MLB Hot Stove: Cliff Lee the Key Factor in Yankee-Red Sox Battle for Supremacy

Kate ConroySenior Analyst IIDecember 10, 2010

BOSTON - OCTOBER 3:  Derek Jeter #2 of the New York Yankees moves the the right side of the infield in preparation for batter David Ortiz #34 of the Boston Red Sox  during a game at Fenway Park, October 3, 2010, in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

All the New York Yankee brass and fans can do is wait for ace Cliff Lee to make his decision.

The Yankees need Lee, and anyone who doesn’t think so is living in denial.

The recent acquisition of two lefties, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, by the Yankees rival in Boston, does make the Red Sox slightly better.

Here is why:

Crawford is a five-tool player who posted a .307 batting average last season. What makes him such a pain at the plate is he can turn a single into a triple if the ball is fielded with any imperfection.

Crawford was a Tampa Bay Ray for the last nine years, so all AL East teams are well aware of the damage he can do.

Gonzalez is one of the top first basemen coming from the National League. What he lacks in speed he brings in power with his bat, finishing with a .298 average last season.

Considering Gonzalez spent the last five years with the San Diego Padres, who play at pitching-friendly PETCO Park, his bat should only be better at his easier new home of Fenway.

Remember the Red Sox did lose Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez, who had batting averages of .321 and .302 respectively.

Combined, Beltre and Martinez had 48 home runs, 181 RBI, only three steals and a total of 134 strikeouts in 2010.

The two new Red Sox together posted 50 home runs, 191 RBI, 47 stolen bases and struck out 218 times. All 47 steals were Crawford’s, as Gonzalez had zero, but first basemen are not known to ever be fast—just look at Mark Teixeira.

Obviously the speed is undeniably better, but the strikeout number is almost a hundred more on the season.

Where does Lee come into the picture?

Lee is a strikeout king because he doesn’t walk batters, as he posted just 18 walks in the 2010 regular season.

Lee has never given up a home run to a Red Sox over his career. Gonzalez has gone yard on Lee once, but Crawford has a .222 average when Lee is on the mound.

That is one reason the Yankees would like Lee, but there are numerous others too.

Lee would also benefit from playing in New York. For one, it is the greatest place on earth, and two because it’s the Yankees.

Lee is not a Carl Pavano or Javier Vazquez mentally, as he has been to the Bronx and has preformed numerous times as an ace against the Yankees.

The Yankees wanted him before and lost out, so the money he will make is no question going to be more.

If Lee succeeds, the endorsement deals are endless in the Big Apple, and his celebrity will surely grow to an extent where Arlington, TX is not even on the map.

This relationship, if formed, is a win/win all around.

Plus, how great to already have two buddies in pinstripes, as Lee is BFFs with CC Sabathia and good old boys with A.J. Burnett from Arkansas.

What if the Yankees don’t get Lee?

Better to cross that bridge only if and when we come to it.