The Philadelphia Phillies have played mediocre baseball so far this season, and that has Philadelphia’s favorite gossip mill revving up again. The dog days of summer are starting and, of course, there are trade rumors surrounding Cliff Lee everywhere in Philadelphia. Cliff Lee’s time with the Phillies has played out like a real-life soap opera. He was traded for, then traded away and then, out of nowhere, signed as a free agent. He pitched great last season but did not receive any run support, so his win/loss total was misleading. This season he already has eight wins and seems like he hasn’t missed a step from last season.
The concern for Cliff Lee is he still isn’t getting the run support he and the rest of the pitching staff needs. Without a doubt, he is pitching at an All-Star level, but at this point in his career, All-Star games are not what matters to Lee. He wants the championship that has eluded him to this point. As far as trading Lee goes, the Phillies will have a tough decision to make. Cliff Lee is extremely popular with the fan base, and trading him will look like waving the white flag and giving up on this season. Also, Lee has a no-trade clause that supposedly includes teams such as the Yankees and the Red Sox, the teams most able to take on his salary. If the Phillies decide to ship him out again, where is he willing to go?
I do not want the Phils to part ways with Lee. This season, he is the only pitcher I have confidence in each start, and he has been an anchor for the staff. I am not 100 percent convinced the Phillies are out of the playoff picture (however, they may be changing my mind). I am not ready to end the current era of Phillies baseball. The fact there are two wildcard spots gives the Phillies hope that they can somehow make it to the postseason, but reality is it will take a great second half for the Fightins to do so.
I witnessed the horrible teams the Phillies put on the field in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and I believe trading Lee would be the first punch in a potential knockout for the franchise. For the time being, Lee represents some hope for the fan base. With Roy Halladay’s injury and Cole Hamels horrible start, the pitching staff that was touted as the best in the game just a few years ago is not even in the top 10 now. Lee is the only pitcher performing as expected.
Overall, I hope I don’t have to write an article about the benefits of the Cliff Lee trade, because I do not feel there will be a benefit. The Phillies will have to eat a large chunk of Cliff’s contract in order to get a deal done, and I do not see any team giving the Phillies blue-chip prospects in return. Basically, a trade of Lee would be a trade just to make a trade. It will keep the team in the headlines, but it will push them a step back that they may not recover from. I see the allure of a big-time prospect but do not believe the Phillies will be able to pull a blue-chip prospect or two for Lee at this time. Other teams know the Phillies current position, and they are not going to supply the Phillies with the youthful talent they clearly covet.
For now, it is not that painful to watch the Phillies on every fifth day when Lee is on the mound. Hopefully, they do not ship him away again. If they do, it may have a much larger affect then they realize.