MLB Trade Rumors: Will the Philadelphia Phillies Re-Acquire Cliff Lee?

June 24, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

Philadelphia Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro has a decision to make, and Phillies fans can only hope he makes the right one despite recent history.

The Philadelphia Phillies need to get Cliff Lee back.

In seeking to acquire a certain pitcher at the trading deadline whom he also acquired last season at the trade deadline, Amaro has only negative history in the recent past to guide him.

In 2003, the Chicago White Sox traded away three little-known players to acquire Roberto Alomar from the New York Mets.  The Sox intended to have Alomar help them make a playoff push, but it did not go as planned.  Alomar played terribly, Chicago missed the playoffs, and in the off-season Alomar signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

In 2004, the White Sox again needed help making a playoff push, and they again acquired Roberto Alomar.  The White Sox again missed the playoffs, and Alomar signed in the off-season with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and then retired.

The lesson here would appear to be straightforward: do not acquire the same player at the trade deadline two years in row because it will make you look foolish.


In truth, the Chicago White Sox-Roberto Alomar situation is different in every respect from the Philadelphia Phillies-Cliff Lee situation.  Unlike the 2003-2004 White Sox, the 2010 Phillies are a legitimate playoff contender.  Unlike Roberto Alomar circa 2003-2004, Cliff Lee circa 2010 is a dominant major league ballplayer.

And unlike the White Sox consecutive-season snatch-up of Alomar, re-aquiring Cliff Lee for the remainder of the 2010 season is the right move to make.

As of tonight, Cliff Lee is now 6-3 with a 2.39 ERA and 76-to-4 strikeout to walk ratio in 86.2 innings pitched.  Keep in mind he has done this pitching in the American League for a losing team (though with four starters with ERAs under 3.40, it has hardly been the pitching or defense that is costing this team games).

The reasons the Phillies must re-acquire Cliff Lee are simple: they know he can succeed in the National League; they know he is a perfect fit in the clubhouse; and (and perhaps the most important) the Mets or Braves may also be in position to acquire him.

The more relevant question is: Can the Philadelphia Phillies afford to acquire Cliff Lee?

This is a two-pronged question.

From the Seattle Mariners perspective, the team won’t simply take back the players they traded to get Lee.  Lee’s value is certainly higher now than it was in the off-season, but more importantly, the three players they sent the Phillies have been terrible this season.

Tyson Gilles is currently hitting .238 with a .619 OPS in Double-A.  Phillippe Aumont is 1-6 with a 7.22 ERA combined at Single-A+ and Double-A.  J.C. Ramirez, the best of the three, is 5-3 with a 4.22 ERA at A+ and Double-A combined.

These are not three players that will get Cliff Lee back to the Phillies Cliff Lee.

But who will?

At this point, it is clear to all comers that the Phillies’ success in the postseason, and for that matter their success in even getting to the postseason, is going to depend far more upon their ability to match dominant National League pitching than it is going to depend upon, say, inconsistent power-hitting from a home-field hero right fielder.

Like Cliff Lee, Jayson Werth is in a contract year but, unlike Cliff Lee, Werth is hardly putting up the types of numbers that merit a big contract at the end of the year.  Since May 19th, Werth is hitting .187 with a .643 OPS and four home runs, 13 RBI, and 9 runs scored.

But you know what?  Werth would make a great American League hitter.

At some point, and probably soon, the Seattle Mariners are going to announce that they have a deal in place to seen Cliff Lee to a National League East team.  For the sake of the Philadelphia Phillies, general manager Ruben Amaro, and Philadelphia area sports fans, that NL East team needs to be the Phillies.

Never mind the fact that the Phillies acquired him last year.  Never mind the fact that when the Chicago White Sox acquired the same player two years in a row it was a debacle.  The Phillies aren’t the White Sox, and Cliff Lee isn’t Roberto Alomar.

The Phillies need to have a conversation with Seattle, and the conversation needs to start with Jayson Werth.


Asher B. Chancey lives in Philadelphia, PA, and is a co-founder of .

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

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