Cliff Lee Thread

Just got home to find out that Capt Jack mighta landed a Star to end all stars.  Man.  Gimme Cliff Lee over John Lackey any day.

Only have a coupla mins, so... the SSI quick-take is:


=== Comps ===

Seven strikeouts and 1+ walks is a template.  Greg Maddux and Cliff Lee are in it.  Also Dan Haren.

Brad Radke, Jamie Moyer et al don't count.  Cliff Lee is not a soft-tosser.  He's not standing in a pub trying to shave the triple-20's.

Halladay and Greinke and Schilling don't count.  They're running real low BB totals by throwing nuclear stuff down the middle -- albeit at the knees or letters. 

But they're not pitching their way to 5:1 control ratios.  And sometimes their HR rates reflect it.  Maddux and Lee and Haren, when on their games, won't give you a single pitch to hit all night.


We don't mean to gush here, but if there were such a thing as a left-handed Greg Maddux, Lee would be about the closest thing to it.


=== Toolbox ===

Two years ago, Lee came up with some sort of finger pressure on his FB, causing it to swerve and sink ... and also to go exactly where he wanted it.

He went from being a fairly extreme flyball pitcher, to not.  And the effective fastball unlocked the door to his excellent curve and change.  Suddenly armed with command and movement to his fastball, Lee opened up to creatively paint his masterpieces across the forest roof of the NL sky.


So you've got Maddux, painting the black with any of 3-4 plus pitches, and with the great pitchability to go along with it.  

Mad Dog probably had even a little bit better command even than Lee ... but then, Lee is +2 mph absolutely, and the LHP counts as another +2 mph.  Lee can be thought of as Greg Maddux, red-shifted one notch towards Power Pitcher.

He's a real pleasure to watch.


=== Safeco ===

Lee's HR rates have already been obscenely low -- 5% where 11% is the norm -- so Safeco won't lower that.

However, we can expect it to help prevent regression.  Lee's ERA's have been what, 2.50 and 3.20 or so the last couple years -- in a neutral park we'd have expected that to run 3.25 to 3.50.  (Yes, he's that good.)

But in Safeco, that park and those outfielders, and Wilson/Figgins defending his natural LHP grounders ... Lee may be odds-on to run 2+ ERA's.  As indeed Maddux did.


=== Extension ===

Zduriencik's M.O. is to (1) pick the players he REALLY wants, (2) get them into the org, and (3) see to it that they fall in love with the org.

That was the way with Wilson, with Branyan, with Washburn and Sweeney and Junior and... well, Zduriencik is well capable of convincing Lee that Seattle is his home for life.

We'll leave it to you guys, spearheaded by our resident meteorologist, to figure out how the numbers work on Felix-Lee the next 3-4 years.   But if it's Saunders-Aumont-plus, it's not for "one year of Cliff Lee."  It's one year of Lee, plus the right to sequester him in a hotel room while you recruit him and lock him in long-term.

Free agents aren't purchased at Wal-Mart.  You can't have John Lackey just because you have $14 million.  You've got to compete against other teams who also have $14 million.

That year with Cliff Lee is an inside track plus a 2-furlong head start on the other ponies.


Haven't even read what the M's figure to give up, nor what they'd have left to spend this winter.  Fill me in :- )


Dr D



...his latest:
If he's right...and the cost of Cliff Lee was 9 million dollars and Phillippe Aumont (lost interest in him as soon as it became clear he was not a starter) and Tyson Gillies...that's the greatest trade in franchise history...and it's not even kinda close.  If he actually pulled that off, I will build a gold bust of Zduriencik in my bedroom and pray to it each night. LOL


Well, there's an image I don't need. A chubby little golden Buddha, sitting cross legged with Jack's face and a knowing twinkle in his eye. LOL.


"Oh master me and your humble Mariner faithful through these troubled times with wisdom and grace."
"I'm not worthy.  I'm not worthy.  I'm not worthy."

CA's picture

I'll be honest here, I don't think that Lee gives us one thing on the mound that Bedard can't do.  He does give us the unique situation of being consistently on the mound, which Bedard can't do.  If what is rumored is true, extension be damned, this is an amazing deal.  It probably means the end of the Bay rumors, Holliday interest, and any real chance of us having a good offense.  But you've got to love the pitching staff and I wouldn't add to the starters at this point.  

wufners's picture

What were we offering Lackey when we were after him?  $15-$17 million?  Something like that?  Lee is only $9 million.  Getting Lee instead of Lackey gives us a ton more flexibility to address the offense.
And while I'm a huge Bedard fan, Lee is probably far more helpful to this club.  First off, I'm not so sure Bedard would be that much cheaper than Lee.  There appears to be enough competition for his services to drive the price up.  And even if it was incentive laden, the Mariners figure all incentives into their budget.  So if had a base of $3 million and incentives for an additional $4, the Mariners would count that as $7 million against the books.
And in addition to not being able to stay healthy for 200+ innings, Bedard had a tough time staying out there for more than 6 innings.  With a pen that has been gassed at the end of the past two years, the Mariners needed an inning eater.  And now they have one, for cheap, and who is a Cy Young winner.  Not to mention he was absolute ice in the playoffs.
I wouldn't worry Mariners ignoring their offense now.  They are in a better position to addres it today then they were yesterday.
I'm still spinning on how this one came out of nowhere at us.  :)


Wouldn't a $9m Cliff Lee make the acquisition of a Bay type easier?  That's Harden money. 
Or are you thinking about the 3-year budget.


Tooling around cyberspace, we saw some comment that this trade is not comparable to the Bedard trade because ... Erik Bedard was never anywhere near as good as Lee.  ::wince::
Bedard had just finished leading the major leagues in xFIP when the M's traded for him -- and did it with a 10K/game scorched-earth policy that Cliff Lee can only dream about.
Lee is certainly more durable than Bedard.  But it's tough to claim that he's a lot more effective than a healthy Bedard, because nobody is.
If Erikkkkk and the M's somehow found a way to get together, and get him out there as our #3 in May and June, and he got on a roll, we'd be talking a 90's Braves-magnitude rotation. 
Kind of a shame that the PR wars threaten to leave Bedard persona non grata in Seattle, because that Big Three could win a World Series for us.    Hey, sweep it for us, for that matter.

Taro's picture

Any claim that Lee '09 is way better than Bedard '07 is kind of rediculous. Bedard was the most dominant pitcher in baseball that year.
Lee is WAY more likely to stay healthy and I think that adds significant value, but Lee is NOT a better pitcher than '07 Bedard. Thats silly.
What is true though, is that if the rumors are true, Z is giving up a laughingly small amount for one of best pitchers in baseball. This is a big contrast to when Bavasi overpaid even by market standards in prospects for the Bedard trade (the Haren trade even got less return).


But bear in mind that at the time, the market offers included:
Matt Kemp AND Jonathan Broxton-or-Clayton Kershaw-or-James Loney AND others from the Dodgers
Philip Humbert, Lastings Milledge, Aaron Heilman PLUS from the Mets, tho I can't find a link right now ... their 1-2-3 prospects at the time
Two other teams were heavily involved.  There was a real feeding frenzy for Bedard after 2007.  I remember being surprised that the M's gave up only one of their top 4 prospects, that being Jones -- they kept Clement, Morrow, and Triunfel while other teams were seeing their 1-2-3 demanded.
They gave up a lot, of course.   If you're going to get a big star, you do have to beat the best offer.


What is true though, is that if the rumors are true, Z is giving up a laughingly small amount for one of best pitchers in baseball.
Great trade... but again we note that Seattle is one place in the world that underrates its own prospects.  No cheering in the press box, I suppose.
Aumont is a #8 overall, after all, and Juan Ramirez has been compared to Felix Hernandez.  Gillies, they can have.   But I'm sure that the teams acquiring them consider Aumont and Ramirez to be Grade A prospects.
Your broad point?  Of course.  Who'd have thought we'd trade for a Halladay or Lee and not even touch our top half-dozen prospects.

Taro's picture

Well, the Dodger's offer might have been bogus, since the rumored haul blew any other offer out of the water. Kemp may or may not have been offered, but theres no way Kemp+Kershaw was offered (The Orioles accept that).
Jones was obviously the prize spec involved, but even Tillman and Sherill were more highly regarded than anyone Z is being rumored to giving up in the Lee trade.
We'll see though.. Gillies+Aumont+Ramirez seems too good to be true. The compensation picks may end up being equal in value for crying out loud. I'm kind of expecting Morrow to be involved, only because I can't believe how one-sided of a trade that would be...

Taro's picture

I don't even get it. You're trading for one of the best SPs in baseball and you don't even need to give up ONE elite prospect?
I'm waiting for Saunders or Morrow to be involved, because this is just too good to be true.

misterjonez's picture

Anyone expecting 200 (or even 180) IP from Bedard was setting themselves up for disappointment.  The fact that we got less that we hoped (150-160 well-monitored, Cy Young caliber innings) shouldn't sour us on the structure of the deal.
I was a big fan of the trade at the time.  The only player who was odds-on to contribute for the O's was Jones.  Sherill was fungible and Tillman wasn't an odds-on ML SP.  I still think the structure was alright.  If anything was off on my own side, it might have been really understanding the nature of having a marquee player with Erik's injury portfolio.
Even so, whenever he did pitch for us, he was absolutely dominating.  I'd love to see them work out a deal for him on a Harden-esque contract, freeing up Morrow to go somewhere in return for a big bat.  Prince Fielder, anyone?

Anonymous's picture

Your getting a elite pitcher that's PROVEN in the majors. That costs $$$ in FA and yet you don't give up any really premium prospects. How is it not a steal? Oh right and cliff lee been pitching in hitter's ballpark and goes to Safeco.
The worst case here is you flip him down the road however I think this is a perfect case to lock cliff lee with a extension. Let's go 10 years for ~150 million. With the rate the us dollar inflation goes it will outpace the decline in the later years. So you will be getting just insane value when cliff lee gets near his 40s.
Go long, invest now and defer as much as possible until late in his contract(ie 10 million for first 3-4 years and maybe 35 million when he hits 40).

Add comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><p><br>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.


  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.