Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Slowly, but surely we’re drifting into a danger zone in July. As NBA free agency irrelevantly finishes up, a very exciting time is approaching us. Sure, the trading deadline! I mean sure, it may not be as exciting this year, similarly to how it was last season because of the 2 wild cards, however there will be deals, you can count on that.
There’s been talk about David Price, there’s been talk about the Dodgers checking in on Jeff Scrabble. However, there’s one pitcher that the Dodgers have had significant interest in before, and for the 5th (?) year running now, we enter the Cliff Lee to Los Angeles rumors. If you remember, the Dodgers claimed Cliff Lee in the summer of 2012, and there was talk about the Dodgers heavily pursuing Lee last offseason.
I will try to use rational judgements that wont end up mattering in my explanation for the Phillies dealing their ace. Why will these judgements not matter one bit? Well, lets just say every single season around this time of year I make sure there’s some time in the day where I thank my lucky stars that Ned Colletti is general managing this team as opposed to what the Phillies deal with in Reuben Amaro Jr.
Sooo why should the Phillies deal Cliff Lee? Well the Phillies are in last place by 11 games in a division with the Mets in it. That’s a good start. They are 2-8 in their last 10 games, they are starting the infelicitous Domonic Brown in LF, who has given back nearly all of the positive value he produced last season in 323 plate appearances. They are relying on Roberto Hernandez to give the meaningful innings. Tony Gwynn Jr has somehow been able to get more than 100 PA’s in 61 games.
Things are bad for the Phillies. So, yeah, they should trade him.
None of this matters much when Amaro is making statements like this
"It’s a little different in this market. For us to say ‘okay, guys, this is what we’re going to do. We’re going to stop winning, or trying to win for the next five or six years and we’re going to try and build a team from the ground up, or rebuild it from the ground up.’ I think that’s something that in our market place and with what our fanbase is all about, I don’t think that’s fair"
However, GM’s blow smoke all the time.
If I were GM Ned Colletti (and again, i’m not), I would strongly consider making a deal for Cliff Lee. Lets not forget, with this late career push, Lee is nearly on a hall of fame pace, his career BB/9 is 1.94. He compiled 1.7 fWAR in only 10 starts this season, his GB% is at 49.1. He’s nearly at a Clayton Kershaw level without the strikeout rate. So why on earth wouldn’t you try to deal for him?
Because elbows are scary. He sustained a flexor strain and is in the process of rehabbing from the injury. That alone may make it seem like no deal is going to be made, but it should.
Reuben Amaro must regret that he didn’t deal Lee last season and get Jackie Bradley and Henry Owens back in return. They must have regretted not getting Joc Pederson and any relief piece back in return. And if Amaro doesn’t deal Lee now, there’s a compelling argument to be made that he’ll never deal him. Lee is 35 years old, he only has 1.5 years left on his deal (200 IP vesting if he pitches 400 innings this year and next, but it unlikely given his injury).
So it’d probably be smart to deal Lee now, and if I’m Colletti, i’d offer Amaro 2010 26th rounder Scott Schebler, an OF who has made a name for himself, posting a 149 wRC+ in the pitcher friendly Southern League, i’d offer Amaro 2013 1st rounder Chris Anderson, a starting pitcher who was described by Keith Law as having a #2 ceiling, but has been labeled a reliever by some, and finally, 2010 1st rounder, Zach Lee who by all accounts will have a strong future in the big leagues, along with taking on Lee’s contract.
Gaining a fairly decent OF prospect in Scott Schebler who could easily be a sleeper prospect who develops into a starting caliber OF, a 1st division regular in Zach Lee, and a powerful starter who’s floor is probably a late inning reliever, ceiling is a #2 starter in Chris Anderson, while getting rid of the financial obligation that comes with that contract is a fairly decent haul for Cliff Lee.
The Dodgers need this deal because it prevents them from giving a postseason start to Josh Beckett, something i’m vehemently against, it gives them the best rotation in baseball by a wide margin, it protects against Ned Colletti’s annual starting pitcher reclamation nightmare this offseason. It makes the Dodgers clear favorites to win the world series, and with Josh Beckett and potentially Dan Haren coming off of the books, no money value is lost in the rotation this offseason. And selfishly, it gives me a chance to see Cliff Lee in a real Dodgers jersey.
Considering that Josh Beckett was just put on the disabled list, and Dan Haren is awful, and the Dodgers have checked in on Jeff Samardzija, the Dodgers are going after a starting pitcher this deadline, why not Cliff Lee? I would love a last minute push for a world series title. The Dodgers are co-world series favorites with the A’s right now. And the A’s just did a blockbuster by “going for it”, quite possibly mortgaging their future.
If you believe the Dodgers should be “going for it”, like you probably should, then trading for Cliff Lee certainly works. It’s never been more plausible than Lee in Dodger blue. He’s coming off an injury, his value is low, but circumstances are just right to where the delusional GM might just want to trade him.
If you want the Dodgers to “go for it” without giving up the 3 crown jewels of the farm system, then Cliff Lee is the best bet to make this happen.
Keep in mind this is only one of the insufferable posts i’ll write on Cliff Lee until the end of July/August. Stay tuned.