Should Phillies give Lee Sabathia money?

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cliff lee and carlos ruiz.jpgThe Philadelphia Phillies are already talking about a possible extension for Cliff Lee, who immediately became the team’s ace and postseason star after Philly acquired the left-hander from Cleveland in a July trade.

From the Inquirer:

The Phillies have not yet decided whether to offer a contract extension to pitcher Cliff Lee this off-season, but they have discussed the possibility internally.

“Clearly, it’s on our minds, but we haven’t made a decision if we will yet,” general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “Naturally you have to think about it, but we’re more focused on him pitching in this series.”

Lee is 7-4 with a 3.39 ERA with the Phils this season, and 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA in the 2009 playoffs. The Phillies can bring Lee back in 2010 simply by exercising their $9 million option, which has to be a slam dunk if an agreement on an extension isn’t reached.

But how far will they be willing to go to sign Lee long term? A couple of things to consider: Lee is 31, and the Phillies are already on the hook for at least $108 million in payroll for 2010 (they spent $113 million this season). That counts Lee’s option, but not arbitration raises for players like Joe Blanton, Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth.

The fact they’re already talking about it shows the Phillies are eager to keep Lee, and rightly so. Ideally the Phillies and Lee can find common ground on a mutually-pleasing deal. But what if that doesn’t work out?

Should they be willing to give Lee a Sabathia-esque 7-year, $161-million deal, or should they just take the option and see how 2010 plays out?

What do you think Phillies fans?

Follow me on Twitter at @Bharks. For more baseball news, go to NBCSports.com.

2017 Preview: The American League Central

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League Central

Do the Indians have a weakness? Do the Tigers and Royals have one more playoff push in them or do they have to start contemplating rebuilds? The White Sox and Twins are rebuilding, but do either of them have a chance to be remotely competitive?

As we sit here in March, the answers are “not really,” “possibly,” and “not a chance.” There are no games that count this March, however, so they’re just guesses. But educated ones! Here are the links to our guesses and our education for all of the clubs of the AL Central:

Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox
Minnesota Twins

2017 Preview: The National League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League East

The Washington Nationals crave a playoff run that doesn’t end at the division series. The Mets crave a season in which they don’t have a press conference about an injured pitcher. The Marlins are trying to put the nightmare of the end of the 2016 behind them. The Phillies and Braves are hoping to move on from the “lose tons of games” phase of their rebuilds and move on to the “hey, these kids can play!” phase.

There is a ton of star power in the NL East — Harper, Scherzer, Cespedes, Syndergaard, Stanton, Freeman — some great young talent on ever roster and, in Ichiro and Bartolo, the two oldest players in the game. Maybe the division can’t lay claim to the best team in baseball, but there will certainly be some interesting baseball in the division.

Here’s how each team breaks down:

Washington Nationals
New York Mets
Miami Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves