Why are the Yankees scouting Cliff Lee?

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As the trading season gets increasingly nutsy, we’ve seen an explosion of “Team X had a scout at Player Y’s last game!” chatter.  Here’s a fine example of such a thing from Jon Paul Morosi yesterday:

The Yankees, Dodgers and Cardinals were among the clubs with a scout in
attendance at Cliff Lee’s start in Detroit
on Sunday afternoon.

It marked the second straight start by Lee that the Yankees scouted.

Rival clubs believe the Yankees are pursuing Lee ahead of the July 31
non-waiver trade deadline, although it’s possible the Yankees are
scouting Lee in preparation for his upcoming free agency.

Yes, it could be that the Yankees, a team without any discernible need in the rotation, feel it necessary to scout one of the most-watched, most well-known pitchers in baseball.

It’s also possible, is it not, that the Yankees had a scout at the Mariners game because they play the freakin’ Mariners this weekend and will likely be facing Cliff Lee on Friday.

Scouts scout. It’s their job. Just because they show up someplace doesn’t mean they’re working in advance of a trade.

Report: A-Rod to join ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball booth

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Alex Rodriguez’s post-retirement renaissance continues apace. After starring as a studio host for Fox’s playoff coverage over the past couple of years, A-Rod is about to be named to, arguably, televised baseball’s top job: color commentary in ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball booth.

Michael McCarthy of The Sporting News is hearing that ESPN is going to give the gig, vacated by Aaron Boone by virtue of his hiring by the Yankees, to Rodriguez. There he’ll join Jessica Mendoza and whoever they get to replace play-by-play man Dan Shulman, who chose to step back from the Sunday night job following last season.

The twist: A-Rod is likely to keep his Fox postseason job too. While some broadcasters work for multiple networks, it’s pretty rare for Fox to allow its talents to work for competitors like that. Apparently they believe keeping A-Rod — who five years ago was one of the most despised figures in baseball — is worth it. What a difference a few years makes.

In other news, Alex Rodriguez is likely to be shunned mightily by the current crop of BBWAA voters when he hits the Hall of Fame ballot in a couple of years. At the rate he’s going, though, their successors will put him in Cooperstown via the Ford Frick Award sometime in the 2040s.