Well technically it’s Tuesday here in Manhattan. And that means, Cliff Lee is starting on the mound for the Mariners later today against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.
Will it be his last start as a Mariner?
My guess is no. But it’s a complete guess. I have nothing to base it on. But it sounds as though GM Jack Zduriencik has finally come to the understanding that the Mariners are done and this move needs to get done. So now he has to deal Lee. And that isn’t exactly simple. Sure he’s been listening to offers and doing his research, but I do think that trading Lee could take enough time that he may get one more start beyond this one. Here’s a couple of reasons why:
1. Every team is going to put up an offer. They have to. Any GM has to do his due diligence and throw out some offers to see if there’s a match. If they don’t, they are doing a disservice to the team, the players on the team and the fans.
You can’t use money as an excuse because Lee is a half season rental. And it’s not a major investment, even for supposedly cash-strapped teams like the Padres and the Dodgers. It’s prospects. It’s not money.
And Zduriencik will listen to all offers.
2. Lee is that good. He’s proven he can win in either league. He’s proven he can win in the postseason. He’s also pitching about as well as he ever has in his career. He has more value than any other pitcher that could be available. So Zduriencik is certainly going to want to maximize his return. He’s not going to take just the first offer.
This is a trade that needs to return at least a few players that can contribute immediately or by the latest next season. The Mariners have no immediate prospects within their system – maybe with the exception of top pitching prospect Michael Pineda – that could contribute next season. So this is a way to bridge the gap till players like Dustin Ackley and Carlos Triunfel are ready for the big leagues.
3. When you think Zduriencik is going one way, he tends goes another. Who honestly saw the trade for Russell Branyan coming? Jack has proven that he’s a creative thinker when it comes to trades. When he made the JJ Putz, he helped engineer a three-team trade. Would that be possible? Perhaps, I wouldn’t put it past him. Because addressing the Mariners needs isn’t simple and maybe he’d like to get pieces from two different teams.
I guarantee you that Lee will be asked about being traded at least once or twice after the game, and he won’t get miffed or angry – he’s too professional for that. He’ll just say, what he always says and all he can say: “It’s out of my control. You’ll have to talk to Jack. Until that happens, I’m a member of the Mariners and I’m trying to help this team win.” or something along those lines.
Will it be Lee’s last start as Mariner? Selfishly I’m hoping it isn’t because I enjoy watching him pitch. But if it is, I won’t be surprised.