Scroll down for Weekend Predictions. But in the big news of the day, with Joel Sherman leading the way, the Yankees are on the verge of acquiring cliff Lee.
So...if you're a regular reader here, you'll know that this caught me by surprise. I thought the Yankees, deploying the same logic they utilized on not trading for Johan Santana, CC Sabathia and Roy Halladay the last few years - you don't give up a top package for a player who then requires a free-agent-caliber contract - would wait until the offseason to bring in Lee.
I'd say the Yankees should have indeed waited. If they wound up facing Lee with, say, the Twins or Rangers in the first round, and Lee led the opponent to victory, then so be it. Jesus Montero, the trade's centerpiece, could've been used next year as part of a catcher-DH rotation with Francisco Cervelli and Jorge Posada, saving the Yankees a few bucks in looking for a DH out of the organization.
But I can't kill the Yankees for this trade, if it indeed happens. That would be silly. The Yankees have impressive catching depth in their system, and we know what a monster Lee is. This makes the Yankees extremely strong favorites to win it all again.
Not sure yet how the rest of the rotation will shake out, but I wouldn't trade Javier Vazquez. Then, you're getting too cute, which is how the Yankees are close to getting Lee at this juncture - because the Phillies inexplicably dealt him to Seattle last December. I'd just shift Phil Hughes to the bullpen, letting him and Joba Chamberlain share the setup duties - with Hughes set to pop back into the rotation if someone gets hurt.
More in the day as it comes.
UPDATE, 11:20 a.m.: There's now an updated story on line. I've heard there's a "snag" in the negotiations, related to Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik's asking price. But the Yankees still sound optimistic that they'll complete this, and an official from another interested team professed a belief that the Yankees trade was close to finished, if not outright so.
In any case, we'll know by tonight. Either Lee will pitch against the Yankees tonight, or he'll be a Yankee. Of course, if the former occurs, there would be nothing preventing the two sides from re-starting discussions later this month.
Also: No negotiating window for the impending free agent Lee, as the Yankees don't think it's necessary. They are ultra-confident they'll re-sign him this winter.
But if I were a betting man, I'd bet on the Yankees getting Lee by tonight.
UPDATE, 4:32 p.m.: Well, this is why I'm not a betting man. The "snag" I mentioned earlier was a bigger deal than the Yankees anticipated. It's the ankle injury of David Adams, and for now, the Yankees are out. The Rangers and Reds reportedly are going hard after Lee. Stay tuned.
UPDATE, 5:07 p.m.: Ken Rosenthal reports the Rangers now have Lee. Amazing. I have to admit, I agree with those who say it's better for baseball that the Yankees didn't get Lee. Makes it a more open postseason. And now, the Rangers become strong favorites to take their AL West lead all the way to the finish line. How much fun would a Yankees-Rangers ALCS be?
UPDATE, 5:27 p.m.: I've confirmed the Lee trade to Texas. Still flying to California tonight. Thanks for the fun today.