• The Core Concern In Signing Cliff Lee

    Posted by on November 8th, 2010 · Comments (21)

    While he was with Seattle, early last season, Cliff Lee had an oblique injury; and, at the end of the year, when he was with Texas, Lee had trigger point injection in his back to offset an injury. Also, Lee struggled with an abdominal injury in 2007 as well.

    There’s something going on, it seems, at times, with Cliff’s core. And, if the Yankees do decide to invest heavily on this pitcher, I hope they do their homework and make sure they’re not getting a ticking time bomb here.

    Otherwise, without question, Lee is a master on the mound. And, if healthly, he would be an ace on any pitching staff.

    Comments on The Core Concern In Signing Cliff Lee

    1. Jake1
      November 8th, 2010 | 2:24 pm

      What pitcher is perfect health wise? It’s not anything arm related.
      I’ll take my chances with Lee.

    2. November 8th, 2010 | 2:27 pm

      You’re probably too young to remember Britt Burns’ non-arm related hip condition.

      Pitchers use more than just the arm. The legs and back are just as important to them.

    3. RobertGKramer@AOL.Com
      November 8th, 2010 | 3:32 pm

      Even the relative “baby” Tim Lincecum missed time with a back problem in 2010. I also read speculation Lee would get seven years, OUCH!!!

    4. RobertGKramer@AOL.Com
      November 8th, 2010 | 3:33 pm

      Or was that 2009?

    5. ken
      November 8th, 2010 | 4:17 pm

      I am very concerned about this signing. As good as Lee has been, he hasn’t been so good for so long. Not that long ago that he was sent to low minors from which he rebounded to his current peak. Most of his regular season starts for TEX were not great.

      I am very worried about another aging overpaid underperforming former star in the out years of this contract.

    6. Evan3457
      November 8th, 2010 | 4:49 pm

      No, sorry, you don’t get to hedge.

      You want Cliff Lee? You pay the money he wants (or can get from another team) AND you give him the years he wants (or can yadda yadda yadda) and you take the risks that come with signing a 32-33 year old pitcher.

      Or you don’t get him, and take the risks that come with that.

      There no such thing as half-pregnant here.

      Lee is a DOMINANT lefty starter. He’s a proven post-season dominator. If he stays healthy, he’ll win big for any team. He’s not a power pitcher, defined by “stuff”, but he’s as dominant as any pitcher in baseball, looking at K/BB ratio (the best such indicator).

      It’s as I said with Tex two years ago; it’s just like Giambi…You want the rest of Tex’ outstanding prime? Then you have to be willing to absorb the decline years.

      That’s the price of the “certainty” of a proven major-league stud. You have to deal with the decline. Otherwise put Joba at #4, Nova at #5, and take your chances, which include not making the playoffs, as happened in 2008, partly because of the poor performance of Hughes and Kennedy.

      Make a decision: Lee; Yea or Nay? Make it a good one, and be prepared to live with the consequences.

      I vote Yea.

    7. ken
      November 8th, 2010 | 4:56 pm

      Evan3457 wrote:

      That’s the price of the “certainty” of a proven major-league stud. You have to deal with the decline. Otherwise put Joba at #4, Nova at #5, and take your chances, which include not making the playoffs, as happened in 2008, partly because of the poor performance of Hughes and Kennedy.

      So you mean be like every other team? I’m OK with that. CC,AJ (yes, AJ), Pettitte and Hughes is a solid rotation. Fill in the rest from a number of options (Nova, Joba, free agents).

      There is no certainty in these matters.

    8. MJ Recanati
      November 8th, 2010 | 5:52 pm

      Evan3457 wrote:

      I vote Yea.

      I vote Yea too.

      ken wrote:

      So you mean be like every other team?

      It’s not that simple. When the Yankees try to be like every other team, everyone freaks out that they’re not winning and they’re, well, like every other team.

      If you’re OK with potentially missing the playoffs because you’d rather fill in the rotation from within instead of paying for Cliff Lee, that’s fine. But don’t complain when the Yankees are losing games 10-9 or getting shut out 5-0 during the inevitable slumps that this lineup goes through for weeks at a time.

    9. Evan3457
      November 8th, 2010 | 6:14 pm

      ken wrote:

      Evan3457 wrote:
      That’s the price of the “certainty” of a proven major-league stud. You have to deal with the decline. Otherwise put Joba at #4, Nova at #5, and take your chances, which include not making the playoffs, as happened in 2008, partly because of the poor performance of Hughes and Kennedy.
      So you mean be like every other team? I’m OK with that. CC,AJ (yes, AJ), Pettitte and Hughes is a solid rotation. Fill in the rest from a number of options (Nova, Joba, free agents).
      There is no certainty in these matters.

      Except that Pettitte may only return for 1 year, or not at all, and AJ is uncertain at best, leaving CC (ace) and Hughes (competent #3-4 at this point, with upside remaining) as the whole rotation.

      It’s just my opinion, but I think they need Lee, and I think Cashman knows it, which is why I don’t think they’ll be outbid for him. He may not sign with them for other reasons, but it won’t be $$$$, and it probably won’t be years, either.

    10. Scout
      November 8th, 2010 | 6:21 pm

      I took Evan’s point as a response to Steve, who seems to want to be on both sides of this one (and not for the first time, as I recall). So, Steve, take a stand, within certain parameters. I’m on the “sign Lee” side, for up to six years with an AAV of $23 million, if these are the figures the market requires.

    11. redbug
      November 8th, 2010 | 6:47 pm

      I’m concerned w/ Lee’s back, too. I assume the Yankees are, too. They’re going to have to pay a whole lot of money for years the guy won’t be worth it, unless he’s someone special like Andy Pettitte.

      You can put me in the book of one not particularly concerned if they’re in the playoffs every year. They overpay these guys for years that aren’t, in all liklihood, to be productive. I’d rather they take the money and spend it on scouting. I watched and admired the young arms on the Giants and wondered why the Yanks can’t come up w/ more than one young arm like that once a generation.

    12. BOHAN
      November 8th, 2010 | 8:32 pm

      redbug wrote:

      I watched and admired the young arms on the Giants and wondered why the Yanks can’t come up w/ more than one young arm like that once a generation.

      because they put ridiculous limitations on them. they don’t let them grow and learn on their own.

      but on the Lee stuff. i don’t think he much more then 2 or 3 years of pitching like he does now. these little injuries will are going to catch up to him eventually i feel. just my opinion

    13. November 8th, 2010 | 8:41 pm

      Want me to take a stand?

      O.K.

      Sign Lee for 5-years at $100 million. Not a year or a penny more. But, if you do it, check out his back/core every which way – plus loose – and make sure you’re not getting a lemon.

      That’s my point here, that’s all.

    14. JeremyM
      November 8th, 2010 | 10:36 pm

      Just out of curiosity, how does Lee rank say to a Kevin Brown? Seems like Brown was in a similar spot when he signed his big money deal with the Dodgers. Is Lee another Brown?

      I mean, I really think the Yankees have to take this gamble, but without looking at the numbers at all, it does seem like Lee could be the next Kevin Brown. As Steve says, this is just a “wild thought.”

    15. JeremyM
      November 8th, 2010 | 10:40 pm

      Scanning the numbers with my baseball-illiterate eyes, the comparison somewhat fits- but Brown did have 4 pretty good years out of 7. Both were somewhat late bloomers who had three really good seasons before hitting the big money. Brown was a little better actually, he hit his stride a couple of years before Lee did, fell back, and then picked things back up again. And he was also right-handed of course.

    16. Evan3457
      November 9th, 2010 | 5:11 am

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      Want me to take a stand?
      O.K.
      Sign Lee for 5-years at $100 million. Not a year or a penny more. But, if you do it, check out his back/core every which way – plus loose – and make sure you’re not getting a lemon.
      That’s my point here, that’s all.

      Then you’re not getting Lee in this market.

      And because they’re are no young stud starters available on the trade market unless you make a ridiculous overpay (other than Grienke, who doesn’t want to come to New York, and would still require a significant overpay), you’re not going to improve the rotation significantly. You then have the choice of overpaying for someone like Jorge de la Rosa, or trading for a 2nd line pitcher with a bad contract.

      And in the AL East, you risk not making the playoffs. He’ll command more $$$$ certainly, and possibly more years. All you need for a bidding war are two teams that want him badly. And you’ll have at least two (Yankees and Rangers) and possibly more.

      There’s no such thing as checking Lee’s core out every which way. You can ask to see his medical records. You can perform a physical. But there’s no way you can simulate the stress of pitching over time as he ages. He can pass every test now, and still wind up unable to perform at this level, or anything close, 3 years from now.

      ==================================
      Brown was already 33 when he signed his 7-year deal. He was great for 2 seasons, injured for two more (though he pitched well in his half season at age 36). Had one last very good year at age 38. The Yanks then traded Yhency Brazoban, Jeff Weaver and a minor leaguer for him. He was OK but injured for the Yanks in his age 39 season, and managed to pitch a decent game in the 2004 ALDS vs. the Twins, before the Sox knocked him out early in game 7 of the ALCS. He just plain broke down for good in his age 40 season.

    17. Raf
      November 9th, 2010 | 10:14 am

      Even a starter as durable as Mike Mussina broke down a couple of years while with the Yanks.

    18. ken
      November 9th, 2010 | 12:11 pm

      If 5yrs/100M does not get it done then let him go. (Though I would not give him a day more than 4 yrs).

      How is the Santana thing working out for the Mets? 2-1/2 yrs of good pitching followed by 3-1/2 of aging, injured, underperforming, overpaid immovable object. That is where I see this Lee thing heading.

    19. Evan3457
      November 9th, 2010 | 5:21 pm

      ken wrote:

      If 5yrs/100M does not get it done then let him go. (Though I would not give him a day more than 4 yrs).
      How is the Santana thing working out for the Mets? 2-1/2 yrs of good pitching followed by 3-1/2 of aging, injured, underperforming, overpaid immovable object. That is where I see this Lee thing heading.

      Possibly. Or not.

      Santana’s stuff had been declining measurably over the year or two previous to his signing, and he’s not a big guy.

      Lee’s a bigger guy, and his stuff has been stable, if not getting better.

    20. ken
      November 9th, 2010 | 9:22 pm

      Evan3457 wrote:

      Santana’s stuff had been declining measurably over the year or two previous to his signing, and he’s not a big guy.
      Lee’s a bigger guy, and his stuff has been stable, if not getting better.

      Without looking up their stats, I’d say that Johan is taller and weighs more than Lee.

      Lee has been stable??? He has only hit his stride for the past 3 years. Before than he was a wreck and sent from the majors to low, low minors from where almost no pitcher ever returns.

      Between his first 1-2 starts with TEX and until the post season he could fairly be called disappointing for them.

      And, in case you didn’t notice he took the loss in 2 of the 4 wins for SF. Now I’ll grant you that SF pitched great, but still……

      Yes, I too want the Cliff Lee that I saw pitch in the playoffs for Phillies last year in TEX this year. But there are so many bad pitching contracts in baseball. I don’t feel good about this.

    21. Evan3457
      November 9th, 2010 | 11:07 pm

      ken wrote:

      Without looking up their stats, I’d say that Johan is taller and weighs more than Lee.
      Lee has been stable??? He has only hit his stride for the past 3 years. Before than he was a wreck and sent from the majors to low, low minors from where almost no pitcher ever returns.
      Between his first 1-2 starts with TEX and until the post season he could fairly be called disappointing for them.
      And, in case you didn’t notice he took the loss in 2 of the 4 wins for SF. Now I’ll grant you that SF pitched great, but still……
      Yes, I too want the Cliff Lee that I saw pitch in the playoffs for Phillies last year in TEX this year. But there are so many bad pitching contracts in baseball. I don’t feel good about this.

      Lee’s listed as being 6’3″, 190; Santana as 5’11″, 200.

      Lee was a Cy Young winner in 2008, and was on his way to another before hurting his back, which he attempted to pitch through, with deleterious results.

      He did have a horrible 2007, partly due to a groin injury. The last 3 seasons, Lee’s K/BB ratios: 170/34, 181/43, 185/18. His K rate keeps rising, and his BB rate this season was lower than any top starter, except for Saberhagen in 1994, in 90 years.

      The characterization of his time with Texas as uniformly disappointing…what was disappointing was caused by his back injury. He was clearly back to normal in his last 4 starts of the season.

      He got belted in game 1 of the Series, but pitched a fine game in game 5. One bad pitch, and it wasn’t good enough to beat Lincecum, but Lincecum isn’t available. No, the Giants were a team of destiny. They had no business hitting Lee, but they did, because that happens sometimes. Lee stuffed the Rays twice, and the Yankees once.

      And he dominated in the last postseason, too, even shutting down the Yankees cold in game 1 of the Series, and winning game 5 as well. (Only games the Phillies won.)

      I do agree that the contract will be too big, and for too many years. But that’s unavoidable if they want Lee.

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