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Five Reasons The Cardinals Should Trade for Cliff Lee*

Categories: Sports
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Wouldn't Cliff Lee look nice in Cardinal red?
In case you haven't been paying attention these past three games, the Mariners stink.

It's a special kind of stink, too. They run into outs on the bases, commit costly errors, blow saves and generally suck at hitting. Just think of an ugly way to lose a baseball game and the Mariners have probably done it at least once already this season.

Many pundits predicted the team would win its division, but it turns out that, other than Ichiro, center fielder Franklin Gutierrez, Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee, there isn't a single player on the roster who's worth a damn.

But while those first three guys will all be Mariners for years to come, Lee will almost certainly be wearing a different uniform by year's end. The Mariners are already out of contention, and the former Cy Young Award winner is a free agent in 2011. Since Seattle isn't likely to re-sign him and he's worth more in trade value than compensatory draft picks, Lee is as good as gone.

Here are five reasons the Cards should make the Ms an offer they can't refuse for their ace.

1. Jeff Suppan
Yes, Suppan looked solid in his return to the Cardinals' rotation Tuesday night, allowing just one run in four innings against Seattle. No, the success won't continue.

It's easy to mow down the Mariners lineup (their highlights on MLB.com routinely have titles like "Figgins chips away with an RBI groundout"), but it's a whole other matter to take on teams like the Brewers, Reds, Phillies and Dodgers -- teams the Redbirds will have to beat to win the division and more.

The Cardinals must add another quality starter if they want to contend (who knows how Brad Penny and Kyle Lohse will come back from their injuries?), and Lee is that and then some.
 
2. All the Good Teams Want Him
Perhaps the most compelling argument for acquiring Lee is to keep him off the teams the Cardinals could face come playoff time.

One rumor has Philly trading to get Lee back (he was dealt for prospects and Roy Halladay in a four-team swap last year) and heading into the playoffs with a two-headed monster of former Cy Young award winners. The Cardinals would be wise to keep that from happening.

Basically the rumor mill has every team with World Series potential coveting Lee (the Twins and Yankees in particular), so wouldn't the Cardinals want Lee pitching for them instead of against them?

3. He Thrives in October
Lee's career postseason line: 4-0, 40 IP, 33K, 6 BB, 27 H, 10 R, 1.56 ERA.

'Nuff said.

4. He's (Relatively) Cheap...
FanGraphs crunched the numbers and came up with a great explanation of Lee's net worth. In short, he's going to cost the Cardinals a top prospect or three, at least.

The farm system is depleted after last year's Matt Holliday trade, but there are still a couple of young players the Ms would covet, including young catcher Robert Stark Robert Stock, who'd be a huge upgrade over anyone at that position in Seattle's farm system.

The silver lining is that Lee becomes a free agent after the season. The Cardinals could try to re-sign him (unlikely, since the Yankees will be bidding), but if he leaves they'll get compensatory draft picks to help restock the cupboard.

5. ...and arguably the best pitcher in baseball this season
As Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times points out, Lee has the best FIP (Fielding Independent PItching) rating of any pitcher in MLB. The stat is basically a measure of how well a pitcher pitched regardless of how well his fielders played their positions.

Check out the rest of the Top 5:

Cliff Lee 1.91
Francisco Liriano 2.09
Roy Halladay 2.26
Josh Johnson 2.63
Tim Lincecum 2.82
Adam Wainwright 2.82

He also has the third-best XFIP, behind Liriano and Halladay. In 68 innings pitched so far this season (Lee started the year on the DL), he struck out 60 batters and walked just four.

Imagine a playoff rotation for the Cards that goes Wainwright, Lee, Carpenter and Garcia.

Now imagine Pujols lifting his second World Series trophy. That's nice, isn't it?

*DISCLAIMER These reasons are coming from a diehard Mariners fan and may or may not be rational and/or posed solely for the purpose of drumming up interest in Lee so that the Mariners actually get some decent players for him and be good at baseball for once.


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