UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that, according to an executive involved in the talks, the Cliff Lee-to-the-Yankees deal “is just about done.” Wow. This is actually happening.
5:42 A.M.: Joel Sherman of the New York Post dropped a bomb this morning, saying that the Yankees are “on the brink” of landing Cliff Lee from the Seattle Mariners.
The details are slim, but Sherman says that the deal would involve a package that includes top prospect Jesus Montero. There is no indication of who else would be involved. Notably, Lee is scheduled to pitch against the Yankees tonight in Seattle.
The Yankees landing Lee would be a shock given that even the most overheated reports this week have them merely (altogether now) kicking the tires on the Mariners’ ace. At best people figured that the Yankees were trying to make the price of Lee higher for, say, the Twins or the Mets. That they may be about to swoop in and land Lee is nothing short of astounding.
And nothing short of demoralizing, frankly. Demoralizing for the Mets who, even if they themselves could not get Lee probably don’t want to see the Yankees get him, thereby stealing his thunder. Demoralizing for anyone in the AL who thought that getting Lee would help them out in a short playoff series against the Yankees.
And maybe most of all, demoralizing to sports fans in general. Indeed, a day after living through the LeBron James experience — which Will Leitch apty described as something that makes one “feel extremely stupid to be a sports fan” by virtue of the unnecessary excess involved — the idea of the richest team landing the richest trade deadline prize when they don’t even really need starting pitching isn’t going to sit well with a lot of fans.
Don’t get me wrong: the Yankees are playing by the rules here and should
not be expected to merely stand pat while their competition improves. But don’t for a minute think that their landing Cliff Lee won’t spark a fairly significant uproar.
Mitt Romney built his professional life in Massachusetts and was once the governor of the state. As such, it is not surprising that he has long identified as a Red Sox fan. So this has to be troubling to him from a fan’s perspective. From Jon Heyman:
The Romney family is bidding to buy a small stake in the Yankees months after their try for the Marlins stalled. If the deal goes through, it is expected to be $25 million to $30 million per percentage point and thought to be interested in one or two percentage points. The Yankees are valued around $3 billion or more.
The effort is being led by Mitt’s son Tagg, one of his brothers and their business partners. Mitt’s spokesman tells Jon Heyman that he has nothing to do with it personally. Tagg Romney is reported to have been planning a bid for controlling interest in the Marlins, but that has fallen through.
I find this interesting insofar as the M.O. for the Steinbrenners has, for years, been to buy out minority shareholders in the Yankees, not seek more. Indeed, when George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees back in 1973 he held just a bare controlling interest and there were a ton of silent partners, most of which were back in Ohio and knew Steinbrenner from his shipping business. I’ve personally gotten to know some of them over the years as there are a handful of them in Columbus and I crossed paths with them in my legal career. They have almost all been bought out in the past couple of decades. They still get season tickets and World Series rings and stuff. You can tell them by their personalized Yankees plates and the fact that, within the first ten minutes of meeting them, they will tell you that they once owned a piece of the Yankees but got pushed out.
In light of all of that it’s interesting that the Steinbrenners are once again accepting bids for small stakes in the team. Especially from someone whose interest in controlling the Marlins suggests that they do not consider it to be a mere vanity investment. Makes me wonder what the Steinbrenners’ long term plans are.
The Nationals will be many people’s favorites in the NL East this season. Not everything is looking great, however. For example, their ace — defending NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer — can’t even throw fastballs right now.
The reason: the stress fracture he suffered last August is still causing him problems and Scherzer is unable to use his fastball grip without feeling pain in his right ring finger. He will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, but will only use his secondary stuff.
Scherzer has not been ruled out for Opening Day — the fact that he is throwing some means that his timetable isn’t totally on hold — but you have to figure, at some point, not being able to air things out and use his heater will lead to some problems in his spring training routine.