Posted by Lance Burson on July 1st, 2010
You don’t need to discuss much
Just drop off the key, Lee
And get yourself free – Paul Simon
Last year the Philadeplia Phillies listened to everyone say that their main issue was their bullpen. Brad Lidge was imploding. Ryan Madsen never seemed ready to take over. Instead, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro surveyed his rotation and bench, saw holes, got sick of waiting on Toronto’s now ex GM JP Riccardi to pull the trigger on Roy Halladay and called Cleveland . He landed left handed starter, and former Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee, along with backup power hitting outfielder for four minor leaguers on July 19th. Lee went 7-4, Francisco was solid off the pine, and the Phillies won another NL East crown, and eventually fell to the New York Yankees 4 game to 2 in the World Series. This wasn’t Cliff Lee’s first time helping a team in the second half of a season. In June of 2002, he left Lee left the Montreal Expos for the Cleveland Indians for Bartolo Colon, and blossomed into the star he is today. Lee is with Seattle now, having a fine year on a bad team. The Atlanta Braves need to ignore those calling for a centerfielder, a left fielder, or even relief pitching. The Braves need a starting pitcher. The Braves need Cliff Lee.
At first glance Atlanta seems fine concerning their rotation. A deeper look reveals the rotation if the team’s weak link. Tim Hudson has been terrrific. He is 8-3 with a 2.37 era. Jair Jurrgens came back in his last start after being out since April with a groin problem and a hamstring injury. He was good throwing 5 plus innings against the Nationals. Jurrgens will need three our four starts to stretch himself into 7 plus innings horse the Braves need. After those two pitchers, the Braves have issues. Kris Medlen has been the enxt best pitcher going 4-1 filling in for Jurrgens, knocking 1-9 Kenshin Kawakami out of the rotation. The two concerns are Tommy Hanson and 15 million dollar man, alleged number one starter, Derek Lowe. Lowe is 9-6 but his era is a gaudy 4.53, giving up 102 hits in 101 innings. Hanson has been the real enigma. After finishing second in the rookie of the year voting to Phillies starter JA Happ last season with an 11-4 record and a 2.89 era. This season, Hanson has looked lost at times going 7-5 with a 4.50 era. In his last two starts he has pitched 7 1/3 innings, allowing 14 earned runs. The important issue to bring up about the Braves rotation is Hudson, Lowe, Medlen, Hanson and Jurrgens throw right handed. In late season matchups against the Mets and Phillies they have no left handed arm to combat the left handed stars of those teams. Cliff Lee proved last season he can handle that job.
Roughly 4 million dollars is owed Lee for the rest of the season. He has commented that being a rent-a-player is not an issue for him. Yje Braves possess the minor league position players and the minor league pitchers the Mariners would request. The Braves have to show they are serious in their final season with Bobby Cox as manager and likely final season with Chipper Jones playing third base about winning a championship. Shoring up a pitching staff with a proven winner, lefty Cliff Lee, is the right decision to make.