Cleveland Frowns does not like the Cliff Lee trade, but it’s for bigger picture reasons, not necessarily because of the return realized by Mark Shapiro:
But it becomes harder and harder to care about how these trades pan out as it becomes easier and easier to be sure that any real star developed by the Tribe will be shipped out of town on or near a contract year . . . Competitive balance in baseball continues and will continue to get worse and worse . . . It’s a classic case of the rich getting richer. There’s simply no way to look at the data and conclude that payroll doesn’t make a significant difference in teams’ ability to compete.
An imbalance that corresponds to our growing indifference toward our Indians and the MLB as yet another scalp is dropped along Wahoo’s Trail of Tears. Albert, Manny, Thome, Bartolo, CC, and now Clifton Phifer Lee.
The guys at Cleveland Frowns and I have gone around and around on competitive balance issues before. And though I’d argue that the Lee trade isn’t a classic instance of “the rich getting richer” as Frowns puts it (there are lots of other things going on here), I’ll grant that it’s depressing to see so many stars go out the door.
But the fourth name on Frowns’ “trail of tears” is worth thinking about: Bartolo. As in Colon. As in the big money pitcher who shipped out several years ago amidst the gnashing of teeth and the renting of garments. Shipped out in exchange for . . . Cliff Lee, among others.
If I had to guess, I’d say that there’s no Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore or Brandon Phillips in the haul received from Philly, simply because that kind of talent doesn’t grow on trees. Also because, unlike that Expos team, Omar Minaya isn’t the Phillies’ GM. But still, it’s worth remembering that one can’t judge a trade like this by only looking at the star that went out the door. One must also consider the talent returned. And, in the case of a prospects deal, the talent returned may take a year or two to consider.