Friday, March 11, 2011

Cliff Lee Unimpressed By Yankees Chances

Thank you Cliff Lee for finally acknowledging publicly what many suspected this morning on WIP in Philadelphia;  The Yankees were third on his list this off-season behind Philadelphia and Texas. 

His reasoning was probably what you’d guess.  The Red Sox have improved and the Yankees stars are getting up in age making their road more difficult than others.  The Phillies are stacked as we know, and the Rangers play in a much easier division than any of them.

While the negotiating dragged along this off-season and Yankees fans were left hanging with their team as we all waited for Lee to make his decision, it only took me about 2 days to completely turn around on how I felt and hoped that the Bombers would pull their offer to the 2-time World Series loser.

The Yankees are at an interesting juncture heading into the 2011 season.  While they are indeed getting a bit on the old side with guys like Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and Alex Rodriguez getting up there in age, they also have the beginnings of a decent nucleus to start building the next-gen Yankees. 

In the infield, Robinson Cano is a star and just 29.  He has every tool necessary to hit in the 3 hole for years to come.  Mark Teixeira will be 31 in April but not old by any means. 

Curtis Granderson will be 30 next week.  His first year in pinstripes was erratic at best, but he came on strong in the second half.  Brett Gardner, 27, who some have referred to as the “poor-man’s Carl Crawford” is poised to have a breakout year.  The Yankees OF situation looks pretty good for the time being.

Posada is going to be the full-time DH this season and I won’t bore you with the details of Russell Martin’s job as the full-time catcher this year because anyone who is paying attention can tell you that it’s only a matter of time before Jesus Montero takes over. 

Montero, in case you haven’t heard, has been touted as one of the best minor leaguers the past couple of years.  The best hitting catching prospect in a long time.  A guy who could be expected to start hanging .300 BA with 30 HR’s a year before long.  He’s 21 year’s old by the way.

So of course the perceived weakness of the Yanks is their starting rotation which this year will boast C.C. Sabathia, AJ Burnett, Phil Hughes and probably Freddy Garcia and Ivan Nova or maybe even Bartolo Colon (stop laughing). 

The real reason to stop laughing is because the Yankees seemingly are stacked in young arms on the verge of being MLB-ready. 

alg_manuel_banuelos_throwsMariano Rivera called Manny Banuelos “the best he’s ever seen”.  Dellin Betances has been dazzling in camp.

The Yankees have 3-4 more pitchers right behind those guys as well as having a gluttony at the catching position behind Montero.  All of which should allow the Yankees to deal for some youth in the infield when the time comes.

This could be the ramblings of a homer I admit, but I haven’t been this excited about what’s to come for the Yanks in awhile.  All throughout the 2009 playoffs we were hit over the head with the “Core Four” of Jeter, Pettitte, Posada and Rivera.  Imagine that we could be on the verge of the formation of the next core of Yankees stars to guide the team to glory.

In 2020 we could be looking at the Yankees going for their 31st WS Championship with guys like Montero and Co. going for their 5th. 

None of which Cliff Lee will enjoy and that's fine with me.

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