Cliff Lee has been traded three times already, and the return each time was abysmal. Here we are again with the Phillies struggling along and plenty of media seem to feel that trading Lee one more time is a foregone conclusion. So, it is only natural that local reporters will continue that theme between now and the July 31 trade deadline.
Before the building caught fire and Mike Missanelli and all the staff of Greater Media radio in Philadelphia had to evacuate to dead air on the radio, Mike Miss was discussing comments from an article published today by Jim Salisbury on CSNPhilly.com. The focus was on a particular question posed to Lee about being traded and Lee's response that he simply wishes to win.
Here is the transcript of the Q & A with Lee, as appears on CSN Philly in a column by Jim Salisbury:
Q: As currently constituted, do you think this team can be a playoff team?
Q: With the current makeup of this team, do you think it can be a playoff team?
A: “I can’t look at it any other way besides I expect us to win and catch up with the Braves and get into the postseason. That’s the only way you can look at it.”
Q: If it doesn’t turn around, do you want to stay?
A: “I definitely want to win. There’s no doubt about that. I want to win. I don’t know how to say it besides that. I want to win.”
Q: If it doesn’t turn around, are you prepared to stay here for two months and play out the string?
A: “I don’t have any control over that. I know that I want to win and I’ll voice that to whoever. And that’s that. I want to win here. That’s why I signed here and that’s where my focus is.”
The headline comes from Lee's initial response to the "do you want to stay?" question. Lee did not respond with an emphatic "of course!" or "I expect we turn things around". Lee does eventually say, "I want to win here", but it came only after the attention-getting earlier response.
Most radio callers on 97.5 the Fanatic seemed sympathetic to Lee, believing that he deserves a chance to go win somewhere and that Phillies fans deserve a top prospect to build the future. But if that is going to happen, Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. does not seem to indicate that such a possibility is on his radar.
Jayson Stark followed up with a piece on ESPN in which he directly asked Amaro about the potential of trading Lee, Cole Hamels, or Jonathan Papelbon.
"They're all rumors, and we don't comment on rumors. But I don't see what the benefit would be to our organization to trade those players. They're players we've got who can help us win, and we're better off with them than without them."
"People would like us to improve our club, but at what cost?" Amaro said. "You have to have replacement pieces if you're going to trade someone like that. And we don't have a guy who I consider a closer on our club other than Papelbon. He's the best we've got and one of the best in baseball, if not the best.
I have already pointed out that having a primo closer does not matter if the team is not good enough to win. I do not care how shiny your beautiful hub caps are, if you're driving a 1986 Hyundai Excel you will not get very far.
What is most important is that Lee's comments seem to indicate that he is tired of the Phillies situation. Confidence is an important virtue in sports. If the players do not believe they were given the tools to win, they just may not.