Baker: Mariners can’t keep Cliff Lee

Despite their recent hot streak, Seattle Times columnist Geoff Baker writes that it’s too late for the Mariners to keep starter Cliff Lee.

Recent play aside, Cliff Lee is likely to be shopped. The Mariners need to start filling holes for next year and beyond and the Lee trade is the best place to start since there is no way he will sign here beyond 2010. He’s in line for a $100-million contract, which he probably has a better shot at getting now than he did last off-season, and is not going to take the massive (try 50 percent) discount the M’s would need to get to keep him. Why would he give them that? He’s been here only two months. … We can dream and dream about a 1-2 punch in the post-season, but this lineup is not good enough to get the M’s there.

Coming into the 2010 season, the Mariners believed that if they pitched well enough and played good defense that they could mask their deficiencies on offense. But seeing as how they’re 13 games back in the AL West and have scored the third fewest runs in baseball, that game plan is shot to hell. Not even Lee and Felix Hernandez can save them.

Baker’s right: at some point, the M’s are going to have to go out and get a big popper for the middle of their lineup. What good is it to have Ichiro on base all the time if he has nobody behind him to knock him in? It’s hard to fault Jack Zduriencik for building the roster around pitching and defense based on the park they play in, but clearly the M’s don’t even have enough offense to be a .500 team.

They need to get a bat in exchange for Lee – that should be Zdurienkcik’s main priority as the trade deadline approaches.


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