Oh, the New York Post– society’s rabble rouser.
While we enjoy the tabloidy nature of NY’s third newspaper (pot, kettle), sometimes they can go trolling a bit too hard trying to create a story where there is none.
And such was the job done today by columnist Joel Sherman, who hypothtisiziseidseided that the Phillies trading Cliff Lee to the Yankees would make sense:
The Phils are in a tough spot. They are in the midst of the best stretch in team history (five straight division titles, two pennants, one title). They want to honor that run and the full houses they get each game at Citizens Bank Park by continuing to go for it. But to get there they have had to strip their farm system while elevating the age of their major league roster. They need a mechanism to get younger while still contending.
They could contend without Lee if Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Halladay get healthy/productive (remember, they won it all in 2008 with just one unquestioned ace in Hamels). And they can’t win even with Lee if that trio does not rediscover close to their peak form. But either way the Phillies would be best served with an injection of talented youth that Lee could bring in a trade.
His expense might scare away some teams, and he has been on the disabled list in each of the last two seasons for abdominal/oblique injuries. But he is 33, not 38. He’s proven he can thrive in both leagues, a tough market and the playoffs.
None of his points are even close to wrong and, honestly, I agree with everything he wrote. But this is the way trade rumors get started. It goes from this would be a good move to hey, are the Phillies trading Lee to the Yankees? to the Yankees are about to get Lee… all because a columnist was having a slow day…
Actually, yeah, let’s talk about this.
The fact that we’re here – seriously entertaining the notion of trading Lee – is a bit sad. When Lee signed with the Phillies in 2010, my initial reaction – if even for just a split second – was oh my God, where are they getting this money? That was quickly replaced by fuck yes! and me almost breaking my ankle jumping up from my computer (really).
And, after that, we all celebrated the deal for the next 10 months until Lee blew a 4-0 lead to the Cardinals.
Every reaction has an equal and opposite reaction, some dude once said. And that’s often the case when sports teams experience an embarrassment of riches. The tide quickly shifts from fortune to misfortune. The Phillies had two, maybe three years to make the pitching thing work. But Roy Oswalt quickly becoming old, injuries to Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Roy Halladay, and Ruben Amaro’s inability to assemble a balanced baseball team have put the Phillies in an unfortunate position earlier than they expected: Their window is dangerously close to slamming shut, the master plan seems to be ruined after Year 1, and huge contracts to Lee and Howard likely mean that they can’t re-sign Cole Hamels.
So here we are, talking about trading Lee, who, just over a year ago, was to go down as the most beloved athlete in the city’s history. The sad part is almost none of this is his fault. Sure, he’s hocked up a few leads, but he’s mostly pitched well, often streaming excellence for four or five starts at a time. He makes a lot of money, though (less than he would have made elsewhere…), and it would probably make sense for the Phillies to free up that money to sign Hamels, a pitcher who is five years younger and just now entering the point of his career that saw a guy like Lee win a Cy Young and dominate two postseasons.
Of course, if the Phillies weren’t 900 games out of first right now, we wouldn’t care about those things.