Hank Steinbrenner thinks it would “behoove” Cliff Lee to be a Yankee

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Want the latest example of Yankee exceptionalism? Of course you do.

Here’s Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner, when asked about free-agent left-hander Cliff Lee by the Associated Press earlier today:

“For somebody of that stature, it would certainly behoove him to be a Yankee, which would probably be for the rest of his career. I think that would be a great move for him but, of course I’m prejudiced.”

Steinbrenner sounds pretty confident. And rightfully so, really. His club reportedly offered Lee a seven-year, $161 million contract that will be very difficult for the Rangers to top. In fact, a penny more and it would be the richest deal ever awarded to a pitcher.

Hank isn’t all that concerned about giving a seven-year deal to a 32-year-old pitcher, either.

“Looking at how well Andy pitched up until this year and so forth, and he’s a lefty, the same kind of pitcher as Andy, I don’t really see a problem,” Steinbrenner said. “I think Cliff’s the kind of guy that can get it done and be effective for a long time. He’s a great pitcher.”

That could very well be true, but let’s be honest, the Yankees aren’t going to concern themselves with what Lee will look like six or seven years from now. Why? Because they aren’t like you, or your favorite baseball team not named the Yankees. They are exceptional.

This is the same organization that witnessed Kevin Brown break down at the end of his seven-year, $105 million contract due to back problems. Most organizations would probably take a few notes from that experience, but you see, the Yankees play this free-agent game by different rules. Your albatross is their Kei Igawa.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.