At this point, Cliff Lee can just write his own Yankees’ contract. Between the news about his wife not liking how she was treated and the story that CC Sabathia needs a “minor” procedure done on his knee, Lee is becoming more valuable by the minute.

Clearly, the Yankees have a need for Lee, but the news about Sabathia should temper their desire. The fact is, pitchers break down. Now everyone is going to say that Sabathia needs his knee procedure because he is just too damn heavy. I can’t disagree with that and I hope his doctors convince him to shed some lbs this offseason. But keep in mind that Sabathia is two years younger than Lee and that while Lee is very svelte, he also had back problems this year.

If you give Lee a five-year deal, you are signing him through age 37. That’s a pretty big risk to take and the Yankees already have Sabathia signed through age 35 and AJ signed through age 36. Let’s say they give Lee the $25 million everyone seems to expect them to give him. That would mean the Yankees will be spending $64 million on three 30-something pitchers. Throw in Andy Pettitte and you might have $80 million on four.

Don’t get me wrong, adding Lee would be a wonderful move in 2011. I would love to have him, but for no more than a four-year deal. If absolutely pressed, I might go five years, but that’s it. Fastballs don’t pick up speed in your 30’s. Those creaks you felt in your late 20’s begin to become more serious, it’s a fact of life. Tying your team to too many 30+ contracts is a risky move to make. The Yankees need to tred very carefully when they sit down to negotiate with Mr. Lee.