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Lee has fallen off the Cliff

CLEVELAND -- Masahiro Tanaka's barking right elbow is sure to start the yelping once again among Yankees fans: Go get Cliff Lee!

But what seemed like, and was, a great idea four years ago is probably a terrible idea now.

Yes, the Yankees desperately need a starting pitcher if they want to have any hope of staying in contention, especially if Tanaka is going to be out for any length of time.

But Cliff Lee? Not now. Not this year. And not at these prices.

Back in 2010, it seemed ridiculous for the Yankees to balk at substituting either Eduardo Nunez or Ivan Nova in a pending deal with Seattle after the Mariners rejected David Adams.

And in hindsight, Lee would have been a good addition for them -- while he never again approached his 2008 Cy Young season, when he went 22-3 with a 2.54 ERA for the Indians, he did go 41-31 for the Texas Rangers and the Philadelphia Phillies between 2010 and 2013. But this year, he was 4-4 before going on the disabled list with an elbow injury. He will turn 36 on August 30, and has made just one rehab appearance since going on the DL, and that was cut short by rain.

But worst of all, Lee still has two years and $50 million left on his contract, with a vesting option for 2016 that could add another $12.5 million.

Cliff Lee

Cliff Lee

#33 SP
Philadelphia Phillies

2014 STATS

  • GM10
  • W4

  • L4

  • BB9

  • K61

  • ERA3.18

In short, you would replace one aging, injury-prone starter with a prohibitive contract (CC Sabathia) with another one who is three years older.

And there is no indication that at this stage of his career, Lee can give you much more than Hiroki Kuroda, let alone Tanaka.

The Philies, 10 games out of the NL East race, are sure to be sellers at the trade deadline, but in this case, the Yankees shouldn't be buyers.

There have got to be younger, healthier and more affordable options than Cliff Lee out there, and it is up to the Yankees to go out and find them.

QUESTION: Do you think the Yankees should pursue a trade for Cliff Lee? Or has that window slammed shut?

Up now: A bunch of stuff from a tumultuous Wednesday -- my newser on Tanaka's injury, the Rapid Reaction from Wednesday night's 14-inning, nearly five-hour 5-4 Yankees win over the Indians, and a column on the strange case of orthopedic surgeons who don't make house calls, even for the best pitchers in baseball.

On deck: Series finale with the Indians, David Phelps (3-4, 4.01) vs. LHP TJ House (1-2, 4.24), first pitch at 7:05 p.m. Clubhouse opens at 3:35 and I'll be there with the lineup and the latest on Tanaka, Carlos Beltran, who suffered a fractured nose in battng practice yesterday, and Brett Gardner, who sat out last night with a lower abdominal strain. Check in then and as always, thanks for reading.