June 18, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee (33) delivers to the plate during the third inning against the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies defeated the Nationals 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Cliff Lee Will Cure What Ails Red Sox

With the news today that Clay Buchholz may not make another start until after the All-Star break and with Jon Lester unable to command the strike zone in the last month, the Red Sox suddenly need a number one starter to front their rotation.

Yes, they’re currently in first place.  But if they expect to stay there they are going to need a consistent performer giving them dominating starts every five days.  Long losing streaks do not produce division titles.

Jun 2, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee (33) delivers a pitch against the Milwaukee Brewers at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies defeated the Brewers, 7-5. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Enter the Philadelphia Phillies’ Cliff Lee.  This is the the guy the Red Sox need and should go after.

The Phils say he isn’t going anywhere but if they slip further out of the NL playoff race, you have to think GM Ruben Amaro would re-consider moving his most valuable trade piece in order to jump start his rebuild of the team.

It probably will cost the Sox a young arm and a young position player and that’s a lot to give up.  In fact, I was against this move earlier in the year because Lee is 36 and has about $77 million and 2 1/2 years left on his deal.  But it’s obvious now that the Sox, even in a bridge year, can steal the competitive AL East if they have enough pitching.

As we saw last year with the Washington Nationals and their bad decision to shut down Stephen Strasburg, when you have a chance to grab the brass ring, you go for it.  Bringing Lee here would certainly indicate a go for it mode.

Lee has been dominant all season and assuming the rest of his contract is not crazy.  In fact, with the Sox swallowing so much money, maybe the Phils will be willing to take a bit less in terms of prospects.  Lee also would need to wave his no trade clause which includes Boston.  That can all be worked out in time.  The Sox have the financial flexibility.  The big thing is they now need an ace.

The first two months of the season, both Buchholz and Lester filled that bill but between the former’s nagging injuries and the latter’s inconsistency the Sox suddenly have a big hole at the top of the rotation.

Ryan Dempster and John Lackey have pitched admirably the last month to keep the Sox afloat but neither are number one type guys at this point in their careers.

We all said coming into the season that the Sox would only go as far as Buchholz and Lester could take them.  We also knew that injuries and inconsistency could pop up with these pitchers and they have.

Now the Sox are off to a great start (47-33) and they need to get Lee in here pronto.

Put Lee at the top and when Buchholz finally returns in mid-July you have an outstanding 1-2 punch.

I’m confident Lester will get things figured out with the help of John Farrell and Juan Nieves and if he has that revival the Sox will be tough to beat, especially considering Lackey’s post-Tommy John renaissance.

Make the move, Ben Cherington, and keep things lively at Fenway all summer.

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Tags: Boston Red Sox Cliff Lee

  • John C Swenson

    Is this where you throw Middlebrooks in?

    • John Fahrer

      I would. The way things are shaping out after being exiled by Iglesias, the club has Xander Bogaerts and Garin Cecchini coming up (Bogaerts probably takes 3B for the short term until Cecchini arrives then Bogaerts will move to LF). They could move Middlebrooks to 1B, but Nava and Carp look more worthy of a full-time role.

    • http://bosoxinjection.com/ Earl Nash

      Yes, and maybe the Sox have him down in AAA to put up some good offensive numbers to make him more appealing…I will post a hypothetical trade today to advance the discussion to particulars…

  • Rick M

    From the prospective of being a GM for another team I’d want your two top prospects, assumption of contract and a position player/pitcher.

    • John Fahrer

      And if I’m Cherington I reply: he’s 35 and making $27 million a year. Do you want salary relief or not?

      • Rick M

        Amaro, Jr. will attempt to get the best deal possible and I doubt the Sox minor league versions of “Sloppy Seconds” would appeal to him. Think of KC/TB. I would certainly want two top prospects or one and a Doubront. If Phils do deal the Sox will be in competition with several other teams. Price goes up.

        You can use a farm system as trade chips, replace players who have left or to fill in weak spots and it comes with substantial risk when you deal. Getting a pennant and potential WS is certainly worth it or do you end up tossing away future shots by trading too much value?

        • John Fahrer

          That’s where teams will back away if the Phils get too greedy. If some other team’s willing to drain their farm to absorb the Lee contract, then let them. But there’s also a chance that they eventually just want to purge the deal for a package that’s more than fair.

          Wouldn’t say a guy like Sean Coyle is sloppy seconds. He’d be in the top 10 for many other clubs, especially the Phils. The Sox farm system is really deep right now to the point they could offer non top 10 guys and the package is still worthy of a player like Lee.

          • Rick M

            Sean Coyle? He’d be an after thought to the real talent – X Man, Bradley, Barnes….Coyle is not even on the Sox top 20 radar last I looked let alone MLB top 100. Look at the Sox top ten and pick two. Is a pennant worth it?

            They can offer anything they want and Phils would be nuts unless you have an up on lights prospect since they’ll have to deal with THEIR fans.

            IMO the only way they get off cheap is picking up all the contract and the Sox have already been burned enough with big paydays.

            A deal like getting Lee can set the bar for the Benny reign at Fenway and that bar could be WS or all Sox fans heading to the Cask & Flagon bar to cry in $9 Sam Adams.

          • John Fahrer

            They can afford to pick up the entire remainder of the contract. They got a combined $18 million coming off the books in Drew and Ells alone. Subtract Hanrahan, Napoli, and possibly Lester, Lee is affordable.

          • Rick M

            Money is the key IMO. Depends on what Sox project since what comes off the books is often added back on. They seem to have that leverage and can absorb that contract and not worry about caps. Could mean they have to pass on FA’s such as McCann.

            Then comes the exchange. Assuming 82M means your commitment of talent should go down. I would expect one of their named “B’s” to go and someone lower down the food chain. Might see a pitcher get tossed in,

            This does have a touch of the Dodgers deal in it.

          • John Fahrer

            Looking at the forecast, the only potential acquisition on the horizon is possibly a starting catcher. They’ll either supplant Saltalamacchia with Lavarnway or go after a guy like Brian McCann.

            Other than that, they’ll fill other vacancies from within.

    • http://bosoxinjection.com/ Earl Nash

      Yup! It will be interesting to see if Ben N. Cherry will be willing to part with the X-man in a deal; they have put so much hype behind Bogey, it would be a hard sell to the fans to trade him now. Gonna take a shot at a possible trade package in a post today; hoping that will keep this discussion rolling.

  • Kennythelid

    And this is exactly what the Red Sox shouldn’t do….mortgaging the future ala Lou Gorman (see Jeff Bagwell for Larry Andersen) has never worked. Ben should stay the course, Lester will turn it around in the second half. Clay will be back after the All-Star Game, and Lackey is pitching his butt off. We have Webster, Rubby, Ranaudo, Workman and yes, even Aceves waiting in the wings. We have plenty of bullpen help at AAA also. The Sox, in my opinion, are poised to dominate this division for the next ten years with what they have at the major league level and in the minors, both pitching and position players. All we have to do, as fans, is be a little patient and have a little faith in Bens plan, oh yeah, and not listen to every knee jerk reaction by every reporter who thinks we should trade our best prospects for a guy who a) pitches in the NL and b) is a year removed from going 6-9.

    • John Fahrer

      It’s not like Lee’s a FA after this season like Larry Anderson was. Plus he’s a starter and not a reliever so will provide more for the club in terms of workload.

      I have a feeling Lee could be had at a reasonable price. If not, walk away and wait for the price to drop. Look how the Lakers pursued Dwight Howard.

    • http://bosoxinjection.com/ Earl Nash

      Good point! I will try to post a possible deal and name a few players…

  • http://sbpra.com/paulvsuffriti Paul V. Suffriti

    Lee would be a plus to the Sox pitching staff as long as they do not give up the cream of the crop in the farm system……success always come from within.

    • http://bosoxinjection.com/ Earl Nash

      Agreed and that is the challenge; to pick up an aging ace to fill a gap when you are in first and in the race, while not giving up your core future players, like the X-Man. It will be interesting to see if Ben N. Cherry will be willing to part
      with the X-man in a deal; they have put so much hype behind Bogey, it
      would be a hard sell to the fans to trade him now. Gonna take a shot
      at a possible trade package in a post today; hoping that will keep this
      discussion rolling.

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