Money, Money, Money

Here’s an interesting stat. As of this moment, the Yankees and Red Sox have committed a total of $1.2 billion in player salaries through the 2018 season. And that money is almost evenly divided 50.7% is owed by the Yankees, 49.3% by the Red Sox. If Cliff Lee signs for $150 million that figure goes up to $1.35 billion and the percentages adjust to 56.8% to 43.2%.

As we wait for Lee to make up his mind, there are a few other stories and rumors to kick around. Let’s start with the Rule 5 draft where the Yankees took 2 pitchers. Of the two, Robert Fish, a lefty from the Angels, seems to have the better chance of sticking, but it is a small one. The fact is, Fish hasn’t pitched well above A ball, but the Yankees can bring him to camp and see if he can get big league lefties out. As I said yesterday, no harm no foul.

The second pick seems to be more about messing with Boston than anything else. The Yankees took Daniel Turpen, a guy who hasn’t pitched all that well for the Red Sox but has been mentioned as the possible PTBNL in the Adrian Gonzalez trade. Considering this guy is a righty who just put up an ERA over 4 in AA ball, I think the Yankees spent $50,000 to make Theo’s life a little bit harder.

The other rumor is that both the Yankees and Red Sox have made offers to Russell Martin. From a Yankees standpoint, it makes a lot of sense. Yes, Montero could hit the cover off the ball in camp and step right into the starting catching job, but what if he doesn’t? Furthermore, promoting him on Opening Day starts his arbitration clock, guaranteeing he will be a “Super 2” and forcing the Yankees to pay him a lot of money a year sooner than they would have. (Give them a break, they already are on the hook for $613 million over the next 7 years) Martin isn’t a huge upgrade offensively from Cervelli (.264 TAV vs. .261) but he is an upgrade defensively. I would not have traded for him last week, since he would have cost too much in arbitration, but if the Yankees can get him for $3 or $4 million, I say do it.

I now return you back to “The Cliff Lee Watch” Please stay away from sharp objects.

No Way!

Reports are floating that the Red Sox have signed Carl Crawford to a 7-year, $142mm deal. Wow.

I never expected them to throw this kind of cash around to a player like Crawford. He is good, don’t get me wrong, great with the glove, very, very fast and hits for a high average, but he isn’t patient, nor does he hit for much power. Some power yes, but not that much…right?

I will say this, because it isn’t my money, this is a great signing. But if it were my money…I’d be asking my GM to meet me for a personal one-on-one to evaluate things. $20mm+ on two offensive players in one off-season is just too much to comprehend.

OK Red Sox, you have just entered the world of the New York Yankees. You now have 2 players making north of $20mm per season (not quite yet, but in 2011 you will). Time to get ready to defend paying one player, let alone two, that kind of scratch.

If this really is true, the Red Sox line-up would look very lefty and something like this (I will not guess on the specific outfield positions just yet):

of – Crawford
2b – Pedroia
1b – Gonzalez
3b – Youkilis
dh – Ortiz
of – Cameron
of – Drew
c – Saltalamacchia
ss – Scutaro

Where is Ellsbury in all of this, I don’t know. I’m confused. Ellsbury and the Red Sox clearly didn’t get along in 2010, so this might be his farewell. Or, considering the left-handed nature of this line-up, maybe the Red Sox know something I don’t. Seriously, my cat knows just a bit more than me, but I can totally confuse her on the “I’m throwing the toy but not really routine” so I’ve got that going for me. BTW, my cat wasn’t my doing, but she is a welcome addition…very smart and tenacious with a cat toy thus far. Seriously, she’ll mess that toy up!

Wait, what was I talking about? Right, too many lefties in the line-up. My guess is that Ellsbury is moved. That would clear something or other up in the line-up, right? Ok, I give up, many lefties, many lefty outfielders, tell me what’s next please.

I’ll comment more after my cat sits me down and explains things to me. Off to sleep.

Everybody’s Talking And No One Says A Word

I thought a John Lennon quote would be the perfect way to sum up today at the Winter Meetings- consider it a tribute to someone who was taken from us far too soon, 30-years ago tonight.

Lots and lots of talk, but not much substance. Here’s what we sort of know-

The Yankees made an offer for a six-year deal between $137.5 million and $150 million to Cliff Lee. Lee’s agent took off to Arkansas to discuss things with Lee and he might have two offers of seven years from “other” teams.

Andy Pettitte hasn’t made up his mind and the Yankees seem ok with that. But, there is a chance they will go after Lee and Crawford if Pettitte were to retire.

The Rule 5 draft is tomorrow at 9am.

I mention the Rule 5 draft because there is a solid chance the Yankees make a selection or two. The 40-man roster sits fairly barren right now with 33 names on it. I can’t really imagine the Yankees signing more than four free agents in addition to Jeter and Mo and even that would leave three open spots. If they see a name or two they like, perhaps a lefty relief candidate like Scott Diamond, available, it only costs them $50,000 to grab them for a six-week tryout in spring training. If they stick with the club that’s great. If not, they can actually get 1/2 the money they spent back. It really wouldn’t surprise me to see the Yankees make a pick or two.

For now, that may be the biggest action we see. Cliff Lee has some offers to consider, who knows how long that process will take.

Back after the Rule 5.

Plan B?

According to Jon Heyman, Cliff Lee has two offers for seven years at more than $20 million but the teams remain a mystery. Since the Yankees are reportedly not going to seven years, there seems to be a decent chance they won’t get their man. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that Lee signs elsewhere. What are the Yankees options for 2011?

1- Stick with what they have. This would be the most interesting move and the chances of it happening probably depend on Andy Pettitte. If Pettitte comes back, the Yankees could open with almost the same rotation they had last year, swapping Ivan Nova in for Vazquez. Considering how poorly Vazquez pitched, you could make the argument that Nova might actually be an upgrade. Now if Pettitte doesn’t come back, the Yankees would have two rotation holes to fill. I swore I would never say this again, but in this case, wouldn’t it make sense to consider Joba for the rotation?

2- Sign a different free agent starter. The HUGE problem with this scenario is which one do you want? After Lee, Carl Pavano is probably the best starter left and we know that won’t happen. The Yankees could take a run at someone like a Justin Duchscherer and keep their fingers crossed that he stays healthy. A bet like that again probably rests on Andy Pettitte’s decision as Nova would then presumably be ready in the minors for when the injury bug bit. Short of that, is anyone up for the return of Chien-Ming Wang?

3- Try the trade market. Now Zack Greinke is clearly on the block, but you know that the price is going to be Montero. Further more, Greinke had a pretty severe social anxiety disorder and while he is by all accounts healthy, there is a big difference between New York and Kansas City. I’m just not sure the risk would be worth the price of Montero.

The pitcher who would be worth that price is Felix Hernandez. That’s the guy I would target if I were the Yankees. I wonder if Seattle would have any interest if the Yankees offered a package with Montero and Betances in it?

4- Screw the pitching, bash their way to a pennant. It’s all about run differential and the Yankees scored 859 runs in 2010. Add Carl Crawford to the mix and that could go up. Now Crawford is probably going to cost a ridiculous amount as well, but it’s an option.

What do you think?

Dealbreaker?

Both Ken Rosenthal and Joel Sherman reported tonight that the Yankees will not go to 7 years with Cliff Lee. Sherman added that they would go to six to get the deal done.

I guess I am glad to hear they won’t go to 7, but 6 is way too many in my book. I don’t really like the idea of even going to five years, but with the news that Andy Pettitte is leaning towards retirement, the Yankees really need to get Cliff Lee to come to the Bronx. I just hope they do it without guaranteeing a sixth year.

Extension for Adrian Gonzalez

Fox Sports Ken Rosenthal is tweeting that the Red Sox and Adrian Gonzalez have agreed on a 7 year, $154mm extension. That’s $22mm per. So the Red Sox have done all the things their fanbase could hope for on this one. They traded for an offensive and defensive cornerstone and they have him locked up for the next 8 seasons.

No word on if this deal will be signed now or in April.

I Could Do Without the Drama

Does every Red Sox move have to involve such drama? There was the Curt Schilling Thanksgiving dinner, the failed Mark Teixeira pursuit and now this. Seriously, think back to when Theo Epstein himself walked out on the Red Sox. Maybe it’s his way of keeping things interesting.

Alas, it is now being reported that the Red Sox have gone ahead and traded for Adrian Gonzalez anyway, despite not inking him to an extension. My theory is that the Red Sox didn’t really want to sign him immediately to an extension, rather they wanted to sign him once the 2011 started as any deal signed after the start of the season wouldn’t be factored in for luxury tax purposes. You know, maybe the past 36 hours were designed to build the framework of a deal and intentionally table it until April.

Pretty smooth if so, and I’m sure against the rules of baseball and also risky because Adrian and co. could always have a change of heart. Just a guess on my part, but there have been plenty of writers pointing out the benefit if waiting until April.

Regardless, I’m glad it is done and he will be a more than welcome addition to the squad. I’m still chewing on just how I’d construct the line-up with the pieces they have now, but as we all know, the line-up isn’t that important, but it is fun to talk about.

Stunning

I thought the Cardinals singing Lance Berkman to play the outfield for $8 million was crazy, but the news that the Nationals just signed Jason Werth for 7 years and $126 million blows that away.

It’s a deal that is going to redefine the marketplace. Start with Carl Crawford who will probably try and get 8 years out of whatever team signs him now. (No thanks) Cliff Lee will certainly up his demands as well. And you have to wonder, did Adrian Gonzalez get some idea of Werth’s deal (reportedly agreed to Friday night) and use it as a benchmark in his failed extension talks with Boston?

Here’s an interesting way of looking at it. The Yankees will pay their starting outfield next year a tiny bit less than the Nationals will pay Werth.

Stay tuned, it is going to be a fascinating week.

Letdown

Word out now that the Adrian Gonzalez deal is at best on hold and at worst dead.

If the deal is dead then I have lost a great deal of confidence in the Red Sox ability to build a winner. Why not go the extra step in getting this deal done? If it is cash then they just alienated their fanbase and a few of their minor leaguers. If there are other reasons, they better be good reasons (health concerns).

If the deal is on hold well then we just have to wait for a final answer (If I’m not back in 10 minutes, just wait longer).

Before I vent any further, let’s see what really happens.

Update: A deal is still possible but without an extension in place, I can’t imagine the Red Sox will want to give up as much. The two teams are free to tweak the deal and just make it a trade for one year.

The Finish Line

The Yankees have made deals with both Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter, bringing the two of them back where they belong. I commented on Rivera’s deal yesterday and Jeter’s makes similar sense. Three years at $17 million per is a high for Jeter the player, but for Jeter the total package, it is fair. Plus, he is deferring some money which helps the Yankees going forward. As for the 4th year, Jeter has a player option that could be worth somewhere between $8 and $17 million based on how he performs over the next few years. I would be willing to bet that if Jeter is no longer Jeter, he won’t exercise that option. Overall, I think the immortal Peter Gammons said it best tonight when he tweeted “I don’t care what Jeter makes, only that he and Mariano begin and end as Yankees.” Amen to that.

Now it becomes all about Cliff Lee. The Yankees are making some head fakes towards guys like Crawford, but it is really all about Lee at this point. If the Yankees can get him on board, Andy Pettitte becomes a “nice to have” instead of a “must have”. If they can’t get him, they better get Andy to put off retirement. Losing both would be a very bad situation. I would bet we know the answer to where they both end up by this time next week.

One last note. Clearly the Cardinals didn’t watch much of Lance Berkman as a Yankee. $8 million to play the outfield? Good luck with that next year!