July 6, 2010

Cliff Lee rumors

I generally try to avoid getting too caught up in trade speculation here, but last night the Cliff Lee-to-the-Twins rumor mill started churning enough for me to believe there might actually be some fire behind the smoke. For now I'm hoping this report is wrong (or at least exaggerated).

  • Steven Nelson

    I thought the same thing when I saw the report. I didn’t even really want to give up Hicks as the top piece in a Lee trade, let alone be one of two “top pieces.” I guess my main hope is that if those two were offered together, the Seattle GM would’ve agreed right away before the Twins had a chance to think it over and rescind the offer.

  • chris

    we will never get Lee for nothing…no way…Ramos is great but has no worth in our organization. About Hicks…uhm..a lot of upside..do not know how much….he will be missed in 2-3 years for sure…
    but you cannot miss that there will be the compensatory picks if Lee leaves after 1/2 of a season….

  • Ted k

    The 2 comp picks are way over valued. They will be very late 1st round picks and the twins arent high budget aggressive drafters.

  • Bill

    Why is everyone so fascinated with Hicks? What are his stats this year? Last year he didn’t blow it away…its not a guarantee he’ll blow up or bust, so roll the dice.

    Give them both, get Lee and draft well. Also, sign some big named international youngsters like they did last year…

  • Son of Shane Mack

    I second Aaron’s assessment. “What?” was my first reaction. And my second. And my third.

    Is this a worse idea than Garza/Barlett/etc for Young/Harris/etc?

    Lee is definitely better than Young, but he’ll only be here for half a season. Ramos might be expendable, but if you trade him, trade him for something similar (young, very talented, high upside, cheap) that fills a different need.

    I know you can’t get Lee for free, but…

    Hmm….

  • Chris

    I say go for it.

  • chris

    can we get lee to sign a contract at the twins??? Twins are spending more money than the last 10 years..so why not???

    Ramos and Hicks are not that good so far in the minors….
    ..also i hate to trade good value for only 2 or 3 months of Lee…uhm i like to have Lee…but otherwise…how often he will start 2010 from now on? 10 times??? How often he will give us a win more compared to Blackburn??? 2? 3? That is not much compared to longterm value of Hicks and Ramos , who maybe can play everyday…

    uhm..i do not know what to do

  • Kyle B

    Ramos has no worth in our farm system? False, he does and he is worth a decent amount in a trade.

    I like the compensitory picks. But good luck getting someone with Hicks’ skill set at the end of the First round.

    A Blackburn + Ramos sounds good to me and possibly another low level propect to thrown in. Then next year, when Lee leaves us, we can stick Duensing in the rotation and get similar results to Blacky.

  • chris

    maybe the mariners will take someone like blackburn…but i think it will not be enough…give them delaney…:) or parmelee….

  • Chris

    Why would anybody take Blackburn when he is bargaining from a position of strength?

  • Bodhizefa

    I’ve seen a lot of Twins fans up in arms about giving up the likes of Hicks and Ramos. A 21-year-old A-baller who has a .400 SLG% and a catcher who is probably only marginally better than Adam Moore doesn’t exactly strike me as something Twins fans should be that upset about. Sure, they’ve both got some solid potential, but Cliff Lee is one of the best pitchers in baseball, and he gives the Twins a deadly 1-2 playoff combo along with Liriano.

    Hicks is years away and Ramos, like all catchers, has as much chance of flaming out as he does making it in the big leagues. Cliff Lee plus two compensatory draft picks seems like a pretty fair price, in my opinion.

    Those clamoring for the M’s to take a package of Ramos and Blackburn are (and I apologize for the colorful language ahead of time) out of your damn minds. Blackburn is your own fault. He was a crappy pitcher when the org signed him to the longterm deal, and he’s a crappy pitcher now just the same. The only difference is that you guys are paying him out the nose to be crappy, which was a terrible decision. There’s nothing you can do about it, though. I apologize for you having to deal with a bad contract, but please don’t take your pain out on others by suggesting Blackburn would be a viable trade asset. That’s just silly.

  • drivlikejehu

    I’m skeptical because if the Twins were really offering that, a deal would probably be done by now. Hicks may not have gaudy stats but he’s an excellent prospect. Ramos is distinguished by the fact that, unlike many catching prospects, he can actually play the position at the MLB level.

    Now, it would take more than just Ramos- and the Twins are not in an ideal position as the farm system is lacking in MLB-ready talent. It might come down to whether any team offers up a premium, MLB-ready bat… I don’t see it happening unless an extension is involved (via a negotiating window).

    If not, the Twins might be able to at least offer some quantity: say, Ramos, Revere, and a mid-level starter (Bromberg or Guerra), plus maybe a reliever if there’s someone the M’s like (Slama/Waldrop/etc.).

  • Ryan Bandy

    Bodhizefa is right: Blackburn is s liability, not an asset.

  • large canine

    Can the Twins win the WS with this current roster? I say no. Can the Twins win the WS with Lee, Liriano, Pavano? I say that it gives them a much better chance. Don’t trade the whole farm but go for it. 1991 was a long time ago.

  • mike wants wins

    This is their chance to show if Hunter and Santana were right (always playing for a future that NEVER comes), or if this is a new Twins’ team/culture. I have my doubts that they’ll pay the price in prospects, but I’d love it if they did. The present is fairly well known, but the future is highly variable. In a year or two, M or M could be hurt. All of their starters could get hurt or regress (raising the question: is it even possible for Blackie to regress even more).

    Sometimes you have to go all in. I’d say this is a good year to do that. That said, if they aren’t more consistent on offense, and they don’t play better defense (Cuddeyer is brutal at both positions, why bring up Repko if you don’t use him defensively at the end of games – sometimes I really question Gardy), even getting Lee won’t guarantee anything.

  • Abe

    I’d take the trade in a second if the Mariners are indeed serious. It’s the chance for playoff greatness versus the potential to maybe have a top flight outfielder in three or four years (Hicks) and a guy who is beyond the franchise player (Ramos). I’m not one that breaks things down statistically but I’d be curious to see what the odds of Hicks becoming an all-star caliber player compared with similar players over the years. Trading that for one of the top five pitchers in the game to form a dynamic one/two playoff combo doesn’t seem like that big of a reach to me.

  • Brian

    Folks. Please stop saying that signing Cliff Lee long term would make the trade a good idea. Signing him long term and trading for 3 months of him are TWO SEPARATE DECISIONS. He’s not going to sign an extension before he’s a free agent anyways.

    If the Twins traded for him, then gave him $132M over 6 years, does that make it a good trade? The payroll isn’t going to $150M. We’re going to have trouble hanging onto Hardy, Kubel, Pavano, Guerrier, Rauch, and Hudson as it is. Now add $22M for one guy to the mix. Can you really say that the team would be better off spending $22M on Lee then spreading it around and keeping 3-4 of the guys I mentioned, or at least replacing them with players not named Tolbert?

  • http://jasonwinter.blogspot.com Jason W

    Give ‘em Ramos and Slama. It’s not like we have plans for either of them anyway.

  • jackattack

    This the kind of risky blockbuster move that can turn contending teams into World Series winners. It’s also the kind of move that could set a team back several years. Fortunately, the depth of the farm, the solid recent drafts and the stars the Twins have under contract make this deal much less scary. Do it, Billy.

  • Rob

    I think a lot of people are missing the point here… No one is arguing that Hicks or Ramos (or both) are better players, or even projected to be as good as Lee. They are just prospects; they may end up being very good or very bad, which means there is risk both in keeping them and in trading them away. Given what we’ve been able to review so far, there certainly appears to be more risk in the latter, so the Twins need to ensure they get something valuable if they go that route

    And if this trade goes through, the Twins only get Lee for 3 months (maybe 4, depending on a deep postseason run) – that’s it. After that, they either lose him for a couple draft picks, or they pay a boatload of money to keep him. So we would be trading away the top 2 prospects in our system for a 3 month rental and the possibility of paying $20M/year to keep said rental. On the other side we keep those 2 prospects in the Twins system for at least the next 10 years fairly cheaply.

    I’m not even against doing the deal, I still think it’s something to consider especially if we think we can re-sign Lee. But it’s not a genuine argument to just say “both players will never be as good as Lee, so do the deal”. It doesn’t work that way.

    I know most everyone on here understands this already, but the comments from people that don’t just annoy me…

  • jimbo92107

    This makes Roy Oswalt or Dan Haren sound like better deals. First, my pure speculation on Ramos is that he may pan out to be something like Terry Steinbach. Hicks might become something like a switch-hitting Torii Hunter. Obviously they could also fizzle, get injured, etc. But as fans, we see the rosy future, especially in top prospects.

    Trading top prospects for an established superstar like Cliff Lee does tend to deflate our view of future Twins teams, but for this year they’ve put together a team that needs maybe just one more great starting pitcher to turn the corner and make a legitimate run at the Series.

    At the same time, pitchers like Oswalt and Haren are also available, and for less. Neither of them may be quite as dominant as Lee, but both are excellent pitchers, as good as Liriano. Maybe one of them would be enough, along with Pavano pitching well, and then the Twins could make a serious run without mortgaging the team’s future.

  • TC

    If the Twins can get Cliff Lee for Hicks and Ramos, I say go for it.

    Remember what we got for Johan Santana? We put these minor league prospects on such pedestals and most of them are nothing more than stiffs.

    If the Twins can win a World Series this year, I’d rather have that thrill than Aaron Hicks hitting 22 HR’s and hitting .299 in 2015.

  • Dave T

    I am OK with paying Lee $20 million per year. You can’t win the World Series without a #1 pitcher. If we’re not going for a championship, why the hell not? I am not OK with trading prospects for rentals.

  • ?

    unless you view Hicks as a generational player (which he is not), you make this trade.

  • Jeff H

    Recent performances by this team have me questioning how much we would really benefit from adding a #1 pitcher if the asking price is THIS high. Hicks is considered the best prospect in the Twins organization. I like our squad, but you really have to live in a bubble to feel like the Twins + Cliff Lee are better than the Yankees, Rays, or several other teams. The Tigers’ second-best hitter is Brennan Boesch, who came out of nowhere, yet they are ahead of us right now in the mediocre Central Division.

    I guess years of watching an elite Johan Santana do nothing for us in the postseason have skewed my view on this. Santana was one of the top 3 pitchers in baseball, but we never even got through a 5-game ALDS with him, let alone an ALCS or World Series. If the Twins are going to win entire series against superior opponents, then somebody like Liriano would have to pitch like a number one starter anyway. So, that part of me is inclined to say let’s just roll with what we’ve got and be more aggressive with our draft picks (i.e. Kyle Gibson) in trying to find a potential #1 in the future.

  • Jeff H

    Plus (as an earlier poster noted), if Hicks and Ramos were actually offered, the Mariners would’ve probably already taken that if it’s what they wanted. If the Rays are involved (as rumored), they have arguably one of the deepest organizations in all of baseball, so they could throw out packages we probably couldn’t touch, even with Hicks involved.

  • Ricky

    I saw elsewhere that for Ramos and Hicks we may be getting Aardsma as well. My question: Is Aardsma worth it? If not, do they have someone else who could help out the bullpen?

  • eggnogfool

    Hard not to see both Hicks and Ramos as overrated prospects at this point. Doesn’t matter whether it was offered or not, Seattle wouldn’t take it.

    Even from the pessimistic view, Ramos should have value for us a platoon RH C at the ML level, but I don’t think that’s a reason to put him down as an untouchable.

  • Son of Shane Mack

    Make the trade!! You can throw in AG, Son of Shane Mack & the rest of you Delmon Young haters too!!?

    Gosh, I wish some of these morons were GM’s of other teams. You guys make Sabean look cautious and thoughtful.

    I’m not a Delmon hater. The trade was good example of trading someone young and talented (Garza) for someone young and talented (Young) – both fairly cheap for a couple of years. That’s what would be the best use of Ramos if you don’t play him.

    The history of bad trades are filled with deadline deals for rentals for veterans traded for prospects that turned out to be stars. Sometimes they work out, but rarely do you get anything close to full value for the prospects you send. Almost always the team trading the veteran gets the best end of the deal. Almost always.

    It sounds great now, but what about in a few years when Lee is long gone and the Mariners are hot in the West thanks to Ramos and Hicks and the Twins have holes in outfield. Then all we’ll hear is bellyaching and those “trade now!” folks will be part of the chorus. Hypocrites.

    It’s hard to know the future. Maybe they’ll be busts, maybe they’ll be great.

  • mike wants wins

    No we won’t. Son of Shane, you should not assume that. I will not be in the chorus. I’ll be reminding people that they Twins made the right move (and it either did, or did not, work out). I think maybe you want to not make such bold assumptions about other people.

  • BR

    The overall value of Ramos/Hicks seems about right. You can say that’s too much, but there are plenty of teams in the bidding for the reletively inexpensive and very good Lee. Seattle will get good offers. If you want to get him, the trade’s going to have to hurt a bit.

    I’d rather see a little more quantity over quality; something like Ramos/Revere/Manship. But that might not be enough upside for Seattle.

    Glad to see the Twins in it, though. This team is good enough to make a run, but it’s really helpful to have a guy you can lean on to be a stopper in the playoffs. Lee can beat NY in Yankee Stadium. He just did (and he did it in the WS last year in GM 1). Can Baker? Pavano?

  • Neil

    I think the real question is is Cliff Lee enough to put the Twins over the top? I’m thinking he isn’t at this point…

  • large canine

    If the Twins don’t make the trade, in 10 years Shane Mack will be congratulating Gardy for winning the central 14 out of 17 years without ever making it to the WS. I would rather take our best shot this year with the chance to be maybe not as good for a few seasons. Note: I was a Twins fan from 1992-2000

  • Scott

    @large canine, I can bet you Gardy wont last that long. My feeling is that if the Twins dont make it to at least the ALCS this year, Gardy is gone. Again just my gut feeling. With the way he is managing right now (playing cuddy and punto everyday, never adjusting the lineup, horrendous BP managing, refusal to use the bench, playing tank-it sundays).

    Would I make this Cliff Lee trade? No, not Ramos/Hicks. not unless they get an infeild prosepect/reliever along with Lee

  • Ted k

    Im shocked at the number of people that dont think hicks + ramos is way too much. Lee is probably going to be worth 2.5 wins more than blackie, and certainly doesnt make us a favorite to make the WS. Wed be underdogs in the first round to which ever Eastern conference team we played, wed be underdogs to whichever eastern conference team played in the second round. The twins would still be longshots to win with lee. Lee probably improves their chances from like 12% to 15%.

    These people that believe the twins need to go “all in” at some point, and would rather take a shot at winning now rather than be competitive for a long time dont remember the 90′s. No one likes or supports a terrible baseball team. And trading away lots of good prospects is a good way to go from good to bad. Also, these prospect for rental trade never work out. Anyone who thinks the twins should trade ramos and hicks for lee has been spoiled by the twins recent run of success. This trade would be irresponsible.

  • Carson

    The dice are tumbling…………..the dice have stopped tumbling.

    Cut to October: No Lee. No post season. No Gardy.

  • jackattack

    Wed be underdogs in the first round to which ever Eastern conference team we played, wed be underdogs to whichever eastern conference team played in the second round.

    First of all, this isn’t basketball or hockey. There is the National League and the American League, get it right.

    Lee is probably going to be worth 2.5 wins more than blackie, and certainly doesnt make us a favorite to make the WS.

    I don’t think any of the smart people are arguing that this makes the Twins a World Series favorite. It does, however, make the Twins rotation much better. Currently, Blackburn is a replacement level player with a WAR of exactly 0.0, and if he continues to struggle like he has recently, that will dip further as the season goes on. Lee holds a WAR of 4.0, which we can expect will balloon to somewhere 7.0 if he keeps up what he’s been doing. So, in short, this adds probably 4 wins to this team with about half a season left. So again, get it right.

    Anyone who thinks the twins should trade ramos and hicks for lee has been spoiled by the twins recent run of success.

    And this is incorrect as well. Those of us who want to see the trigger pulled on this trade are sick of the Twins battling for a one game playoff in the Central and fizzling out against perennial World Series contenders like the Yankees. What we want is success. What we don’t want is another year of failed expectations. Dealing for Cliff Lee makes winning the World Series this year a greater possibility.

  • Paul G

    Hicks and Ramos may be too much, but I think that some fans get too enamored with prospects. I have too many bad memories of stiffs like Adam Johnson and Michael Restovich being untouchable earlier this decade. And I really don’t see how trading a catcher who is going to have to learn another position or DH to be a significant contributor and an outfielder who is AT LEAST 2-3 years away is mortgaging the future.

  • Ted k

    “First of all, this isn’t basketball or hockey. There is the National League and the American League, get it right.”
    Youre right, my bad. Eastern division.

    As for the speculated value lee would bring to the team, it is just speculation. I checked his value stats before i made my guess. I probably undersold lees value because i dislike the trade you probably oversold his value because you like lee. There was really nothing to get right here.

    “And this is incorrect as well. Those of us who want to see the trigger pulled on this trade are sick of the Twins battling for a one game playoff in the Central and fizzling out against perennial World Series contenders like the Yankees. What we want is success. What we don’t want is another year of failed expectations. Dealing for Cliff Lee makes winning the World Series this year a greater possibility.” This is moronic. So you want to trade gibson away for a setup man, and maybe sano for a good 4th outfielder since these deals make winning the world series a greater possibility and that all you want. The twins should be looking to make smart moves that maximize their resources.

  • Scott

    @Ted k. No one said anything about trading gibson and sano. Theres no comparison between trading for Cliff Lee and trading for a setup man/4th outfielder. The issuse here is whether or not to trade highly touted (debateable i know, but for the sake of making an argument) prospects for a STAR caliber player who offers Significant upgrade, but just for the rest of the year.

  • Large Canine

    Many posters have mentioned if this trade goes thru and fails then the minors would be gutted and the Twins would face a decade like the 90′s. The finances of the Twins are much different now. We have numerous players (not our stars) making too much money. Punto=4 mil, Cuddy=9.6 this year-more next. Heck, we signed a GG 2nd baseman for 5. We can sign more free agents to fill holes. Yes, I would like to see Hicks in a Twins uni in 2015 but I would also like to say we at least tried to get to the WS this year.

  • jackattack

    As for the speculated value lee would bring to the team, it is just speculation. I checked his value stats before i made my guess. I probably undersold lees value because i dislike the trade you probably oversold his value because you like lee. There was really nothing to get right here.

    What I posted has little to do with whether I like the trade or not. You essentially said that dealing for Lee wouldn’t make that much of a difference in terms of wins when substituting him for Blackburn in the starting rotation, which is most definitely false (as I pointed out).

    This is moronic. So you want to trade gibson away for a setup man, and maybe sano for a good 4th outfielder since these deals make winning the world series a greater possibility and that all you want. The twins should be looking to make smart moves that maximize their resources.

    And now you’re just putting words in my mouth. Even though I did not address the subject, it’s an understood fact by most that Ramos is a blocked prospect. Dealing him for a guy like Lee makes sense, everyone understands that. Obviously, adding Hicks into the deal makes it more risky, which is why AG said he hoped the rumors were not true. This I agree on, despite supporting the trade, and I would also agree that dealing a top tier pitching prospect like Gibson and a potential star slugger like Sano would be risky as well. The point I was making was that the trade makes sense as long as Ramos is part of the deal. Cliff Lee is a Cy Young caliber pitcher who performs well in high pressure situations, which is the exact kind of piece the Twins could use. Now that I’ve qualified my statement, quit creating straw men to point out your distaste of this deal. You obviously don’t like it, but don’t say “moronic” things and expect people who know better to not call them out.

  • Ted k

    “You essentially said that dealing for Lee wouldn’t make that much of a difference in terms of wins when substituting him for Blackburn in the starting rotation, which is most definitely false (as I pointed out).” I said lee would be worth 2.5 war more than blackie which is a significant increase in value. In order for lee to be 4 war better he would need to equal his first half with an inferior twins defense and the twins would need to continue to trot out a replacement level 5th starter which i dont believe they would do. Either way 2.5 war is significant by itself.

    Here is what you said exactly. “Those of us who want to see the trigger pulled on this trade are sick of the Twins battling for a one game playoff in the Central and fizzling out against perennial World Series contenders like the Yankees. What we want is success. What we don’t want is another year of failed expectations. Dealing for Cliff Lee makes winning the World Series this year a greater possibility.” I read that as its ok to pay a lot in minor league talent for lee because he improves our mlb team and our chances of winning the WS. The same logic could be applied to trading kyle gibson for heath bell for instance. This would also improve the twins chances of winning the WS. The rationale is way too simplistic to be a useful format for making trades.

  • former top prospect

    Just for argument’s sake, here are the 20th and 58th best prospect from the last few years, according to thebaseballcube.com:

    1997: Karim Garcia (7 years in and out of the majors)& Derrick Gibson (no significant playing time in bigs)

    1998: Sean Casey (4 good years, 2 ok years in the majors) & Ryan Brannan (no majors, out of baseball after 1999)

    1999: Matt Riley (pitched 97 innings in majors over 4 years) & Mike Lowell (10 solid years in mlb)

    2000: AJ Burnett (10 good years and counting) and Kurt Ainsworth (one good year in mlb)

    2001: Bobby Bradley (never made it to mlb) and Mike Bynum (60 innings of 6+ ERA over 3 years)

    2002: Brandon Phillips (4 solid years and counting) and Kurt Ainsworth (see above)

    2003: Jeremy Bonderman (4.78 ERA over 1000 innings at mlb) and Bubba Nelson (never made it to mlb)

    2004: Josh Barfield (one good year in mlb) and Clint Evans (never made it to bigs)

    2005: Jeff Niemann (2 solid years and counting) and Merkin Valdez (67 innings of 5.24 era)

    2006: Carlos Quentin (one awesome season and 2 average season) and Jason Kubel (not that far ahead of an average replacement player in every year except 2009)

    2007: Mike Pelfrey (480 innings of 4.58 era) and Troy Patton (12 innings at mlb)

    So out of 21 players (counting Ainsworth once) we have 10 who either made no contribution or never played in the bigs, 2 studs (Lowell and Burnett), 7 replacement level players, and 2 who could still make it.

    I love the twins prospects as much as the next guy, but for every number one prospect like Mauer or Morneau there is a number one prospect like Rich Becker or Adam Johnson or David McCarty.