Cliff Lee is on the trading block. That's what the rumors say. And rumors are floating everywhere (it seems) that the St. Louis Cardinals are buyers for starting pitching because of the injuries to Brad Penny and Kyle Lohse. These rumors aren't just twitter or talk-radio generated. Respected national and local sportswriters are speculating on the matter. Bloggers are crazily abuzz - as us will bloggers do.
The Seattle Mariners lefty starter has been sensational after starting the season on the disabled list. He is 8-3 with a miniscule (by American League standards) ERA of 2.34 over 103.2 innings with 5 complete games and 1 shutout. The Mariners are going nowhere fast. They are 34-50, in last place in the AL West, and 16 games behind the Texas Rangers. It's been a sorely disappointing season, and the rumors of trading a valuable commodity like Lee for a crop of young, cheap top-tier prospects seems like a prudent course. And the Cardinals could put together a package with Shelby Miller, Allen Craig, John Jay and/or Tyler Greene.
That's an incredibly steep price to pay. Then you have to add in Lee's contract. There is approximately $4 million remaining on Lee's contract for this year. Not too steep for a team with valid pennant expectations. But Albert Pujols' contract is due for renegotiations or worse (free agency negotiations - Heaven forbid), the Cardinals have plans for those players. As Derrick Goold stated this past January those younger (read cheap) players are needed to keep the club's $100 million dollar budget within reason of sustainability. If the franchise is to carry the contracts of Pujols, Matt Holliday, and Chris Carpenter it must rely upon a roster full of players making the minimum salary but playing above their pay. Oh, let's not forget Adam Wainwright's wonderfully low long-term contract will be expiring in 2013. After shedding the likes of Luke Gregerson, Brett Wallace, and Jess Todd last year to boost the roster, how can GM John Mozeliak responsibly trade away even more of the desperately need roster fillers for a short term need? And unless team President Bill Dewitt opens up the wallet - and unless Mozeliak is deranged - he won't.
One can use a broad brush to paint my logic over the names of Dan Haren, Ted Lilly, Carlos Zambrano (maybe for chief groundskeeper), or just insert any SP on a losing team.
So this sage's advice to Redbirds fans is to pray that Brad Penny's set-back is minimal, that Kyle Lohse's muscle sheaths make medical history, or that Blake Hawksworth finds salvation at the altar of Dave Duncan's genius. No other prayer from Heaven is bound to help this staff this season.
If you disagree - or if you have viable trade options in mind - let the world know in the comments.
If you disagree, or have some viable trade options, let everyone know in the comments.