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What getting Cliff Lee means to the Yankees

Jul 9, 2010, 8:45 AM EDT

No, it does not mean that the Yankees have "bought" themselves another title. And that's true even if they win yet another title.

Off the top of my head it would mean a few things:

  • The Yankees would have too many starters: Lee, Sabathia, Pettitte, Hughes, Burnett and Vazquez. The obvious solution would be to trade Vazquez, and indeed, Buster Olney’s been beating that drum for a while.  The prospect of the Yankees not only getting the best starting pitcher this summer but also peddling a very valuable starting pitcher for even more useful parts has to be pretty sobering to the Rays and Red Sox.  Olney suggests the Phillies, who are in the market for a pitcher, but there are any number of possibilities.
  • While Lee in New York would obviously up the Yankees’ already considerable chances to repeat as World Series champions, one wonders if this move isn’t a bad thing for them long term. We’ve heard much about Jesus Montero’s stuggles behind the plate, but the fact is that he is the Yankees’ most promising hitting prospect in years.  With A-Rod, Jeter and Posada growing older, offense may be scarce sometime in the next couple of years (relatively speaking). The fact is that the Yankees could have waited until this winter to get Lee while still keeping Montero (or at least trading him for a bat) while still remaining a strong contender for the title.
  • Which gets at my beef — however limited it is — with this deal.  It’s kinda gilding the lily, ain’t it? However great a deal this is in the short term, the Yankees didn’t really need this.  That’s not their problem — the minute they stop trying to do everything within the realm of the possible to win is the minute they stop doing their job — but this does strike me as a bit excessive, with some risk, however minor, of hurting their competitive position in the long term.
  • Of course, if the Yankees trade Vazquez for a youngish
    bat or if one of their non-Montero catching prospects is gold, it might not
    matter.
  • Final thought: if the Yankees get Lee for prospects who aren’t missed and then turn Vazquez into a useful bat, doesn’t that make Brian Cashman the GM of the year?  After all: those aren’t mere money moves. Those moves –
    going back to getting Vazquez from the Braves — are all trades that (a) vastly improved the Yankees’ competitively speaking; but (b) were also trades that most any team could have
    made
    but didn’t. Lee and Vazquez werent/aren’t outrageously overpriced at the time they were acquired. Montero may be great, but he isn’t a prospect of a quality that is singular to the Yankees.

Fascinating deal in many, many ways (if it goes through).  My comments earlier this morning about there being “an uproar” don’t reflect my own personal feelings. I have questions about it, but hey, go with God, Yankees.  I’m still guessing there will be a lot of “rich get richer” disgust out there, but there’s a lot more going on here than all of that.

  1. bh0673 - Jul 9, 2010 at 4:06 PM

    The Yankees aren’t really looking for compensation here, next year they will have payroll to spend for a free agent Lee but for now from what I have read so far they are not looking to be able to talk contract extensions at all.

  2. nps6724 - Jul 9, 2010 at 4:31 PM

    I mean whether the teams can agree on compensation for the trade.

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