Please tell me I’m dreaming

I woke up this morning to reports that the New York Yankees have acquired Cliff Lee for Jesus Montero, David Adams, and another prospect.

Gag me with a spoon.

Yes, with Cliff Lee the Yankees are all but the official 2010 World Series champions. But this is a poor, poor trade. Earlier this week I looked at possible Cliff Lee trades and this is what I said on a possible deal with New York:

Although it makes more sense for the Yankees to go after Lee in the off-season because 1)They wouldn’t have to give up prospects and 2)There is no space for him in the rotation unless Javier Vazquez is traded, you can’t count them out of any deal, especially with rumors that they are starting to get serious about trade talks. The most obvious player Seattle would want is top Yankee prospect, Jesus Montero, a consensus top five prospect in baseball. Top ten hitting prospects provide $36.5mil in value, so giving up Montero is a little excessive from the Yankees point of view, unless they receive additional pieces, such as bench or bullpen relief.

Of all the contenders for Lee, the Yankees need Lee the least, driving down his marginal win value for the Yankees. As a result, the Yankees should not even think of offering Montero for Lee. Sure, they are the current World Series favorites and landing Lee would make them the champs on paper, but it’s not worth giving up Montero when you can win the World Series without Lee AND still sign him come winter. Acquiring Lee means trading Vazquez, or demoting Vazquez or Phil Hughes to the bullpen, which isn’t happening. Moreover, the marginal win value of Lee over Hughes or Vazquez is very small.

This is not a wise long-term move. Sure, in 2010 it pays off, but Montero has a power bat that is capable of producing MVP seasons- whether it be at catcher, first base, or DH.

Lee is not worth Montero straight up. A top 10 hitting prospect is worth about $36mil in value. As I talked about in the earlier post, Lee will be worth close to $25.5mil to whatever team acquires him. HOWEVER, he is probably worth less than that to us since the marginal win value of Lee over Vazquez in minimal. Vazquez is projected to have a 3.79 FIP the rest of the season and Cliff Lee’s rest of season projected FIP is 3.11. Yes, it’s better, but Vazquez’s is still good. So is that small difference worth trading Jesus Montero? Simply put- no. No, no, no, no, no.

So we’re trading a top prospect for a MINIMAL upgrade of maybe 1-2 wins the rest of the season. Not worth it- especially considering the Yankees are World Series favorites without him and will probably sign him in the offseason anyway.

I said we can estimate Montero is worth $36mil through his first six arbitration years. But he is an amazing hitter. Lets say he moves to 1b and averages 2 WAR his first three seasons and 4 WAR his final three arbitration seasons. That would be around $81mil in value using a conservative $ per WAR.

I love you Cashman, but don’t do it. Do not pull the trigger on this blockbuster deal. I know the vision of winning a World Series in October is tempting, but don’t let it possess you into making a not-so brilliant move. Have faith in Vazquez, and have faith in the team winning the World Series without Cliff Lee. Keep Jesus Montero, who could be an impact player on the 2011 team, and look into acquiring Lee via free agency after the season.


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