Tag:Cliff Lee Watch
Posted on: December 14, 2010 9:17 am
Edited on: December 14, 2010 10:50 am

Winners and losers in Lee aftermath

Cliff Lee What in the world of Mike Cuellar is going on?

By adding Cliff Lee to the already-potent Roy Halladay-Roy Oswalt-Cole Hamels top of the rotation, the Phillies potentially have the best top of the rotation since the Orioles had four 20-game winners in 1971 with Cuellar, Pat Dobson, Jim Palmer and Dave McNally.

It's certainly the best rotation since the mid-90s Braves that featured Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz, followed by someone like Steve Avery or Denny Neagle.

The bad news for the Phillies is that it wasn't starting pitching that let them down in October. It was not scoring enough runs against quality starting pitching from the Giants.

As for the offense, how has that changed? Jayson Werth, the team's best offensive player last season, is gone. Raul Ibanez and Placido Polanco are a year older -- and Jimmy Rollins seems to age two years for every year nowadays. He's not been the same player the last two years that he was before. There are also emerging questions about Chase Utley. And then there's Ryan Howard, who is still imposing in the lineup, but suddenly looks less protect and reminds people that he's 31 with fewer home runs than the year before in each of the last two seasons.

Still, ask most teams and they'd take their chances with Howard, Utley, Polanco and even roll the dice on whether Rollins will be happy, as long as they're behind a starting rotation for the ages, like the Phillies have accumulated.

The Phillies are the clear winner in this whole deal. Because even if there are chinks in the armor, it's still one heck of a suit of armor -- especially the sleeves.

For the Yankees, Andy Pettitte becomes that much more important to the Yankees. Pettitte has reportedly been mulling retirement, but is crucial to the team's rotation going forward. And if you think the Yankees feel bad about these developments, let's think about how the Mets feel having to be in the same division as Lee, Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels.

The Rangers, on other hand, were right all along. They could offer Lee comfort the Yankees couldn't match, and something he obviously valued in the end. However, the Phillies offered not only the pillow top mattress, but one he'd slept like a baby in before.

Texas also has a World Series-type team, but one without an ace. The Rangers weren't serious contenders until they pulled Lee from the Mariners last season, and now they're faced with the same problem months later.

The rivalry between New York and Boston means any time the Yankees lose, the Red Sox win and vice versa. The Red Sox, who have added Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez are better (no matter what Evan says ), and the Yankees aren't as good as expected -- so the Sox win.

The biggest winner in all this -- besides the Phillies and Lee -- could be the Royals. Kansas City is dangling a bona fide No. 1 starter in Zack Greinke. And don't think Andrew Friedman in Tampa isn't receiving calls on Matt Garza about right now. The prices on those two starters haven't gone down in the last 12 hours, that's for sure. If you're going to get one of those, you'll have to pay.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb  on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: December 14, 2010 8:06 am

Phillies win the Lee sweepstakes

For the second time this offseason, the "Mystery Team" got its man.

Cliff Lee spurned money and went where he actually wanted to go -- Philadelphia.

Although few teams could afford the five-year, $120 million pact he eventually agreed upon, it's still seen as a victory for the little guy.

Why? He left at least $30 million, if not more, on the table.

That means excitement in Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Oakland, Cincinnati -- pretty much any place that isn't New York or Texas.

For all the talk of Lee's comfort level with the Rangers, he ended up going to the place he felt most comfortable -- Philadelphia.

Sure, the Philies are anything but a small-market team, with their payroll somewhere around $170 million. But still, it almost feels like a victory for the little guy. Almost.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb  on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: December 13, 2010 10:42 pm

Phillies leading race for Lee?

Cliff Lee Could the "Mystery Team" end up signing Cliff Lee?

The Twitterverse is exploding that not only are the Phillies interested in Lee, they may land the lefty and solidify their rotation as one for the ages, joining Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels -- no matter who the fifth man is, that's pretty damn good.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets this:
At this moment, #Yankees have become extremely negative about landing Lee and believing that he is edging toward #Phillies
If Lee does sign with the Phillies, he'll be leaving a lot of money on the table. Sports Illustrated 's Jon Heyman tweets the decision may come as soon as Tuesday. We can all hope.

But hey, the Yankees are interested in Jerry Hairston Jr., Marc Carig of the Star Ledger tweets , so there is that.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb  on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: December 13, 2010 7:30 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2010 7:36 pm

Phillies are the 'mystery team' in on Lee

Cliff Lee So, the "mystery team" interested in Cliff Lee is indeed the Phillies.

FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal quotes "a source with direct knowledge of the negotiations" as the Phillies "not out" of the Lee sweepstakes.

Ruben Amaro, of course, said nothing to Rosenthal.

Rosenthal notes the Phillies would have to work within a tight payroll, but they'd be a compromise between pitching in New York and "the Rangers' hitter-friendly park" (but doesn't mention the new Yankee Stadium isn't exactly Petco Park.) It's unlikely the Phillies could match the dollars or the years being offered by the Yankees and Rangers (reportedly somewhere around seven years and $160 million).

The Phillies have $146 million on the books for 2011, with Jimmy Rollins, Raul Ibanez and Brad Lidge coming off after the season. There is also a mutual option on Roy Oswalt that could send send him away, as well.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb  on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: December 13, 2010 5:49 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2010 6:04 pm

Cliff Lee theories won't die

Jon Heyman isn't giving up on his "mystery team" theory, and now he's dropping clues.

The Sports Illustrated writer tweets :
still hearing rumblings of 3rd team in lee mix. word is offer much lower than NYY's, but it's also a place lee loves
That would fit ESPN.com's Jayson Stark's theorizes the "mystery team" could be the Phillies. In this piece (subscription required ) Stark notes he hasn't talked to the Phillies about the theory.

The Phillies could give him familiarity plus the ability to contend. However, Philadelphia wouldn't be offering seven years. Stark also adds that the team has contracts coming off the book after this season for Raul Ibanez, Roy Oswalt and Jimmy Rollins, so they could backload a contract offer for Lee and make it intriguing.

That said, he'd still be leaving years of security and money on the table. That's something that doesn't seem to be too common, but not exactly unprecedented.

Or maybe he loved his time in Cleveland so much that he's willing to go back and Cleveland can go 1-for-2 in free-agent decisions this year.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb  on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: December 13, 2010 8:43 am

Of course, 'mystery team' is in on Lee

Stop me if you've heard this one before…

Sports Illustrated 's Jon Heyman tweets that there's a "mystery team" in on Cliff Lee. Usually "Mystery Team" only bids on Scott Boras clients, but it's far from a shock they're in on Lee, too. He is the biggest fish in the free-agent pond and "Mystery Team" has helped drive up the prices on players before, so it make sense they're getting involved now.

Heyman notes it's not the Phillies, or in another tweet , the Angels.

The only known "Mystery Team," the Nationals -- which was the "Mystery Team" that signed Boras client Jayson Werth -- are also out, MLB.com's Bill Ladson reports .

What's funny is we may have a good ol' fashioned media slapfight any minute, as ESPN.com's Buster Olney calls out Heyman, tweeting :
"Remember: if you ever read about a 'mystery team,' it can only come spoon-fed from an agent who is trying to create leverage."

The good news is that the fact the 'Mystery Team' card has been played means things are winding down, and Cliff Lee will have a new team soon.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb  on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: December 12, 2010 8:51 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2010 11:34 pm

Cliff Lee may decide early this week

Lee The Cliff Lee Watch tag may finally come to an end this week.

MLB Facts and Rumors first busted out the tag prior to the trade deadline as Lee eventually was dealt to the Rangers. That tag was resurrected once Lee hit free agency and has been used so much that only Lee himself (who paces the field by far), Stephen Strasburg, Adam Dunn, Derek Jeter, Carl Crawford and Roy Oswalt are the only players to beat out the Cliff Lee Watch tag for most articles written about it. Heck, Lee himself beats out the Padres, Tigers, Blue Jays, Brewers, Royals, Angels, Astros, Athletics and Indians in total articles written.

That's a lot of ink about Lee. Or rather, a lot of black pixels on your computer screen.

And now it may be ending, as SI.com's Jon Heyman believes that Lee will make a decision early this week, while Rangers president Nolan Ryan figures Monday will be the big day as MLB.com relays .

The Rangers have given Lee a "menu" of options, although none are expected to outdo the Yankees' guarantee of a seven-year deal and presumably a total deal north of $150 million. After Carl Crawford signed with the Red Sox, GM Brian Cashman guaranteed the seventh year in the face of the Rangers hanging tough. However, Cashman has no intention of increasing his offer further.

Now that Lee will have had a full weekend to decide and both teams submitting final bids (although there is apparently a "mystery" third team that could throw a wrench into things), the saga shouldn't drag on much further.

That'll retire the Cliff Lee Watch tag -- well, until he becomes a free agent again in the late part of the decade, anyways.

UPDATE: Looks like the Nats are out of the running for Cliff Lee as MLB.com reports . They were never considered a serious competitor although they did make an offer.

Check out this video of CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler's take on Lee as the Winter Meetings ended:

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb  on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed .

Posted on: December 12, 2010 2:59 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2010 3:19 pm

No new offer from Yankees

The Yankees have talked to Cliff Lee's agent Darek Braunecker since they left Orlando this week, but they have not increased their offer in that time, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told the New York Post .

Cashman also said he wouldn't increase his offer to the free-agent left-hander. The team has reportedly offered Lee seven years and in the $160 million-range.

Yesterday, Rangers president Nolan Ryan said he'd feared the Yankees had upped their offer for Lee. Hopefully, Lee makes his decision sometime soon, so we can all move on with our lives.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com