Good Morning
Good Morning

Cliff Lee, Joe Torre, Bobby Valentine and the Rays' and Cubs' messes

Off yesterday's Mets game, I opined that the Mets have passed all of their tests. At this point, there's every reason to go for it, and try to make a high-impact trade.

But there is one specific scenario that looms, that enhances the risk associated with acquiring Cliff Lee. It's more of a visceral risk than an on-paper risk, but its existence could impact the Lee trade negotiations.

Let's say the Mets acquire Lee, using a package with catcher Josh Thole as the centerpiece. Let's say Lee pitches very well, but expresses no interest in sticking around the Mets long-term...and then signs with the Yankees as a free agent.

Could the Mets deal with that, as an organization? There's still an inferiority complex there when it comes to the Yankees.

I say, they're just gonna have to.

In the Mets' best-case scenario, Lee leads the Mets to a World Series title, and then the Mets chuckle as they take the Yankees' first-round draft pick next year and the Yankees pay Lee top dollar for his likely decline phase, starting in 2011. The lefty turns 32 in August.

Worst-case scenario? Lee pitches horribly, the Mets miss the playoffs, Thole becomes an All-Star catcher for the Mariners and the Mets go cheap on the draft picks, while Lee ages gracefully in the Bronx.

There's plenty of middle ground, though. If the Mets make the playoffs, then I think that in itself would be a triumph, given what has transpired for the Mets the past three seasons. If the Mets make the playoffs, and then Lee doesn't deliver in a big spot? That would generate a "Yeesh," but again, this franchise could really use a playoff berth.

It all goes back to the "Nothing ventured, nothing gained" cliche. The Mets owe it to their long-suffering fans to try to get Lee at a reasonable price (not Jon Niese, Ike Davis or Angel Pagan). They can't be restricted by the "What if....? " element of what comes after the season.

Surely, they will consider this, too: It wouldn't quite be a Stephen Strasburg effect, but an acquisition of Lee would surely boost attendance at Citi Field.

--Jon Niese pitched very well yesterday, and that has to be a relief for the Mets fans who were concerned over Jerry Manuel's decision to bring back Niese after a 92-minute break in his previous start. I was working in the Twins' clubhouse prior to yesterday's game, and a Twins player and coach were expressing thier disbelief over what the Mets did to Niese in that outing.

--We'll see in the coming days how serious Jenrry Mejia's condition is. Obviously, though, Mejia's entire season reflects poorly upon the Mets and their decision-making.

--The Yankees picked up perhaps their best win of the season last night, and the significant anti-Joe Torre faction in the Yankees organization - sizable, to borrow a word that Torre once used memorably _ is surely in full glee mode today.

Torre's people skills, his inability to get flustered, make him a good manager. But to quote one of those aforementioned Yankees officials, anonymously, "Joe is like a Winter League manager. He runs games like he cares only about winning that night."

There would've been nothing wrong with bringing in closer Jonathan Broxton to finish off a four-run lead last night - if Broxton hadn't thrown 19 pitches over 1 1/3 innings Saturday night, also in a non-save situation.

It was just uncomfortable watching Broxton melt down in the ninth last night, ultimately throwing 48 pitches. And if even Joe Morgan is wondering whether a guy should be out there, that should tell Torre something.

True, if James Loney had done a better job on Colin Curtis' grounder - throwing straight home to get Curtis Granderson, rather than stepping on first and then throwing home - then perhaps Broxton would've escaped. But that wouldn't have taken away from the ugliness that we witnessed. And Torre's questionable decision-making.

--In what sounds like a profoundly awkward moment, Torre and Alex Rodriguez shook hands last night.

--Dave Eiland will return to the Yankees Tuesday.

--Well, so much for Bobby Valentine managing the Marlins. I won't profess to know (yet) exactly what went down here, but it's apparent things took a wrong turn as more information began to surface about Valentine's talks with Florida.

Maybe there'll be a last-minute resurrection, but if not, it's Florida's loss. As Ken Rosenthal wrote, you know what you're getting with Valentine. If there's more noise in the courtship, there would've been more victories during Valentine's actual time as manager.

--Remember when the Rays were indomitable? Now, they have to be separated from one another, as was the case yesterday with Evan Longoria and B.J. Upton.

I've met Upton a few times. As a matter of fact, during spring training this past year, I saw Upton and Longoria at a bar, hanging out together. He doesn't come across as dumb, or a malcontent, or someone who doesn't care. Not in the least.

Which makes his on-the-field bouts of apparent apathy so befuddling. And so frustrating, obviously, to his teammates.

In any case, PECOTA no longer likes the Rays very much, concerning playoff odds. If the Rays can't right themselves, this will go down as a particularly bitter season for them.

--In another internal affairs episode, the Cubs haven't yet resolved their Carlos Zambrano mess, which emerged Friday when Zambrano went after teammate Derrek Lee in the Cubs' dugout. The Cubs are extremely upset, and understandably so. But they have to give this another try, don't they? 

Zambrano has about another $45 million coming to him. The only way the Cubs could Zambrano now is by handing the right-hander over to a team for nothing, with the Cubs paying the freight. What's less appetizing, that, or keeping Zambrano? If it's the former, then wow, is that an idictment of Zambrano.

--Have a great day.



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