So, was it a bad day for the Yankees yesterday or not?

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I (and a lot of other people) made cracks about yesterday being a bad day for the Yankees, what with Matsui leaving, the Sox getting Lackey and Halladay heading someplace that wasn’t the Bronx. New York Magazine’s Will Leitch is having none of it, however. His take:

(1) The Yankees never had a real chance to get Halladay, so kudos that he didn’t go to Boston and kudos that he left the division;

(2) The Sox signing Lackey and Cameron means that they won’t sign Bay or Holliday; and

(3) The Yankees are now in a position of strength with respect to Damon and maybe someone like Jason Bay.

Maybe. But if what people are saying this morning is true, the Yankees could have had Halladay if they would have offered up Joba or Hughes.  They ended up being the sticking point, not Montero, who most people assumed was off limits. I like Hughes and Chamberlain long term, but if one of them represented the sticking point it was a surmountable sticking point.

I actually think that Damon gained a bit of strength given Matsui leaving town, but probably not so much that it will get him more than two years, and that’s ultimately the whole game for New York with respect to Damon.

Finally, it strikes me that Lackey has gone from overrated to underrated in the space of about 24 hours.  No, he’s not strong when measured against cream of the crop free agent starters, but the competition did just land a guy who would be an ace on most teams he could have joined. Between Leitch here and Edes earlier, I think he’s being sold pretty short all of a sudden.

Ultimately, however, Leitch is right: none of these moves dramatically shifts the balance of power in the cold war that is the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry. To abuse the analogy, this is much more like the U.S. overthrowing the government of Chile than it is like, say, the Cuban Missile Crisis or something.

Not all that much has changed here. The Red Sox likely have one major move left in them, and that’s acquiring Adrian Beltre or someone like him. The Yankees could still move on Damon and/or Bay and add a second tier starter.  Even if you assume the best for Boston and the worst for New York coming out of all of that, I think the Yankees are still the team to beat.

If Brett Anderson hits better this year, thank Josh Donaldson

Los Angeles Dodgers' Brett Anderson ducks away from a pitch from Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher David Holmberg on a bunt attempt during the fourth inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
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Or, at the very least, thank his bat.

Brett Anderson, who hit a meaty .085/.173/.106 last season, just got his first 2016 bat delivery, it seems. He posted a pic of the shiny lumber on Twitter a few minutes ago, with a message to his former teammate, the reigning AL MVP Josh Donaldson, whose “JD” initials signifying whose model number it is are plainly visible on the barrel:

 

If Anderson breaks out offensively this year — say, he pushes that OBP over .200 — I may reconsider my “DH in the National League now” argument and merely suggest that pitchers get better bats.

In other news, whose bat was Zack Greinke using last year? And did he leave any behind at Camelback Ranch? Might be worth looking.

Diamondbacks working on a deal with Tyler Clippard

at Citi Field on July 28, 2015 in Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.
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Last week Diamondbacks general manager Dave Stewart revealed that he was interested in signing free agent reliever Tyler Clippard and now Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that the two sides have “made progress toward a deal.”

Piecoro notes that by trading Aaron Hill and his remaining contract to the Brewers the Diamondbacks created a bit of payroll flexibility that they could use to sign Clippard.

Clippard has a long history of excellent work as both a setup man and closer, but his raw stuff and secondary numbers have declined even though his ERA remained very good at 2.92 last season for the A’s and Mets. His strikeout rate dipped to a career-low 8.1 per nine innings, which is drop of about 25 percent from 2009-2014.

Two elite Cuban players defect

cuba hat
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Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com just reported that Yulieski Gurriel & Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who are brothers, reportedly defected and will be seeking MLB deals. There aren’t any details yet, but Sanchez will be updating with a full story that we’ll link here when he has it. UPDATE: Here it is.

Yulieski is a 31-year old third baseman and, according to Baseball America’s Ben Badler he was the No. 1 player remaining in Cuba. He was one of the Cuban players who was permitted to play in Japan recently, and he just put up a .305/.349/.536 season with 11 homers in 62 games for the Yokohama Bay Stars and has continued to rake in Cuba. He is likely major league ready right this instant. He’d be an unrestricted free agent given his age and team’s signing him would not be subject to international bonus pool limits.

Lourdes is only 22 years old. He’s hit .269/.355/.414 in 1036 Serie Nacional plate appearances and Badler thinks he has 20-homer potential in the majors one day. He’s currently a shortstop, but is probably destined for a corner. He is young enough to where he would be subject to bonus pool limits. Several teams have already exceeded those limits for the current signing period, limiting the number of teams who could sign him. If, however, it takes MLB a long time to clear him as a free agent — and with immigration issues and the like, that’s very possible — he may not be eligible to be signed until next year, which could bring some other teams into the fold.

 

Indians close to signing ex-Nationals reliever Craig Stammen

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Right-hander Craig Stammen, who spent the first seven seasons of his career with the Nationals, is expected to sign with the Indians.

Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Indians “hope to finalize a deal” with Stammen today, adding veteran depth to the bullpen. It’ll likely be a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Stammen missed nearly all of last season following elbow surgery and the Nationals non-tendered him, but he’s scheduled to be ready for spring training. After struggling as a starter early in his career he’s posted a 3.02 ERA in 280 innings out of the bullpen, so if healthy it’d be a nice addition for Cleveland.