Everyone expects that next season Cliff Lee will be pitching a lot more in Yankee stadium, as the ace of their rotation. And while it’s definitely a strong possibility, I’m not willing to write off the possibility that he can still remain with the Rangers or that the Mets are a contender for his services.
Watching Cliff Lee dominate the Yankees last night was pure magic. I’m living my Mets dreams through the Texas Rangers right now and they are everything I wish the Mets were.
Lee continues to pad his post season resume after pitching eight innings of shutout baseball, allowing just two hits, a walk and striking out 13 batters.
With the win, Lee has now improved his playoff record to 7-0 and his ERA to an unbelievable 1.26. Oh and by the way, three of the wins all came against the Yankees, two when he pitched for the Phillies, and of course the other coming last night. He’s a dragon slayer.
He now ranks third all time in ERA among pitchers that have made five or more post season starts. Only Sandy Koufax and Christy Mathewson were better.
His 13 strikeouts last night, matched a career-high for Lee, and he became the first pitcher in major-league history to record three straight double-digit strikeout games in a single postseason.
Rangers owner and team president Nolan Ryan said, “He’s the most consistent pitcher I’ve ever seen.”
The 32-year old southpaw is coming off a 5 year $23 million dollar deal. He won a Cy Young in 2008 when he went 22-3 for the Cleveland Indians with a league leading 2.54 ERA. In addition to all of his other noteworthy accomplishments this season, the one that stands out the most for me is his 185 strikeouts versus his 16 unintentional walks this season. Just sixteen walks in 212 innings pitched!
Lee will fetch in excess of $100 million dollars this offseason over five years, and he will be worth every penny of it. He will undoubtedly be the biggest name available in free agency this offseason and which ever team wins his services will become favorites to win their division in most cases.
Where the Mets are concerned, whomever they choose to be their new GM will immediately look to place his stamp on the team, much like Omar Minaya did when he signed Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran, and Steve Phillips when he traded for Mike Piazza and Al Leiter.
With the status of Johan Santana still up in the air, and lingering concern that he may not be ready until mid season or even longer, the question of who is the ace of the team is currently a blur. With Oliver Perez not expected to return, the Mets highest paid starting pitcher on the 2011 opening day roster will be R.A. Dickey who earned $750K this season.
Clearly, the Mets will add a frontline starter, but whom will it be? Do they roll the dice like they did with Oliver Perez and offer a B-type starter $12-15 million dollars annually to head the rotation and hope for the best? Or do they minimize the risk, put the Mets back on the map, improve the brand name, and fill the park again by paying $5 MM- $6 MM more annually for a stud like Cliff Lee?
Maybe I’m just grasping at straws, but the way I look at it, if Jon Daniels, Sandy Alderson and Logan White are as sharp, talented and smart as everyone says they are, wouldn’t you have to think they’d take a close look at Cliff Lee? Hell, Daniels already traded for him once already and gave up the most talented prospect in his system to get Lee.
I’ll go as far as saying that if our new GM simply bypasses and does not engage in the Cliff Lee sweepstakes, it’s because he was told that he was un-affordable by the Wilpons. Any new GM who would is looking to make an immediate impact and had no payroll limitations, would have to go after Lee in a heartbeat. If you expect these Mets to be contenders next season or more realistically in 2012, having Lee would improve your chances not hurt them, and you don’t have to give up any prospects to get him.