File photo of Texas Rangers pitcher Cliff Lee in Arlington

Silly things I’ve heard this morning

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There’s always a bunch of crazy stuff spewed out there when a big deal goes down.  Heck, I spew half of it. Here’s a list of the silly things I’ve heard in the 12 hours since the Cliff Lee deal was announced, both on Twitter and in comments to our various Cliff Lee posts:

“Cliff is just like LeBron James!”

Lots of random Twitter people said this, and Mike and Mike said just as much on their show this morning, talking about him passing up the opportunity to be “the number one guy” elsewhere and to become a cog in Philly.  Which is beyond crazy, of course.  As I mentioned this morning, LeBron’s offense against taste and nature was turning his announcement into a television show, not choosing to go to Miami. More to the point, however, baseball is a fundamentally different sport than basketball. No one can be “The Man” in baseball except Stan Musial, and that’s in nickname only. It’s a team sport. You can be the best ever, and if you don’t have support, you’re going nowhere. Ask Ted Williams. Hell, ask Stan Musial for the entire decade of the 1950s.

“Brian Cashman screwed this up!”

This is one I truly don’t understand. Brian Cashman offered the richest total deal.  If given the chance — which he didn’t seem to have been given — he probably would have and could have matched what the Phillies gave him on a year-to-year basis.  It has become pretty apparent, however, that Lee simply wanted to be in Philadelphia and didn’t want to be in New York. That’s not a crime on Cliff Lee’s part, nor is it malpractice on Brian Cashman’s.  It’s just the way it goes. Even for the Yankees.

The secondary criticism I’ve heard is that “Brian Cashman has no Plan B!”  Which is nuts, because he has had less than a full morning as of this writing to implement a Plan B.  The Yankees may not have gotten their man, but I’m sure they anticipated that to be a possibility and have contingency plans. They may not be as sexy or effective as getting Lee would have been, but if you think that Cashman is sitting in his office panicking right now like commenters on a Yankees message board, you’re crazy.

“Jayson Werth sure must be sorry now!”

If Jayson Werth stayed in Philly, even at a lower-dollar deal than he took from Washington, the Phillies would not be able to have signed Cliff Lee. It might be comforting for smug Phillies fans to look disapprovingly on the man who would dare leave them for more dough, but if he hadn’t, Lee would probably be in pinstripes right now.

“The Phillies are going to win [some number greater than 110] games!”

I think the Phillies will win the division easily.  The rotation, as we’ve noted, will be superb, and possibly historic. I don’t think this team is the 1998 Yankees. They have some big questions on offense now that Werth is gone. Ibanez appears to be a statue. Domonic Brown is untested. Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard may or may not be in decline. If everything breaks right they could be a historic team. But even if everyone plays up to their projections, I can’t see this being some historically good offense.  The best thing I saw was “if the Phillies can trade for Zack Greinke, they might win 140 games!”  That’s less silly for the actual substance of the prediction than it is sad for the manner in which it apes the worst excesses of Yankees and Red Sox fans over the years. C’mon Philly fans! You have your own special brand of crazy that I have come to love! Copying the Yankees covetousness like that is beneath you.

This is huge news. It’s a great signing. I think it locks up the NL East for Philly.  But please, let’s give it 24 hours before we say big bold crazy things about it, OK?

A Mexican team wins the Caribbean Series for the third time in four years

Mexican players celebrate their victory in the Caribbean Series baseball final against Aragua Tigres of Venezuela, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. Designated hitter Jorge Vazquez hit a game-winning home run leading off the bottom of the ninth inning Sunday, lifting Mexico's Venados de Mazatlan to a 5-4 come-from-behind victory and the championship of the Caribbean Series. (AP Photo/Roberto Guzman)
Associated Press
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For those who aren’t familiar, Serie del Caribe, or the Caribbean Series, is the highest club level baseball tournament in Latin America, pitting the champions of the winter leagues in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela against one another in a bacchanalia of baseball that, if there was justice in the world, we’d all be watching instead of football.

This year’s installment ended last night with Mexico’s Mazatlan Venados beating Venezuela’s Aragua Tigres 5-4 in the final game at Estadio Quisqueya in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Jorge Vazquez — who Yankees fans may remember from a few years back — provided the winning margin when he hit a home run to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning.

This is the third Serie del Caribe title for a Mexican club in the past four years, with Naranjeros de Hermosillo winning in 2014 and Yaquis de Obregón winning in 2013. Pinar del Río from Cuba won it last winter. This is the first time the Venados have won it.

As we noted yesterday, this was longtime MLB starter Freddy Garcia‘s last game. He gave up four hits and allowed two earned runs over five and a third innings for the Tigres, getting a no-decision.

Report: Teams reluctant to gamble on Cliff Lee

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.

Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.

In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.

Orioles reconsidering signing Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.

The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.

Freddy Garcia is calling it a career

Screenshot 2016-02-07 at 10.16.43 AM
Elsa/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.

Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.

“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”

Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.