Analyzing the Mariners' Acquisition Of Cliff Lee

Griffin CooperAnalyst IDecember 16, 2009

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 28:  Cliff Lee #34 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws a pitch against the New York Yankees in Game One of the 2009 MLB World Series at Yankee Stadium on October 28, 2009 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

For the Mariners, this trade is, to sum it up in one word, awesome. Not only are they significantly improving their chances of being a serious contender in 2010, but they're doing it without giving up all that much of the future.

As of right now, it appears that the Mariners will be sending Phillippe Aumont, JC Ramirez, and Tyson Gillies to the Phillies, in exchange for Cliff Lee.

Yes, Aumont has good stuff, but he’s a relief prospect, and there’s only so much value a relief prospect can have. JC Ramirez is a nice pitching prospect, but he’s far from a sure thing, and I prefer Pineda anyway. As for Gillies—he’s very fast, which is nice, but there’s a pretty good chance he’ll never be much more than a fourth outfielder.

The fact that Jack Zduriencik managed to land a full year of Cliff Lee (and his ridiculously small $9 million salary), plus the two compensatory draft picks that we’ll get when he walks, without giving up any of our top five prospects, is nothing short of miraculous.

We have a special man occupying our GM position, make no mistake.

So, does this move instantly make the Mariners the favorites for the AL West crown in 2010? No, but once we’ve signed or traded for a first baseman and a DH, we’ll most certainly be good enough to be right up there with both the Angels and the Rangers—and that’s coming barely a year after the completion of a 101 loss season.

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In case any of you are wondering exactly how good Cliff Lee is, here are some of the key numbers that he put up in 2009 (while dealing with a high BABIP against, by the way), in both leagues:

tRA: 3.57

FIP: 3.11

K/BB: 4.21

WAR: 5.7

And if those numbers look nice, keep in mind that he was significantly better in 2008.

What we’re getting here is an ace. A lot of us have been hoping for the acquisition of a real No. 2 starter—well, we got another No. 1 instead. With Felix and Lee at the top of our rotation, aside from maybe the Diamondbacks (Webb and Haren), no team in baseball has anything close to as good of a 1-2 punch.

Oh, and to echo what Jeff over at Lookout Landing has said—to anyone comparing this deal to the Bedard deal, don’t. The two deals are not the least bit similar for the following reasons:

1) Cliff Lee is much better than Bedard has ever been

2) Cliff Lee is not an injury risk

3) The prospects we’re giving up in this deal aren’t anywhere near as good as the prospects we gave up to get Bedard

4) A win-now move makes a whole lot more sense right now than it did in 2008

The other big positive about this trade, which has already been mentioned by a lot of different people, is that it really hurts the Angels—and more importantly, their fans.

Think about it.

The Angels lost Figgins to us, a division rival.

The Angels lost Lackey to Boston, of all places.

The Angels couldn’t get Halladay.

The Angels couldn’t get Lee, and he’s coming to us, a division rival.

The Angels may now resort to trading for Derek Lowe, which would be hilarious and awesome.

There are about 50 different angles to view this trade from, and the Mariners look fantastic from each and every one of them. Don’t question it, just enjoy it—this is a great time to be a Mariners fan.