Monday, June 21, 2010

Why Cliff Lee Reminds Me of Brett Favre

...and no, not the whole "I'm retired... wait, no I'm not... wait, yeah I am... wait, ok, no..." thing. You'll see what I mean in a minute; just allow me to develop my point.

Last week, a reputable Seattle blogger with the U.S.S. Mariner community speculated that the Mariners will probably want to trade Cliff Lee in the next few weeks. He went on to examine all the possible teams that could complete the deal. He formulated that, in his opinion, the Twins were the best option in regard to need and the depth of players they could give up. It seems as if a lot of other folks think the same thing. (I heard that Buster Olney from ESPN agreed, but I can't read his article about it because I refuse to pay to be an "insider." Good grief, ESPN makes enough money -- they have to be generating a ton of revenue just on the ads on their site -- they don't need to relieve me of mine.)

Let me just say that I sincerely doubt Cliff Lee will come here in real life. For various reasons, it just doesn't add up in my opinion. But, let's go with it so I can eventually get to my point.

I love pitching. I love pitchers. I especially love good pitchers. Good pitchers are leaders. They alone set the pace of the game. Usually, the team goes as its pitcher goes. They are in charge; they earn the win or loss; they are who we talk about when we speak of match-ups. They are the center. There is a reason they stand, above all others, on a mound. They have my undying devotion. Unless they hurt my team. Then I can just as easily despise them. My passion runs both ways.

Would I love to add a true ace to the Twins rotation? Absolutely. Do I have to love him? Not really.

First impressions are very hard to shake. I've spent so many years hating Cliff Lee when he was with the Indians, I would have a hard time letting it go. He was a rival I always hated facing. For one, he was good and very tough to beat. But, for another, he always seemed like an ass. I seem to remember reading that says some cocky stuff. Put him up there with Mark Buerhle, Justin Verlander, and CC Sabathia at the top of the Pitchers I Can't Stand List.

And then there was the time (was it last year or the year before?) he got all in a snit when Carlos Gomez bunted for a base hit off him. Really? I'm not sure I want a crybaby on my team.

So here I am, potentially facing the dilemma of accepting a man I loathe to a team I love. I know he could be a great help, and obviously I would want him to do well, you know, for the good of the team. But, I would find it very, very hard to actually root for him.

I'd be quite like many of the rabid, die-hard Vikings fans I know who struggled with welcoming Brett Favre, a man they hated for years. Now I finally understand what they were going through.


Fran said...

Market for Lee seems pretty limited to me. Seems similar to Johan a couple years ago. How many teams will want to part with top prospects for a rental and/or pay Lee's salary beyond this season?

Not many is my guess. Twins have to kick the tires, but also must be careful not to overpay. Very easy to wreck the team for what could be a minimal upgrade, if any.

Is Lee really going to be better than Blackburn and Pavano were against the Yankees last fall? He would be hard-pressed.

Not against a deal, but wow. This could be a sucker's bet. Seattle might want a pitcher. Pavano may be pitching his way to a big contract. Twins could be left with Liriano and one other starter from current rotation, plus lose another good prospect or two.

I'm sure Yankees (and Tigers and White Sox) would like nothing better than to see a contender knock themselves back a couple notches and then NYY or Bos scoops up Lee after the season.

Maybe Lee is the missing piece to a ring and then it's all worth it. But the downside could be steep if he's a bust.

* Did not really find anything of note re: Lee in Olney's latest Insider blog. Got two years of espn mag for $5 and Insider is included ... so no need to overpay for that, either. :)

JimCrikket said...

Hmmm... I bought "insider" and got ESPN the Magazine thrown in free. Maybe I should have gone the other direction. Anyway...

Lee would be a great addition, for the right price in terms of trade. The Twins have guys ready to step in as starting pitchers if they have to give up one of the current rotation. Guys like Duensing and Manship are proving they are legitimate Big League pitchers, so the Twins have pitchers to spare.

Not to mention, even getting Lee as a "half year rental" means you don't just get Lee. The Twins would certainly offer arbitration and therefore get the two high compensation draft picks that go with losing a Type A free agent.

I think everyone has to get over the "I don't want him because I didn't like him when he was an Indian" thing. He's a competitor (and a good one). He wasn't SUPPOSED to do things to make fans of a divisional rival "like" him (just like I don't want Twins players doing things so they're "liked" by BitchSox fans).

If all the Twins want to do is win the Division, maybe they won't need an ace like Lee to do that. But in the playoffs where teams with two premier starting pitchers have a huge advantage, he (or someone else like him) would quite possibly be the difference between an early playoff exit (again) or a trip to the World Series.

You don't mortgage your future for him, if you're the Twins, but if you can deal from your surplus, you do it, imo.

WinTwins said...

I really wouldn't have much of a problem having Lee on the team, just as long as we don't trade everything we have for him. I don't even want us to trade Ramos for him, even though he will never get significant playing time here. I would rather Ramos be traded for someone we have for more than a year, perhaps a long term shortstop or third basemen (unless Cuddy stays there). Those are definitely our weakest spots, besides pitching, and if we could get a shortstop that can hit, I would be happy.

That being said, I would be open to another pitching option that would probably cost us a lot less (prospect-wise) and would give us the same thing. Roy Oswalt wants out of Houston and he is a dynamic pitcher. Yeah, he plays in the National League, and yeah, he plays against weaker teams, but still. He is a great pitcher, and we can probably get him for less prospects. It will cost more money, but the Pohlads have buckets of it sitting around and we have a good chance this year.

Heck, in a perfect world, we would bring in both Oswalt and Lee, but my guess is that the Chicago Cubs will win the World Series before the Twins make that many moves like that, especially in the middle of the season.