The Sun Will Rise Again in NY
Everyday on the way to school, I pick up a copy of AM New York, a local newspaper in New York City. While sifting through the pages, I see an article entitled â€œYankees wait on Cliff Leeâ€ Just then, my phone vibrated. It was an e-mail from my fellow writer SteveÂ Lenox. â€œI was right,â€ he said, and went on discussing the Cliff Lee deal.
Startled and confused, I started looking around for an answer. The subway conductor then walked through the doors of the train and saw I was reading about Lee and the Yankees. â€œDonâ€™t read that junk,â€ he said. â€œHe signed with Philly.â€ Relieved, I leaned back in my seat, and went on with my ride.
Bad reporting on behalf of AM New York is part of it, but things happened extremely fast. Within a few hours of us even finding out that the Phillies were involved, Lee was gone. And the newspaperscouldnâ€™t even keep up.
I got to school only to be approached by five or six people all screaming. â€œItâ€™s over,â€ they all said. â€œThe Yanks are done.â€ Disgusted, I calmly explained to them how ridiculous they sounded.
Account for all free agent signings so far thisÂ offseason, and the Yankees still have a payroll of $190 million. That is the highest in the Majors, and the Yankees expectations have not changed whatsoever.
Now, it is true that the Yankees could use some pitching help. But here is how I see it: If Andy Pettitte returns, the Yankees will have the same rotation they had two years ago when they won the World Series, with the addition of Phil Hughes, who won 18 games last season. Cliff Lee happened to be on the team they beat.
â€œA.J. Burnett? Really?â€ I heard that a lot today. It is borderline criminal to talk positively about Burnett in New York.
But why canâ€™t he have a comeback season? Why canâ€™t a veteran pitcher who led the league in strikeouts three seasons ago, and led the Yankees to a championship two seasons ago have a comeback season?
Another bright spot is the signing of Russell Martin to a one-year deal today,Â according toÂ MLB.com. He may not be Lee, but having 28-year old, two-time All-Star, and Gold Glove winner behind the plate canâ€™t hurt. Especially considering the back-upâ€™s are FranciscoÂ CervelliÂ and JesusÂ Montero.
Furthermore, the Phillies are not done dealing. Phillies beat reporter ToddÂ ZoleckiÂ points out that the Phillies are going to need to clear some payroll space to compensate for Leeâ€™s massive deal. Joe Blanton is someone the Phillies are looking to move, and itÂ wouldnâ€™t hurt for the Yankees to add a 30-year old with plenty of experience in a big city. He would only cost $17 million over the next two seasons.
And, make no mistake, bringing Lee aboard for seven years was not something the Yankees were particularly thrilled about. If they were, they would have thrown a lot more money at him â€“ and, trust me, they could have. In the end, the Yankees realized itÂ wouldnâ€™t be too smart to sign a pitcher through age 39 and up to age 40, especially considering he has only had three good seasons in a nine season career.
Having a payroll below $200 million is not such a terrible notion either. The Yankees will have a lot more flexibility in the future to make big deals, and still have a great chance to win in the short-run.
Nevertheless, the sun will rise tomorrow. The Yankees are still a great team, and still have very high expectations. They won with this team in 2009, and they can win with it in 2011. If you told me the Yankees would go into the 2011 season with CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Phil Hughes, Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mariano Rivera,Â JobaÂ Chamberlain, Curtis Granderson, Russell Martin, and possibly Andy Pettitte, I donâ€™t think I would be very worried.
What a day. And I never even got to remind people that there are two months left in theÂ offseason.