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Quote of the Day: the New York Yankees didn’t want Cliff Lee anyway. Right.

Dec 14, 2010, 1:31 AM EDT

sour grapes

This comes from an anonymous New York Yankee official quoted by the Daily News’ Mark Feinsand in the wake of the Cliff Lee deal:

“Anybody who would leave $50M on the table obviously doesn’t want to pitch in New York. Thank God we found out in time.”

That might be the most ridiculous quote I’ve heard in some time. What, only those players who would take top dollar want to pitch in New York? No one wants to go there for their own reasons?  And “found out in time?”  What does that mean?  Is the implication that Lee has some character defect that would have made him a problem in New York and that the Yankees were only saved by the grace of Lee’s skewed value system?  Hey Mr. Yankee: if he had a problem, you should have figured that out before you offered him all that scratch.

There will be spin, counterspin, rationalizations and ultimately reason coming out of all of this in the coming days.  We’re not getting a ton of it tonight, however.

  1. billtpa - Dec 14, 2010 at 1:36 AM

    Know what that is? That’s somebody who has stayed up all night every night for the last week desperately trying to find a way to convince Lee to come play for the Yankees and thus save his own job, who is exhausted and has now completely lost his capacity for reason. ‘Cause yeah, that quote is totally insane.

  2. iamthedoublestandard - Dec 14, 2010 at 2:03 AM

    Not quite. You’d be surprised what you’d say when you get used. In the end it’s business. BTW, you’re going to quote Feinsand? That guy is a blowhard. Sorta the way you feel about Heyman (but don’t publicly say it). Oh wait, he was right. I’ll wait for u to also walk the Heyman speculation back as well.

    • Reflex - Dec 14, 2010 at 2:07 AM

      How were the Yanks used? If he’d spurned them and taken an offer very close to the Yanks offers from another team, say the Rangers or Angels, I could see the Yanks feel like they were ‘used’ to drive the best possible contract from someone else. But in this case he didn’t take an offfer anywhere *near* what the Yanks or Rangers did. He took something far beneath, both in dollars and years. This clearly was about where Lee wanted to play, not about driving the best possible amount of money out of the Phils and using the Yanks/Rangers to do so.

      • Reflex - Dec 14, 2010 at 2:08 AM

        I would also add that there is likely some self interest here, Lee knows he’s getting older, and he knows that in a league without a DH he’ll likely have a longer and less injury prone career. This move increases his HOF chances quite a bit, vs going to either of a pair of hitters parks in a hitters league.

      • iamthedoublestandard - Dec 14, 2010 at 3:59 AM

        Hall of Fame?? Are u guys nuts? Tell me I’m not crazy. Blasphemy. He would have to have AT LEAST FIVE MONSTER YEARS for that to ever creep in a responsible mind. You guys talk like this guy has been rolling for ten years. Crazy talk.

        How did the Yanks get used? As well as the Rangers? They were handicapped from making moves last week as opposed to now, where other teams will see the Rangers or Yankees as somewhat desperate and might just drive a harder bargain for a player(s). You think that’s not true? Andy Pettitte just earned an extra 2-3 million.

    • macjacmccoy - Dec 14, 2010 at 8:03 AM

      Used? How did the Yankees get used? Its not like he used there interest to get a bigger deal or anything from them for that matter.

  3. frankvzappa - Dec 14, 2010 at 3:05 AM

    i bet it was Hank’s “behoove” comment that pushed Lee over the line…maybe the Yanks and their fans will learn a lesson from this about themselves? nah…too bad Lee will never pitch against the Yanks in the Series, again, though…Go Sox!

    • mtner77 - Dec 14, 2010 at 4:01 AM

      Well, Frank, you are right and wrong.

      “maybe the Yanks and their fans will learn a lesson from this about themselves?”

      Absolutely never! It is not their fault, and besides, they never really wanted the guy anyway.

      “too bad Lee will never pitch against the Yanks in the Series, again, though…Go Sox!”

      I am from the west coast and have no stake in the decades long Yankees’ – Red Sox fued. But I would bet on that statement. The Yankees’ are getting a whole lot older, while the Red Sox got a whole lot better this off season. The Phillies are obviously the class of the NL. Heck they were before they signed Lee. In the AL, the Yankees’ can not even be the favorite to win their division, let alone stroll to the series. IMHO, the Yankees’ would be ranked no better than third in the AL in 2011. Behind both the Red Sox and the Rangers. (That is just my opinion). The Yankees’ must find some pitching to even be competitive- oh and a catcher would help. (So would a real SS).

      The Yankees’ (and their fans) did not want Cliff Lee? Yep. And I did not want hamburgers and a Bud Light for dinner tonight, too.

      • proudlycanadian - Dec 14, 2010 at 4:38 AM

        This decision sure reflects badly on the Yankees. It behooves me to think that Lee had enough sense to spurn an organization headed by an arrogant pompous ass. He has a much better chance to win the world series with Philadelphia than with any other tear that wanted him.

      • proudlycanadian - Dec 14, 2010 at 7:13 AM

        I should not comment when I am half asleep. I meant “team” not tear. Hanky remains a pompous ass.

  4. Brian - Dec 14, 2010 at 7:38 AM

    Craig, I would like to start this off by saying you are, by far, my favorite baseball blogger. Your tweets and posts light up an otherwise long and dreary day.

    But do you feel a little bit like a jackass this morning after all the non-stop (albeit very funny) Mystery Team bashing? I recall yesterday I asked you what you would do if the Mystery Team swept in and took Lee off the table and the question still stands. I think most of the baseball blogosphere has egg on their faces this morning.

    It’s also funny to think that Heyman was right. Bizarro World.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Dec 14, 2010 at 7:42 AM

      A post is going up about that in less than five minutes.

  5. macjacmccoy - Dec 14, 2010 at 8:00 AM

    Shows there ego. Maybe he just wanted to play for the Phillies. It could have had nothing to do with not wanting to play in New York. But there ego is so big that they cant believe that he could have wanted to play for someone else more then the Yankees. That the only reason he would pick Philly over NY is bc he doesnt want to pitch there. Like the Phillies couldnt possibly have something of value to offer Lee that the Yankees dont have.

    Well “Yankee’s Official” judging by Lee’s performance in the World Series an ALCS I dont think he has any problem pitching in New York.

  6. hamillbrendan - Dec 14, 2010 at 8:41 AM

    Baltimore native living in NYC with deep-seeded animosity for the Yankees (curses be unto you Jeffrey Meier), so I love hating on the Yankees as much as the next guy, but this statement on its face doesn’t seem overly ridiculous.

    Looking at it objectively, the fact is, Lee chose to pitch elsewhere and took less money to do so. This suggests that the minimum value he placed on NOT pitching in NYC in exchange for other, non-monetary, value like pitching in a ridiculous rotation in Philadelphia was at least $50 million dollars. That’s a lot of scratch.

    The second sentence is where the arrogance seeps through, but even then, why pay somebody $20+ million per year who would rather be elsewhere? If an employer is going to pay that kind of money, they expect certain things in return (be a marketable personality, etc) that they won’t get from somebody who realizes a year in that he’s miserable and might start to act accordingly (note: this is not a condemnation of Mr. Lee, but seems like a reasonable assumption that if somebody is unhappy with their employment situation they won’t perform to 100% of their potential).

    Accepting $50 million (or $20 million, whatever the actual dollar difference was) less to pitch elsewhere does indeed suggest that he really DID NOT WANT to pitch in NY and, again, priced the value of that decision at least at the discrepancy between the offers. So, the first sentence at least seems reasonable to me, if not slightly arrogant.

    Clearly, the Yankees did want Lee (as evidenced by their contract offer) but, again, it seems reasonable to be somewhat relieved as to not be stuck with a player who places such a premium on NOT being a Yankee.

  7. Jonny 5 - Dec 14, 2010 at 8:52 AM

    Craig, What if it just means. “Good thing we didn’t sign a pitcher who really didn’t want to pitch here anyway.” Because that’s how I see it. That’s my first thought, but I’m known to give people too much credit as well…

  8. Adam - Dec 14, 2010 at 9:14 AM

    When he says “Thank God we found out in time,” does he mean “Thank God we found out when he signed with another team”?

  9. yankees1996 - Dec 14, 2010 at 12:38 PM

    Well looking at the quote from my perspective, that of a lifelong Yankees fan I would have to agree that it is one of the damn dumbest quotes I have heard recently. The Yankees have been after Lee since the trading deadline. The fact is that maybe this will teach the Yankees to make sure the potential free agent covets playing for you as much as you covet him playing for you. This should also serve notice to other teams to make your best pitch to the players you decide to offer contracts to because you never really know what is going through their heads. If Cliff Lee did nothing else it is possible that he taught Hank Steinbrenner a lesson, I said possible not probable!

  10. mvd513 - Dec 15, 2010 at 5:45 AM

    Cliff Lee wants to pitch in New York plenty. Road games vs the Mets and winning World Series games against the Yankees.

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