The MLB is coming down the home stretch of the winter meetings and the signing of the majority of the best available free agents. The Boston Red Sox are clearly the big winners landing Gonzalez and Crawford, while the Anaheim Angels have been the biggest losers. With Cliff Lee and Carl Crawford out of the mix, where do the Yankees look to now?


Angels LOSE BIG


Los Angeles Angels were obviously upset in their comments to the media after Crawford signed with the Boston Red Sox and are now long shots to land pitching ace Cliff Lee. The Red Sox now have an outstanding offense with the best top-7 lineup in the American League that will feature a strong hitting J.D. Drew batting in the seven hole.


Phillies Surprisingly Quiet


The Phillies have been quiet and have spent less money this free agency season than financial lightweights the Florida Marlins, Pittsburgh Pirates, and the Arizona Diamondbacks. This is a reflection of two major points. The first being that the Phillies don’t have nearly as many holes in their lineup and defense than other teams and second they are nearing budgetary constraints. There comes a point where the farm systems and bank accounts prevent anymore trades or free agent signings to occur to preserve the long-term winning tradition of the team.

Yes, the Phillies could have gotten very creative and made a run at Crawford, but at the expense of diluting the farm system and essentially running the organization into the loss column financially does not justify improving the team marginally. We also know, that Amaro has pulled off the best July 31st deadline trades over the past three years. Getting Roy Oswalt last year has made the Phillies starting rotation of Cy Young winner Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt, and Joe Blanton the best in the National league.


Lee to TexasCliff Lee


The Cliff Lee saga continues and I believe that Texas has a very real shot at landing him sending an even bigger blow to the New York Yankees then when Boston signed Carl Crawford. I find it quite interesting and perhaps revealing that right after the Crawford signing, the Yankees added another year to the Lee offer and he has not accepted it yet. The fact that time has gone by and there was not an immediate ‘YES’ from Cliff Lee is a sure sign that Texas is very much in the running.

Texas had a three man contingent fly to Arkansas to personally sit down with Lee and this down to earth man to man approach may go along way to landing this Arkansas native on their staff. It has been widely reported by ESPN’s Buster Olney that the Yankees have gone to a seventh year. We all know that seven years deals have failed miserably and this history is of little use when dealing with the desperate minds of Cashman and the Yankees brass. Desperation has turned to insanity in the wake of the Crawford deal and all teams, but the Rangers must be thoroughly enjoying watching the Yankees in absolute panic mode try to land the lone remaining stud left on the free agency market.

Let’s now forget to, that Lee’s wife was physically and orally abused by Yankee fans and something tells me that is a part of this decision for Lee and his entire family. The deal I think Lee will be taking is the one that pays him the most money on an annual basis. In other words a 6-year deal at 26 million per year is far better than a seven year deal paying 24 million.

There is also no state tax in Texas and this is a significant number indeed. Simplistically, having no state tax to pay and getting a few million per year more on a shorter duration almost equal the seventh year that the Yankees have added to the offer sheet. It is my understanding that professional baseball players pay taxes in the state where the games take place. So, Lee would have 81 games of tax free income on the state level for six seasons and would be getting paid more more on a per annual basis.

Last, I have mentioned in previously that the Yankees are not just taking a huge risk in signing Lee for these types of financial numbers. They are also taking a risk that both Sabathia and Lee will stay healthy the majority of the season and the length of their contracts. To tie up better than $50 million in two left handed starters with no strong starters behind them is fiscal insanity period. With that said, I hope for Lee’s sake he opts to the Rangers where the culture under the new ownership of Nolan Ryan is dedicated to team play and playing the game right. By having team first priority the Championships will then come.