Friday, July 09, 2010

Cliff Lee to Yankees? How? Why?

Joel Sherman reported in the NY Post today that the Yankees are on the verge of acquiring Cliff Lee. He followed up that post with more information on his blog. Both are worth a read, because there are all kinds of things that don't make sense...

1. Why would the Yankees offer up catching prospect Jesus Montero for Lee? Their starting rotation has been one of their strengths this year. Sherman claims it is because they have some concerns about their rotation holding up in the playoffs. He claims it might mean moving Phil Hughes to the bullpen. He (and ESPN apparently) suggest that Javier Vazquez could be traded in the deal, too.

Presumably, Vazquez would be sent back to level out the salaries - because the Yankees don't want to pay too much? Really? Or would the Mariners believe they can trade him and get something for him to a National League team?

And Hughes has been great, but the Yankees recently skipped a start for him, and when he came back he had a bad night. Are they hiding an injury? Or are they so worried about his innings (he only threw 86 last year) that they're really going to move him back to the bullpen? Could that not have been foreseeen when they moved him into the rotation to begin with?

2. Why would the Mariners want Montero over Wilson Ramos AND Aaron Hicks?

You can argue that Ramos is a better prospect straight up than Montero. Montero is younger, both were highly regarded, and both are struggling in AAA, but nobody really knows if Montero can stay at catcher. There is no doubt about that with Ramos.

So either the rumor earlier this week is wrong, or this one is wrong. I'm guessing both, and I thin it's Seattle (along with the Yankees) working to drive Lee's value up.

And if I'm wrong? Well, then you're REALLY going to want the TwinsCentric Trade Deadline Primer that is coming out on Sunday night. Because it lists Montero and Lee as two of the 150 players that might be available. Just like it listed Russell Branyan (already traded to Mariners) and Bengie Molina (already traded to Rangers). And you can use it to find the other few dozen starting pitchers that are available on one of it's handy-dandy cheat sheets. It'll be on sale as an ebook on Sunday night for $9.95.

But I really hope we aren't looking at that starting pitcher list for the next best alternatives by Sunday night. And I don't think we will.


jesse said...

Good points John. I'd just like to point out that A) the Yankees are well known for being gluttonous pigs and wouldn't think twice about adding an ace to an already bloated and talented rotation, and B) the evaluation of Montero depends entirely on what the Seattle organization sees in his future.

Additionally: a hot 20-year old, or a scuffling 22-year old? Sure, it's smoke & mirrors, but you've got to think they like the numbers on Montero. Based on numbers, Montero and Adams DO look better than Ramos and Hicks.

I don't know. I'm just playing devil's advocate. All I really know is: if this happens, it will suck.

Jack Ungerleider said...

Here are two reasons the Yankees might be interested in Lee right now.

1) Boston is interested, or they think Boston is interested.

2) They have concerns that Lee won't hold up to the NY media and want to give him an extended audition before they sign him to the big dollar FA contract in the off season.

I tend to lean towards option 2. With the perverse idea that the Yankees wouldn't mind seeing him struggle a little early on to see if he can "take the heat". Just as long as he turns it around for the post season.

Of course it is the Post and the first rule of tabloid publishing is to sell papers.

Jewscott said...

Just my two cents, but Seattle wants Montero because what they want is a potential middle of the line-up bat who'll be ready during the King Felix era. That Montero won't stick at catcher doesn't bother them with Adam Moore in the system. It's going to be hard for the Twins to trump that offer because there isn't that prototypical thumping first baseman in the system right now, and a lot of the pieces we could use to sweeten any offer exist in the Mariners' system.

As to why the Yankees make this move, the simple answer is they don't want him to wind up in Texas, Minnesota, Detroit or Boston for the playoffs.

Anonymous said...

If they trade for him they won't have to give up their first rounder for him in next year's draft.