One of the biggest trade chips the Phillies have is Cliff Lee. Being that this is Lee's first injury to keep him out for an extended period of time, one might think too many teams will be as hesistant as reach out and inquire about him. Then again, there is a lot of risk trading for a guy at his age.
Having the ability to acquire a pitcher of Lee's calibur doesn't come often. Well maybe it does. Cliff went from Cleveland to Philly to Seattle to Texas and back to Philly and he could be headed elsewhere. With at least two scheduled starts with the big club before the July 31st trade deadline, Lee continued his rehab process yesterday with Clearwater, with mediocre results.
On July 9th, Lee gave up three runs over four innings of work. Yesterday, he surrendered eight runs, three earned, on eight hits in 4.2 innings, working in all of his pitches but having trouble spotting his fastball. (via Philly.com Sports)
"I feel like I could have commanded my fastball a little better," Lee said after he allowed eight hits and eight runs (three earned) in 42/3 innings. "It wasn't great, but it wasn't bad either, so that could improve, but I did focus on using other pitches a little more. Obviously you have to be able to do that in the big leagues. The results were not what I wanted it to be, but I got the reps in and now it's time to go back and help the Phillies."
Cliff has been sidelined since May 18th with a left elbow strain. He will be activated from the disabled list and take the mound for the Phillies on Monday, July 21st when they take on the San Francisco Giants. This season, he is 4-4 with a 3.18 ERA in 10 starts.
There are plenty of teams that could use a pitcher like Lee, but Cliff signed here for a reason and that was to win a championship...in Philadelphia. The Phillies left-hander said that something needs to change with this team in order for them to get back into contention and it starts with the players. (via Philly.com Sports)
"Whether it's guys changing their approach or expectations or changing their scenery altogether, something has to change," he said. "It's up to us individually if we're going to change our approach, our work ethic or if you're willing to accept being traded. A lot of us don't have a 100 percent say on that, but there are a few guys who have full no-trade rights who have to make that decision. Each individual has a right to view it however they want."
We have spoken time and time again about the guys who have the rights to block any deal, like Utley, Hamels and Rollins, and players who have expressed interest in being sent elsewhere like Jonathan Papelbon. Lee said he had no issue with the Phils closer expressing how he feels about possibly leaving, saying that it takes guts to say something like that. (via Philly.com Sports)
"I think that's him being honest with how he feels," Lee said. "There are not many guys who have the courage or the [guts] to say that. That's how he feels and that's the truth and a lot of guys don't really want to hear the truth, so that's basically how I feel about it. That's him telling exactly how he feels."
"When you lose for multiple years in a row, more guys are going to be willing to leave and want to win," the pitcher said Monday night after he made his third and likely final rehab start for single-A Clearwater at Bright House Field. "That comes with losing. The expectations this organization has had the past eight years or so is to win and we haven't done that. When that happens, something has to change."
Obviously at the age of 35 and coming off of an injury, the asking price for prospects in return has to be lower than what it was last year, when Amaro was demanding top prospects and major-league ready talent in exchange for Lee. Especially if Lee comes back and gets hit around in his two starts before the end of the month, we are in for an interesting turn at the trade deadline. If Cliff does get traded though, expect the Phillies to have to take on plenty of money to get a reasonable return from another team.
Going back to why Cliff signed here, he turned down the opportunity to go back to Texas, where he pitched in the postseason. He turned down the New York Yankees money. All of that to come back to Philadelphia, after they traded him for some prospects who, at the time, had really nice potential. None of them panned out as we have come to be reminded of time after time.
Like Chase Utley, Lee is a total professional and wants to win and win here in Philadelphia. Whether that will happen is yet another unknown in the middle of July, but Lee said that he doesn't "second-guess" himself when it came to signing here as a free agent for the long-term. The trade deadline though? He has no expectations for it, just like any other year of his career when this time comes around. (via Philly.com Sports)
"I have no expectations for [the trade deadline]," he said. "That's obviously Ruben's job to [make trades]. I'm not too worried about trying to do his job for him. Obviously, he has some decisions to make about whether to move guys or try to add some pieces or what. That's what he does and my job is to go out and try to put up zeros and help the team win and that's what I'm going to focus on."
Come August 1st, Lee could be trying to put up zeroes in another uniform and helping another team win. Right now though, his focus is on bringing winning back to Philadelphia when he returns.
Brandon Apter, Publishing Editor for Philliedelphia.com