Forget it, Seattle: The Yankees aren't interested in Cliff Lee


cliff lee headshot mariners.jpgThe New York Post reported this morning that the Mariners were thinking about trying to peddle Cliff Lee to the Yankees. This afternoon the Daily News reports that they can peddle all they want, but the Bombers aren’t buying:

But despite a published report that suggested the Bombers were interested
in a deal for Mariners lefty Cliff Lee, a team
official told the Daily News that adding a starter is not in the
Yankees’ plans.

“There is no urgency to do anything with the
rotation,” the official said. “That’s not an area that we’re focused
on . . . Seattle may be doing its prep work by scouting a bunch of different teams, but it sounds like they’re doing more prep work than we are on this one.”

So that’s that. Or maybe that’s that. I have to remind myself about this every trade deadline, but a good rule of thumb is to believe absolutely nothin’ nobody says on the record when it comes to trade rumors. If you did, you’d come to think that no one is ever interested in anyone and no one is ever shopping anyone.

This is not to say that the Yankees really are interested in Lee. I just prefer to wait until someone with some connections starts reporting about actual talks to put any stock in these things. Whatever the case, just know that with all trade rumors, the B.S. factor is high. The key is learning how to cut through the B.S.

Or you can just let us do it for you for the next couple of months. We’re kinda good at it.

Which teams improved and declined the most in 2015?

Joe Maddon

I was curious about which MLB teams changed their fortunes the most this season compared to last year, so I crunched the numbers.

First, here are the biggest win total improvements from 2014 to 2015:

+24 Cubs
+21 Rangers
+16 Astros
+15 Diamondbacks
+13 Twins
+11 Mets
+10 Blue Jays
+10 Cardinals
+10 Pirates

The top five teams on the biggest-improvement list all had managers in their first season on the job, led by Joe Maddon joining the Cubs after tons of success with the Rays. Also worth noting: Of the nine teams with the biggest win total improvement, eight made the playoffs. Only the Twins improved to double-digit games and still failed to make the playoffs.

Now, here are the biggest win total declines from 2014 to 2015:

-20 Athletics
-16 Tigers
-15 Orioles
-14 Brewers
-13 Nationals
-13 Angels
-12 Braves
-12 Reds
-11 Mariners

Not surprisingly, a whole lot of those teams have changed managers, general managers, or both. And a couple more may still do so before the offseason gets underway. Oakland retained manager Bob Melvin despite an MLB-high 20-win dropoff and just promoted Billy Beane from general manager to vice president of baseball operations.

MLB games were six minutes shorter this year

Pitch Clock
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According to STATS, INC., the average game in 2015 was 2 hours, 56 minutes. That’s six minutes faster than games in 2014.

The gains came in the first half, when games averaged 2:53. Second half games averaged three hours even. One can probably thank the expanded rosters in September for that, as games then see many more pitching changes. Of course, it’s likely that second half games were faster in 2015 than 2014 as well given the rules changes.

Those changes: agreement to enforce the rule requiring a hitter to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box and the installation of clocks timing pitching changes and between-inning breaks in ever ballpark.

It remains to be seen if MLB stays satisfied with that modest improvement or if chooses to go the way Triple-A and Double-A leagues did. They installed 20-second pitch clocks and started penalizing violators with balls and strikes. Triple-A’s two leagues, the International and Pacific Leagues, saw game-time decreases by 13 and 16 minutes, respectively.