Despite the late signing of A.J. Burnett, the expectation by many is that the Phillies will still fall well short of playoff contention. While I’m not sure that some fans and national pundits haven’t overestimated just how far out of a playoff spot that the Phillies will ultimately finish, unless they are seriously in playoff contention come the July 31st trade deadline, something will have to give.
As CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury pointed out yesterday, Cliff Lee may be one of the things to give should the Phillies decide to sell at the deadline. Lee rebounded from a strange 2012 season that saw him go until June without a win, to post a 14-8 record with a 2.87 ERA last year. At the same time, he will turn 36 at the end of August and is only under team control through the end of the 2015 season, so it isn’t likely that his value will do anything but drastically drop if the Phils do hold onto him past the deadline.
Regardless of what happens, Lee isn’t focused on anything but helping the Phillies get back to the playoffs in 2014.
“I signed back with the Phillies because I wanted to come here and win, and that’s what I intend on doing.”
Lee went on to say that he “doesn’t care” about trade rumors since they are out of his control.
He also pointed out that he’s become accustomed to his name being in trade rumors, considering that the during summers of 2009, 2010, 2012, and 2013, his name was consistently mentioned in trade rumors.
“That’s nothing new for me,” Lee told a group of reporters. “It seems like every year that’s going on. I don’t have a full no-trade clause, so there’s nothing I can do about that. I don’t have control over it, so there’s no sense worrying about it.
I enter 2014 feeling like I know what I’m getting out of Cliff Lee. Lee will give the Phillies between 14 and 18 wins, 200 innings, and an ERA below 2.90. I don’t feel nearly as confident in knowing what I am getting out of the rest of the starting rotation, even Cole Hamels and A.J. Burnett, and the rest of the team. Should the Phillies question marks turn into disappointments in 2014, the best scenario for both sides might be moving Lee to a contender at the deadline.