Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems: The Cliff Lee Story

December 15, 2010

Remember when he was on Cleveland? 4 teams ago.

So, Cliff Lee signed with the Phillies much to the dismay of the Yankees and Rangers.  It seems that in the dying seconds, the Phils swept in and grabbed Lee with a 5 year deal.  Despite the fact that Lee took less years from Philadelphia in the offer that he accepted, he took what was the best deal overall.

Most of the articles written about this signing and many of the sports radio guys down here in the DFW (everyone but the Ticket) are groaning about the fact that Lee is giving up astronomical amounts of money to go to Philly.  The fact of the matter is, he isn’t.  Lee is still getting $24 mil a year for five years.  A sixth year is either going to be a vested $27 mil or a $12.5 mil buyout, so he basically has 6 years for at least $132 mil, if not $147 mil.  The Yankees offered him about $22.5 a year, the Rangers offered about $23 mil a year, but would not guarantee a seventh.  So…. In conclusion, they all offered roughly the same thing.  The seventh year did not matter, and Lee wanted to create a monster rotation for the Phillies.  Which brings us to….

Are the Phillies now the World Series favorites?

I am usually wrong in my predictions.  By that I mean, I have never been right, but I do not think Philadelphia is the strongest team in the Majors for 3 reasons:

1. Their Offense.
The Phils were 12th in the majors in batting avg. (which I take very little stock in), 13th in OBP, and 12th in slugging.  It is important to note that all of those numbers were good enough to be tops in the NL East.  In what is a big name offense who led the Phillies in OBP last year?  Carlos Ruiz.  OPS? Jayson Werth.

Ryan Howard’s walk numbers have plummeted since being named MVP in 2006, and his power numbers have fallen off as well (most likely a direct result using Dick’s Sporting Goods shit gear).  Jimmy Rollins hit .243 in fairly limited time.  If this offense stays healthy and returns to old form it is the best in the NL East, but with that rotation it is not about the East.  It is about a pennant… Which brings us to October and reason #2.

2. Recent Playoff History.

Projected top 4 in the Phillies rotation next year: Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, Hamels. 
Anyone watch the playoffs last year?
NLCS- Giants beat the Phils in 6 games beating Halladay, Hamels, and Oswalt in the process, but they didn’t have Lee.

hmmm…
World Series- The Giants beat the Rangers in 5 games beating one Clifton Phifer Lee not once, but twice in the process.

Maybe it was a team of destiny or some such nonsense, but they knocked around this dream staff pretty good.  No pennant for the Phillies.

Does adding Lee make them the team to beat in the NL?  Yes, probably, but….

3. There is a monster in the AL, too.

The Red Sox are the best team in baseball.  I was actually saying this before the acquisitions of Crawford and Gonzalez, but they just furthered the point.  Prior to the signing of Cliff Lee by Philly, the Sox had far and away the best staff in baseball.  Bucholz and Lester both had Cy Young caliber years last year.  Josh Beckett is a stud, and he is only 30, and John Lackey won 14 games in his 1st season with the Sox.  Say what you want about Dice K, but that is a pretty solid option at #5 (if ever healthy).

The Sox have a complete lineup, and a solid defense.  With that staff and those bats they have to be the preseason favorite.

With the Sox being so deep, and Cliff Lee (and his spit coated wife) going elsewhere, what are the boys in Bronx supposed to do?

Well, first thing’s first. Don’t shit your pants, Cashman.

Who knew George Costanza still worked for the Yanks?

Here’s to hoping that Brian Cashman does not feel a need to go out and flex his pinstriped nuts on the trade market.  The Yankees have actually been semi- prudent in holding onto prospects in the last couple of years, and it could pay dividends.  Their catching prospect, Jesus Montero has shown promise, and is poised to get time in throughout 2011.  Today’s acquisition of Russell Martin is hopefully not a sign that they are trying to make Montero expendable, but that would not surprise me in the least.

There are still a few guys available that could help the Yankees out a bit, but this might be a situation where they have to offer about 10 guys deals and have them compete.  They just signed Mark Prior to a minor league deal.  This is extremely low risk, but it would be nice to see him and Kerry Wood back together again.  Wood is someone they have to sign as he was invaluable down the stretch.

Amongst the other available names, Brandon Webb and Chris Young are the two that stick out, but neither is a proven commodity.  Jeff Francis might be a low risk lefthander to take a chance on, but only because there are no other lefty starters out there.

I would not be surprised to see them go out and grab Magglio Ordonez now that they have been snakebit by the other free agents.

There is still hope in the East for the Bombers as Tampa liquidated, but I don’t think a trade for an arm (Greinke) would be the answer right now.  Get Andy to come back and play one more year, something inside me wants to see the Yankees win(or lose) with their own guys for once.


Steve Phillips Needs To Stop Talking

July 22, 2009
Steve Phillips is another sportscaster who just doesnt have credibility.

Steve Phillips is another sportscaster who just doesn't have credibility.

So I was just watching Baseball Tonight on ESPN, and the topic of trading for Roy Halladay came up.  Karl Ravich asks Steve Phillips his opinion on the situation.  He proceeds to say that if he was a GM in the game, he would sell the farm for Halladay.  Now I have no problem saying “I’d trade almost anything for him,” because Halladay is among the best pitchers in the majors.  But Phillips didn’t stop there.  He proceeded to name every single top young pitcher in the bigs and offered them to Toronto.

This isn’t shocking, coming from the former New York Mets GM who has a long track record of trading future stars for short-term help.   He obviously doesn’t value prospects, which is fine to an extent, because they are not guaranteed to succeed.  But he didn’t name just prospects.

Steve Phillips named the Dodgers as a team that needs to trade for Doc, offering Clayton Kershaw and others for the Blue Jay’s star.  Another team Phillips feels should trade for Halladay is the Phillies, offering every prospect in their system.  He even said that the Yankees should give Toronto, a division rival, anything they wanted including Phillip Hughes and Joba Chamberlain.  He went as far as saying, “if I was the Yankees, I’d pack his bags and drive Joba to the airport.”

My problem with his thinking is that its not practical, and it perfectly showcases the reason he’s the former GM of the Mets.  Consider his Dodgers proposal: trading 21-year old lefty Clayton Kershaw (8-5, 2.95 ERA, 104k, 1.22 WHIP) for 32-year old Halladay (11-3, 2.73, 113k, 1.07).   We’ll leave out a breakdown the “others” Phillips would give up (Tony Abreau, Blake DeWitt, James Loney, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp to name players sure to be requested by Toronto).  Let’s just compare the pitchers that would be swapped.  What exactly do the Dodgers gain in this?  Sure, Halladay’s peripheral numbers are slightly better.  But when you consider the cost, both in terms of talent and cash, does this deal make sense?  Halladay is on the hook for the remaining of his $14m+ for this year, and $15.75m for next year, after which he’s free to go as a free agent.  Kershaw, on the other hand, is under team control for another 5 years at very cheap salaries.  Common sense tells us that Kershaw is on the upslope of his promising career, while Halladay is at the top of his game but 11 years older.  How much longer does he have before decline?  Sure, the Dodgers are World Series favorites (along with Philly) in the senior circuit, but does Halladay improve their odds in October?  He’s got the same number of October starts as Kershaw, ZERO.

As Philly is running away with the NL East, do the defending World Series Champs need Halladay?  At the cost of a starting fielder and top prospects Kyle Drabek and Jason Donald?  As is, they are on their way to a deep October run.  Do they mortgage the future hoping that Halladay wins them the title, something that nobody can guarantee?  Do the Yankees, already short on starting pitching, deal Joba and Philthy Hughes (shout out to carebear) for a pitcher with several times more wear on this tires than the two players offered for him?

When we consider Steve Phillips track record on trades of any kind, he loses all credibility.  Let’s take a look:

He traded Carl Everett (MVP candidate 2 years after being traded) for John Hudek (1-4 for the Mets). –> Lose

Sure, when he traded AJ Burnett for Al Leiter, he got 85 wins and 2 playoff appearances, including a World Series           appearance from the old guy.  But Burnett is younger and has won 95 games since then, including a World Series Title.  –> PUSH

Jason Isringhausen (283 saves since) was traded for Billy Taylor, who was 0-1 in 18 Mets appearances with an ERA over 8.0.  — > Lose

Looking for a short-term fix in 2000, Phillips nabbed Mike Bordick for 56 games and a .260 average.  Ironically, he traded a young Melvin Mora, who was hitting .260 at the time of the trade.  Unfortunately for the Mets, Mora has gone on to hit over 150 home runs with a .281 batting average over the past 10 seasons for the Orioles, including a couple of all-star appearances, a Silver Slugger award in ’04, and an MVP candidate in ’04.  Bordick left after his lone season, returning to the Orioles.  –> Lose

In ’02, Phillips gave away Gary Matthews Jr. for John Bale (who?).  ‘Nuff said.  –> Lose

Phillips traded a minor league Jason Bay for middle reliever Steve Reed.  Bay is a top corner outfielder, which is a historically weak spot for the Mets,  Steve Reed was decent but a free agent after the year.  –> Lose

Sure, he had a couple good trades (Piazza, maybe Mo Vaughn), but overall, Steve Phillips was the meth addict of baseball general managers; he traded long-term pieces for short-term fixes.  In the end, he had 2 playoff appearances to show for all of his awful trading.

So Steve, stop doling out the advice to GM’s who still have jobs in the game.  Nobody has even interviewed you for a GM position since you were canned, so perhaps they agree that you were a terrible judge of talent.  Just stop giving us your opinion on trades just because you are on ESPN.  Only talk about subjects which you have credibility with, like what kind of hair product I should use to get a ‘do like yours.