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The Phillies Can’t Afford To Trade Cliff Lee

Earlier today there was a report that the Phillies were discussing a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks that would send starting pitcher Cliff Lee to the desert in exchange for talented outfielder Justin Upton.

Upton hit .280 for Arizona last year with 17 home runs and 65 RBI’s. He’d solidify one of the outfield positions, give the team legitimate right-handed bat in the lineup, and he’s owed only $38.5 million over the next three years as compared to the $87 million the Phillies currently owe Lee.

However, shortly after this story came out, Ruben Amaro denied the report.

While a Lee for Upton swap might not happen, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Phillies ended up dealing Lee somewhere else this offseason. The Phillies soured on the lefthander a little bit after his disappointing performances in the early part of the 2012 season, and made him available during their fire sale last July. They’d like to clear Lee’s salary off of the books to give themselves a great deal of flexibility.

I don’t like the idea of trading Lee at all, and I hope the Phillies don’t go down that road. It was the wrong thing to do the first time they dealt the 2009 playoff hero, and it would be just as egregious now.

The only way a Lee trade would be acceptable is if the Phillies had some kind of guarantee that Roy Halladay will return to his old form in 2013.

With Halladay’s health currently a major concern, how could Amaro justify trading Lee away and leaving his rotation shorthanded? The starting five looks strong with Cole Hamels and Lee as the anchors, with Halladay returning with lowered expectations as the third starter and Vance Worley/Kyle Kendrick/Tyler Cloyd filling out the last two spots.

Remove Lee from that picture, and suddenly you have a rotation full of question marks. Counting on an unreliable Halladay to be the second starter would be a huge issue, but relying on Kendrick, Worley, and Cloyd to make up 60% of the starting staff is a scary thought.

Keeping Lee is not only the right move for this season, but for the future as well. The Phillies will get their payroll flexibility next year when Roy Halladay’s contract comes off of the books. Lee will still be under contract for two more seasons after 2013, and should remain an excellent compliment to Cole Hamels.

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Posted by on Dec 4 2012. Filed under BREAKING NEWS, News, Phillies. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

46 Comments for “The Phillies Can’t Afford To Trade Cliff Lee”

  1. The Phillies should have grabbed Shane Victorino, trading him was a mistake that could have been righted this off season, but now he’s in Boston. grrrr.

  2. They really need to make a serious run at Angel Pagan…personally I think he’s a better solution because he tends to have a better BA than a lot of people on the current roster.

  3. They need to check in with Raul Ibanez as well.

  4. Why wouldn’t you trade Lee, Rollins, or even Papelbon, for that matter?!? We have zero chance of winning a WS anyways. This team has WAAAAY too many ????, ifs and’s & but’s! If Utley finds the Lourdes fountain! If Howard can actually find his swing again, & attempt to live up to a % of his bloated contract! If Halladay & Worley can come back healthy! If the BP can actually grow & learn how to throw KKK’s & stop giving up the gopher ball! If we can hold off, until Chooch’s suspension is up! If Galvis & Frandsen can platoon at 3B! Can Brown, Mayberry, Nix platoon in the OF & actually learn how to play?!? Can Ruf play, at least viable in LF?!? Can Booben grow a brain cell, to actually figure out how to be, at least a solid GM?!? TOO MANY holes! Not enough prospects, either to bring up, or use as trade chips! Not enough payroll flexibility! TOO OLD! On major decline & injury prone! I love the Phils, but I hate to break the news to you, the window closed at the end of 2011! It is going to take at 2-3 years to rebuild this team, & Booben ain’t the one, I want at the helm to do it!!!!!

  5. Phillies are talking to the red sox about Ellsbury and the sox are looking for pitching in return

  6. Can I finish with the Eagles Draft Selections and give some analysys of Phil’s 2013 Season…
    But on a semi-serious note about the Phil’s
    They have to keep Lee to at least gave a chance for a wildcard
    The Nats already got stronger by adding RHP Haren and CF Spann and the Braves added BJ Upton’s to replace Bourne in CF
    Victorino/Pagan were overpaid in their new deals

    I look for the Phil’s to possibly add Lance Berkman or a Nick Swisher
    And still need a experienced quality LHP Reliever and a quality versatile IF who can play 2b, SS and 3B (maybe a Scutaro type) and probably an another Starter (maybe an Edwing Jackson type)
    Then hope that Utkey,Howard, Holliday all bounce back to their career averages, if not, the Phil’s are looking at a 3rd/4th place finish behind the Nats/Braves again and miss the Playoffs

  7. Elks hey is not the answer, too injury prone, his 2011 Season was a 1 hit wonder

  8. phils will make another run or two and if it implodes they will trade the big names, eat part of the contract and get young. it seems to be the track they are taking. there are plenty of ifs that is for sure. It they trade a big pitcher then look for them to fill the void with an edwin jackson type and then sign a big name…hamilton? something. doing that allows them to make a run and if it doesn’t go well.. back to the drawing board.

    • Don’t see any run, unless they are willing to go the luxury tax, & chance it with 2, or 3 signings (Hamilton, Bourn, Youklas), on short term contracts. Glad to see you aren’t making excuses any longer.

  9. If they can move Lee for the right deal do it. For a 25 year old Justin Upton? Absolutely. You make it seem like that would be the only move that they would make.

    With the addition of Span and Haren, the Nats are a better team across the board than the Phils. There staff is way ahead of the Phils. When do the changes begin to occur to try to swing that tide?

  10. I believe the Phils stand pat and pick-up a Berkman, Swisher and even a Jason Bay and hope that Utley,Howard,Holiday,Worley,and that Stutes/Bastardo can bounce back in the BUllpen..
    If by June the Phils are teetering around .500 Ball and 8-10 Games back, then Manager Manuel will be fired and replaced by Sanberg and then players like Lee,Doc, Papelbon will be Traded by the Trade Deadline to contending Teams as the Phils then go full bore on Rebuilding for the Future..

  11. Hamilton is Left-Handed OF which the Phils need a Righ-t-HAnd Bat
    Both Berkman & Swisher are Switch HItters, both can play 1B which gives protection in case something happens to Howard or just to spell him once a week, neither should be big $$$ or require a long-term deal so this may be the safest route. Lance Berkman has always hit well at CBP and he and Swisher could give you 25HR’s – 80 RBI’s easily and even more or they were to get on a roll…

  12. If that is the way that they will go, then I would go with Berkman, since you could get him for less years and money. Swisher, at 32, is looking at his last big deal and dude is gonna want a long term deal for big bucks. I don’t want them to get into another older player for too many years.

    Frankly, I don’t think that they have enough flexibility to add what they need to complete next year. Sorry to be pessimistic, but adding one guy and substandard bullpen help will not make the difference. Charlie will continue to platoon guys in the OF which I hate. If it gets to a re-build, I am not convinced that Amaro is the right guy. He hasn’t gotten much in return for players that he has traded away.

  13. Berkman wants to go to the AL to DH. He is 36 and is a perfect DH candidate. I think the BP is still the biggest concern. even without Utley and Howard they would have been in it till the end had they had a bridge to paplebon.

  14. I’m down to get Jacoby Ellsbury. One year left on his contract at 8 mil is a better option than overpaying for Hamilton or Bourn. Do it and do it now.

  15. Berkman actually stated he wants to play the field and can play LF adequately enough And spell Howard at 1B against tough Left handed Pitcher
    And appears to be the best bang for the buck for the short term which is probably the strategy that Amaro has for this off-Season aquisitions

  16. he’s looking for more money than you think and can possibley ink 3 years in american league missed over 100 games, i think last year.

  17. He only played in 35-40 Games last year due to injury
    but has stated he prefers to play on a Winner and in the NL since he’s most familiar with the Pitchgin,Umps,Parks and wants to play in the field and not
    ready to be strictly a DH like he was that half-season with the Yankees in which he said he didn’t like to do..
    2 Year $13-$14 Million Deal with incentives could probably get him I would think… and being a Switch-Hitter, and the ability to play LF and 1B would offer some flexibility to the Phils in case Howard reinjures himself, or needs a spell and he can play LF and Bring a Mayberry in as a late-inning replacement once having a lead is the way to go.. Remember playing LF does not require a real athletic players (remember luzinksi, Burrell, Ibanez and even Pierre was not a very good fielder so you can get by short-term with a less than great Of.. You need strong Defensive Players in CF & RF for the longer throws and more field to cover.. At CBP, if it’s over your head in LF it’s probably a homer anyways..

  18. 2 year at 14$ i would say yes, 2 years 20 i say no. but if this happens fraud and he’s out injured 100 games i don’t want to hear ‘fraudman says the phils are old and not contenders’ after the first 4 game losing streak.

  19. Phils are still a 3rd Place Team in the NL East in my opinion HAC..
    Phils are old regardless of signing Berkman or any other player.

    Look at their Core Players (Howard,Utley,Rollins,Ruiz,Doc,Lee,Papelbon..
    They are all in the twilight of their Careers and on their way down…
    This is not Paulman thinking or wishing this, but rather Old-Man Time doing what it does to Ball PLayers who have played lots of games, threw lots of Innings over their careers and now in the their 30′s..
    Don’t blame me, I am only the messager
    The Nats and Braves are the Class of the NL East as I stated last Off-Season and I see both Clubs as being stronger,deeper than the Phils
    I will continue to call them as I see them HAC..

  20. then why would you advocate signing berkman? its because you like to hedge your bets- you like to be able to say ‘fraudman said in december to bring in berkman’ if he is hitting 300 with 25 hr in august. and if he breaks down you can say father time caught up. in the real world and you profess to be a gm you don’t have the option to hedge your bets.
    if you were gm and you didn’t think they had a chance you don’t sign him. you play ruff and he is in lf and spells howard at first– for under a million. you play brown/mayberry and galvis, you trade lee and halliday for prospects or upton — you have to be all in or all out!

  21. I think Berkamn improves this Phils Team without having to give a long-term committment. This 2012 Season is probably it for this Core Phils Team as well as it’s Manager and possibly Amaro himself… I think they are going to give it one more shot “as is” and add a a couple “Second Tier Players” and see what happens.. Personally I don;t think they are good enough “as is”
    If they want to really win it in 2012, They need an OF, 3B, a Starter and 2 in the Bullpen but I don’t think they are going “all in” and will hope and rely on having comback seasons for half thweir roster which is very unlikely to occur

  22. its 2013
    so you reserve the right to say ‘paulman said get berkman and make a run’ if they are in contention and you reserve the right to say ‘the core is deteriorating and fraudman said this last year’… hence your title as fraud. gm’s don’t have that luxury

  23. I reserve the right to say anything at anytime about anything.. That’s how it works, I call them as I see them.. Phils will be competitive, but Nationals/Braves are better Teams with Better Coachign Staffs.Managers,Bullpens and more Players who are in their Primes as opposed to the Phils who have 1 Player still in his Prime (Cole Hamels)

  24. so are you fraudman gm all in or all out? see thats why youir a fraud– you claim crow about being right but you always take both sides- one side will always be right. so for the record you can say “fraudman says phils should take a shot”- if they succeed ‘fraudman said back in december, phils should pursue FA berkman and take a shot”- if berkma/phils fails “fraudman said the phils were an old team and the nats and braves were better.” i guess that is the definition of fraud.

  25. If I am Reuben Amaro this Of-Season, you have to go “all in” and if it doesn’t work by July, then you blow it up and then go on a Full Rebuild Mission, but nothing I have seen so far shows me that the Phils/Amaro are “All-In” for 2012 unless you think the Signing of 3B Kevin Fransden is a major move ..
    I think there is some wishful thinking going on at the Carpenter Complex with the hope that the Core Players all return to form from 3-4 Seasons ago .. If not, GM Amaro will say Damn, we had too many injuries and misfortune to remain competitive in 2013..
    I am calling for a 3rd Place Finish for th Phils, so if they bail out and become sellars by July, it’s kind of what I expect them to be and to happen..Nothing I have seen so far is giving me a signal of hey, we’re going for it all this year and right now.. Do you have this feeling about this Off-Season so far , which is just getting started by the way

  26. Getting a healthy Howard is a huge acquisition. He is only 33. And amaro has not been shy with making a move. I believe they are two relievers, one in house and one outside away from assuring the BP. I believe he will get an OF or 3rd base. You need ruff to put up ibanez like numbers and a platoon of Mayberry brown to put up werth like. Going righty lefty they should. That is the formula

    • Only 33?!? That’s no spring chicken in Baseball, my man! He’s coming off of a major Achilles injury, & has been in decline skill wise for 3 years now! Even before the injury. Come on HAC! If you are still hinging your hopes on Howard & Utley being of 3-4 years ago, you’re still delusional!

  27. @Paulman this is no longer a rebuilding franchise. That isnt feasable in this market. Its a reload type of team. Meaning if I move a Howard I bring in a Fielder. If I move a Lee I bring in a Verlander. Saying all that I wouldnt spend just to spend this year. You just might have to ride it out this year with what you got. I dont want a “maybe” player. A player that is gonna be a bad contract. Im not gonna break the bank on a Bourne Im gonna break the bank on a Trout.

  28. Yup gotta mix cheap youngsters with low pay and high performance like Ruiz, victorino, werth, Hamelsish, back in 08 with the big names high paid guys. Where they failed last year was that the youngsters didn’t step up.
    I agree don’t reach and overpay Bourne and Hamilton! Chances are Halliday and utley come off the books next year, reload

    • The problem was the young players? That had a a lot more problems than that. The vets were either injured, inconsistent or both last year. Halladay was also hurt. To blame the young guys for last year is a little short sided. Why not blame the games making 20 million who stunk it up last year?

      • well their 20 million guys were hurt! what i was referring to is that you have to have young hungry guys getting the job done- pence (not that young 14 million), brown, mayberry, bastardo etc didn’t get it done the way werth did, victorino, ruiz– you have to have guys making a million or less step up.
        the blame is enough to go around… injuries, guys not stepping up, BULLPEN, coaching etc. — teams have bad years and there is enough blame to go around.

  29. Ryan dempster a career 124-124 pitcher who is 35 turned down a 2 year 26 million contract believing he can get 3 years… With that in mind go ahead Ruben pay Hamilton 100$ and Bourne 90… What the hell it’s only monopoly money

  30. It’s funny you keep saying the same thing every Year Dag..
    The Phils have only dissappointed and underperformed the last couple of seasons.. You act like the Phils Organization is similar to that of te YAnkees who reload every single season and it’s just not true with teh Phillie’s
    They have a Cieling Financially that they are willing to Spend (which is below the Luxury Tax) and they have been consistent in stating this that they will not go over which gives them about $40 MIllion for 17 Roster SPorts by my estimation when you count up Doc,Lee,Hamels,Papelbon,Howard,Utley,ROllins and Ruiz 2013 Salaries

    • Fraud don’t believe everything that a GM or coach puts out publicly. They are masters of misinformation! The Phils are addicted to a full stadium, and the disinterest at the end of last year costs a lot of money! They have a new tv deal next year I believe, all major league teams got an extra 20$ million this year on the national tv deal which is why salaries are crazy this year… Victorino 3 for 39…. Yikes did they watch him play last year?

  31. Position Players Mayberry/Brown/Fransden/Ruf are all Unproven still at their stages of their Careers as everyday Players
    Pitchers like Stutes/Bastardo/Worley all had great 2011 Seasons but so-so to below average 2012 Seasons.. You figure at best in 2013, they will be somewhere in between…Then what…

  32. Paulman’s Early Prediction on the 2013 NL East

    #1) Nationals 95-67 (Division WInner)
    #2) Braves 92-70 (Wild Card Team)
    #3) Phils 87-75
    #4) Mets 82-80
    #5) Marlins 58-104

  33. That looks about right Paulman 3rd place. Im not mad. As long asa the Phillies are competitive and have star players what can I do. I didnt expect them to win the NL East forever. The Phillies wont win the division for awhile which is ok. All they have to do is shoot for 2nd wildcard and get hot for 3 weeks. Winning division doesnt mean much anymore.

  34. Lee will not be traded. With the way the Nationals are staffed you cannot take a step backward. Solidify the bullpen with a setup guy. As far as not signing Victorino I applaud that move. Boston way overpaid for him and Victorino has been heading south for the last two years. Sign Ryan Ludwick and Adrian Beltre to play 3rd after the Rangers resign Hamilton. Even if the Phils make these moves I still think the Nationals win the division. Span was my choice for Centerfield. The Nats got a good player there and the signing of Haren as their 3rd starter gives them a very good starting 5.

  35. If the Phils cannot get into the playoffs this year it will be breakup time. If things are going bad by trade deadline they will move Halladay(last year of contract) and see if there are takers for Ruiz and Rollins. Ruiz’s replacement is in the minors already(Joseph or Valle) and Rollins is a couple years away(Roman Quinn) which they can stopgap for that time frame. Utley will be let go as well and Galvis moves in. Cody Asche will be ready at 3rd in 2014 and 3/4 of your infield will be there in 2014. One of the young arms comes up for Doc and another one after the 2014 season for Lee and the phials will be on there way again.

  36. Don’t fool yourself, Phillyfan, Haren is the 4th starter in Washington behind, Strsss, Gio and Zimmerman. That rotation is better than the Phils.

  37. Bugsy,I think I am acknowledging that there staff is better than the Phils. Possibly way better if Doc doesn’t bounce back.

  38. 2012 Team Pitching Stats in the NL (Out of 16 NL Teams)

    #1 Rated – Nationals Team ERA 3.33 1325 K’s .237 Opposing Batting Avg
    51 Saves 9 Shutouts 3 Complete Games 96 Quality Starts
    #7 Rates – Phillies Team ERA 3.83 1385 K’s .251 Opposing Batting Avg
    42 Saves 11 5 Complete Games 99 Quality Starts

    You can tell by these Stats the Difference of having a Good Bullpen as opposed to the performance of the Phils Bullpen from last Season which was all over the board from the 7th/8th Innings for most of the Season
    Good Bullpens keep you in games, put away leads and can exude a Club Confidence that sometimes is hard to put a measure on but Teams like the Nats/Braves have it as far as feeling that they are never out of game or will protect late leads for a game.. The Phils lacked this same feeling last year from the Manager down to the PLayers and and need to get it back in 2013 or they simply won’t compete with the Top of the NL East
    Having a good,dependable BUllpen is more important that a Great Starting Staff.. Look at the SF Giants, Cincinnati Reds,Wash Nationals, Atlanta Braves of 2012 and even the Yankees of past Seasons who always had Rivera back there.They feel as though they are in every game like the Phils used with their good Bullpens of a few years ago

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