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Curt Schilling rips the Phillies for not keeping Cliff Lee

Apr 1, 2010, 7:57 AM EDT

Curt Schilling was asked how he likes the Phillies this year. If you think his response was a diplomatic and conventional “I think they’ll be a good ballclub” kind of thing then you’re not familiar with Curt Schilling’s work:

“I think trading Cliff Lee was the stupidest thing they’ve ever done,
and they didn’t have to. They didn’t have to do it. It
was a stupid, stupid move. They could’ve had a World Series berth
locked up right now with those two guys at the top of their rotation. Those guys would’ve finished legitimately 1-2 (as) Cy Young candidates
on the same staff. You’ve got Cole Hamels in the three
slot, which is a dream come true for both. They would’ve been a 110-win

He goes on and on, of course, dismissing the Phillies concerns about organizational depth which they claim to be the primary reason for the Lee trade (i.e. they wanted some prospects back) and claiming that Lee may have been even more valuable to the Phillies than Halladay in some ways because of his postseason experience, saying “Doc’s never pitched in October. I think he’ll be great and be awesome
and all that stuff, but he could get to October and not be the guy.”

Setting aside Schilling’s silly claims that Cliff Lee would make the Phillies a 110-win team and that Halladay will somehow forget how to be awesome in October, I can’t help but think that there’s some psychological dynamic at work here on Schilling’s part. The writer of the story makes a comparison of Halladay and Lee to Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling on the Diamondbacks with which Schilling appears to agree. Schilling is obviously making an egotistical assumption that his path to success — as the part of two-Cy Young pitcher quality staff — is the optimum, if not the only way to build a champion. Moreover, in that comparison, Schilling clearly is Cliff Lee: the obviously excellent but still inferior pitcher. The prospect of Lee being traded away is, in Schilling’s mind, the equivalent of a rejection of Schilling himself, thus causing him to lash out with a fury and resentment even he himself cannot fully understand, acknowledge or control.

OK, you know what? I don’t like getting in Curt Schilling’s head. It’s kinda scary in there (reminds me of this) so let’s forget it.  How about this: if the Phillies had done with Lee what the Diamondbacks did with Johnson and Schilling and all of the other veterans that won that 2001 World Series, there would be an increased likelihood that they, like the Diamondbacks, would crater competitively a few short years later, crushed under veteran salary obligations and a relatively bare minor league cupboard.

Ruben Amaro decided that he’d rather build something for the long term. It may or may not work, but I think the effort is entitled to far more respect than Schilling — who basically claims that Amaro is just trying to cover his butt — gives it.

  1. Ed - Apr 2, 2010 at 12:26 PM

    The Mariners blogosphere all loved this deal because there is a lot more value coming in than going out.

  2. Sully - Apr 2, 2010 at 2:51 PM

    I too find Schilling to be an insufferable blowhard but in this case, he’s 100% right. Trading Cliff Lee for 3 prospects is a horrible move even if you have to do it. Most prospects don’t amount to much as major league players and a miniscule percentage reach Cliff Lee’s level of success. If things go according the percentages (meaning most prospects fail), the Phillies traded Cliff Lee for nothing. And the arguement that by keeping Lee, the Phillies would also automatically overpay all the aging veterans on the team and hamstring themselves financially in the process just doesn’t make any sense at all. Making a smart move (keeping Lee) doesn’t necessitate a dumb move (signing less useful old guys to long term extensions).

  3. Tired - Apr 2, 2010 at 4:13 PM

    One or more of the following is true:
    1) You really can’t understand what I wrote. “Nobody should care what Schilling says” is pretty clear to most people with a rudimentary command of the English language that I don’t care about him. He’s a retired player for a team I care nothing about. OTOH, you did state that “Schilling is (my) hero,” which despite your stament on your last post that you “never said it or thought it” would imply fandom of the Red Sox (although I’ll admit it could potentially mean fandom of one of his earlier teams–Cards, Phillies, or D-backs), thus why I added the red Sox to my earlier reply to you.
    2) If you don’t care what I meant, as you say, then you are clearly just trying to make me what you want me to be, which is fallacy.
    3) If you must know, my boyhood hero was Johnny Bench–I’ll just hope you can glean from that info that I was squarely AGAINST the Red Sox in the 1975 World Series, very happy that my team won, and really otherwise couldn’t care less about the Red Sox.
    4) You are severely humor challenged.
    5) You are an extremely thin-skinned Yankee fan yourself.
    I vote “all 5 of the above.”
    I have many friends who are fans of both the Yankees and the Red Sox, and many other teams. I love picking on all of them. They invariably know I’m just kidding around and usually retort with something like “too bad your team hasn’t had a winning record in what, 10 years?” or “how many decades has it been since your team won the Series?”
    I’m well aware of Good Friday, honor what it commemorates–and even more so what this Sunday reminds us of & assure you that everything I’ve written is in fact the truth. If you choose not to believe me, too bad for you.

  4. Hank - Apr 2, 2010 at 4:40 PM

    For the “replenish the system argument”, if Lee walked as a free agent the Phils get a #1 pick and a sandwich pick (a pick between the 1st and 2nd rounds) as Lee would be a Type A free agent.
    So is 1 year of Lee + 2 picks better or worse than a reliever prospect (Aumont), a questionable OF prospect (Gillies – who most rate as maybe an average everyday OF) and a 3rd prospect I can’t remember?
    Sure the 2 picks would have been further away from the Bigs then the three picks they got from Seattle, but a #1 and a sandwich pick would most likely yield one really good prospect, if not 2. Considering they gave 6mil/yr to Polanco and signed a 38year old starter to be a middle reliever, I don’t buy the budget argument for trading Lee either.
    I dislike Schilling but he is dead on… people forget to consider the prospects (in terms of picks) that the Phils would get if Lee had walked.

  5. Jack Marshall - Apr 2, 2010 at 5:37 PM

    It pains me to say it, but I’d have to agree that Craig’s vehemence here can only be explained by anti-Schilling bias. There’s nothing especially unreasonable in his assessment that keeping a third ace would have make this season a cakewalk, nor in Schilling’s orientation that winning a championship now, when it’s within your grasp, is worth more than stocking for the future. The Red Sox could have traded Josh Becket for prospects when they acquired Lackey, and if they had, they would have been hearing this exact criticism, and rightly so.
    Curt expresses himself a bit strongly, of course, but I don’t see how the pop-psychoanalysis is called for at all. I think he has a good point, and I wasn’t #2 to Randy Johnson. What’s my deep, hidden motivation?
    Oh–the fact that Lee is injured does not validate the thinking behind the trade. That’s just luck. It doesn’t make the more more or less “stupid,” if was when the trade was made. Bad decisions sometimes work out—that doesn’t make them good decisions.

  6. JudyJ - Apr 3, 2010 at 1:43 PM

    Surely, this isn’t worth all of the effort – for your own information, I had the neatest dog that was named after Pete Rose. And, I am not a thin-skinned Yankee fan – and I apologize for saying you were a Schilling/Sawks fan – I realize how that would be insulting to you considering you are a Cincinnatti fan of one of the greatest teams to take the field. I believe you and you have to admit – anyone who makes a “joke” about 2004 to a Yankee fan is surely hitting a nerve because it is usually a Sawks fan who is still basking in that light.

  7. BSK - Apr 3, 2010 at 7:54 PM

    Those who are saying we can’t judge if the trade was stupid or not until after the season are stupid themselves. If Lee gets hit by a car, does that mean it was “smart”? If the Phillies lose game 7 of the WS on a ball hitting off a bird and falling in for the winning hit, does that mean it was “stupid”? Deals work out or don’t work out for all sorts of reasons, only some of which are related to the logic behind the deal. And we certainly won’t know if it works out until later in the season. But the logic behind it should be decided now, based on the objective facts in place. Anything else is simply hindsight masquerading as analysis.

  8. Tired - Apr 3, 2010 at 10:38 PM

    Granted. Peace.

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