Archive for June, 2010

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Cliff Lee: What Are You Worth?

June 20, 2010

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Cliff Lee was supposed to be the biggest reason why the Seattle Mariners were being projected to reach the World Series by multiple publications and had many local residents feeling a sense of optimism we haven’t felt since Ichiro’s rookie season. Somehow, despite having one of the best 1-2 punches at the top of their rotation in all of baseball, the Mariners find themselves 27-41, 13 games back in the AL West, and holding the 6th worst record in baseball, which is actually an improvement: last week they were 3rd worst. The Mariners have reeled off three straight wins, but I think fans have to accept the fact that the offense is going to continually let them down game after game and we’re never going to put together a big enough run to make us seem like contenders again this season. With that said, Cliff Lee will get traded. The only question now is when it will happen and what the Mariners can expect in return.

Here are a few possible scenarios:

The Seattle Mariners trade Cliff Lee to the Philadelphia Phillies for Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies, and J.C. Ramirez.

Uh, yeah. This is the exact same trade we made to get Cliff Lee, but the Phillies are going to be in a position to want another ace to complement Roy Halladay, plus the Phils know exactly what Lee is capable of down the stretch… why not just call a Mulligan? While I don’t expect the Mariners would ask for these exact players, I don’t think it would be a shock for Philadelphia to come knocking.

The Seattle Mariners trade Cliff Lee to the Tampa Bay Rays for Carl Crawford.

No. It’s not as far-fetched as you think it is. Sure, Crawford is an elite player and the Rays are in the thick of a heated AL East race, but the speedy leftfielder is in the last year of his contract and the Rays have a ready replacement in Desmond Jennings (.274, 16 SBs) at AAA. Personally, I’d love this trade if the M’s could sign Crawford to a contract (unlikely) after the season. Also, the Rays don’t exactly need starting pitching; they have one of the best staffs in the majors and stud Jeremy Hellickson (8-2, 2.42 ERA, 84:20 K:BB ratio) hasn’t even cracked the big league rotation.

The Seattle Mariners trade a couple solid prospects to the San Diego Padres for Adrian Gonzalez.

Whoops! Well, this is the trade that should have happened. Unfortunately, not only are the Mariners tanking, but the Padres improbably find themselves atop the NL West. Gonzalez, another contract year player, would have filled a gaping hole at first base and provided the Mariners with the power hitter they’ve desperately been craving this year. Obviously, the Mariners aren’t going to be involved here, but it will be interesting to see how the Friars handle the Gonzalez situation as the trade deadline approaches.

The Seattle Mariners trade Cliff Lee to the Cincinnati Reds for Homer Bailey and a couple other prospects.

Honestly, this trade wouldn’t surprise me at all. The Reds are surprising contenders and Lee would be a huge bolster to their rotation and post-season chances. Bailey has been borderline terrible so far in his early career for the Reds, which makes him a perfect candidate for the Mariners to steal him away. He’s been bad enough that the Reds might be ready to give up on him, but he’s also a ripe 24 years old and has shown enough flashes of brilliance that the M’s would be happy to take him. Hopefully Bailey’s value has dropped enough that the M’s can ask for another solid building block to come along with him. I really like how Bailey would fit in at Safeco and if we can sneak another piece or two in with him, I like the possibility of this trade.

The Seattle Mariners trade Ichiro Suzuki, Cliff Lee, Felix Hernandez, and an AL West Banner to the Washington Nationals for Stephen Strasburg.

How sick is it that the Nats would probably REJECT this trade? It seems unreasonable since the Nats would undoubtedly be better after this trade, but Strasburg is honestly that good. The phenom has posted a 1.86 ERA with 32 Ks in 19.1 IP. It’s even arguable that his 32:5 strikeout to walk ratio is fluky. The mound in Cleveland during his second start was slippery and he issued five free passes. At home, Strasburg has struck out 24 and walked ZERO. The kid is unreal and there probably isn’t an offer that any team could come up with that would make the Nats give him up.

The Seattle Mariners trade Cliff Lee to the New York Mets for Ike Davis and Jenrry Mejia.

This might be wishful thinking as Davis and Mejia have a lot of value. However, if the Mets are trying to win this year, Cliff Lee might be worth the price tag. Davis isn’t exactly a phenom, but he’d be very useful to the M’s. The rookie has hit a respectful .261 and 8 homers for the Mets so far this year and doesn’t have such a high ceiling that the Mets wouldn’t move him. Mejia isn’t a franchise player either, but would have a solid future in the Mariners rotation for years to come. The Mets get better and the M’s get better. It’d be a win-win situation.

These are just some of the possible suitors (and some obvious jokes too) for Lee. Pretty much every other team in the AL West would be happy to nab Lee, but I can’t really see the M’s dealing him to a division rival, no matter how out of the race they are. Not to mention most of the players the M’s would like in return from the Rangers, specifically, are already impact players on the big league club. The Twins are another possibility, but no one really excites me in their system and hopefully the M’s would feel the same way. The San Francisco Giants have a lot of quality young players, but like the Rangers, most of those guys are already a big reason the Giants are contending right now. As it stands, I’d prefer to see Lee get dealt to either the Reds or the Mets for deals similar to the ones I fantasized about. What do you think?

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