M’s Acquire Cliff Lee!?!?!
Okay, so, I’ve had a few hours to let this sink in. Initial reactions that are still premature because we don’t really know what the trade looks like, exactly.
1. I love our front office. How many names have we heard them tied to so far this winter, and yet not one whisper about Lee? They’re like ninjas. No one has any idea what they’re going to do next, but you can usually bet that it will be awesome.
2. I also love Cliff Lee. The command, the change-up, the way he pitches – he’s great. He’s as good as Felix. Maybe better. Not as talented, but right now, you have about the same odds of winning with either one on the hill. The M’s just traded for a left-handed version of Felix.
3. There are going to be a ton of inevitable comparisons between this deal and the Bedard deal. We can’t compare them until we know what we’re giving up, but let’s just get this out of the way – Bedard is no Cliff Lee. Lee is a significantly better pitcher than Bedard has ever been. The durability factor is just a (huge) bonus.
4. Remember when we talked about the need to add a bunch of wins at below market rates? Lee is roughly a +5 win pitcher and he’s going to make $8 million in 2009. The M’s just acquired about 1/3 of the wins they needed to add this winter at a price of $1.6 million per win. We’ll evaluate the total cost of the trade when the outgoing players are known, but from a budget/wins standpoint, this is exactly the kind of deal the team needed to make.
5. I talked about this briefly on FanGraphs the other day, but the M’s are at a point where every marginal win they add is significantly more valuable than the average. They just made a trade in which they picked up Lee and kept Halladay away from LAA on the same day that Lackey signed in Boston. This is a huge shift in talent between the Angels and M’s, and Hideki Matsui doesn’t close the gap that much. The M’s are still several players away from being as good as LAA, but they are legitimately at a point where the wins added have a real impact on their odds of making the playoffs. Between this move and the Figgins signing, the M’s have put themselves in a position to be legitimate contenders for the AL West crown in 2010.
6. I doubt they can sign Lee to a long term deal. Philly traded him in part because they didn’t like how negotiations on a long term deal were going with him, and it sounds like he wants to hit free agency. But that’s okay – he’s basically a lock to be a Type A free agent, so the M’s will be able to recoup a couple of draft picks even if he’s just a one year rental. This isn’t a situation where we’re looking at watching him walk away and get nothing.
7. You have to think that signing Figgins and trading for Lee will do something to convince Felix the M’s are serious about winning. I think we can take “he wants to see how committed management is to putting a good team on the field” off the list of things to be concerned about in negotiations.
8. One of the things that Tony Blengino said at the USSM event last January is that their goal was to “get good and stay good.” I don’t think anyone anticipated how quickly they planned on “getting good”. These guys do not mess around.
9. I love Cliff Lee. I’m going to do my best to be rational about the trade once its announced and we know all the parts, but just be warned ahead of time, he’s exactly the kind of pitcher that I am enamored with. He does everything I want a pitcher to do. I’m not sure I can be objective about him. He’s awesome.