Brooks: The Mets need Cliff Lee

SEATTLE - JUNE 02: Starting pitcher Cliff Lee #36 of the Seattle Mariners pitches against the Minnesota Twins at Safeco Field on June 2, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

The Mets currently sit three games out of first place in the NL East, which means that the wild trade rumors are just beginning. The first name thrown out by the New York media: Cliff Lee:

This is the time for COO Jeff Wilpon to give general manager Omar Minaya the authority to be aggressive on the trade market and bring the Mets the starting pitcher to join Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey at the top of the rotation. This is the time for the Mets to make a hard play for Seattle's dominating lefty, Cliff Lee, who is in the final year of his contract and thus will be a rental.

It's about pitching, and it's even more so about pitching in the cavernous ballpark the Mets call home. The Mets have an overall ERA of 3.88, eighth in the 16-team NL. But their ERA at home is 2.74, fourth in the league, and more than a run lower than the 5.18 ERA the staff has posted on the road.

Winning teams identify their strengths and then play to them. Championship teams identify their strengths and build on them. The Mets' strengths lay in the arms of Santana and Pelfrey, and in the dimensions of their home field.

Obtaining Lee, brilliant late last year and in the postseason for the Phillies following a Cy Young winning 2008 for the Indians, would give the Mets the most daunting top of the rotation in the league.

No one is suggesting that the Mets should empty their cupboard of prospects in order to get Lee, who will turn 32 in late August. We are, however, suggesting that management go to whatever lengths necessary short of that to get it done. We are suggesting that the Mets overlook his status as a rental.

There's no doubt that Cliff Lee would be a great fit for the Mets. He would give the Mets exactly what they need-another quality starter besides Santana and Pelfrey who can give them quality innings.

But is this trade actually realistic? Probably not. The reason is that Cliff Lee is not going to come cheap and the Mets minor league system is not exactly loaded with top prospects. If the Mariners are willing to part with Lee, there will certainly be a number of teams lining up to acquire his services and the Mets will have to bypass all those teams to acquire Lee. Further, does anyone actually think the Mets would part with some of the few top prospects they have to acquire Lee for what could be only four months? I doubt it.

Then again, if GM Omar Minaya is concerned solely about his job security and needs to make a big splash, then I could see the Mets GM going all out to acquire Lee. I'm not confident that this move would be best for the franchise no matter how good this move could look for Omar Minaya.


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