Rumor Mill: Cliff Lee

Posted by Scott Wuerz on April 20, 2013 

Tonight the Cardinals face Phillies ace Cliff Lee. Later this season, Fox Sports reporter Ken Rosenthal says, St. Louis may try to make a trade with Philadelphia to acquire him.

Lee, 2-0 with a 1.52 ERA, is 34 years old. But, he still seems to have a lot of life left in his arm. He was incredibly snake bitten in 2012, winning only six games in 211 innings despite a nice ERA of 3.16.

I agree with the thought that the Cardinals need another front of the rotation starter if they plan to make a playoff run. And fielding Adam Wainwright and Lee back-to-back in a short series is an appealing scenario. But making the playoffs isn't a given for a bi-polar team that shows an encouraging ability to win big -- and then it shows it's equally as likely to get blown out.

The first problem is that Lee signed a huge contract with the Phillies before the 2012 season that runs through 2015. During the last three years of the deal he'll make $25 million a season. And that's a tough contract to swallow for a pitcher who will be 35, 36 and 37 years old.

The second problem is that the Cardinals have the top-ranked farm system in baseball and all potential trade partners are going to push for players like Oscar Taveras, Shelby Miller and Michael Wacha in trade. If I am in charge, those guys aren't going to go out the door in exchange for a veteran who is on the back nine -- or maybe the back three -- of his career.

St. Louis might be able to fit Lee in the budget with a little finessing because it has Chris Carpenter, Rafael Furcal, Carlos Beltran and Jake Westbrook at the end of their contracts. That's about $40 million bucks coming free.


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