Yankees: Be Happy Lee in Philly !
Posted by athomeatfenway on December 14, 2010
This was not the first time that the Yankees lost out on Cliff Lee in 2010.
On July 9, TV reports announced that the Bombers were very close to completing a deal with Seattle to make Lee a Yankee. Then a last minute trade sent Rangers top prospect Justin Smoak to Seattle and landed Lee in Arlington, disrupting Yankee plans.
At the time, Smoak said he felt honored to be the main bait in a deal that landed a guy who looked to be in the hunt for the 2010 Cy Young Award with an 8-3 record, a 2.34 ERA, and 5 complete games in 13 starts.
But despite how heated the bidding for Lee was, it should be noted that his second half performance in 2010 was far from Cy-worthy. Smoak’s reverence may be as unnecessary as the disappointment felt by Yankee fans today.
Truth is that Cliff Lee may not be healthy enough to warrant a 5 year contract. He was on the needle to recover from an abdominal strain when playing for Seattle this year, and he went back on the needle to pitch into August and September for the Rangers.
Cliff pretty much spent the month of April taking injections and resting. He made his first start on April 30, thus missing 5 starts. He was very good throughout May to July, making a stellar 14 quality starts in 16 tries.
The injections were of platelet-rich plasma, the powers of which for healing muscle strain are as mysterious as those of aspirin. Mysterious, and in-demand by rich athletes. Tiger Woods and Hines Ward are users.
After six weeks of treatment and recovery in March & April, Lee was back on the hill for the Mariners.
It is a risky proposition to give a 32 year old pitcher with a recurrent injury $106 million for 5 years. The Yankees might not be so disappointed this time next year if Lee pulls another muscle and takes a hiatus.
The media frenzy over the competition has occluded more than just Lee’s health history. There is the matter of his contributions to the 2010 campaign for Texas. Today’s AP wire story on the Lee signing by Philly said,” Seattle traded Lee to Texas in July, and Lee pitched the Rangers into the World Series for the first time.”
Did he ? Yes, he had a great D.S. & L.S. before recording a 6.94 ERA in the W.S.. But he didn’t propel Texas into the playoffs.
The Rangers won their Division by 9 games. In the 11 starts Lee made for Texas, the Rangers lost 7 times including a string of 5 consecutive losses that were also non-quality starts from Aug. 11 and 31. His ERA in that stretch was 5.21.
Funny thing happened after that point in time: Cliff had more injections and sat out almost two weeks in September. He then came back and posted a 1.61 ERA over 4 starts in that month.
Now I like the September, and I like the May through July. But his April and August were throw aways. If the pattern of injury and decline continues in Philadelphia, no way will the Phillies be getting their money’s worth.
So take solace, Yankee fans. Your team is at a clear disadvantage against the refurbished Red Sox, but at least you have not been set to take another Pavano-like fall with Cliff Lee.