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MLB Hot Stove: Bringing On “New York Heat” as the Yankees Sign Mark Prior

The New York Yankees have an abundant amount of money to spend after losing out on signing Cliff Lee, who went to the Philadelphia Phillies.

All possible options will be tried, as cash is never short in New York and especially when the team is in need. Nobody puts Baby in the corner; not the Phillies, not Lee and certainly not a lack of free agents.

So, when the news came that the Yankees signed pitcher Mark Prior to a one-year minor league contract, the possibility of what Prior was and could be started to cause butterflies in my stomach.

Back in 2002, when Prior debuted with the Chicago Cubs, the level of excitement could only be compared to that of Washington Nationals phenom Steven Strasburg.

Yes, Prior was that good. At just 22 years old, he was joining team ace Kerry Wood, and in 2003 they made a tandem of the best one-two punch in the majors.

That season Sports Illustrated dubbed them the “Chicago Heat” and it was well deserved. Combined, Wood and Prior posted 522 strikeouts, seven complete games and three shutouts over a total of 422 innings in 2003.

Prior finished with a 2.43 ERA, was named to the All-Star team, finished third in the NL CY Young voting and ninth in the NL MVP. Wood posted a 3.20 ERA, leading the Cubs to 88 wins and a division title.

Cubs manager Dusty Baker was frivolous with his two stars, as fans voiced concerns about the constant high pitch counts. Prior was averaging 113+ pitches during that 2003 regular season, and the number jumped to 126 in September through the postseason.

Baker’s irresponsibility clearly was at fault and he is the reason for all the anal pitch counts across baseball with young prospects. After that 2003 season, neither half of the “Chicago Heat” did anything except be on the DL and Chicago fans were devastated but blamed it on the curse of the Cubs franchise. Continue reading ‘MLB Hot Stove: Bringing On “New York Heat” as the Yankees Sign Mark Prior’ »

Cliff Lee Signs with the Philadelphia Phillies: A Bad Decision for Both Sides

Now, even Brett Favre can breathe again with free-agent ace Cliff Lee finally making a decision to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Favre is on a growing list of fans, athletes, sportscasters, beat writers, my doorman and pretty much anyone who reads the NY Post who were annoyed with Lee’s decision making of where he is bringing his talents, basically until his 40th birthday party.

Lee had a serious offer of $160-plus million for seven years on the table from the New York Yankees.

He also has about five different contracts proposals from the Texas Rangers, who went over and above, in attempts to compete with the Yankees resources.

Days passed with no “decision,” so it made perfect sense that another team is in hot pursuit and one that Lee deemed worth the wait.

The Philadelphia Phillies is that team, but Lee just makes no sense for such a heavily loaded ballclub as Philadelphia.

Philly traded Lee’s talents without a hitch last season to attain Roy Halladay from the Toronto Blue Jays. Later, the franchise added Houston Astros ace Roy Oswalt to the rotation of Halladay and Cole Hamels.

Halladay has a three-year contract worth $60 million, with a fourth year option but a lot of stats have to be fulfilled for that to happen.

Oswalt is slated to make $16 million in 2011, but his contract is up if the Phillies want it to be. Oswalt does have an option for 2012 at $17 million.

Both Halladay and Oswalt turned 33 years old in 2010, so adding another 32-year-old arm at $20-plus million doesn’t make much sense.

Why?

1. Lee wants years and two offers already on the table are for seven seasons. If Philly didn’t sign Halladay for more than three years, why would they sign a less durable, injury-prone pitcher to more?

2. Outfielder Jayson Werth took his talents to the Washington Nationals a week ago, leaving Philly with a huge gap to fill in their lineup. Werth was clutch for Philly, especially in the last three years and his absence won’t go unnoticed. Philly’s priority should have been re-signing Werth.

3. Another option for Philly would be to go after closer Raphael Soriano. Brad Lidge has proved unreliable for long stretches and it cost the team. Soriano is way better and any team who has him finish games is significantly better. Lidge could setup for Soriano, making a lethal one-two in the eighth and ninth innings. Continue reading ‘Cliff Lee Signs with the Philadelphia Phillies: A Bad Decision for Both Sides’ »

MLB Hot Stove: Inside Scoop On Cliff Lee’s Decision

Wondering where ace Cliff Lee will be bring his talents in 2011?

Here is the latest news.

Last night while attending a Christmas party, I happen to be introduced to a man who went to college with Lee’s Arkansas neighbor and happens to be one of his closet friends.

In asking what he had heard, the response was that Lee had not made a decision as of Friday afternoon.

He confirmed that Lee liked Texas but that he is afraid he will regret the opportunity to be a New York Yankee. The fact that old teammate CC Sabathia and good old boy AJ Burnett absolutely love playing in the Bronx is very significant for Lee.

The Rangers are playing up the small town and southern roots angle. Also, the Lee’s just moved into their new house in Little Rock so to up and move again is scary and will upset his kids.

Overall, this man had only heard a lot of the rumors from his buddy’s wife. The wife thinks Lee will stay in Texas, but his wife is only listening more because of Amber Sabathia who absolutely loves being in New York.

From what it sounded like, Lee will sign with the Rangers but remember if he was so happy in Arlington he would have signed by now.

MLB Hot Stove: Cliff Lee the Key Factor in Yankee-Red Sox Battle for Supremacy

All the New York Yankee brass and fans can do is wait for ace Cliff Lee to make his decision.

The Yankees need Lee, and anyone who doesn’t think so is living in denial.

The recent acquisition of two lefties, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, by the Yankees rival in Boston, does make the Red Sox slightly better.

Here is why:

Crawford is a five-tool player who posted a .307 batting average last season. What makes him such a pain at the plate is he can turn a single into a triple if the ball is fielded with any imperfection.

Crawford was a Tampa Bay Ray for the last nine years, so all AL East teams are well aware of the damage he can do.

Gonzalez is one of the top first basemen coming from the National League. What he lacks in speed he brings in power with his bat, finishing with a .298 average last season.

Considering Gonzalez spent the last five years with the San Diego Padres, who play at pitching-friendly PETCO Park, his bat should only be better at his easier new home of Fenway.

Remember the Red Sox did lose Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez, who had batting averages of .321 and .302 respectively. Continue reading ‘MLB Hot Stove: Cliff Lee the Key Factor in Yankee-Red Sox Battle for Supremacy’ »

Carl Crawford: Boston Red Sox Think They’re the New York Yankees By Signing CC

The city of Boston must be ecstatic tonight with the announcement of the signing Carl Crawford

Crawford’s home has been Tropicana Field for the last nine seasons, as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays. In 2010, Crawford’s batting average was .307, with 30 doubles, 13 triples, 19 home-runs, 90 RBIs and 47 stolen bases.

Add that to the other new Red Sox, 1B Adrian Gonzalez, who’s 2010 average at the plate was .298, with 31 home-runs, and 101 RBIs.

It would be hard to find anyone who doesn’t agree that the Red Sox are by far the AL East, if not baseball’s favorite heading into 2011. Continue reading ‘Carl Crawford: Boston Red Sox Think They’re the New York Yankees By Signing CC’ »

MLB Hot Stove: New York Yankees Playing a Game of Texas Hold’em

Free-agent ace Cliff Lee is burning his talents right through the MLB winter meetings this week.

Just a week ago Lee was on his way to New York, unless the Rangers could convince the southpaw he had good reasons to stay in Texas.

Well things have certainly changed, as rumors that the Nationals, Angels, Phillies and two unknown suitors want a piece of Lee.

Is the New York motto, what the Yankees want, the Yankees usually can bankroll still in tact?

Yankee fans sure hope so, but the hourly Lee updates are starting to cause some concern.

Especially now with the Boston Red Sox, who finally acquired their version of Teixeira in Adrian Gonzalez.

Add that fact to the seeming retirement of Andy Pettitte and the possibility Carl Crawford heads west to the Halos.

Yankee Universe doesn’t just want Cliff Lee—they need him—at least for next season. That would be plenty enough if the Boss was still in charge.

Now, the question remains does GM Cashman and Baby Hal Steinbrenner want to win in 2011, enough so that Lee can stay six years after that?

Yankee fans sure hope things haven’t changed this much.