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Cliff Lee wants to win. But does he want to stay in Philly?

Jun 14, 2013, 8:23 AM EDT

Cliff Lee AP

Cliff Lee pitched great again yesterday and people are starting to speculate about whether the Phillies will shop him before the trade deadline. For his part, Lee says he wants to win. From Jim Salisbury at

Q: With the current makeup of this team, do you think it can be a playoff team?

A: “I can’t look at it any other way besides I expect us to win and catch up with the Braves and get into the postseason. That’s the only way you can look at it.”

Q: If it doesn’t turn around, do you want to stay?

A: “I definitely want to win. There’s no doubt about that. I want to win. I don’t know how to say it besides that. I want to win.”

Q: If it doesn’t turn around, are you prepared to stay here for two months and play out the string?

A: “I don’t have any control over that. I know that I want to win and I’ll voice that to whoever. And that’s that. I want to win here. That’s why I signed here and that’s where my focus is.”

This is being spun by some Philly scribes on Twitter as Lee being open to a trade or being non-committal to the Phillies. And I suppose I see why that is. But I feel more like this is a “what is he supposed to say?” situation. Clearly he can’t say he’d prefer to play on another team (and certainly can’t say he doesn’t think the Phillies are a winning team).

And while there might be some loyalty points won if he were to say “I want to be in Philly no matter what, this is my team, bro!” Lee has been around this block before and knows what the trade deadline is all about. If he does something like that and it’s later reported that the Phillies are shopping him it will lead to stories about how he’s unhappy or something. And if he does land on another team he might be received as less-than-happy to be there.

These, in my view, are the words of a pro trying to act like a pro. Nothing more, nothing less.

  1. heyblueyoustink - Jun 14, 2013 at 8:42 AM

    “Mock on, mock on, Voltaire, Rousseau;
    Mock on, mock on; ’tis all in vain!
    You throw the sand against the wind,
    And the wind blows it back again.
    And every sand becomes a gem
    Reflected in the beams divine;
    Blown back they blind the mocking eye,”

    If the Phils are somewhere near 5 games back at the All Star break, I like their chances.

    • paperlions - Jun 14, 2013 at 8:58 AM

      Honest question: why?

      • heyblueyoustink - Jun 14, 2013 at 9:01 AM

        Because I trust the Phillies in the second half. And I know the players in Atlanta have a recent history of being something to distrust, in the second half.

      • heyblueyoustink - Jun 14, 2013 at 9:03 AM

        And because William Blake kicks ass.

      • paperlions - Jun 14, 2013 at 9:45 AM

        Atlanta was 19 games over .500 after the ASG last year.

      • heyblueyoustink - Jun 14, 2013 at 9:57 AM

        Alot of good it did them.


      • paperlions - Jun 14, 2013 at 10:10 AM

        It was 6 games better than Philly played in the 2nd half.

      • Francisco (FC) - Jun 14, 2013 at 10:15 AM

        Because with the fifth wild card you no longer need to be a super-team to get into the post-season. Anywhere between 85-88 wins can get you into the post-season if things shake out properly and that’s what? 3 over .500 to 6 over .500? You’re telling me that’s not doable?

        If the Phillies can stay around 500 by the ASG and make a push it’s certainly feasible. Last year they sank to 14 games under .500 and managed to break even by the end of the season, they were even in the conversation regarding contention late in the season.

        And remember, even the 2006 83-win Cardinals managed to win it all. Clearly, talent over the length of the baseball season is not required to win a world series, just get in and get hot. It’s a total crap shoot.

      • paperlions - Jun 14, 2013 at 10:19 AM

        85 wins is 8 games over .500

        The Phillies are currently 7.5 games back in the WC race.

        …and the Phillies just are not a good baseball team. They have beaten up on the Marlins and Mets and had their asses handed to them by everyone else.

        So….no, I don’t see how that is doable. The Phillies look like a 73-75 win team, and that is thanks to the Marlins and Mets, more than anything.

      • Francisco (FC) - Jun 14, 2013 at 10:33 AM

        I say three to six because that’s the REAL number of games you need to actually win. We know 81 wins is the break even point, if you win 4 more you are at 85, by virtue of winning 4 games you don’t LOSE 4 games and hence you climb up the rung twice. It doesn’t mean you need to WIN 8 games to be above .500 you only need to win 4, that’s a very important distinction. The way you phrase it makes it sound harder than it actually is. Do you agree that to reach 85 wins you only need to win FOUR games more than the break even point?

        As for the rest, time will tell. They were disgustingly awful last year with everyone beating them up. We’ll see what happens later in the summer. I don’t really think they have much of a chance but that’s why they play the games. Who thought last year the Orioles and A’s would have made it. Certainly not you as you prattled on and on how the O’s run differential made their success unsustainable. How did that prediction turn out for you? Not that YOU will ever admit to being wrong about that. You never do. About anything.

      • heyblueyoustink - Jun 14, 2013 at 10:26 AM

        Too bad we can’t take 3 out of 4 from the Red Sox every week.

      • Francisco (FC) - Jun 14, 2013 at 11:08 AM

        Actually Blue I believe they split that series 2-2, but you can mention they took 2 out of 3 from the Cardinals and 2 out of 3 from San Francisco but don’t tell that to paper it ruins his narrative about the Phillies only winning against Mets and Marlins.

        Of course they lost 3 out of 4 to the Pirates. Earlier they were swept by the Reds in a three game series. Then they swept the Reds in a two game series. Go figure. They’re an inconsistent mess. But if they can settle to be consistently above average I don’t see 85-88 as undoable. Unlikely, but doable.

      • hisgirlgotburrelled - Jun 14, 2013 at 11:39 AM

        “They have beaten up on the Marlins and Mets and had their asses handed to them by everyone else”

        13-18 vs above .500 teams isn’t exactly having your asses handed to them. Only 7 teams have winning records vs above .500 teams… The Reds are 30-9 vs sub .500 teams. So be on patrol for fanatacism from them, too.

      • paperlions - Jun 14, 2013 at 11:48 AM

        I didn’t say above .500 teams, I said, everyone else.

        Philly is 14-5 against the Mets and Marlins.

        They are 18-30 against everyone else.

      • specialkindofstupid - Jun 14, 2013 at 1:09 PM

        I didn’t say above .500 teams, I said, everyone else. Philly is 14-5 against the Mets and Marlins. They are 18-30 against everyone else.

        Assuming the numbers are correct, ^ is how you win an argument.

      • evanwins - Jun 14, 2013 at 1:41 PM

        I watch this team almost every game. They’re not nearly as bad as their record shows. They lose games in stupid ways. Fix that and you’re looking at a whole differnet story.

        16 of their losses were by 1 run.
        They’ve gotten rid of the major culprits in the bullpen disaster adn replaced them with competent pieces.
        They’ve played with a back-up catcher all year.
        Hamels has been getting very bad luck. If he’s even .500 right now they’re only 3.5 games out.

        And as mentioned, this group has always had ridiculously strong 2nd halves.

        So, we;ll see. Not saying they’ll do anything but, we’ll see.

        As far as Lee goes, unless someone offers something ridiculous he’s not going anywhere. The Phillies need stars more than they need to dump salary.

      • evanwins - Jun 14, 2013 at 1:45 PM

        And by the way, how many of you making predictions had the Nationals running away with the division and as the best team in baseball?

        Shows what you know about the future.

  2. xpensivewinos - Jun 14, 2013 at 8:43 AM

    Boston is quite nice in the fall…….

    • proudlycanadian - Jun 14, 2013 at 9:35 AM

      The Red Sox could use another starting pitcher, so it would not surprise me if they took a run at Lee.

      • greymares - Jun 14, 2013 at 10:28 AM

        as of now they’re on his no trade list

      • rje49 - Jun 14, 2013 at 9:32 PM

        I’d like to see that. Send them Middlebrooks. The more I see of him the less I like. He may become a pretty good player in the future, but not this year.

  3. js20011041 - Jun 14, 2013 at 8:44 AM

    Questions like that always seem like the press is looking for a “gotcha” quote. Really, what is Lee supposed to say? If he says he wants to be traded to a winner, he’s unloyal. If he says he wants to stay with a non contender, he’s content with losing. The only way he doesn’t look bad is if Philly contends all year.

    • 18thstreet - Jun 14, 2013 at 9:30 AM

      I think the reporter was right to ask these questions, and even probe. But there’s nothing there. The reporter should have just filed the quotes away and pulled them out if something changes on the trade rumor front.

  4. xmatt0926x - Jun 14, 2013 at 9:07 AM

    I can see why players get annoyed with the media and it gets to the point where they only give quick and sterile answers. How many effin’ times can you ask the same question whle obviously trying to bait the guy into some kind of slam on the Phillies? Cliff Lee isn’t a warm and fuzzy guy either. I give him credit for not telling Salisbury to f*** off. I would have.

  5. tfoz5150 - Jun 14, 2013 at 9:10 AM

    He already said a couple of weeks ago that he does want to stay in Philadelphia. It’s just that now he ‘s got to balance his desire to win with the reality that the Phillies core (aka Howard) has become lackluster. I’ll still root for no matter where he lands. True pro.

  6. ryanrockzzz - Jun 14, 2013 at 9:32 AM

    Hopefully the Phillies don’t rush into trading him at the deadline. They could get bette value if they just trade him in the offseason.

    • nategearhart - Jun 14, 2013 at 9:45 AM

      But you gotta figure they’re more likely to find an on-the-cusp team who’s desperate enough to overpay at the deadline though. Plus, Lee is more valuable at the deadline because there’s more left on his deal, right?

  7. historiophiliac - Jun 14, 2013 at 9:33 AM

    Does anyone *want* to stay in Philly, really?

    • greymares - Jun 14, 2013 at 10:30 AM

      Philly wanna’be ?

    • evanwins - Jun 14, 2013 at 1:28 PM

      Yeah. Who would want to come play in a packed ballpark every night? Where attendance is always near the top of all of baseball? With fans who love the team and the sport? In a city that whole-heartedly supports the team? Where every other person in public is wearing Phillies gear? And everyone at the game has at least 2 pieces of Phillies gear on?

      Where TV ratings for the games are amongst the highest in the majors?

      Where the team has won more games over the past 6 years than everyone in baseball except the Yankees?

      Who would want to play there?

  8. icanspeel - Jun 14, 2013 at 9:36 AM

    It’s simple, he wants to win, if Phillies are winning he wants to stay and if not he doesn’t.

  9. beefytrout - Jun 14, 2013 at 9:55 AM

    “If it doesn’t turn around, do you want to stay?” is an asshole question from the reporter.

    • unclemosesgreen - Jun 14, 2013 at 10:01 AM

      Couldn’t agree more. “Well Jim, since they’ll pay me 10.3 million to pitch should they not trade me, I’d say I’m prepared quite nicely to – how did you phrase it? ‘Play out the string?'”

  10. mungman69 - Jun 14, 2013 at 9:57 AM

    The Phillies batters look bad, no power, not much speed. I don’t see much hope.

    • historiophiliac - Jun 14, 2013 at 10:19 AM

      But, but, Svelte Delmon Young.

      • greymares - Jun 14, 2013 at 10:34 AM

        historiophiliac= Richard Cranium

      • historiophiliac - Jun 14, 2013 at 10:36 AM

        You just made my whole day. Thanx. :)

      • dluxxx - Jun 14, 2013 at 11:20 AM

        I was gonna say but, but, Ben Revere! Then again, he did go 3-4 against the Twinkies last night. Still, it was pretty amusing to see the reunion of 2/3 of the old Twins outfield playing with Philly.

      • historiophiliac - Jun 14, 2013 at 11:21 AM

        Hey, it’s on Twinkies!

      • dluxxx - Jun 14, 2013 at 11:24 AM

        Svelte Delmon Young is thinking “Mmmm. Twinkies…”

      • historiophiliac - Jun 14, 2013 at 11:33 AM

        No, no, you have to make weight.

  11. largebill - Jun 14, 2013 at 10:38 AM

    It is no reflection on Lee, but it seems with all the trades he’d been involved in the team that traded him has lost the deal. Nearly every prospect traded for Lee has been a bust. Cleveland got four guys Knapp, Carrasco, Donald & Marson – Meh. Philly got Aumont & couple others – bah. Seattle got Smoak & three others.

    Sometimes the current major league star for prospect thing works out (Lee, Sizemore & Phillips for Bartolo Colon) but more often than not in time you find out why the other team was willing to part with those prospects (LaPorta, Andy Marte, etc).

  12. largebill - Jun 14, 2013 at 10:40 AM

    Separately, Olney suggested yesterday that Detroit make a run on getting Papalbon. Tigers are very strong team with a glaring back end of bullpen issue. Makes some sense, but can only happen if Philly realizes 2013 isn’t going to be their year.

  13. shanabartels - Jun 14, 2013 at 11:21 AM

    Those questions are basically a trap, because no matter how Lee answers them, somebody is going to be unhappy with the answer. I hate when people ask that kind of question.

  14. 13arod - Jun 14, 2013 at 11:27 AM

    come to tampa lee you will win if you pitch good

  15. pxeeks - Jun 14, 2013 at 12:00 PM

    Lee for Machado

  16. zemongoose - Jun 14, 2013 at 2:01 PM

    Given that Ruben Amaro Jr is the GM, we’ll probably see something like Lee, the balance of his remaining contract, Domonic Brown, Jesse Biddle, Roman Quinn, Cody Asche and Maikel Franco for A-Rod and Vernon Wells with the Phillies assuming the entire balance of A-Rod’s and Wells financial committments.

  17. alwaysdodgers - Jun 14, 2013 at 3:22 PM

    Im not being biased but cliff lee could be a dodger…..

  18. pisano - Jun 15, 2013 at 12:59 PM

    Who cares? he’s a hick.

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