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Updated: June 29, 2010, 1:49 AM ET

Twins, Rangers should make run at Cliff Lee

Kruk By John Kruk
ESPN
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Heading into this season, everyone had high hopes for the Seattle Mariners. I even picked the team to win the division. Now, the M's sit 15 games behind the Texas Rangers and are considering dealing their ace, Cliff Lee.

[+] EnlargeCliff Lee
AP Photo/Elaine ThompsonCliff Lee takes 6-3 record and 2.39 ERA into his Tuesday start against the Yankees.

There are two teams in the American League that would benefit the most from getting Lee, and that's the Rangers and the Minnesota Twins. It is a bold move that both teams will have to strongly consider if they hope to compete with the Red Sox, Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays in a seven-game postseason series.

The one thing the Rangers and Twins are missing is a legitimate ace on their staff. Lee is able to come right in and provide that spark, and last year he proved he can beat teams like Boston. Last year, Minnesota got killed by the Yankees because the Twins didn't have the pitching or that go-to guy to stop a losing streak. If the Rangers can figure out their ownership issues, and if the Twins have the money to do it, they should go for Lee.

In the National League, the Philadelphia Phillies would certainly take Lee back. Because without him, they don't have much of a rotation. Lee is a smart guy and he wants to win. If he goes to the Phils, even though they've been struggling the past few weeks, he knows they are still probably the best team in the National League. The Padres could use him, if they are able to scrape up the money. And the Mets would certainly benefit from having Lee in the rotation since Johan Santana has been consistently inconsistent this year.

The San Diego Padres have a great pitching staff, but who is their go-to guy? If they entered the postseason today, Mat Latos would likely be their No. 1 starter. Latos is good, but he's not Cliff Lee … yet. Adding Lee to the rotation could really help Latos, and would be an invaluable addition to the team.

In the midst of all the Cliff Lee trade talk, you have to wonder: What went wrong with the Mariners? Chone Figgins and Milton Bradley got off to horrible starts this season, and these were two guys Seattle was counting on to revamp its offense. The truth is, the M's have a bunch of guys who can't hit. Their big move was to go back and get veteran Russell Branyan. They initially let him go because they thought Bradley could get it done, but he couldn't.

A lot of people want to blame Seattle's pitching, but Felix Hernandez and Lee have been phenomenal. If they get Erik Bedard back, the Mariners would actually have a good rotation. However, a rotation is only good if you can score a run or two, and Seattle is really anemic offensively. Early on, the Mariners thought they had it all figured out, but it just didn't work out for them. You can't blame management for that; blame the players.

John Kruk is an analyst for "Baseball Tonight."

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Tuesday's Best Matchups

Mariners at Yankees, 7:10 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Every time Cliff Lee takes the mound it could mark his final start with the Mariners. With the July 31 trade deadline approaching, the watch is on. Lee is coming off consecutive complete games, and he has three in his past four outings. Phil Hughes returns to the mound after having a start skipped, a move made to help monitor his innings count.


Phillies at Reds, 7:10 p.m. ET

Much like what the Yankees are doing with Phil Hughes, the Reds are trying to protect Mike Leake. His last start was skipped, meaning he hasn't pitched since June 21. After a 1-5 start to the year, Joe Blanton has won his past two outings, winning at home against Minnesota and Cleveland.


Dodgers at Giants, 10:10 p.m. ET

Dodgers starter John Ely is 0-4 over his past six starts, but then he hasn't gotten much help from his offense. Los Angeles has scored one or no runs in four of those starts and two runs in another. Matt Cain is coming off his worst outing of the year; he gave up nine hits and seven runs in 2 2/3 innings of a 7-5 loss against the Astros.

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