Big Domino Falls

14 Dec

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Note – I have moved the SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast to 9:00 central time on Tuesday nights. It is an hour earlier than it has been of late, but I think that makes a lot of sense, especially for guests in the eastern time zone. On tonight’s show, we will be talking to (at least) two guests, Twins minor league pitchers Carlos Gutierrez and Tony Davis. And we’ll also continue to talk about the Twins offseason activities, of lack of activities, depending upon your perspective.  

This was also posted at the StarTribune.com TwinsCentric blog last night. Feel free to leave you comments here or there.

As expected, the Cliff Lee sweepstakes came to an end late on Monday night. The team that he chose to play for is what was completely unexpected. The free agent left-handed starting pitcher who helped the Texas Rangers advance to their first World Series in 2010 shunned the Rangers and the big-spending Yankees to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies, the team he helped get to the 2009 World Series. Lee has agreed to what is believed to be a five year deal worth approximately $115 million (with vesting option for sixth year). The Rangers and Yankees had both reportedly offered seven years, so Lee gave up $20-40 million in this decision.

Can I just reiterate the best part of that first paragraph, please? Cliff Lee shunned the New York Yankees. OK, that made me smile. The Yankees offered the most money, and Lee still chose to go to a place that he loved, that he wanted to be. Sure, the MLB Player’s Association will likely reprimand him, but I applaud him in this decision. It is actually refreshing to hear that it apparently wasn’t completely about the money. (That said, Lee and his agent will find that their lives will be more comfortable from this point forward still.)

Lee will join a starting rotation that already includes Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels. Sure, the Phillies lost Jayson Werth to the Nationals in free agency, but I think a lineup that still includes Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino and others will likely score enough runs to make those starters successful.

The Yankees have to be reeling. They generally don’t lose out on players that they deem their highest priority. So now what will they be doing? How quickly will they put together a package for Zach Greinke? Who else will they be going after at this point? Between losing out on Lee and watching the Red Sox add Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, we have to assume that the Yankees feel the need to do something big. The early thoughts have been that the Yankees will spend a significant amount of money on bullpen. Could they be interested in Jesse Crain, Brian Fuentes and/or Matt Guerrier? Interestingly, the Red Sox have shown interest in all three of them as well.  

What about the Rangers? Nolan Ryan was pretty clear about his desire to land the already-32-year-old left-hander. What do they do now? Will they trade Michael Young and attempt to acquire Adrian Beltre? What other pitchers are could they acquire? Maybe Matt Garza? They will also make an attempt to acquire Greinke from the Royals. For what they were willing to pay Lee, they could add two, maybe three, high-quality starters.

One other name that the Rangers have shown interest in is Twins free agent right-hander, Carl Pavano. All along, we knew that Pavano would wait until Lee signed because the loser(s) of the Lee sweepstakes may be interested in Pavano. We know that he will not be going back to the Yankees, but the Rangers are a real possibility. Or, maybe he will look at the Lee situation and decide that he loves Minnesota and Ron Gardenhire and sign with the Twins, after all.

It’s strange that a free agent signing can make a person really feel good. I feel good that Lee didn’t sign with the Yankees. I feel happy that he chose comfort and happiness over an extra $23-40 million. I am excited to see what that Phillies rotation will do. And I’m also excited because the Cliff Lee signing will hopefully signal the end of the Carl Pavano saga, whatever his decision might be.

Please feel free to Comment in the Comment section or at the StarTribune.com TwinsCentric blog.

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13 Responses to “Big Domino Falls”

  1. j-sin December 14, 2010 at 9:44 am #

    Thanks for reflecting on the greater ramifications of how the Yankees have already lost out on many free agents, with little hope to fill the “gaps” in their rotation. It’s bad of me to wish ill-will to a team, but I am giddy thinking about how even if they want to trade for a good pitcher, and if they have the prospects to do it, they will be left with very very few prospects. The silver lining, as with the Johann trade, is that the big ace pitcher is no in the National League.

    Think of how good it might feel for BS to get a call from Cashman about trying to trade for Franchise (rumor has it he did). Sorry Mr. Cashman, you don’t have the money or the prospects to acquire Mr. Liriano. Take a hike!!

    Indeed, it does feel good.

    • j-sin December 14, 2010 at 9:45 am #

      Sorry, “now” in the NL.

  2. gobbledy December 14, 2010 at 9:54 am #

    might be time to trade liriano. gardner, joba and the young ss for starters would work. liriano is no sure thing to keep up what he did last yr and the way he throws his arm could go any time. trade delmon for a decent pitcher and put gardner in left. improve team speed and outfield d a lot and save money.

  3. Andrew December 14, 2010 at 10:10 am #

    Actually, Lee didn’t take any less money or “leave millions on the table,” as some would have you believe. Phillies’ offer was save average annual value as Yankees. Lee did leave a 7th year on the table.

    The Phillies will certainly have to trade either Blanton or Hamels to be able to afford to pay that rotation. And I just can’t call them World Series favorites with just one regular under 30 years old. Too scary.

    Though I hope this means Yankees go overboard on a Pavano contract! Just hope the Twins don’t follow down that road…

  4. mini_tb December 14, 2010 at 10:51 am #

    Wouldn’t any Liriano trade with the Yankees have to result in Jesus Montero DH’ing for the Twins?

    • mini_tb December 14, 2010 at 11:00 am #

      What if the Yankees got desperate and offered Jesus Montero, and 1 of Dellin Betances, Manny Banuelos, or Andrew Brackman for Liriano?

      Or maybe the Twins chip in another piece and get their choice of 2 of the pitchers to go with Montero?

  5. AW December 14, 2010 at 12:10 pm #

    Am I missing something – I know that Cashman called to inquire on Liriano, but I’m curious why people are spending time putting together hypothetical packages to send Liriano, our second best (or best, depending on how you look at things), pitcher in 2010, to the Yankees? If the Twins are looking to at least keep pace, or hopefully improve, then keeping Liriano would seem a no-brainer.
    The only way I could see a Liriano trade making any sense is if it was for equal or greater pitching talent.

  6. Luke Williamson December 14, 2010 at 12:26 pm #

    Why would you help the team that has bounced us from the playoffs twice in a row ? To me, in the spirit of Cliff Lee and bringing back pitchers you traded away..why arent we talking to the Rays about Garza ? You cannot subtract the only swing and miss pitcher we have for a prospect that has no position (Montero). Brackman was so so in AA as was Betances (in limited time). 3 of the Yankees top ten prospects are catcher a position we dont need. Cmon guys enough of trading Liriano please.

  7. j-sin December 14, 2010 at 12:27 pm #

    Agreed, I thought that trading Liriano was a non-starter. How about the possibility they overpay for Crain and then he regresses by throwing too many waist-high 4-seamers to the wrong guys. Again, don’t wish ill-will to Crain, just the Yankees :) And by ill-will, I don’t mean getting hurt or anything, just to miss the playoffs.

  8. Luke Williamson December 14, 2010 at 2:25 pm #

    Best part about Cliff Lee signing with a National League club….get to see more of those Lee vs Carlos Gomez matchups. Those are always entertaining.

  9. David Grahn December 14, 2010 at 8:48 pm #

    Thanks for moving up the time of the podcast to 9 central. I live in Washington DC and it will be easier for me to keep up with the Twins. I also follow the Nats so I am not quite so glad that Lee ended up with the Phillies, but it was a very good post.

  10. ML December 15, 2010 at 11:33 pm #

    Crain to the ChiSox and Matty G to the Dodgers.

    I suspect we don’t get Pavano, but that’s not such a bad outcome.

  11. Luke Williamson December 16, 2010 at 10:30 am #

    Listen I like Nishioka, no problem with him and to be honest he is a perfect #2 hitter, I think. My problem is we keep contending and not getting past the first round and our bullpen is a mess lets be honest. There is no guy and that includes Nathan that you can say is a sure thing. Our starting pitching does not have a stabilizing force on it. Liriano has the stuff to be a #1 but the mental toughness ?? We have the prospects, the question is, is Bill Smith…. Ruben Amaro ?? or is he Neil Huntingdon ?

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