First pitch of the World Series is just minutes away, and it’s the team that landed Cliff Lee that’s representing the American League.
On the morning of July 9, the Yankees seemed on their way to being that team. They had a deal in place, acquiring Lee for a package of prospects headlined by Jesus Montero. It was more or less a press release away from being done. The Yankees were — oddly enough — in Seattle at the time, and I just remember a long day of phone calls and text messages, and constantly refreshing the Twitter account of any writer who seemed plugged into the Mariners front office.
No need to rehash the whole thing here, but the short story is this: The Mariners were spooked by David Adams’ faulty ankle. They asked to change the package, and Brian Cashman said no. Adams had been on the disabled list for weeks, and it’s hard to imagine the injury came as a surprise. We’ll never know of course, but it’s easy to imagine the whole thing being a ploy by the Mariners.
Suddenly, the Rangers were in the mix, and Lee was on his way to Texas for a package built around Justin Smoak.
“I would do the same thing again,” Cashman said.
“I went home Thursday night, thinking we had a deal with the Yankees,” Armstrong told the Seattle Times. “Pending an exchange of the physical information of the players involved. The next morning, when we got into the details of the physicals of the players involved, one of the players that was coming to us from the Yankees was disabled, and based upon the best medical information that our team medical director, Edward Khalfayan, had, he recommended that we not proceed.
“Jack (Zduriencik) and his people then spent some time with the Yankees trying to come up with an alternative player, or players, to replace that player. Or even players to be named later. If we could come up with that. In the meantime, other clubs became involved. The White Sox, Minnesota and Texas to name a few.”
Given the end results, it’s easy to second guess and wonder if Cashman should have agreed to the changes – apparently adding either Ivan Nova or Eduardo Nunez to the deal – but from an outside perspective, the whole thing seems odd. From the Mariners perspective, they were really shocked that Adams had a bad ankle? From the Yankees perspective, Nova or Nunez was a deal breaker?
It just doesn’t add up, and that’s coming from a guy who really likes both Nova and Nunez. Truth is, these deals generally have more to do with the biggest names involved, and if the Mariners preferred Smoak over Montero, then Lee was always going to end up in Texas.
Was it a turning point for the Yankees season? It very well could have been, but it also could have been Cashman being taken for a ride and refusing to participate.
“When you put yourself in a position to make decisions like that, you make them and you live with them,” Cashman said.
Associated Press photo of Lee