New York Mets News

Mets Worst Nightmare: Cliff Lee Likely Headed to the Yankees

By Adam Garnett

As the losses begin to pile up on the field, perhaps the biggest loss is about to befall the Mets off the field. As first reported by Joel Sherman in the NY Post and confirmed just a bit ago by ESPN’s Buster Olney, it appears as if Cliff Lee is about to be traded to the New York Yankees.

As we know, the Mets have been engaged in trade discussions with the Seattle Mariners to acquire Lee since they vaulted into contention about a month ago. The prime chips on the table reportedly were Angel Pagan and Jenrry Mejia. Whether it was Mejia’s shoulder injury or the Mets reluctance to trade Pagan because of the uncertainty surrounding Carlos Beltran’s return, the Mets and Mariners never seemed to have gotten close to consummating a deal.

One theory is that the Mets are still in financial dire straits and really had no intention of adding another high-salaried player. The talks and rumors were just window dressing to placate a hungry fan base. Would I put this past the Mets ownership? Hell no! Yet, I do not subscribe to this theory. I may be a cynic when it comes to this organization and it’s ownership, but even I am not that cynical.

I believe the Mets did have the chance to grab Lee, but balked at the idea for one simple reason: there was no way in hell he was going to sign with them after his contract expired at the end of the 2010 season. Did Omar Minaya really want to ship off a legit major league CF in Pagan and a few of the Mets best prospects for a three month rental? He really can’t be blamed for not wanting to gut the farm system for a guy who was a goner after the season ended, can he?

I was on the fence about this one for a few weeks, but after watching Lee dominate the Yankees (again) at Yankee Stadium, I changed my tune. I wanted the Mets to go out and get this guy at all costs. He would have put them in the driver’s seat in the National League, and to me, when you have a chance at greatness, you go for it. That is exactly what the Yankees are about to do and it is what separates them from every other team in baseball. The Yankees are willing to give up Jesus Montero, their best prospect and one of the top power prospects in the game to make a run at title #28.

Whether the Mets didn’t have the money or simply the balls to go get something like this done, nobody will know for sure. The bottom line is that this type of failure to act aggressively is in the organization’s DNA. Always has been, always will be as long as the Wilpons are around.

So, where do the Mets go from here? I would gather that Roy Oswalt is still a possibility, but his daunting salary for this year (around $8 million left) and next ($16 million) likely rule the cheapskate Mets out of that hunt. I personally would like to see the Mets turn their focus toward Ted Lilly. It looks like the Chicago Cubs are about to start cleaning house and Lilly is a very capable left-handed arm. Lilly is in the last year of a 4-year/$40 million dollar deal and would be owed a little more than $6 million of his $13 million 2010 salary if the Mets dealt for him today. Other names you are likely to hear bandied about in the coming days and weeks are Brett Myers, Fausto Carmona and Jake Westbrook.

Readers. Throw out some other names you guys would like to see the Mets go after before the July 31st trade deadline.