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Cliff Lee was stunned by the trade

Dec 18, 2009, 10:56 AM EDT

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for cliff lee and roy halladay.JPGCliff Lee thought he’d spend the rest of his baseball playing life in Philadelphia, saying “[a]t first I didn’t believe it. I thought we were working
out an extension with the Phillies. I thought I would spend the rest of
my career there.”  Ruben Amaro had other ideas, obviously, and it sounds like he was scared off by Lee’s demands with respect to an extension:

“We made what we thought was a pretty substantial offer. We had some
preliminary discussions, but other than that . . . it was amicable. Like
I said before, I just didn’t feel comfortable that we were going to be
able to get to the finish line. And so we ended up moving toward the
Halladay situation.”

If Lee’s desire to stay in Philly was a deep one, you have to wonder if his agent didn’t come on a little too strong in the opening rounds of negotiation. I mean, I think if the Phils are only going to go with one of the two aces they chose the right one — Halladay is simply better than Lee — but in light of how quickly the team pulled the plug on Lee, it’s not hard to picture a situation in which Lee’s representation made it really easy by leading with an overly-stiff offer.

  1. John_Michael - Dec 18, 2009 at 11:05 AM

    Word around Philly is that Amaro has the team pretty close to the ownership’s max pay roll number. They’re up in the middle $100MMs if memory serves me correctly. Having 2 pitchers making $20MM/year isn’t something that the multi-headed ownership felt comfortable with. The thought as to why Lee was dealt so quickly was for both the fans’ benefit as well as what they’d get in return. If the fans had both Lee and Halladay on the roster for a month, for example, expectations would be exceedingly high. If the Phils were to then trade Lee, the Phan-base would erupt with an involuntary Cheez-Wiz spew. Also, if word got out that the Amaro wanted to move Lee, the receivables could be dramatically less.

  2. APBA Guy - Dec 18, 2009 at 11:11 AM

    I wonder if this is the Boras influence on agent behavior?
    Boras has been trying to channel the Wizard of Oz with his proclamations that the recession is over, the recession doesn’t affect baseball, etc..
    That bit of Gatsby-like unreality led to a 4 year $13M/per demand to the Yankees for an aging, declining talent.
    If reports are true, Cliff Lee’s agent wanted Sabathia money from Philadelphia.
    Instead, Philadelphia fans will be treated to one of the games truly great pitchers who up till now has not had a stage worthy of his talent. And he’s $3M per year cheaper than Cliff’s demands.
    Welcome to Seattle, Cliff. Don’t get too comfortable. And grab an umbrella.

  3. TigerS Boy ToY - Dec 18, 2009 at 11:54 AM

    Halliday has NEVER pitched in a Playoff game and he is simply better than Lee, I disagree. Show me some post season wins and
    that is a guy who can get paid.
    Buh Bye

  4. John_Michael - Dec 18, 2009 at 11:59 AM

    Glendon Rusch has a post season win. Love your logic though.

  5. Andrew - Dec 18, 2009 at 12:03 PM

    Youre right, hes never pitched in the postseason. He has however pitched in the same division as the Yankees, Red Sox and to a lesser extent the Rays and has still put together the career numbers that have him at the top of the league. This guy will get it done in October, he just needs the chance.

  6. Phil - Dec 18, 2009 at 12:10 PM

    Re TigerSBoyToy:
    Well, Cliff Lee until this year had never been in the playoffs either and he put on a show.
    The Phillies have a “window” given the age and contract status of their core players. That window is at best 4 years (assuming no injuries/declines). They needed an ace for those 4 years. Sounds like Amaro didn’t think he could get the extension done with Lee but could for Halladay. So he went with Halladay and got him on a great contract extension that matches that perceived window.
    He had to trade Lee to restock the farm system to have a chance for the next 3-4 years. Lee + Halladay for 1 season would’ve been AMAZING. But in now way would it have guaranteed them a WS win next year, or even a WS appearance. The playoffs have proven themselves to be a crapshoot. You can’t go for broke for 1 season in baseball given limited resources. Risk/reward isn’t great.

  7. jan - Dec 18, 2009 at 12:44 PM

    Why didnt the Phillies trade Hammels to get Halliday instead of Drebek? Halladay & Lee is a much better 1-2 punch. They could have used Hammels money to help pay for Lee. They also would then have had drebek in the wings or even moved him to #5 in the rotation with no pressure on him!!!!!

  8. jan - Dec 18, 2009 at 12:46 PM

    Why didnt the Phillies trade Hammels to get Halliday instead of Drebek? Halladay & Lee is a much better 1-2 punch. They could have used Hammels money to help pay for Lee. They also would then have had drebek in the wings or even moved him to #5 in the rotation with no pressure on him!!!!!

  9. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Dec 18, 2009 at 12:50 PM

    Probably has to do with player control and a little bit of cost. Hamels has two years in the bigs (4 years remaining) whereas Drabek is still under control for 6. Unless Drabek starts in the pros next year AND gets super-two status, he won’t be eligible for arbitration for years whereas Hamels will face arbitration after ’10 (I believe).

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