Can The Sox Afford Not To Go After Cliff Lee?

The Boston Red Sox did not make the postseason in 2010 due in large part to its pitching.  With a dissapointing year from the starting rotation (except Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz) and the bullpen, how can the Red Sox not go after Cliff Lee?

With free agency looming, the simple answer is that the Red Sox simply cannot afford not to go after Lee.

With the contracts of Julio Lugo, Mike Lowell, Victor Martinez, Adrian Beltre, Jason Varitek, and David Ortiz coming off the books in 2011, Boston has plenty of resources to allocate to signing Lee, a member (or two) of the Red Sox free-agent group, either Carl Crawford or Jayson Werth, and a first basemen/third basemen (depending on where Kevin Youkilis plays next season).

Cliff Lee dominates the Yankees.  Lee dominated the National League.  Lee is a dominate lefty who shuts down left-handed hitters with his cutter while using both sides of the plate, and his changeup, to baffle right-handers.  So what’s the issue with signing Lee?  What could possibly hold Boston back from getting this front-of-the-rotation arm?

The Yankees.  And Daisuake Matsuzaka.

Step one in mission– Sign Cliff Lee– the Red Sox will need to trade their Japanese import.  With teams on the West Coast looking for solid, middle of the rotation, pitching, Dice-K could net the Red Sox some lower-tier prospects or help in the acquisition of a first or third basemen (Aramis Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, or Prince Fielder anyone?).  The latter being more difficult than the former as the Sox would certainly have to part with a Jacoby Ellsbury, Ryan Kalish, or Casey Kelly in any deals involving Gonzalez or Fielder.

So in the short term, lets just peg Lyle Overbay, Adam Dunn, or Derek Lee at first base next season with Youkilis moving across the diamond.  Now, we trade Dice-K away for cap-room and space in the starting rotation.

Dice-K: It’s been fun, it’s been real, but it hasn’t been really fun. Enjoy your walks elsewhere.

Step two in mission– Sign Cliff Lee– the Rangers need to beat the Yankees to prove to Lee that if he wants to win a World Series, that teams other than the Yankees can provide him with the opportunity.  This might sound off-base and a little crazy, but Lee needs to know that the Yankees aren’t the only team that can give him a chance at winning a ring (as he saw last season with the Phillies). 

The final step.  Give Lee the opportunity to pitch in the best rotation of baseball, alongside up-and-coming aces in Lester and Buchholz as well as veteran right-handers Josh Beckett, John Lackey, and Tim Wakefield.

Now tell me how the Red Sox don’t win in 2011. 

You give Lee the years, the dollars, the cars, the everything that he wants.  You tell him that Carl Crawford or Jayson Werth will be patrolling left field next season and that the lineup will be as potent as ever.  You re-sign Ortiz and give Victor Martinez a new contract to guarantee Lee feels comfortable with his old battery-mate. 

The Red Sox have the money coming off of the books.  They have the desire to get back to the postseason after a dissapointing 2010. But do they have any choice in regards to not signing Cliff Lee?

No.  They cannot allow Lee the opportunity of suiting up in pinstripes next season.

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