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UPDATE: Cliff Lee to the Yankees "is just about done"

Jul 9, 2010, 10:37 AM EDT

The rich are poised to get richer

UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that, according to an executive involved in the talks, the Cliff Lee-to-the-Yankees deal “is just about done.”  Wow. This is actually happening.

5:42 A.M.: Joel Sherman of the New York Post dropped a bomb this morning, saying that the Yankees are “on the brink” of landing Cliff Lee from the Seattle Mariners.

The details are slim, but Sherman says that the deal would involve a package that includes top prospect Jesus Montero. There is no indication of who else would be involved.  Notably, Lee is scheduled to pitch against the Yankees tonight in Seattle.

The Yankees landing Lee would be a shock given that even the most overheated reports this week have them merely (altogether now) kicking the tires on the Mariners’ ace.  At best people figured that the Yankees were trying to make the price of Lee higher for, say, the Twins or the Mets.  That they may be about to swoop in and land Lee is nothing short of astounding.

And nothing short of demoralizing, frankly. Demoralizing for the Mets who, even if they themselves could not get Lee probably don’t want to see the Yankees get him, thereby stealing his thunder. Demoralizing for anyone in the AL who thought that getting Lee would help them out in a short playoff series against the Yankees.

And maybe most of all, demoralizing to sports fans in general. Indeed, a day after living through the LeBron James experience — which Will Leitch apty described as something that makes one “feel extremely stupid to be a sports fan” by virtue of the unnecessary excess involved — the idea of the richest team landing the richest trade deadline prize when they don’t even really need starting pitching isn’t going to sit well with a lot of fans.

Don’t get me wrong: the Yankees are playing by the rules here and should
not be expected to merely stand pat while their competition improves. But don’t for a minute think that their landing Cliff Lee won’t spark a fairly significant uproar.

  1. Old Gator - Jul 9, 2010 at 6:17 AM

    Craig, you’re begging for a midnight knock on the door from the pronoun police. Getting it up – on the board, I mean – is important but a little extra sleep never hurt anyone either.
    .
    It would be fun to add ejaculations of shock and horror from alternate universes to the background radiation from yesterday’s big bang of indignation and excoriation from those long suffering Knick fans. Maybe they would even out: an irresistible force meeting an irrelevant object, and all that.
    .
    By some strange coincidence I’m in New York at the moment, and if this “outrage” comes to pass and Lee is made Borg, maybe BorgfanLen could let me know if he’s buying tonight and where the bar is.

  2. YankeesfanLen - Jul 9, 2010 at 6:36 AM

    This comes as a surprise to me as well as my previous speculation was based largely on provoking among those not blessed with Borgfandom.
    I shall attempt to procure a map of the watering holes that were previously patronized by the Russian spies, or we could do the classic theme and just go to the Plaza.
    Looks like more to come.

  3. Old Gator - Jul 9, 2010 at 6:53 AM

    Oh no! They’re deporting Anna Chapman! Is that really necessary?
    .
    Keep me posted. Can you get a gingerale, lime and mint at the Plaza?

  4. bh0673 - Jul 9, 2010 at 7:21 AM

    As much as I would like to see Lee pitch in NY, you can’t run with six starters so who would have to go? I think if they were to part with Hughes or put him back in the bull pen that would be a hugh mistake, Vasquez has turned it around and is pitching great, Burnett has righted himself and I can’t see them trading, Sabathia and Pettite going nowhere so where would you put a sixth starter? They need another bat on the bench and bull pen help more then a starter.

  5. john pileggi - Jul 9, 2010 at 7:35 AM

    WoW! If true, Cashman continues to be the best at what he does.

  6. Boo Hoo Florio picked on your team - GET OVER IT - Jul 9, 2010 at 7:45 AM

    Just watch those Russkies sue the U.S. over their immigration laws!

  7. YankeesfanLen - Jul 9, 2010 at 7:52 AM

    Much as I enjoy this cheerful banter and would love the honor of an audience, foot surgery has placed me immobilized to the confines of nothwest Bergen County. Left foot only motoring is generally frowned on even in the Garden State even though it seems as if most drivers have some kind of motor skill defect..
    So I’ll demur for now and give best wishes for your tour where you will probably discover that New Yorkers feel there is only one pro outlet that truly does the Metropolis proud.

  8. Paper Lions - Jul 9, 2010 at 8:17 AM

    Cashman is the only one that does “what he does”. He doesn’t have to play by the rules by which most other GMs must abide. As such, it is not possible to determine how good of a GM he is. Saying he is the best GM is like saying casinos are the best gamblers….when the game is rigged in your favor you can’t help but win.

  9. Jonny5 - Jul 9, 2010 at 8:37 AM

    This is a frigging disgrace. Ruben Amaro should be drawn and quartered for sparking all this off. Where is Gillick when you need him? The Phills should really try their best to snatch this guy up before NY does. At least the Phills need a starter. How disgusting….. This is just like watching an 800 lb man devour an entire turkey in front of 29 mostly slim dudes with empty stomachs. Ok, maybe not, but you catch my drift right? I will continue to pray to God, allah, buddah, and request Lee does not land in NY period. Up till now, it was just the Mets, but whoda thunk a team that doesn’t need a pitcher would do what it takes to get Lee? Which btw was swapping 3 worthless prospects just before this season began…… I think I might be sick

  10. Detroit Michael - Jul 9, 2010 at 8:52 AM

    It’s less demoralizing if the Yankees give up prospects now for Cliff Lee than if they just sign him during the off-season, in my opinion.

  11. Pisano - Jul 9, 2010 at 9:01 AM

    I hope Joba is involved in this . He’s overrated , I don’t think he’ll ever live up to his expectations.

  12. Ditto65 - Jul 9, 2010 at 9:09 AM

    In the infamous words of the fake Starsky (Ben Stiller): “Do it. Do it.”

  13. Simon DelMonte - Jul 9, 2010 at 9:10 AM

    “Outrage” covers it. I don’t feel that about that basketball guy not coming to the Knicks. (Can’t say I blame him for that.) But this?
    Is it irrational to think that the Yankees not only want to be the dominant team in NYC but the only team, that somehow they have to make sure the Mets don’t ever catch up? (And as much as I hate to admit this, it’s not like the Mets are likely to do that anyway.) Are the Steinbrenners somehow offended that anyone anywhere would root for any other team but the Yankees?
    Yes, this is totally within the rules. Yes, I wish the Mets had the prospects the Yanks do. Yes, I know that this is no guarantee of victory. But it comes across as arrogant, even mean.
    My wife always asks why, as a New Yorker. I can’t root for both local teams. I manage it quite nicely in football, and I don’t even hate the Rangers anymore (as used to be the norm for Islanders fans). But as much as I can admit that Jeter and Mo are class acts (counterweights to LeBron and A-Rod and Tiger), as much as I can admire how well the organization is run at all levels, and as much as I can understand why people would want to root for a team dedicated to excellence and its stellar past, I find it harder and harder to like the Yankees. Sorry.

  14. Dug - Jul 9, 2010 at 9:23 AM

    CAUTION: Not a word out of Geoff Baker who covers the Mariners for the Seattle Times better than any baseball writer in America covers any other team.
    Until he says something, this is wishful thinking on Sherman’s part.

  15. walk - Jul 9, 2010 at 9:25 AM

    Anyone got a line on prospects the yankees are giving up? I had heard that the m’s needed a major league ready bat and it seemed to me the twins had the inside track on lee by offering ramos.

  16. Simon DelMonte - Jul 9, 2010 at 9:43 AM

    One more thought: it’s a tiny insult after the big injury, but how many in Cleveland want to hear that Sabathia and Lee are being reunited in NYC?

  17. GregF - Jul 9, 2010 at 9:59 AM

    What outrage?
    The Mariners don’t have to trade him to the Yankees if they don’t want to — they could always make an effort find trade partners in the National League. And this IS a trade — it’s not the Yankees opening their wallet. They are offering a package, and if that package is better than what Minnesota or the Mets or the Red Sox are willing to come up with, too bad. If the Twins want him that bad, throw in a few extra prospects and Seattle will trade him to the Twins. If you have the wherewithal to get a player, and you don’t get him and the Yankees do, you can’t whine about it. It just means you didn’t want him enough.

  18. nps6724 - Jul 9, 2010 at 10:00 AM

    Yes, it’s very difficult to spend someone else’s money on and trade away top prospects for the best players in the game without having to worry about the future because you can just spend more money on more of the best players later on.

    Seriously, his job is as difficult as Paris Hilton walking into any store in the world, pointing at objects and declaring “I want that, that, and that. 10 of each.”

  19. geoknows - Jul 9, 2010 at 10:21 AM

    I don’t live in NY, nor do I read Sherman quite enough to be sure, but it strikes me that a lot of things he writes constitute wishful thinking. Am I right, or is he more highly respected than my perception of him?

  20. Old Gator - Jul 9, 2010 at 10:22 AM

    And don’t skimp on the pah-tay….

  21. Old Gator - Jul 9, 2010 at 10:23 AM

    Len, sorry to hear that. But you will be able to dance a jig on the left foot, right?

  22. Craig Calcaterra - Jul 9, 2010 at 10:24 AM

    Sherman is really bad about just sort of inventing scenarios about could happen, but he always makes it clear that he’s just speculating, not that he’s saying something will happen. His actual reporting though — sources say this and that — is pretty damn good from what I can tell. I couldn’t find anyone this morning — including hardcore New York sports fans — who could recall a time when he has whiffed on something he actually reports (as opposed to analysis or speculation).

  23. charly - Jul 9, 2010 at 10:25 AM

    this would be a great move for the yankees. as to which starter to “demote” – burnett and vasquez would be prime choices. of the two – send burnett to minors for working vacation. his preponderance of hit batters and balls in the dirt tell me he’s tired and needs to get his mojo back.
    as to returning hughes to the bullpen – bad idea. also a bad idea is the “joba rules” being applied to hughes. you’ve got him – flaunt him.
    during last night’s game in seattle – comment was made regarding pettitte’s age. he pitched a good game (though his fielding of that bunt left a whole lot to be desired) but is retirement looming in his future?

  24. geoknows - Jul 9, 2010 at 10:26 AM

    Nevermind. I see now that Craig addressed Sherman’s credibility in another post.

  25. nps6724 - Jul 9, 2010 at 10:29 AM

    “And this IS a trade — it’s not the Yankees opening their wallet. They are offering a package, and if that package is better than what Minnesota or the Mets or the Red Sox are willing to come up with, too bad. If the Twins want him that bad, throw in a few extra prospects and Seattle will trade him to the Twins. If you have the wherewithal to get a player, and you don’t get him and the Yankees do, you can’t whine about it. It just means you didn’t want him enough. “

    Personally, as a Braves fan I don’t care where Lee goes so long as it isn’t Philly or the Mets. But you’re naive if you think this isn’t “the Yankees opening their wallet”. The trade on its own may not be, but what has lead up to it and what will happen after WILL be.

    They can afford to trade away their top hitting prospect because they can sign any hitter they want no matter the cost. They can trade for any “rental” player because they can afford to sign him to the biggest contract once they become a FA (or to a huge extension after the trade).

    When you can afford to play by rules at a level no one else can, you can do things like trade away top prospects without worrying about how that may hinder your club in the future because you can just spend even more money to replace that missing piece.

    It has nothing to do with not wanting him enough. It’s short-term vs. long-term. For most every team, trading away top prospects for a “rental” means short-term success and a worse long-term situation. This isn’t true for the Yankees.

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