Phillies could finalize contract with Cliff Lee tomorrow

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UPDATE: NBC 10 in Philadelphia provides the photo evidence that Cliff Lee has arrived. And boy, do his eyes look mighty tired. Must be from staring at multiple offers of $100-plus million over the past week. Poor guy.

9:13 PM: You probably thought we were done talking about Cliff Lee, huh? Nope, not yet.

According to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com, Lee will be in Philadelphia for a physical tomorrow and his deal with the Phillies could be officially announced later in the day.

Just to bring you up to speed, Lee and the Phillies have reportedly agreed to terms on a five-year, $120 million contract. The deal includes a $27.5 million vesting option for 2016 which could bring the total value of the contract to $135 million over six years.

According to the Associated Press, Lee will make $11 million next season, $21.5 million in 2012 and $25 million from 2013-2015. There’s a $12.5 million buyout on his vesting option for 2016.

In order for the option to vest, Lee must either log 200 innings in 2015 or 400 total innings between 2014 and 2015. He also must not finish the 2015 season on the disabled list because of a left shoulder or elbow injury.

And so, while Lee turned down more guaranteed money from the Rangers and Yankees, Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com writes that the southpaw’s $24 million annual average value (AAV) will be the highest ever for a pitcher on a multi-year contract.

Theo Epstein named The World’s Greatest Leader

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Fortune Magazine has put out a list of The World’s Greatest Leaders. Not the greatest business leaders, not the greatest leaders in a given industry, but the Greatest Leaders, full stop. The greatest according to Fortune: The Cubs’ Theo Epstein.

For some context, Pope Francis was third. Angela Merkel was 10th. Lebron James was the next greatest sports leader, ranked 11th. Take Fortune’s methodology with a grain of salt, however, given that it has John McCain above Merkel — what, exactly, does he lead now? — and Samantha Bee in the top 20.

So what makes Theo the world’s best leader according to Fortune?

The Cubs owe their success to a five-year rebuilding program that featured a concatenation of different leadership styles. The team thrived under the affable patience of owner Tom Ricketts, and, later, under the innovative eccentricity of manager Joe Maddon. But most important of all was the evolution of the club’s president for baseball operations, Theo Epstein, the wunderkind executive who realized he would need to grow as a leader in order to replicate in Chicago the success he’d had with the Boston Red Sox.

I don’t want to take anything away from what Theo has done — he’s a Hall of Fame executive already in my view — but I feel like maybe one needs to adjust for the fact that this is a baseball team we’re talking about. They’re the whole world to us and their brands are nationally and even world famous, but as an organization, sports teams are rather small. There are guys who run reasonably-sized HVAC companies with more employees than a baseball team and they don’t get the benefit of an antitrust exemption and a rule which allows them to get their pick of the best new employees if they had a bad year the year before.

Really, not trying to throw shade here, just thinking that being the spiritual father for 1.2 billion Catholics or running a foundation that serves 55 million needy children — like the woman who comes in at number 14 — is a bit of a tougher trick.

But this will make a great framed magazine article on Theo’s wall in Wrigley Field.

 

 

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

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United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.

Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.