Mets Should Look Into AL LHP, Not Named Cliff

An article by posted on June 7, 2010

When the Mets get hot, we get a little crazy. Whether you’re a pessimistic or overly optimistic Mets fan, you have to agree that this 2010 season is a lot more fun than we could’ve hoped for.

I can’t remember a team that one week could be dead in the water, and then the next week be thought of as a top 5 team in the NL. The Mets seem to do this every other week.

One thing I will say for sure. If this team finds a way to get to the playoffs, they better have home field!

So with the craziness and excitement comes the trade market. Ah yes, the trade market. Where the Omar Minaya haters hate, and the Minaya apologists apologize. There’s such a divide between Mets fans, you gotta love it.

The number one thing that seems to be on everybody’s mind is Cliff Lee. It’s easy for me to write a comment responding to this guy saying go get Lee, or that guy saying it makes sense. However, luckily for me, I have a password to MMO.

Cliff Lee will turn 32 years old this summer, and four seasons thus far worth putting on a resume (not including this year.) In 2004 and 2005, Lee put up a good season. Not a great season, but certainly good enough to be considered a #1 or #2 starter. In 2008, Lee won the Cy Young and then last year I’d classify as a great season, mostly because he was the sole pitcher on the NLCS championship roster.

With all of that said, to date, Cliff Lee is making his highest salary in his entire career right now. He’s making $9 million dollars. To date, including this year, Cliff Lee has made $23,355,000 in his entire MLB Career.

That sounds like a lot of money, and I’m sure John Lackey thought so also. Prior to hitting free agency, Lackey had made slightly under $28 million dollars in his career.

Cliff Lee’s agent has come out and said he believes at least 15 teams will want to bid for Lee’s services in the winter. Why not? He’ll be the top free agent pitcher. He’s proven, he’s won a Cy Young. What if Andy Pettitte hangs them up after this season? You don’t think Lee’s agent has a close eye on that situation?

Cliff Lee has gone unappreciated his entire career. He was buried in Cleveland, dealt to Philadelphia where he thought he may have had a home, and then dealt away for a better pitcher in Roy Halladay. Cliff Lee’s one and only shot to make his money is if he hits the open market.

If the Mets were to make a deal to acquire Lee, the ONLY way it makes sense is if by the grace of God Lee allows them to negotiate a contract first. I for one do not see that happening. I could be wrong, but I just do not see it at all.

To me, you acquire Cliff Lee in 2010 if you think you’re a pitcher away from winning it all. The Mets cannot say that with a straight face. Sure, we can hope and pray it’s true, but when push comes to shove we still see a few question marks with or without Lee. Why on earth would it make sense for the Mets to deal ANY prospects for a guy who may not be here next year?

To me, acquiring Lee now, or even signing him to a contract in an open market is “business as usual,” for this franchise. I’d bet the same people who want Minaya fired, are the same ones wanting him to get Lee. Then, two years from now when Lee is turning 35 years old and under contract for 3 more seasons we’ll wonder “was it worth it?”

To me, Cliff Lee is a very good pitcher. I expect he requests at least a 5-year deal worth around $90 million. That’s a lot of money for a guy with 4 seasons on his resume you know. Regardless, signing Cliff Lee to a contract like that would be business as usual for the NY Mets. I thought we were looking for something new? I thought we wanted a younger team, a team that uses it’s money more wisely, and a team that doesn’t just get the big free agent and get stuck with him when he’s over the hill?

Omar Minaya has until July 31st to create a job approval rating with the fans that is above 50%. Granted, the fans do not call the shots, but they do buy the tickets. Cliff Lee may be a flashy move to make. I’d rather see Minaya find something that we haven’t thought of. Find a deal out there that makes this team better now, and in the future, and doesn’t handcuff the team down the road. There are a lot of pitcher’s out there that we love to hear about.

You’ve probably heard names like Roy Oswalt, Dan Haren, and Kevin Millwood thrown out there. Oswalt I think we’ve gone over plenty of time, Haren we really have no clue if he’s actually available. If he is, I think he’d be a great fit for the middle of the rotation. Millwood to me is a last case scenario. He’s nothing special to me. If the Mets were to acquire him, I’d hope its cheap and last minute.

The Unnoticed?

A name I don’t think I’ve heard anything about is Mark Buehrle. To me, the Mets don’t need another ace like Lee. I mean obviously it’d be awesome, but Santana and Pelfrey are a pretty good 1-2 punch right now. A guy to throw in between them or even after Pelfrey would be ideal. He’s not an ace, but he’s always been asked to be that type of pitcher for Chicago. He’s a guy who could comfortably pitch behind Pelfrey, giving the Mets an incredibly solid 1-2-3 with the potential for Niese, Takahashi, Dickey and Maine to fill out the remaining two slots.

You don’t need two big money pitchers in the NL. You need depth in the rotation. Obviously names like Lee and Oswalt are going to sell tickets, but a guy like Buehrle may be a smarter baseball move for 2010 and the future.

The Chicago White Sox always seem to be looking for a deal. The team is currently 8 games under .500. ESPN’s Buster Olney suggested via Twitter that the White Sox have made it clear that they are willing to deal and then their captain Paul Konerko would be the first one sent. To me, that tells me Buehrle is available.

Mark Buehrle is signed through next season, making $14 million dollars this year and next year. He does have a no trade clause, which would be tough to overcome.

The White Sox have two key items that the 2010 Mets need. They have starting pitching, and they have an 8th inning setup potential in Matt Thornton.

Thornton is 33 years old, and having a VERY good year for the 3rd straight year. He’s signed with a club option for next year making $2.25m, and $3m next year.

Currently, Thornton has thrown 25.2 IP, with 36K and 6 BB with an ERA of 2.10. In 2009, Thornton appeared in 70 Games, 72.1 IP with 87K, 20BB and an ERA of 2.74. In 2008, he appeared in 74 games with 67.1 IP, 77K, 19BB and a 2.67 ERA. I don’t know about you, but he seems to be a perfect fit for the Mets 8th inning problems.

Sometimes the BIG trades don’t have to come in the $100 million type player. If Minaya could swing it, a deal for a guy like Buehrle and Thornton would likely not cost them as much in the long run as a deal for guys like Lee, Oswalt or Haren. They would make this year more competitive, and not cost the Mets the entire farm system either.

Tonight’s draft will leave teams with a full idea of how their farm system looks. What if the Mets draft a catcher, and the White Sox want to move Tyler Flores to 1B after dealing Konerko? What if the White Sox just need some good but not great arms considering they are pretty thin in that department?

Is it unrealistic? You know, I really don’t know. I don’t know that this idea can be seen as any more unrealistic as trading the farm for a 4 month rental. I’ve never heard his name mentioned in potential deals to the Mets, so I am curious if this has anybody thinking of it’s possibility now?

Nobody saw Jake Peavy heading to Chicago last year right? That’s usually how it happens. I don’t know if this will or could happen, but I certainly think it’s worth exploring and opening your mind to.

About the Author ()

Michael Branda grew up a Mets fan watching the mid 1980's teams and his favorite Met of all-time is (and was) Wally Backman. When it comes to sabermetrics versus old school thinking, he's in the middle and believes adopting new ways to get answers is helpful, especially when the old way has not produced results.

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