Oct 26

Wishful thinking to think Yankees’ fans chased away Cliff Lee

It is wishful thinking to think the reported boorish behavior of Yankees fans toward Cliff Lee’s wife during the ALCS will keep the talented left-hander out of the Bronx.

THE LEE FAMILY: NYC could still be home.

It certainly won’t enhance the Mets’ chances.

There are several factors – some still to happen – that will determine where Lee ends up this winter. The Yankees long appeared to be the frontrunners to land Lee, and that still holds true because they have the ability to write the largest checks.

Lee was traded by Cleveland, Philadelphia and Seattle in large part because those teams weren’t going to re-sign Lee. Now, there’s no guarantee Texas will, either, regardless of what happens in the World Series.

“Lee wants to go through the free agent process,” one agent said. “He may very well stay in Texas, but he’s going to test the market.”

Lee has not been quoted as saying he won’t play in New York, for either the Yankees or Mets, so until he does we can’t eliminate the market. Lee will surely not rip New York over this because it will reduce his leverage in the free-agent market.

Because of the tax situation in New York in comparison to Texas, a New York team would have to blow the Rangers out of the water to land him. Reports have been the package would have to be $20 million to $40 million greater in New York to compensate for the tax issue.

Neither the Mets nor Yankees have established their budgets for 2011, but it is a solid assumption the Yankees’ will be far greater.

Small town Mike Mussina was no great fan of New York when he played with the Orioles, but in the end he left for New York and adapted. As much as Lee might be a country boy, if the Yankees’ offer is far superior to that from Texas or another team, he could still end up with the Yankees.

In comparison to the Mets, the Yankees can offer more money and a better chance to immediately win. That speaks volumes. And, the Yankees can offer a lot of financial love to apologize for their boorish, entitled fans.

And, when it comes to free agency, money usually speaks loudest.

Dec 01

On this Date ….

Looking Back ....

Looking Back ....

…. In 1998, the Mets dealt catcher Todd Hundley and minor league pitcher Arnold Gooch to the Dodgers for catcher Charles Johnson and Roger Cedeno. The Mets then swap Johnson to the Orioles for reliever Armando Benitez.

Benitez had a checkered career with the Mets, saving 158 games in parts of five seasons. Of course, what most remember about him was the games he didn’t save, particularly against the Braves. Benitez’s history was to unravel if something went wrong. A bloop or bad call could turn into a blown save, and it would start a string of three or four bad outings.

The Mets eventually traded him to the Yankees. Benitez would sign with the Giants and his last game was in 2008.

I covered Benitez with the Orioles and Yankees. I’ll always remember him spitting the bit in the 1997 ALCS, playing a significant part in at least three of the Orioles’ losses. The one moment that crystalizes in my memory is, when after giving up a homer, he plunked Tino Martinez in the back. Then he stood off the mound and gestured the Yankees to come get him.

They did.

ON DECK: What to do about Carlos Delgado later this morning.

Nov 18

Manager of the Year ….

The Manager of the Year for both leagues will be announced in about an hour. I’ve voted for this award several times and the criteria varies as it does this year.

Most often the award goes to a manager who leads an under achieving team into the playoffs or to a dramatic improvement. That’s the case this year with my choice, Jim Tracy of the Rockies. The Rockies entered the season ranked behind the Dodgers and Giants in the NL West, and in some circles behind Arizona.

But, the Rockies got hot in the second half, much like they did in 2007, and rolled into the playoffs. They lost to the Phillies, but that didn’t change the fact they had a surprising season.

Another variable is a lifetime achievement award when there’s no surprise winner. That would go to Mike Scioscia of the Angels, who always has his team playing alert, aggressive and fundamental baseball. OK, except for the ALCS this year, but the voting is done prior to the start of the playoffs.

Oct 22

TALKIN’ BASEBALL: Yankees going for the kill in ALCS.

The last time the Yankees were this close to their mission statement they folded in one of baseball history’s greatest collapses. Up 3-0 over the Boston Red Sox in 2004, the Yankees couldn’t close the deal.

OK … few expected the Red Sox to be swept, so staying alive in Games 4 and 5 weren’t a shock because the Yankees would take care of business at the Stadium.

“If you have the opportunity to get something over with, you’d like to do it,” said Derek Jeter. “It’s not always going to happen.”

Curt Schilling won Game 6 in the Bloody Sock game, and the Yankees were cooked by the second inning in Game 7.

BURNETT: Pitches for the Series tonight.

BURNETT: Pitches for the Series tonight.


The Yankees, who could’ve lost the first two games of this series had it not been for Los Angeles’ faulty defense, can close it out tonight with AJ Burnett going against John Lackey. Should the Angels stay alive, Games 6 and 7 will be this weekend in New York.

Burnett has pitched well in the postseason, but is winless.

“This is why I signed – the opportunity to pitch in the postseason,” said Burnett. “The first year over here, I have an opportunity, so I’m taking full advantage of it.”

Oct 21

TALKIN’ BASEBALL: Dodgers try to stay alive in NLCS.

Two nights ago the Dodgers were one out away from tying their NLCS at two games each with Philadelphia until Jimmy Rollins did what money players do.

Down by a run in the ninth with two outs, Rollins lined a two-run double off All-Star closer Jonathan Broxton into the right-center gap to push the Dodgers onto the brink of winter.

Hamels vs. Padilla

Hamels vs. Padilla


“This is big,” Rollins said. “The pressure’s all on them. … We understand we still have a job to do. We look forward to trying to close it out.”

With a win tonight, Dodgers manager Joe Torre said the pressure reverts back to Philadelphia because the series would return to Los Angeles. Torre knows it is possible. While managing the Yankees in 2001, New York lost its first two games against Oakland in the ALDS, but ran the table to advance. Then, in 2004, his Yankees blew a 3-0 series lead and lost to Boston in the ALCS.

Game 6 Friday in LA is contingent on the Dodgers beating Cole Hamels, who has given up eight runs in 10 1/3 innings this postseason.

“Any time you hand him the ball, I think he’s capable of going out there and shutting the other team out,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said of Hamels, who is 5-0 with a 2.19 ERA in seven career starts against Los Angeles.

Vicente Padilla starts for Los Angeles, and his biggest obstacle is Ryan Howard, who has driven in at least one run in eight straight postseason games, and is 5-for-13 (.385) with two home runs, eight RBI in this series.