Let’s face facts folks, there is no love lost between the New York Yankees and Derek Jeter at this stage in the game.
There are questions abound about where Jeter thinks he will be able to get the kind of money to compete with the Yankees’s 3-year, $45 million offer that the Captain is scoffing at or why the Yankees are truly trying to play hardball with one of their greatest players. Are they trying to prove that no one player is greater than the Yankee machine?
But here’s another angle that perhaps the Yankees should consider; the Cliff Lee Angle.
It’s no secret that the Yankees are or will be making a huge push to land Cliff Lee this winter. They’ve had him on their radar since before he was traded to Philadelphia a year and a half ago. They knew that free agency was right around the corner and made certain that they wouldn’t part with prospects at this year’s deadline knowing that they would have the largest pot to pull from in terms of salary. All they had to do was wait another 4 months and tug on the cash leash a little bit.
Unfortunately, that mind set has already thrown a wrench in the works when Cliff’s wife Kristen complained of fan abuse during playoff games at Yankee Stadium. She made it known that she thought she and other wives were treated rudely and then dropped the hint that she liked having Cliff close to home in Texas.
That brings us back around to Jeter. Put yourself into Cliff Lee’s shoes. Before your eyes, you are witnessing an icon in the city being treated like just another free agent winding down his career and getting a three-year deal as a consolation prize. How does that look to you that your prospective employer will tell you when you’re no longer a part of the long-term plan?
Certainly, Lee’s biggest consideration is going to come down to the money, but let’s look at this for face value. In Lee’s eyes, this has to appear like the Yankees have two strike against them already and if I were him, I would use this as leverage in order to drive up their offer. Only Texas is in active pursuit of you against New York, and they can also give you enough money to be satisfied, albeit not Yankee money, but still, a quality deal.
It comes down to money, loyalty, and comfortability with the surroundings. As I see it, the Yankees need to show loyalty to both sides of the equation to get the Lee deal done. Otherwise, they need to turn their attention to another matter.
Other Hot Stove Heaters:
– Rumors last week mentioned that the Pittsburgh Pirates had contacted Scott Boras about Adrian Beltre and that the A’s had supposedly offered him a $64 million deal. Let’s be honest with ourselves, we’ve all seen how Scott Boras works. With the Yankees out of the picture on Beltre, the agent can’t play the Yankee card against the Red Sox, so he needs to drum up interest somewhere. That said, these rumors are a little far fetched, as neither team has the financial flexibility or spending history to make a run at a free agent with the asking price of a Beltre.
– The Cubs have a first base void to fill and are looking into Carlos Pena. This is an interesting move for a club that struggles to get hits at times. Yes, he’ll be a power upgrade over last year’s model Derrek Lee , but he also his below the Mendoza line last season, showing that he has trouble putting the ball into play.
– The Rangers made a push for Victor Martinez before he signed with Detroit last week. Now, they have their sites set on Paul Konerko to upgrade their first base production.. Konerko would be a great fit in the Texas heat, but any move or pursuit is likely handicapped by the status of Cliff Lee. It is doubtful that Texas can commit to both players financially, but a new ownership group may try to make decisions like that to show the fan base that they are committed to improving on their 2010 season.