the Red Sox for the 2011 season. With Pettitte, I wouldn't trade it for anybody, although Boston is still right there. The Yankees may not have gotten Lee, but the situation is hardly dramatic. It's them and Boston at the top and outside of that you don't see many other impressive rosters around the AL currently. Even within that twosome that I think is separated from the rest right now, both teams have weaknesses. Great offenses, but the Yankees have a short rotation and a mediocre bullpen after Rivera, and the Red Sox have a short bullpen and a mediocre rotation after Lester and Buchholz. There is no Philadelphia-level complete team in the AL right now. There is still plenty of time for both teams to improve their rosters, and it will be interesting to see how they do so, especially as the Yankees move on from Lee.

Knicks/Celtics prediction: 110-102 Celtics. Should be interesting to watch the #1 offense in the NBA go against the #1 defense in the NBA.


PF said...

one more thing i think is important to point out. missing out on a player is different for the yankees, as i mentioned. but just as they aren't used to not having the production they pursue, they also aren't used to having the capital they save by not making such an investment. as i discussed in the post, the yankees' roster is not in a bad place. it may or may not be in the place they want it to be in at the end of the offseason, but they should not feel compelled to improve in during that time if the right options don't present themselves. if their roster is not going to be in a bad spot to open the season, there is nothing wrong with entering the season cash rich + prospect rich, and using that flexibility in both regards to add the right option in an area of need during the season. it won't be a particularly comfortable situation for other teams in the AL to have the yankees entering the season with a top 5 farm system and 23 million they would have spent on cliff lee floating around, in addition to whatever else they are willing to spend. maybe it would have been more uncomfortable if they had cliff lee, but this really isn't a terrible alternative, because it puts them in a good position to get next year's cliff lee. as philly and texas showed us the last two seasons, that kind of mid-season addition can go a long way. this is a key point, i don't know why i didn't get it into the post.

Ross Kaplan said...

Refer to my comments on Lee I made yesterday.

Pat, I think you're getting too far ahead of yourself with the Knicks.

Also Harry Caray would be rolling over in his grave if he knew that the Yankees employed Kerry Wood and Mark Prior in consecutive seasons.

Anonymous said...


I don't think that the Yankees needed Lee anymore than you do, but he would have fit a need, no question. You know that Sabathia and Hughes will do the job. But everyone else is up in the air in that rotation, either because of age, talent, or mental make-up.

As for the Celtics game tonight, one of two things will happen--the Celtics will either cruise (which could happen because they've had a few days off for all the old guys to rest up) or the Knicks will win a close one, anywhere from 1-8 points. Even the horrible Knicks teams of the past few years have played the C's tough in New York.

--the Gunn

Patrick said...

rossy -

how am i getting ahead of myself with the knicks by predicting that they are going to lose by almost double digits at home? please explain.

gunn -

the thing about cliff lee is that he wouldn't have just filled a need, he would have been above and beyond filling the need. that's what made him so attractive. but bringing back andy pettitte or trading for a mark buerhle type will also fill the need, just in a more normal sense than cliff lee would have. that will be a very similar rotation to the one they entered 2009 and 2010 with. as i mentioned in my post, if you look around the AL the only team i really see right now in a major way is boston. the yankees are always going to be, at the least, toe to toe with anybody offensively. i think most would agree cc/hughes and lester/buchholz is a pretty even matchup. if the yankees bring back pettitte or someone like him, i'd run pettitte/aj against lackey/beckett any day and very comfortably. both teams will add to their bullpen so it's not worth comparing right now, but for the time being you'd have to give the edge to the yankees based on 2010 and them having rivera. i don't point any of this out to get into a traditional yankee/red sox comparison, just to say that, at the very least, the yankees are right there with the red sox. and when you can say you are right there with the other top team in your league, there is no reason to panic. you just fill needs as options become available.

i don't see the knicks winning tonight. the celtics are a far superior team and that is the exact type of team that ends the kind of streak the knicks are on. the garden will be alive as their is more buzz for this game in the metropolitan area than there has been for a knicks game in a long time, but i see the knicks getting outclassed. whether it's earlier on and the celtics cruise as you mention, or the knicks hanging in and ultimately not having enough down the stretch, i don't see a scenario where the knicks win. and in some ways this will be good timing to get a reminder like this, because the celtics are not a team they are beating very often anyway. so a litmus test from the best team they are going to face right at the early part of this tough stretch of scheduling will let them know exactly where they stand, and what they need to do to win more winnable games like miami, chicago, and orlando. as long as that can be taken away from tonight, something positive will come from it.

the gm at work said...

This would have been more fun if you were like the loud minority, calling for the cancellation of the 2011 season. However, you're logical and rational, and that's appreciated.

I absolutely agree with your assessment that Lee was not necessary for the Yankees to win games. They won lots of games last year, and while they may have lost some of their existing edge over Boston, they still are atop my AL East if the season started tomorrow. CC and Teixeira filled needs for this Yankee team; Lee would have been a luxury.

The general assumption that the Yankees would just offer the most money in this negotiation, as well as a lot of conversations I've heard here in Boston, raise an interesting point that I might end up raising tomorrow - does it take any kind of skill to be the general manager of either of these teams?

The Pirates got my boy Matt Diaz - they should be plenty happy. But your point is a good one, and it further illustrates the fact that there are still problems in the game. Nothing new here.

I think the Martin pickup is a good one for the Yankees. It was within the last three years that this guy was the toast of Canada. Now he's from Canada and he's toast? Doubtful.

What do you think about the Nomaas proposition about Chamberlain getting back into the game as a starter? Not a perfect comparison, but I think about the way Derek Lowe was thrust in between the starter and reliever role for a long time and with many struggles. He ended up a pretty good pitcher.

the gm at work said...

Celtics FTW by at least 20.

Patrick said...

if the season started today i would definitely pick the red sox to win the division. was the offenses, and from a statistical standpoint the yankees short starting pitching would have more of an impact on the season than the red sox short bullpen because they'd occupy more innings. as i fully expect the yankees to add at least one reliable starter before the season, assuming there are no other major changes that would nudge the yankees just past the red sox for me. but i don't see anyone else as of right now being in those two teams' class in the AL.

as for joba, i can go either way. you could say it isn't like he's been that good in relief, and since the yankees need a starter there is no harm in giving him a shot. but the yankees might have legitimate concerns about his ability to hold up as a starter and therefore think it is an exercise in futility even going down that path. although the overall numbers were not pretty, he was really good 80% of the time and really bad 20% of the time to get there, and maybe after 4 years of moving him around the yankees want to build on that to see if they can develop a legitimate back-end reliever. i could really see both options.

i don't know how much offseason workout regimes differ for starters and relieves. if they are similar, i would wait to see what develops this winter and at least be able to factor that into my decision (not saying it should be the only consideration). there are a lot of starting pitchers out there, and even though the feeling right now is that there isn't, that's only because free agency is dry. the yankees farm system had a huge year in 2010, and they'll have a lot of flexibility to trade. if they signed andy pettitte and say, traded for mark buerhle (just throwing a name out there), then that leaves less of a reason for joba to be tested as a starter. if they aren't able to fill out the rotation with established starters, and are having a tryout like last year, i see no reason not to include joba in that unless they just think he can't start from a physical standpoint.

TimC said...

PF and others, what are your thoughts on the Montero stuff in this article (skip a bit as the first part is a rehash of all the good stuff going on in this space over the past few weeks):


As for the Celts, I like the three days off that they had but there may be some rust. Look for a tight, sloppy first half before the Celtics rise to the occasion in the second, pulling away to something along the lines of 110-102.

So, the smart bet for tonight is Knicks and the points for the first half...

Anonymous said...

Tonight's basketball game between the knicks and celtics told us a few things.

First, if I were playing the celtics I would run the pick and roll everytime.

Second Raymond felton is a legit point guard who gets Amare easy buckets which make up the bulk of his scoring.

Third, the knicks badly need an identity down the stretch of games and need a player that can get his own shot. Carmelo anyone?

Unbeknownst to any of us, Amare stoudemire attended the art shell school of time management in the off season. Not only did he miss his last three shots, he also neglected the basketball player's most precious assets: time and score. Having Amare as your go to player is like trying to the two minute drill with tarvaris Jackson as your quarterback.