Mashup: Lee, Greinke, Yankees’ Plans, Top Rotations, Blanton, Pirates, Bronkey
After weeks of waiting we finally know where Cliff Lee will pitch next season and it’s not where anyone expected when the offseason began. The widespread expectation from the beginning was that it would come down to either the New York Yankees or the Texas Rangers. Other teams came into the mix at various points in the process but ultimately dropped out of the running for one reason or another. Finally a “mystery team” entered the mix as the weekend progressed and some (namely Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman) started to speculate it could be the Philadelphia Phillies. Low and behold, it was the Phillies and they ended up with Lee as an announcement broke late last night of the news, causing the Twitterverse to explode with reactions:
- @jasonsbaseball Halladay, Hamels, Oswalt, and Lee? What a rotation that would be.
- @JPosnanski You mean you haven’t already? RT @jtbourne: So as a Mets fan, do I just set fire to my paraphernalia and stop following the sport?
- @joe_sheehan I’m trying to figure out how one GM gets Lee and Doc for crazy under-market money … and also overpays Ryan Howard by 50%.
- @BensBias Why does Ruben Amaro acquire every pitcher for less than he’s worth?
- @BNightengale Can’t say enough about Lee following his heart and not his wallet. #Phillies fans should give standing ovation every time he pitches.
- @Buster_ESPN The irony is that no team was more convinced that Lee would chase every last nickel than the Phillies – who traded him because of this.
- @d_a_cameron Also, MLB executives, can you please stop reaching agreements on huge contracts at 12:30 AM? Sincerely, writers everywhere.
- @jazayerli It’s only been an hour, but I’m already getting used to the idea of having Jesus Montero in the lineup.
That last tweet from Rany Jazayerli is of course referring to the widespread expectation that the Yankees will make a push to acquire Zack Greinke from the Kansas City Royals. If they were to discuss a deal, Jesus Montero would presumably be involved as he’s the Yankees’ top prospect and the Royals are looking for help up the middle. However, I’m not sold on Montero being the best piece that the Royals could acquire due to his position uncertainty. The Royals are one of the few teams with options behind the plate, with Jason Kendall and Brayan Pena both under contract for next season. They’re believed to be high on Lucas May, whom they acquired just last summer from the Dodgers for Scott Podsednik. Plus, one of their top prospects is catcher Wil Myers. Moving Montero to first base wouldn’t really be an option with Billy Butler there. Butler will likely move to DH once Eric Hosmer is ready to fill the role full time.
As such, a package centered on Montero might not be viewed as the best option as the Royals evaluate what the best package is that they can get in return for their ace pitcher. Had the Yankees not traded away Austin Jackson last winter and assuming they’d be willing to move him now, then I think they could present the most appealing package to acquire Greinke. I, for one, don’t think the Yankees will be serious suitors for the former Cy Young Award winner. I think they’ll hope for one more season out of Andy Pettitte (rather than the lefty retiring) and remain patient. The team will bring in at least one more pitcher before the season begins because I can’t see them seriously giving Sergio Mitre a long look in the rotation so they’ll want someone to compete with him. However, they won’t overspend on someone just for the sake or signing another pitcher.
With the acquisition of Lee the Phillies will now have (at least on paper) one of the best rotations in history when the 2011 season begins. Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels each made at least 30 starts last season and finished with an ERA+ above 130. Such a grouping has only happened once before in MLB history: the 1997 Atlanta Braves who featured Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, and Denny Neagle in their rotation.
That Braves team finished 101-61, winning the NL East with ease. They then swept the Houston Astros in the NLDS before losing in the NLCS to a Florida Marlins team that would go on to win the World Series. The Phillies and their fans shouldn’t get too far ahead of themselves when looking ahead to 2011. Sure, they have the best rotation on paper but they still need to win on the field for that to matter.
To make room financially the Phillies are expected to try to move Joe Blanton and Raul Ibanez. The Blanton rumors have already been swirling with MLB Trade Rumors going through a list of potential landing spots for the righty. Naturally some make more sense than others. There were also reports early this morning that the team already had discussions with the Boston Red Sox about a deal. The rumors have since been largely dismissed but they never truly made much sense anyway. The Red Sox have six potential starters already and would have no room (or need) for Blanton. The Yankees and Rangers also don’t seem like good options.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have been surprisingly aggressive this winter with the signings of Matt Diaz, Scott Olsen, and Kevin Correia. Now they can add Lyle Overbay to the mix after agreeing to a contract with the first baseman today. The moves have been somewhat surprising for a team that has failed to field a .500 team since the early 1990s but they at least show the team is trying to make improvements without handing out big contracts that will handicap the team moving forward.
Baseball Reference has continued to grow into one of the best resources on the Internet for statistical information. One of the many tools is a listing of players by birthplace, where they passed away, and even where they are buried. It’s an interesting look at where players have originated from over the course of baseball history. One of the more interesting notes I noticed within the tool was that there was one player who was born in Afghanistan. Jeff Bronkey made 45 career appearances between 1993 and 1995 with the Texas Rangers and Milwaukee Brewers, finishing with a 4.04 ERA.