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Lee To Yankees: “It’s Not Me, It’s You.”

[ 74 ] December 14, 2010 |

Ha-ha.

Granted, this conflicts with my non-resentment-based rooting interest — if the Mets showed any sign of being competitive in the near future, this would bother be.  But as it stands…Lee taking his talents to South Philly is the lesser evil.

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  1. c u n d gulag says:

    As a Yankee fan, I’m fine with this. The Yanks 7 year offer was ungodly stupid because it was too long for a soon to be 33 year old pitcher.
    Philly got him for 5 years, and I think that’s about right. 3 to 4 years, would have been more appropriate. But, good for him, and good for them.
    The Yanks offered him the best and longest deal, and thankfully he didn’t sign. Philly now has one of the best rotations in years, and should be the odds-on favorite for the NL Pennant and the World Series. They’ll miss Werth, and the bullpen’s a question mark, but, they look pretty good right now.
    Boston will now be the AL East favorite, but the Yanks, even without Lee, will be up there if they can somehow salvage something out of AJ, if Andy comes back, and Hughes continues to progress. They still have a great lineup. We’ll see. I got tired of signing everyone in sight, keeping the winners, and throwing the losers out the door. I’m actually one of the Yankee fans who wants some form of salary equity – but the Players Asso. will never let that happen. And I’d rather see the players make the moolah rather than the owners.
    Hopefully, the Yanks will now let one of their young pitchers like Nova get a shot. What worries me is that we might have to go through the whole ‘Joba as a starter fiasco’ again. New Joba rules: Stay in the pen, and learn some movement to go with your dwindling speed.
    Congrat’s Phil’s, you got a Hell of a pitcher to go the Halliday, Oswalt, and Hamels. Now, let’s see how those 3 guys in their 30′s hold up.

    • Rob says:

      It is not the MLBPA. They don’t want a salary cap. Its the owners who don’t want more income sharing. And you need a super majority of like 25 owners to do anything big.

    • NBarnes says:

      It’s not just the MLBPA that doesn’t want salary parity. Anything that the union will agree to involves transparency on the part of the owners that the owners will move heaven and earth to avoid. They hide too much profit to want to have a paper trail they can be called out on when they cry poverty and put the bill for new stadiums on the public tab.

  2. Marek says:

    Another Yankee fan who doesn’t mind Lee going to the Phils. Hey, at least he’s out of the league!

  3. Incontinentia Buttocks says:

    Halladay, Oswalt, Lee, Hamels….Ouch!

    As an A’s fan, I’m particularly pleased that it’s not the Rangers or the slegnA!

  4. Rob says:

    How could the NY Post not use “Leev-ing the Yankees High and Dry?”

  5. Joe says:

    This is really a wash. Yes, you have the Yanks losing out on the sweepstakes and it turns out money isn’t everything. And, if you hate the Yanks, you can laugh at them.

    But, the Phillies don’t need another ace. Competitive balance wise, it is STILL bad for baseball that the Rangers lost him to the Phillies of all people. They just let him go for cash reasons; guess they have cash (unlike many teams) to burn, after all.

    I’m a Mets fan, but realize that’s a lost cause (I doubt it will suddenly be playoff baseball in ’12 either). Still, that hurts a tad too.

    • djw says:

      But, the Phillies don’t need another ace.
      This doesn’t make any sense. You need 5 starters–assuming they stay healthy, they get the same number of starts, more or less. Lee bumps whoever was after Blanton out of the rotation. I don’t know who that was, but it’s a huge, huge upgrade. If they didn’t already have Halladay, he’d be bumping someone slightly worse out of the rotation, but overall this is a great way to make their team better, whether they have another ace or not.

      • John says:

        Kyle Kendrick was the Phillies’ fifth starter this year. But they’re probably going to dump Blanton for salary, so it’s really an upgrade of Lee over Blanton (probably).

      • Brad Potts says:

        Actually, a team with a lineup good enough to get into the playoffs can win off a three man rotation in the playoffs.

        They are basically paying 24M a year to gain a little bit of an advantage in a seven-game series. It definitely made the team better, but I don’t see it being worth it in the long run.

        • Joe says:

          Or three aces and a fourth who would be among the top three of many good teams.

        • Scott Lemieux says:

          And the Braves are a good team, and while the Phils were right not to re-sign Werth his loss hurts an offense that is aging and a little overrated. For teams that are serious about winning, you don’t stop trying to get better, and that’s why the Phils are where they are and the Mets are where they are.

          • J says:

            “For teams that are serious about winning, you don’t stop trying to get better,”
            Uh, if you’re one of the few teams in the league that can afford to put up a contending team year after year. Which the Mets are, of course, but that’s still an overly broad statement.

      • Joe says:

        So all five starters have to be Lee, Oswalt, Hamels or Halliday worthy or what?

        • Anonymous says:

          Or your team isn’t as good as it otherwise would be. I’m not sure I understand the question.

          It doesn’t make sense to think of team quality in thresholds, as you’re doing: to sort the team into different categories (say, starting/relieving/offense/defense) and then to determine that once a certain threshold of quality, no further improvements are worth the trouble. The question is always how much value you add relative to other options. Upgrading your rotation from a 9 to a 10 may improve your team just as much as a similar sized upgrade some other worse part of your team.

          The smart team understands that improving any part of your team improves your overall team, and looks for the upgrades in any area feasible, given the constraints of budgets, contracts, development, and so on

  6. efgoldman says:

    Sox fan wakes up to a sudden attack of Schadenfreude!

    Awful lot of ifs upthread, there. Whistling past the graveyard, methinks.

    We all know that early winter projections aren’t worth the pixels they’re written in, but still – other than CC, who can you really depend on in that rotation? Pettite? In pitcher years he’s about 109. Burnett? On a good day in non-pressure situtations, maybe. The kid, Hughes? You never know about a kid in his second full season. Who are the fourth and fifth starters?

    As for that potent lineup: do you really expect Jeter to rebound at his age? A-Rod is clearly on the decline – who knows if his hip problem is really solved? Posada? Aged better than Varitek, but it has to catch up with him, too.

    And Mo. No-one better, not ever, by orders of magnitude. But that arm has an awful lot of tree rings in it. Unless he’s made some sort of deal with Moloch, even he is human. It has to stop someday.

    • Anonymous says:

      So in other words, if everthing that could go wrong, does go wrong, the Yankees might not make the playoffs?

      Yes, the Yankees as currently constituted have a high collapse rate for an elite team. My hunch would be if you ran a bunch of similations right now, the Yankees and Sox would win the division at similar rates, but the 20% percentile Yankees performance would be worse than the 20% percentile Red Sox performance.

      • NBarnes says:

        This sounds about right to this Sox fan.

        That is, with the caveat that the Yankees have been built with a high collapse rate for a decade now and haven’t really paid for it yet. I keep waiting for the year when everybody on the team that’s north of 34 has a down year at once and they win 80 games. The New York Post headlines from that year would be worth savoring for years to come.

        • Scott Lemieux says:

          And the biggest significance of losing out on Lee is that it gives them less cushion. They could survive off years from Jeter and Posada last year, but if they continue to decline, A-Rod gets hurt, Pettite is donw or doesn’t come back…they can only survive so many of these things. And Rivera probably has only other 15 years or so left.

          The thing the Yankess have going for them is that it’s not clear where the wild card competition is coming from. The Rays figure to be down significantly, and I still see the Yanks as better than the Twins, ChiSox, or Angels/Rangers/A’s.

          • howard says:

            why would you think the rays are down significantly, scott? because of crawford and pena? right this very second – and it remains early days, although not as early as it was – i still rate the yanks, the sox, and tampa as 3 highly competitive teams fighting for 2 slots, just like last year.

            • djw says:

              I certainly agree that right now the decline of the Rays has been overstated, but it also seems clear to me that they’re clearly below the big 2 on paper. Not so far below that it would be a big surprise if they were contending, but still below.

              • Scott Lemieux says:

                I’m especially worried about the thinning out of the Rays’ bullpen. And while none of Crawford, PEna, or Bartlett is irreplaceable, in sum that’s a non-insignificant number of wins. On top of that, as I said before the playoffs this year I don’t think the Rays offense was as good as it seemed; I would have expected their runs scored to be down significantly even if they had kept the same personell.

                They’re not a bad team, by any means — real good rotation — but they have to be considered well below the Yanks and BoSox.

              • howard says:

                if, in fact, pettite retires, and if i compare the yank starting rotation to the tampa and sox rotations as currently constituted, there’s not a single slot in that rotation where the yanks are obviously better (i’d say that sabathia, lester, and price are pretty comparable, and then when we move on).

                that’s a helluva edge to give your two main competitors, and a lot for an older club and mariano to make up for.

                now, as it happens, i don’t think the yank rotation as it is today is going to be the rotation come next april, and i’m not convinced that pettite is going to retire, but it is an exhausting effort even for the team that scored the most runs in baseball last year (who knows whether they will this year or not) to have to constantly come from behind. (remember, the yanks were the only team in baseball to have a winning record when the other team scored first.)

                As a quick reminder, about 2/3 of quality starts end up as wins, and even the yanks, with the highest run total in the majors, only won something like 40% of their non-quality starts.

                and right this second, the potential number of quality starts in the yank rotation? not too high!

            • Rob says:

              The Rays are not done cutting costs. Shields or Garza look to be moved.

              • howard says:

                and that’s why i don’t think we can get too far into this until we what further moves happen: right this very moment, the yanks don’t have anything resembling a championship rotation. tampa does (it’s elsewhere that tampa’s problems lie).

                now, come opening day this could all look quite different and then we can all lay down our bets, and sure, tampa is always going to be cost-constrained, but they got a lot of pitching to work with.

      • efgoldman says:

        So in other words, if everthing that could go wrong, does go wrong, the Yankees might not make the playoffs?

        Well, basically that’s what happened to the Sox last year.

        There were many games in which they didn’t start a single actual major-league outfielder.

        Plus Pedroia, Youkilis and, for a number of weeks, Victor Martinez. Its amazing to me that they won as many games as she did.

    • J says:

      For someone talking about how “ifs” and early projections are meaningless, you sure make a lot of “ifs” and early projections.
      On a side-note, the Yankees were never planning on going with Posada as their day-to-day catcher. See also: http://newyork.yankees.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20101214&content_id=16316850&vkey=news_nyy&c_id=nyy

      • howard says:

        j, i’m not sure what you’re talking about.

        in the here-and-now, scott and djw both think that tampa is clearly a cut below the yanks and the sox.

        i don’t agree.

        but i also don’t think it makes a lot of sense to get caught up in the here-and-now, given that opening day is still 3.5 months away.

        what’s your problem with that?

        • J says:

          I was responding to the original post by efgoldman, in which he suggested that there was a lot of speculation going on, and that “early winter projections aren’t worth the pixels they’re written in,” and then went on to speculate (or at least imply) that Jeter, Rodriguez, and Rivera were all going to decline.

  7. CJColucci says:

    Now we’ll see what the Yankees can do with brains rather than overwhelming money. Can they straighten out Burnett? Will they pick up Blanton, whom the Phillies will likely trade for salary room? Stay tuned.

  8. efgoldman says:

    Is Greinke being dangled by the Royals? And if so, could he pitch in an Eastern Division pressure cooker? Look for the trade in late July.

  9. howard says:

    well, i sure as hell am not fine with the yanks not signing him, 7 year deal or not: the object is to win a ring, not points for trying hard.

    but frankly, i haven’t expected him to sign (although i thought he would stay in texas), so while i’m not fine, i’m also not surprised.

    and as a fan of pitching, i have to admire the phils’ rotation, which makes them the favorites all around (although, of course, a lot depends on what kind of year lidge has).

    as for the yanks, as i was saying to my friend the red sox fan last night (before the news broke), i have no idea what plan b is for the rotation, and right now, the yanks rotation is at best the third best in the east and really, probably not even that. they are unlikely to outhit a rotation as uncertain as theirs….

  10. rea says:

    See, Yankee fans? See what happens when you spit on and throw beer the wives of the players from the opposing team? The top free agents sign somewhere else, somewhere that the fans are nice and polite, like . . . Philadelphia?

  11. c u n d gulag says:

    You do have to give Lee credit.
    In turning down the Yankees and Rangers, he took less years, and much less money. Not many athletes do that today.

    • McKingford says:

      I’m not sure that credit is deserved, for the reasons I commented below. He clearly didn’t take less than the Rangers were offering, and it’s not clear that he doesn’t come out ahead with the Phils’ deal due to the higher per-year salary (so that the “less years” actually works to his advantage).

  12. McKingford says:

    The interesting thing is the way this deal is being portrayed as Lee forgoing big dollars to take the Phillies deal.

    It isn’t clear *at all* that Lee didn’t take this deal based primarily on money. It is being reported as 5/$120M plus a vesting 6th year option (details of which are unknown). Jon Heyman reports the Yanks offering 6 years at $22M per, plus a $16M 7th year option (I’m assuming it’s a club option); he also has the Rangers offering $120M over *6* years.

    So clearly, the Phillies offer was better than the Rangers, and on a per-year basis is considerably better than the Yankees. In taking the Phillies over the Yankees, he is leaving $12 guaranteed on the table, but for one less year. I would have to guess that the Phillies’ 6th year option is for a lot more than $12M – although if Lee is still moderately effective then, he would likely command more than that on the open market even if the Phillies don’t pick it up.

    So how is this not almost entirely about money?

    • Joe says:

      But, hey, it’s not the Yankees, right?

      How does taxes figure here?

    • Davis says:

      Because the Yankees offered more guaranteed money. Leaving $12 million on the table is not nothing. For pitchers in their thirties, the longer the contract the better. Five years from now, he may break down, a fear present in all pitchers, and the money stops.

      • McKingford says:

        The Yankees offered $12M more, but at the cost to Lee of another year. The Phillies deal seems to me to be Lee placing a very low stakes (given the marginal utility of an extra $12M after pocketing $120M is pretty low) bet on himself: he’s essentially betting that he’s going to do better with his 6th year (either on the open market or with the Phillies option) than the extra $12M the Yanks were offering.

        I just don’t see how you can look at this deal and conclude that Lee *obviously* wasn’t concerned about money.

        • Scott Lemieux says:

          I’m confident that Lee could have gotten that deal from the Yankees, and probably more — it’s not like the Yankees wanted to give him more years. It’s not that money didn’t matter, but that given money in the same ballpark (little more upside and downside), he preferred to be in Philly.

          • McKingford says:

            I guess this is my point (ie. I don’t think we disagree). This is being portrayed as Lee selflessly leaving tons of money on the table, when in fact it is pretty much a wash – with the upside to Lee being that he is perhaps going to a more favourable competitive place.

            • Davis says:

              “…he’s essentially betting that he’s going to do better with his 6th year…”

              That’s my point. Pitchers in their thirties will not make that bet.

              If it’s pretty much a wash, then it wasn’t entirely about the money.

              • McKingford says:

                I’m not the one saying it was entirely about the money – my original comment is that it isn’t obvious that Lee wasn’t concerned about money…Lee has been getting more credit than he deserves (and don’t get me wrong, I don’t hold it against him, but this is hardly an altruistic deal by Lee).

                But now that we learn a little more, I think it’s even more clear that this deal is extremely favourable to Lee in such a way that Lee can hardly be credited with leaving money on the table: the Phillies deal includes a vesting option for a 6th year at $27.5M (either 200 innings in 2015 or 400 innings in 2014-15). So if this option actually vests, Lee will be making the same money in 6 years with the Phillies that he would have in 7 with the Yanks.

  13. Davis says:

    I prefer “Lee to NY: DROP DEAD”

  14. jsmdlawyer says:

    It may feel like 10 degrees below zero here in the Maryland suburbs of DC right now, but as far as this long-time Phillies fan (I remember Rick Wise’s 1971 no-hitter in which he also hit two home runs — I was 8) is concerned, it feels like the middle of summer. Halladay, Lee, Oswalt and Hamels — 2011 is gonna be FUN.

    • Phillies Fan says:

      Agreed, but as Scott says above, the offense is a big problem, moreso with Werth gone. I imagine they’re counting on Rollins coming back at 100% so they at least have a decent leadoff hitter, and Dominic Brown breaking out, but still…

      Everyone’s going to do what SF did in the playoffs: throw lefties at them. Without another reliable right-handed bat in the lineup (and a few on the bench), I don’t see them winning the series.

      • jsmdlawyer says:

        I suspect that Amaro’s not done. Blanton will be dealt, hopefully for a RH hitting OF. I also see a platoon of Francisco and Gload or Brown as being more productive than people expect. I also think Ibanez could be dealt as well, hopefully for another RH stickM.

        If this happens, I think the offense will be fine, and the pitching monstrous.

        • Phillies Fan says:

          If Amaro can get an RH OF who can hit fifth for Blanton (and he may-Blanton’s very good for a team looking for a 3 or 4 in the rotation), that helps alot. If he can get someone to take Ibanez without eating part of his salary or giving up another prospect, I’m putting Amaro up for sainthood.

          Frankly, I’d be relieved if the Phillies made Howard play winter ball to learn how to hit lefties. Seriously, he’s not going to see an RHP after the 6th inning next year.

  15. agentX says:

    Oh good! Now that he’s in the NL, the Giants can beat his ass more than 3 times a year now! It works out quite well for the Giants.

  16. ChrisS says:

    As a Yankee fan, them not signing Lee to massive 6/ year deal isn’t that disastrous.

    Them signing Alex Rodriguez to the worst contract in MLB history is, though.

    As it stands, in the near future the Yankees will owe a not insignificant portion of their payroll to just four players (Sabathia, Jeter, Arod, Teixeira). Two of which may not be able to play the field. One of which won’t have the bat to play anywhere else.

    Just as long as they don’t do something stupid like trading Montero and two of their pitching prospects for Greinke in some sort of quixotic quest to “win now”.

    • djw says:

      This handwringing about the inefficient Yankees payroll commitments in 2014 is really odd, from a fan’s perspective. Why do you care? Is there any evidence or good reason to believe these commitments will prevent them from agressively pursuing the free agents they want in 2014?

  17. Scott Lemieux says:

    Them signing Alex Rodriguez to the worst contract in MLB history is, though.

    Oh, come on, it’s not even the worst contract currently held by a New York baseball team. He’s still very good, and while he’ll be overpaid for a few years, who’s he stopping the Yankees from signing? Leaving aside Castillo and Perez deals, the Jeter contract is also worse from a baseball perspective.

    • John says:

      5 years, $82.5 million for A.J. Burnett isn’t too hot, either.

      • howard says:

        insofar as young steinbrenner remains a “budget guy,” which is what he always says he is, then at some point there’s an impact of big contracts at the margin.

        but i’m not convinced that he’s that much of a “budget guy,” and until he proves he is, the yanks – with their revenues and their willingness to plow said revenues into the product on the field – have the scope to “overpay” without significant harm.

        now, the risk that it’s 1965 and the team suddenly gets old: that one’s real.

        but speaking for myself, i don’t understand yank fans who are fine with not signing one of the 3 gold-standard starters in the game today: who doesn’t want that on their team?

        • Scott Lemieux says:

          I think the idea that they have a real budget went out the window after they signed Burnett and Sabathia, claimed they were done, and then…

          • Scott Lemieux says:

            Oh, and one more thing about A-Rod–that flag that they won in 2009 that they don’t win without him flies forever.

          • howard says:

            i think that if you administered sodium pentathol to young steinbrenner, he would say “i’m a budget guy unless a good reason to break the budget comes along,” which is why you and i don’t take seriously the idea that big contracts are in some sense restricting the yanks financially….

          • J says:

            The Yankees payroll in 2008 was higher than it was in 2009.

            • howard says:

              yes, j, but since that was still considerably higher than anyone else (as you noted earlier), it’s not really evidence that the yankees are constrained in some significant way, and surely the scale of the offer for lee shows no fear of spending.

              p.s. sorry to be confused up above there about whom you were addressing.

              • J says:

                Right, it’s certainly not evidence that they were financially constrained, but it’s kind of strange to argue that “the idea that they have a real budget went out the window after they signed Burnett and Sabathia, claimed they were done, and then [they signed Mark Teixeira,]” when the evidence actually suggests that they were being more financially conscious than they previously were. Of course, all three of those contracts have consequences ranging into the (sometimes far) future. I guess what I’m trying to say is that, considering everything that the Yankees have done, their acquisitions during the pre-2009 off-season aren’t their most egregious.

              • J says:

                Also: no worries about the misunderstanding. These comment trees get ridiculously hard to keep track of (and I’m really just compounding the problem with this comment).

  18. les says:

    Not exactly the topic, but Yankee funny.

  19. J says:

    Fun fact of the day: The Phillies’ current payroll obligations for 2011 stand at $146,877,381*, pre-Lee contract. I believe he’s getting paid $24mil next year (don’t take my word for this), which brings them up to $170,877,381. The Yankees’ current payroll obligations stand at $174,360,714**. This means that people are going to start talking about how the Phillies just buy all of their talent, right? Right?

    *Phillies’ 2011-2016 payroll obligations.

    **Yankees’ 2011-2016 payroll obligations***.

    ***I know that winter’s just getting started and that there’s no reason to believe that the Yankees won’t add to their total, I just wanted to point out that nobody ever talks about any other franchise being extravagant, even when there’s perfectly good reason to.
    All data courtesy of Cot’s.

  20. [...] fulfill his obligation it must be the fault of the goddamn player’s union. Which, as we know, has the unequivocal power to stop players from taking the largest contact offer.” Share and [...]

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