Cliff Lee is a very good pitcher, and has had great success in both the American and National leagues during his time for the Cleveland Indians, Philadelphia Phillies, Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers.

However, Lee is already 32 years old, and his best days are likely numbered.

The New York Yankees are ready to make another big splash this MLB offseason, and a starting pitcher is a top priority. But given Cliff Lee’s age and lack of success in the World Series, should Yankees general manager Brian Cashman find a different starter?

This winter will not be a shopping season full of great starting pitchers. The drop off in quality starters after Cliff Lee is immense, and the Yankees might not want to wait another year for a different crop of free agents.

Consider that the Yankees must re-sign veterans Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter this winter, both of whom are New York legends, and surely cannot be seen in a uniform other than Yankee pinstripes. 

Jeter and Rivera will cost a pretty penny, but not as much as what Lee will demand.

Lee will surely ask for over $100 million for at least five seasons, and could possibly look for a deal similar to what the Yankees gave pitching ace C.C. Sabathia prior to the 2009 season (seven years, $160 million).

During the regular season, Lee was not the dominant pitcher the Rangers had hoped for after giving away top hitting prospect Justin Smoak to Seattle in exchange for Lee among others.

During the 2010 MLB playoffs, Lee was spectacular until the grandest stage, the World Series. Lee was battered in Game 1 by a Giants offense that was finding it difficult to score runs, ultimately taking the loss. 

In the clincher at home in Game 5, Lee gave up a three-run homer to eventual series MVP Edgar Renteria, which was the difference in the game, giving Lee a second World Series loss, and the Giants a world championship.

Cliff Lee’s sudden collapse in the World Series should trouble every team looking to sign him this winter. Did the pressure of the World Series get to him? It’s difficult to tell because he is such a calm person on the mound, but perhaps he was a bit rattled. 

Game 1 nerves are understandable for a player starting his first ever Fall Classic game, but Game 5 was a must win for the Rangers, and Lee blew it.

What if Cliff Lee begins to show his age sooner, and does not fulfill the large contract he will receive from some desperate team? The Yankees have already blown huge contracts on A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira (who has had decent regular seasons, but very weak postseasons) and they cannot afford another.

As a franchise, the Yankees are an aging organization, and assuming they re-sign Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera they will not be allowed to usher in a younger player at the shortstop and closer positions. Andy Pettitte, Alex Rodriguez, and Jorge Posada are all key players for New York who showed decline last season, yet do not have a solid young backup ready to fill in. 

Brett Gardner, Phil Hughes, and Robinson Cano are good young players, but they are the only ones with mild success.

Catching prospect Jesus Montero is the eventual successor for Posada, but catchers are difficult to project due to the rigor of playing the position.

New York should instead turn their attention to Rays outfielder Carl Crawford, continue to develop young pitcher Phil Hughes and look for veterans they can sign to low risk/high reward deals.

The Yankees much show patience this offseason, and not give in to Cliff Lee just because he is the only great starter available. Just because Brian Cashman has a big checkbook at his disposal, doesn’t mean he has to use it to make up for the disappointments of last season.

The Yankees will always have money, but their ability to spend it wisely will determine their future success. Cliff Lee, at 32, is not a smart investment for the Bronx Bombers.

Read more MLB news on