After Red Sox sign Crawford, Yankees feeling the pressure to ink Lee

Texas Rangers starting pitcher Cliff Lee pitching in the 1st inning of game 1 of the World Series against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park in San Francisco, Wednesday, October 27, 2010. UPI/ Bob Larson Photo via Newscom

The Yankees better land Cliff Lee or else they could be in a world of hurt next season.

Offensively, they’ll continue to be dangerous. Thanks to Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Derek Jeter, Nick Swisher and Jorge Posada, they won’t have to worry about scoring runs again next season (although it’s important to note that Jeter is coming off a career-low year and Posada struggled at the dish as well.)

But their offense wasn’t the reason they fell short of reaching the World Series: their pitching was. That’s why they set out this offseason to acquire Lee, but there’s no guarantee that they’ll be able to land him with the Rangers trying desperately to retain him.

After Jayson Werth and Carl Crawford each received seven-year contracts, the Yankees had no choice but to add another year to their offer for Lee. They wanted to stay at six years, but the Rangers have amped things up and are reportedly sending a contingent to Arkansas on Thursday in order to get Lee to re-sign. The Yankees had no choice but to take an at-all-costs approach in signing the 32-year-old ace.

Chances are Texas won’t be able to match New York’s final number, which is good for the Yankees. But Lee enjoyed playing with the Rangers last year and spoke after the World Series as though he was coming back. If Texas can get close to the Yankees’ asking price, then Lee may re-sign with the Rangers in order to stay in familiar surroundings.

That would be devastating for the Yankees, who now are suddenly looking up at the Red Sox in the AL East. Just this past week, Boston traded for slugger Adrian Gonzalez and signed Crawford to a whopping $142 million deal. Instantly the Red Sox have added power, speed and defense to their roster, all while the Yankees have impatiently waited for Lee’s answer. If they can’t sign Lee and they go into next year having to rely on A.J. Burnett being one of their top arms, the Bombers are in trouble.

They may want to add on an eighth year if that’s what Lee wants.

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Deal in place to send Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox

Aug. 03, 2010 - Los Angeles, California, United States of America - 3 August 2010: San Diego Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Red Sox and Padres have a greed to a deal that will send first baseman Adrian Goznalez to Boston in exchange for several top prospects.

The team flew in Gonzalez, who had surgery Oct. 20 on his right, non-throwing shoulder to clean up the labrum, for a physical examination Saturday. While there was no official word on the physical, a team source told ESPNBoston.com’s Joe McDonald that Gonzalez “looked good.”

The Red Sox continued Saturday night to work on a long-term contract with him, a source, who indicated that the negotiation window will close at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday, told ESPNBoston.com’s Gordon Edes.

In exchange, the Padres would receive three prospects in pitcher Casey Kelly, first baseman Anthony Rizzo and outfielder Reymond Fuentes, according to a baseball source. The Padres also would receive a player to be named later, a source told Edes.

This deal works for all parties involved. The Padres couldn’t/wouldn’t pony up to pay Gonzalez, so they needed to get something for him before he hit the open market in 2012. The Red Sox desperately needed to add another middle-of-the-order bat and Gonzo fits the bill. He should love that short porch in right field at Fenway, although this guy can hit it out to all sides of the field. (He should love hitting in that wind tunnel that the Yankees call a ballpark, too.)

The only thing that’s unfortunate is that the Padres’ offense was about as explosive as wet tuna last year and now they just traded away their best hitter. This is a club that relied heavily on pitching last year and they’ll have to do it again this season because their lineup is the definition of weak.

Of course, maybe management knew that their success last year was more fluke than anything and decided that it was now or never when it came to trading Gonzalez. They didn’t want to hang onto him just to finish fifth next year (I’m not saying they would have – I’m just delving into the thought process of San Diego’s brass) and lose out on the chance to acquire Rizzo, Kelly and Fuentes. So they made the trade and will now deal with the fan outcry.

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