Lee spurns Yankees, signs with Phillies

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Lee spurns Yankees, signs with Phillies

By Jim Salisbury
CSN Philly

In yet another example of how far the Phillies have come as a franchiseand a destination spot for premier players, the team agreed on afive-year contract with free-agent left-hander Cliff Lee late Mondaynight, a person with knowledge of the deal said.

Yes, Cliff Leeis coming back to the team that traded him away a year ago, the teamfor which he dazzled in the 2009 postseason, the team that he neverwanted to leave.

Lee, 32, spurned huge offers from the TexasRangers and New York Yankees to rejoin the Phillies. His five-year dealis worth 120 million and includes an option for a sixth year.

The Yankees offer was for seven years and 148 million.

Leesreturn to the Phils creates the most powerful starting rotation in themajors. In addition to Lee, the Phillies have Roy Halladay, the 2010National League Cy Young winner, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt.

Thesigning is also further proof as if any more was needed that thePhillies are one of the games elite franchises, a Goliath, as agentScott Boras called them at the winter meetings last week.

In alittle over a year, the Phils have traded for Lee, traded for Halladay,traded for Oswalt, and signed Lee. Halladay, by the way, had a no-tradeclause in Toronto and hand-picked the Phillies as the team for which hewanted to pitch.

Clearly, these arent Curt Schillings andScott Rolens Phillies anymore. The Phils, with their new winningtradition four straight National League East titles their string ofsellout crowds, and their willingness to pay top dollar for talent, area certifiable destination team for major-league ballplayers.

In a little more than a decade, the teams payroll has gone from 26 million to more than 160 million for the coming season.

WithLee coming back, at an average annual salary of 24 million, thePhillies will likely try to clear some salary by attempting to tradepitcher Joe Blanton or outfielder Raul Ibanez. Blanton is owed 17million through 2012. Ibanez is signed for 2011 at 11.5 million.

Fromthe beginning of this offseason, the Phillies had monitored Lees freeagency and hoped to get into the bidding provided his cost was withintheir price range. The Phils were thought to be out of the running whenthe Yankees pushed their offer upward.

But Lee never eliminatedthe Phillies. He had joined the Phillies in a trade from Cleveland inJuly 2009 and loved his brief time in Philadelphia. He let that beknown to Phillies management this winter. He expressed a strong desireto return and ownership made a payroll exception to sign him. The Philsalso had to break team policy and go five years on his contract. Inrecent years, the team had been reluctant to go more than three yearson a pitcher.

Lee, the 2008 American League Cy Young winner,went 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA for the Phils in the 2009 postseason. The teamdealt him to Seattle in December 2009 as it acquired Halladay fromToronto.

Last summer, the Phils tacitly admitted that tradingLee away was a mistake as it tried to get him back in July. Seattlewould not part with Lee unless the Phils included top prospect DomonicBrown in the deal. The Phillies refused and acquired Oswalt instead.

Fivemonths later, the Phils have signed Lee off the free-agent market. Theyhave righted their mistake and engineered what on paper looks to be oneof the greatest starting pitching rotations in the history of the game.
E-mail Jim Salisbury at jsalisbury@comcastsportsnet.com.

Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

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Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

BOSTON -- “I didn’t feel that love after I made a pitching change in the sixth inning,” Terry Francona said after a 45-second standing ovation from Boston fans upon receiving the MLB Manager of the Year award from the BBWAA Thursday.

It’s without question the love for Francona runs deep in the city. Why wouldn’t it? He was the leader in breaking the 86-year old curse, and wound up winning another World Series title for Boston three years later.

Actually, he was more of a co-leader, working alongside the same person who won the MLB Executive of the Year honors from the BBWAA for 2016.

Theo Epstein -- who received an ovation 17 seconds shorter than Francona, but who’s counting -- reminisced about the Red Sox ownership group that took a chance on a young kid who wasn’t necessarily the ideal candidate to take over as GM of a team, but now that’s helped him build the Chicago Cubs into a winning franchise and establish a great working environment.

This October marks 13 years since the ’04 championship, 10 years since ’07 and six years since the pair left Boston. Without question they’ve left their mark on the city and forever changed Red Sox baseball.

And while the fans showed their undying gratitude for Francona with an ovation almost as long as his acceptance speech, the Indians manager recognized the favor the current Red Sox brass has done for him.

“I’d like to thank Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox for getting Chris Sale the hell out of the Central Division,” Francona said.

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

BOSTON -- At first, 2016 seemed like the “Year of Xander.” It turned out to be the “Year of Mookie,” with Bogaerts dropping off a little as the season progressed.

The Red Sox shortstop saw his average peak at .359 on June 12. At that point he’d played in 61 games, hit eight home runs, 20 doubles and knocked in 44 runs. Although Mookie Betts had six more home runs and three more RBI in that same span, Bogaerts had six more doubles and was hitting 69 points higher.

The two were already locks for the All-Star Game and Bogaerts still had the edge in early MVP talk.

Then things took a turn after the very day Bogaerts saw his average peak.

Over the next 61 games, Bogaerts still managed seven homers, but only had six doubles and 27 RBI, watching his average drop to .307 by the end of that stretch. At first glance, .307 doesn’t seem like an issue, but he dropped 52 points after hitting .253 in that span.

And in his remaining 35 games, Bogaerts only hit .248 -- although he did have six homers.

But throughout it all, Bogaerts never seemed fazed by it. With pitchers and catchers reporting in less than a month, Bogaerts still isn’t worried about the peaks and valleys.

“You go through it as a player, the only one’s who don’t go through that are the ones not playing,” Bogaerts told CSNNE.com before the Boston baseball writers' dinner Thursday. “I just gotta know you’re going to be playing good for sometime, you’re going to be playing bad for sometime.

“Just try to a lot more better times than bad times. It’s just a matter of trusting yourself, trusting your abilities and never doubting yourself. Obviously, you get a lot of doubts when you’re playing bad, but you just be even keeled with whatever situation is presented.”

Bogaerts level head is something often noted by coaches and his teammates, carrying through the days he finds himself lunging left and right for pitches. That’s also carried him through the offseason while maintaining the same preparation from past seasons -- along with putting on some weight.

“I don’t know how much I put on, but I feel strong,” Bogaerts said to CSNNE.com “I mean, I look strong in the mirror.

“Hopefully, I’m in a good position when the season comes because I know I’ll lose [the weight].”