Tag:Cliff Lee
Posted on: July 26, 2010 4:35 pm
Edited on: July 27, 2010 2:44 pm
 

Marlins, Rangers continue talking Cantu

Talks between the Marlins and Rangers for slugger Jorge Cantu have reached the point where if a deal happens, it probably will happen in the next day or two, according to two major-league officials with knowledge of the discussions.

The Rangers are in full-throttle, pedal-to-the-metal mode with a seven-game lead in the AL West. One club source says the belief is that now is the time to push because this current Rangers team is showing that it's ready to win now.

The Texas front office believes it too, given the acquisitions so far of ace Cliff Lee and catcher Bengie Molina. If the Rangers can add Cantu to their lineup, as one scout says, they would add "probably the least-known 100 RBI guy in the game."

With the Angels having acquired right-hander Dan Haren from Arizona on Sunday and Seattle having dealt Lee to Texas earlier this month, the AL West is putting on quite a trade-deadline show this summer.

In the deal currently being discussed, Texas would send two minor-leaguers to Florida for Cantu. The Rangers would have to get the OK of the Commissioner's Office before any deal takes place because Cantu is owed about $2 million yet for 2010 and the Rangers, of course, are in bankruptcy court as their sale is pending.

However, Cantu also would be a perfect stretch-run pickup for the Rangers because there are no money issues after this year -- Cantu will become a free agent.

Meantime, while the Marlins have other issues -- such as, at 49-49 and eight games behind Atlanta in the NL East, they're trying to determine whether they're in or out of the race -- trading Cantu somewhere appears close to a fait accompli. The Marlins also are engaging Colorado and San Francisco in discussions.

The Marlins are comfortable with the idea of Chris Coghlan playing third base -- or, while he's on the disabled list with a knee injury, with Wes Helms there -- and they think Logan Morrison is ready for the majors. Morrison has been playing left field in recent games for Triple-A New Orleans and is hitting .306 with six home runs, 44 RBI and a .424 on-base percentage in 67 games.

Their feeling is, if they do trade Cantu and the trickle down effect includes Morrison, Coghlan and Helms, it won't hurt them while they make a run at it this summer.

Posted on: July 9, 2010 1:22 pm
Edited on: July 9, 2010 4:20 pm
 

Yanks trying to finish Lee deal, others involved

The Yankees, with baseball's best record, are deep in discussions with the Seattle Mariners to acquire ace left-hander Cliff Lee, the most sought-after starting pitcher on the market this month, according to CBSSports.com sources.

However, sources cautioned that the deal is not done and there were indications Friday afternoon that the Mariners were continuing to shop Lee. One major-league source told CBSSports.com that, among other teams, the Texas Rangers are continuing full throttle attempting to acquire Lee.

It is believed that Minnesota, which held a conference call involving it's top baseball people at midday Friday, is continuing to push hard as well.

Meanwhile, the Yankees and Mariners were discussing the framework of a deal that would send one of New York's top prospects, catcher Jesus Montero, minor-league infielder David Adams and a third prospect to the Mariners for Lee. The New York Post's Joel Sherman first reported the names early this morning.

The deal was not yet finished as of midday Friday, but sources say the Yankees were aggressively trying to move it toward the finish line. Among the pressure points: Lee is scheduled to start tonight's game in Seattle against the Yankees.

Lee's 2.34 ERA currently leads the American League. He also leads the league with five complete games. If they acquire him, the Yankees would add a tremendous insurance policy to a rotation that already ranks third in the AL with a 3.79 ERA.

Along with CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes and Andy Pettitte, Lee would give the Yankees a fourth starter who has been named to Tuesday's All-Star Game. A.J. Burnett and Javier Vazquez would be the only odd men out, and that could go literally for Vazquez: The Yankees would need to clear room in their rotation and they appear moving along in talks to spin him off in a separate trade elsewhere.

The move also would add depth to a rotation that could need it down the stretch, even as dominating as its been so far: Hughes has worked 94 innings so far this season and, at 24 and as they work to ensure his long-term health, the Yankees really prefer he doesn't exceed much more than 170 innings pitched this season. That could become an issue in September and October.

Montero, just 20, was named as the top prospect in the Yankees' organization last winter by Baseball America. The Mariners are seeking good, young hitters, among other things, and catching is among the organizational areas they need to improve. If the Yankees can pull this off, they'll block Minnesota -- which could offer catching prospect Wilson Ramos -- among several other interested clubs.

Bottom line is, it appears as if the bewitching hour has arrived for anybody and everybody who was in -- or wanted to be in -- the Lee talks. Minnesota, Texas, the Mets, Cincinnati, Tampa Bay ... the list is lengthy.

If the Yankees can acquire Lee, it will reunite him and Sabathia, the pillars of Cleveland rotations that allowed the Indians to contend earlier this decade.

It also will give both he and they a test run together as Lee, owed about $4.5 million the rest of this season, heads toward free agency. Translation: The Daddy Rich Yankees likely will have an advantage in re-signing him, if and when the time comes.

Posted on: July 2, 2010 9:11 pm
 

Jimenez, Price aligned for All-Star Game

If American League manager Joe Girardi chooses to start Tampa Bay's David Price in the July 13 All-Star Game -- a very real possibility given that Price led the AL in ERA (2.44) and wins (11) on Friday -- the coast is clear.

And if National League manager Charlie Manuel gives the nod to Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez -- which seems a slam dunk -- that should work, too.

In the first season in which baseball will deem ineligible any starting pitcher working on the Sunday before the All-Star break, the view from several days out looks pretty good.

Of the top AL starters, only the Angels' Jered Weaver (who leads the majors with 124 strikeouts), Tampa Bay's Jeff Niemann and the Yankees' CC Sabathia currently are projected to start for their clubs on that Sunday.

Among the NL's top starters, only the Mets' Mike Pelfrey is slated to start on Sunday, July 11. But depending on what manager Jerry Manuel does with his pitching on the club's off-day on Thursday, July 8, that could change.

Price, a serious candidate to start for the AL, is scheduled to make his final pre-All Star start for Tampa Bay on Wednesday, which would leave him plenty rested for the Anaheim game. And if Girardi looks in a different direction, Seattle's Cliff Lee (last first-half start next Friday), Boston's Jon Lester (Friday) and Clay Buchholz (Tuesday), the Yankees' own Phil Hughes (Friday) and Texas' Colby Lewis (Wednesday) all should be eligible.

Jimenez makes his final pre-All Star start on Thursday and, assuming good health, should be a foregone conclusion to start for the NL in Anaheim.

As for the rest of the NL's top starters, things are setting up very nicely for Manuel: Florida's Josh Johnson (final first-half start slotted for Wednesday), St. Louis' Chris Carpenter (Friday), Adam Wainwright (Saturday) and Jaime Garcia (Thursday), Philadelphia's Roy Halladay (Saturday), Atlanta's Tim Hudson (Friday or Saturday), Milwaukee's Yovani Gallardo (Friday), the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw (Thursday), San Diego's Mat Latos (Wednesday) and San Francisco's Tim Lincecum (Wednesday) and Barry Zito (Thursday)  all should be fresh for the game.

Likes: Great move by Texas acquiring catcher Bengie Molina. Look out, this is the strongest team the Rangers have had in several years. ... The wheels came off the wagon horribly in Arizona, but make no mistake: Fired general manager Josh Byrnes and manager A.J. Hinch are good people. ... New Arizona manager Kirk Gibson's first game in the dugout, of course, is against the Dodgers. Who else? ... The All-Star break just around the corner and Texas, Atlanta, Cincinnati and San Diego in first place. ... The new concert DVD from Bruce Springsteen and the E St. Band, Live in Hyde Park. Very, very good. Great song selections, tremendous playing and some breathtaking camera work of both the band's work and the crowd in Hyde Park. ... Quaker Oatmeal Squares for breakfast. ... Ben & Jerry's Milk and Cookies ice cream.

Dislikes: It's July, so here comes the July 31 trade deadline, a time that you would think would get a baseball writer's juices flowing. And it does mine, too -- it's fun to see the moves as they're made -- but it's also become one of my least favorite times of the year because there is so, so much wrong information that will be produced this month. And ferreting out the truth from the fiction is next to impossible. The sad, simple fact is the journalism bar at times is lowered today, and this is one of them.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Summer
"It turns me upside down"

-- The Cars, Magic

Posted on: December 16, 2009 6:51 pm
 

Blockbuster breakdown

Nine players, four teams, two Cy Young winners, one three-minute breakdown of what undoubtedly will be THE blockbuster trade of the offseason:

Seattle

Gets: Lefty ace Cliff Lee, the 2008 AL Cy Young winner and ace pitcher in this fall's World Series.

A clear winner in the deal, in conversations with scouts and executives. Especially in the context of what general manager Jack Zduriencik already has done with the Mariners last year (improved their pitching and defense) and this winter (signed sparkplug Chone Figgins). How would you like to have Lee and Felix Hernandez as Nos. 1 and 2 in your rotation?

At 85-77 after losing 101 games in 2008, the Mariners were baseball's most improved team last year. With Lee and Figgins, that trend continues and should make Seattle instant contenders in the AL West.

The Mariners gave up three prospects in the deal, none of whom is projected to land anywhere near Cooperstown. Lee is a free agent following the 2010 season which, as colleague Danny Knobler notes, could make Seattle winners in one of two ways: Either he can pitch them into the playoffs, or, if the Mariners pull a surprise and flop early, they can trade him in July and probably receive better prospects than they traded.

Philadelphia

Gets: Roy Halladay from Toronto, prospects Phillippe Aumont (right-handed pitcher), outfielder Tyson Gillies (outfielder) and Juan Ramirez (right-handed pitcher), and $6 million from Toronto.

The overriding question being asked by baseball people everywhere in the aftermath of this exchange of Cy Young winners is this: For Philadelphia, back-to-back NL champs with an eye toward a third consecutive World Series appearance in 2010, are the Phillies better off with Halladay than Lee?

Well, are they? It's a very close call, but the answer has to be yes. Lee has bad back-to-back sensational seasons, but Halladay not only has done it longer, but he's the big, powerful horse that most often comes up as the answer to this question: If you could pick one pitcher to win the most important game of your season, whom would it be?

It may seem absurd to go against Lee, who was 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA in five postseason starts for the Phillies this year (including 2-0 with a 2.81 ERA in the World Series). But while Lee beat the Yankees in October, Halladay has made a career of doing it: Lifetime, Halladay is 18-6 with a 2.84 ERA against the Bronx Bombers.

Not that he'll be facing New York regularly in the NL East, but that's the point: In this game, right now, you measure yourself against the Yankees, and go from there. Halladay can handle them -- as Lee did -- in October. Meantime, Halladay should chew up the NL the way a Toro mows through tall grass.

The clincher, of course, is that the Phillies signed Halladay to a three-year extension with an option for year No. 4, while Lee is headed for free agency. Halladay, for the Phillies, is a better answer both short-term and, especially, long-term.

Toronto

Gets: Three former No. 1 draft picks, right-hander Kyle Drabek (from the Phillies), catcher Travis d'Arnaud (from the Phillies) and  third baseman Brett Wallace (from Oakland).

Take good notes, because this is the last you'll be hearing from the Blue Jays for awhile. They should be nowhere hear contention in 2010. This trade is about stockpiling prospects and, from there, attempting to come up with a core group of controllable, young players who will mature roughly the same time.

It's a fine plan under Toronto's young (32) new architect, new GM Alex Anthopoulos. And whether it works or not, let's just say this up front: This Halladay deal likely will be Anthopoulos' signature moment as Jays' GM. If these prospects produce, he has a chance to look brilliant. If not, the Jays will become even less relevant.

Drabek is a power arm whom the Jays were looking at last summer in the Halladay talks with Philadelphia. Anthopoulos views him as an eventual front-of-the rotation type starter. The GM's hope for d'Arnaud is that he will develop into an All-Star catcher. And the Jays view Wallace as an eventual impact, middle-of-the-order hitter.

Anthopoulos is on record as calling Halladay the greatest player in Blue Jays' history, and to get only one pitcher back in a package for him seems awfully light. Odds are that he will not develop into half the pitcher Halladay is (and that's no knock against Drabek -- there aren't many youngsters who will develop into the next Halladay, or half a Doc).

The Jays do need a catcher and a third baseman. For them, the final evaluation of this deal likely is at least a couple of years away.

Oakland

Gets: Outfield prospect Michael Taylor from Toronto (via the Phillies).

The Athletics pretty much being the afterthought in this deal, good, sneaky work by GM Billy Beane to move in and snag an outfielder he took a liking to awhile ago.

Why it took so long: For one thing, the Phillies required a negotiating window to enter into a multi-year contract agreement with Halladay, who was on track for free agency following the 2010 season.

Also, and this is why you hear of so many trades anymore that take several days to be announced, contracts are so big now that medical reports never have been so important. Teams anymore are incredibly diligent about making sure the players they receive are healthy, risking humiliation if they don't. It's why the deal between Boston and Texas sending third baseman Mike Lowell to the Rangers essentially was agreed upon eight days ago and still hasn't been completed -- the Rangers are triple-checking Lowell's medical reports.

In this deal, there was concern from Toronto on third baseman Brett Wallace's shoulder due to a previous injury.

Lastly, rules state that the Commissioner's Office needs to approve any trade in which $1 million or more changes hands. That's pretty much become a formality anymore, but it still slows down the process.

What got the deal done: Several facets, but the overriding one was the fact that Halladay clearly wanted to pitch for the Phillies. No small part of that is because Halladay's home is in Odessa, Fla., not far from Toronto's spring training base in Dunedin, Fla. Which is only about 10 minutes from Philadelphia's spring base in Clearwater. Halladay essentially gave the Phillies the old "hometown discount" in signing on the dotted line for $20 million a year and waiving his free agency rights next winter. Remember, CC Sabathia set the bar last winter by signing with the Yankees for seven years and an annual average value of $23 million a season. Next to that, Halladay looks downright generous in the deal he gave the Phillies.

Winners: Seattle, no question. Mariners' GM Jack Zduriencik, who, in barely more than a year on the job, has established himself as one of the most creative minds in the game. Philadelphia, which stands an excellent chance to play in its third World Series in three years in 2010.

Losers: Toronto's fans, at least in the short term.  It's just too bad that the Blue Jays never could win when they had Halladay, because he gave his blood, sweat and tears to that franchise and to that city and he desperately wanted to win there. For his sake and for that of the franchise and its fans, its sad that it never came to pass.

Posted on: November 4, 2009 5:12 pm
 

Victorino in the lineup tonight

NEW YORK -- Shane Victorino, whose right index finger was badly bruised when he was hit by an A.J. Burnett pitch the other day, is starting and playing center field for Philadelphia in Game 6 of the World Series tonight.

"He's fine," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel says.

As usual, Victorino is hitting second behind leadoff man Jimmy Rollins.

Manuel also said that every pitcher other than Cliff Lee is available tonight in Game 6, and he again declined to say who would pitch Game 7 Thursday if the Phillies can extend this series.

Posted on: November 2, 2009 4:25 pm
 

World Series: Special deliveries from Arkansas

PHILADELPHIA -- Rather than calling out "Play Ball" to start Game 5 of the World Series tonight, plate umpire Dana DeMuth may want to give one of those "Woo pig sooey!" calls they do so well at University of Arkansas football games.

Tonight's starting pitchers?

Philadelphia's Cliff Lee is from Benton, Ark.

The Yankees' A.J. Burnett is from North Little Rock, Ark.

What's next, President Bill Clinton throwing out the ceremonial first pitch?

"It's interesting," says Burnett, who also shares an agent (Darek Braunecker) with Lee. "They've got two country boys from Arkansas going out. ... We talked [Saturday]. First thing out of his mouth was, 'Look at that Budweiser sign in right, that's what I'm going to be aiming for.'"

Burnett might smile a bit if he thinks of that when Lee settles into the batter's box tonight to face his buddy, but he vows he won't be trumped.

His response when Lee threatened to take Burnett deep?

"Go ahead, because I can hit, too. I was in the National League for six years."

Braunecker negotiated a five-year, $82.5 million contract for Burnett with the Yankees last winter. Lee is signed through 2010, and if he continues dominating as he has over the past two years, Braunecker stands a good chance to top Burnett's contract with Lee.

"I didn't really know him growing up," Lee said of Burnett. "He was a little ahead of me, but I knew who he was, obviously. There's not a lot of guys from Arkansas getting drafted, much less making it to the big leagues.

"For us, we've met each other over the years and became friends and stuff, but it's not very often two guys from the state of Arkansas make it to the big leagues, much less square off against each other in the World Series."

 

Posted on: October 28, 2009 11:30 pm
 

Phillies, Lee mow down Yanks in Game 1

NEW YORK -- First World Series dance for the new joint in the Bronx, the House That Jeter Built, or Steinbrenner Built, or whatever the construction company was, and a guy from Philadelphia played the part of Babe Ruth.

With Chase Utley jacking two bases-empty home runs against CC Sabathia on a rain soaked evening that fell just a wee bit short of YES Network specs, the Yankees produced a 6-1 clunker that surely made the deserted old stadium across 161st St. shudder on its deathbed.

A Yankees team that scored more runs than any team in the majors this year failed to land a single significant blow against Philadelphia ace Cliff Lee until the game was well out of hand.

He whiffed 10, including seven in the first four innings. Throwing a cut fastball that bore in hard on right-handed hitters all evening, Lee fanned Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez twice each in each man's first two plate appearances.

Lee was a one-man highlight show, catching Robinson Cano's bouncer up the middle behind his back on his follow-through to lead off the eighth. After throwing Cano out at first, Lee grinned.

A-Rod went 0-for-4 with three whiffs, and didn't get the ball out of the infield in his other at-bat against Lee (a ground ball to third). Were all those postseason accolades premature? Will our man A-Rod rise back up again and make Rudy Giuliani and Kate Hudson proud?

He'd better. Because the Yankees now are caught up in a Cliff-hanger like they haven't seen in quite some time in 2009. They assumed first place in the AL East for good by July. They cruised through September after beginning the month with a 6 1/2-game lead in the East.

They swept Minnesota in the Division Series and swiped a 2-0 lead against the Angels in the AL Championship Series.

But one game into the World Series, against the defending world champions and a club Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins declared would beat them in five games, the Yankees officially now are knee-deep in their sternest test yet.

It's only one game, and the Yankees are deep and expensive, so it's not anywhere near catastrophic yet.

But given their surprisingly thin rotation and inordinate dependence on CC Sabathia, the situation is serious. In what likely will remain a three-man rotation, any time Sabathia doesn't win, it dangerously shifts the pressure elsewhere.

A.J. Burnett, you're up next against the fabled, often fabulous Pedro Martinez.

Whaddaya got?

 

 

Posted on: September 30, 2009 1:24 pm
 

Indians at crossroads, fire Wedge

Eric Wedge's dismissal Wednesday as manager of the Cleveland Indians wasn't so much a firing as it was a mercy killing.

The Indians are not going to win next year, and general manager Mark Shapiro tacitly acknowledged that in trading slugger Victor Martinez and ace Cliff Lee this summer even though both players had affordable 2010 options.

Wedge had presided over the American League's most disappointing team for two seasons running and, amid Wednesday's developments in Cleveland, what's more important than who will run the club next summer is what it says about where the Indians are now, period.

Shapiro has steadfastly stood by Wedge since hiring him in 2003, insisting from the beginning that theirs was more a partnership than anything else.

What's changed now is that it's clear that Cleveland ownership is growing more and more impatient amid the mounting losses and declining attendance.

Shapiro was under pressure to remove Wedge, and now that pressure will mount squarely on the GM as he rolls up his sleeves in the midst of another rebuilding project -- this one unforeseen as recently as a year ago.

Shapiro was considered one of the game's brightest young GMs back when he replaced John Hart, and maybe he's part victim of his own success. Nobody expected the Indians to contend as quickly as they did following the Manny Ramirez/Roberto Alomar/Jim Thome years, but Shapiro rebuilt them so adeptly that, after the last remnants of that group won 91 games in 2001, a retooled Indians team won 93 games just four years later.

Whomever is the next manager of the Indians will not have Martinez, Lee, CC Sabathia or Casey Blake. What Shapiro and his baseball people are banking on is that in some of the prospects they've acquired for the latest dispatched band of Indians stars -- like outfielder Matt LaPorta, right-hander Chris Perez and Jess Todd, catcher Lou Marson -- can become the next generation's Martinez, Sabathia, Lee, et. al.

The Indians acquired 11 prospects during a whirlwind, midseason trading spree, each of whom is 24 years old or younger, nine of whom are pitchers.

Shapiro has excelled on the trading market far more often than not in his eight seasons in charge.

Now, after one of their most disappointing seasons in decades, the GM really needs that magic to continue. Probably more now for his own sake than for the sake of whomever they find to replace Wedge.

Likes: Michael Young back in Texas' lineup this week for the first time in nearly two weeks. He's a class act and the unquestioned face of the Rangers, and it's been weird not seeing him in the lineup this month while he was recovering from a strained left hamstring. Before he missed 11 consecutive starts with the injury from Sept. 2-14 (and 11 more in a row after he came back too soon on Sept. 15), he had not missed more than two consecutive starts at any time since the beginning of the 2002 season. ... Have there been any more dramatic moments than what we've watched in Coors Field this year? Chris Iannetta's game-winning homer against Milwaukee on Tuesday night adds to the list. ... The song is old and corny, but it's still become a cool moment when the Angels blast The Foundations' insanely catchy Build Me Up, Buttercup during the seventh-inning stretch. Maybe it's because the song never fails to bring a smile thanks to memories of the end credits in There's Something About Mary. ... This Tom Gage column in the Detroit News. He's right.

Dislikes: That is one ugly Chuck Knoblauch story.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels
"I don't know how to tell you all just how crazy this life feels
"I look around for the friends that I used to turn to to pull me through
"Looking into their eyes I see them running too"

-- Jackson Browne, Running on Empty

 

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