ARLINGTON -- It's never too early to speculate on the what ifs of the trade deadline, is it? So here's your warning: I'm just throwing this out for a little conversation. But after seeing that sterling performance that Cliff Lee turned in against the Rangers on Monday, it's not difficult to imagine the boost he could give the Rangers' pitching staff.
Lee said Tuesday that he was focused on helping the Mariners win, but that if he were traded to Texas or anywhere he would "go there, pitch and try to help the team win."
So what about Texas? Would he be opposed to pitching in the heat in Arlington? Lee says no.
"I'd prefer cooler temperatures and a perfect climate, but any pitcher would tell you that," said Lee, who pitched well in the heat on Monday, giving up two runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts and no walks in a complete game win. "That's out of your hands. You pitch wherever you are and focus on doing the best job you can that night."
Lee praised the Rangers, a team that he said makes it difficult on opposing pitchers.
"They have a good team and good hitters," Lee said. "Michael Young, [Josh] Hamilton, [Vladimir] Guerrero and others make it difficult to get through them. They have guys that can hurt you. You have to be ready to pitch against them."
Lee said he doesn't worry about the trade deadline and where he might end up. The chances of Lee ended up in Texas depend on a variety of factors. Among them:
* 1. Would the Mariners trade Lee within the division? If so, you can bet they'd want the Rangers to pay a premium for that with prospects.
* 2. Lee would be a half-season rental. His contract, which pays him $9 million, expires after this season. The Rangers would be on the hook for the the prorated amount of that salary (maybe around $4 million or so).
* 3. What are the chances of re-signing Lee? Well, if new ownership is in place (and it has to be in place by the end of the season, right?), the chances go up. But Lee will be very valueable this offseason if he continues to pitch the way he has so far in 2010 (4-2, 2.77 ERA with 57 strikeouts and a ridiculous four walks in 61 2/3 innings). That's right: Four walks in 61 2/3 innings.
* 4. Assuming the Mariners even agreed to trade Lee within the division, the Rangers would then have to decide how much they are willing to give up for a player they may or may not be able to re-sign after this season. There's no doubt he'd bolster the rotation, but it would come at a cost on prospects. Is Lee the type of pitcher, even for just two months, that's worth giving up some prospects to get?
What do you think it would take to get Lee? Do you think the Mariners would trade him within the division? Are you interested in him?