Results tagged ‘ Cliff Lee ’

Relax A Little Bit About Lee’s Monday Night

Cliff LeeCliff Lee didn’t help his cause last night, but Phillies fans shouldn’t panic about it.

He struggled in his return from the DL against the Giants at Citizens Bank Park, allowing 12 hits, six runs and failing to command his pitches in 5 2/3 innings. You’d think the guy forgot to pitch, but one scout afterward correctly pointed out that Lee maintained his velocity throughout the night, which indicates he is healthy. The struggles? Most likely the result of a two-month layoff.

If Lee is healthy there is no reason to think he will not return to form as one of the top starting pitchers in baseball.

If the Phillies can’t trade him before the July 31 trade deadline, perhaps he clears waivers next month. If he does the Phillies have until Aug. 31 to trade him. If he doesn’t clear waivers, there is nothing to prevent the Phillies from trading him in the offseason. A couple more months isn’t going to hurt anybody, if Lee is healthy and pitching well. In fact, it would get more teams involved in the offseason because right now the only teams interested in Lee are contending teams.

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ESPN.com reported Lee can be traded to nine teams without his consent: the Braves, Indians, Astros, Marlins, Twins, Mets, Padres, Rays and Nationals. ESPN.com also reported that A.J. Burnett, who shares the same agent as Lee, can be traded to nine teams without his permission: the Orioles, Red Sox, Reds, Royals, Mets, Yankees, Pirates, Cardinals and Nationals.

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I still think the three Phillies most likely to be traded before the deadline are Jonathan Papelbon, Marlon Byrd and Antonio Bastardo. The Phillies are listening, but not actively shopping Cole Hamels, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins. I would be incredibly surprised if any of those three are traded.

Phillies Busy as Trade Deadline Approaches

Cole HamelsLet the rumors, speculation and stories filled with unnamed scouts and insiders begin!

The Phillies return to action tonight in Atlanta, and the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline is 13 days away. The Phillies are busy trying to find trade partners for several veteran players, but just because they have players to trade it doesn’t mean they’ll trade them. They’re not pressured to make something happen before July 31. The front office hasn’t been told by ownership to shed payroll no matter what. Remember, the Phillies can still trade these players before the Aug. 31 waiver deadline or in the offseason.

Let’s repeat that: The Phillies can still trade these players before the Aug. 31 waiver deadline or in the offseason. Especially if they’re not getting much of a return in their current discussions. Would you trade Byrd or Lee or Papelbon for Tyson Gillies 2.0 just so you can turn to Phillies fans and say, “Look, guys, we made some trades!” It’s doubtful.

A report Sunday had the Mariners hot and heavy for Marlon Byrd, but reports since said their interest has cooled or talks have stalled. Keep this in mind as you read countless reports between today and July 31: 95 percent of this stuff is teams kicking the tires and reporters taking a kernel of information and writing it. For example, when you read a team with a need for starting pitching has inquired about Cole Hamels, don’t say to yourself, “Oh my God! The (insert team here) are going to get Cole Hamels!” Say to yourself, “Well, no kidding! Of course they’re interested in Cole.”

A team expressing interest in a Phillies player and a team actually making a legitimate offer are two totally different things. Maybe the Mariners called the Phillies last weekend and said, “We’d really like Marlon Byrd, but we’ll only give you a marginal prospect for him.” In that scenario, Ruben Amaro Jr. most likely said, “Thanks, but no thanks,” and hung up the phone.

A few reminders as the July 31 deadline approaches:

  • The Phillies are absolutely open to trading Jonathan Papelbon, Cliff Lee, A.J. Burnett, Marlon Byrd and Antonio Bastardo. The contracts and limited no-trade clauses for Papelbon, Lee, Burnett and Byrd could be stumbling blocks, but I just don’t see the Phillies making deals if they’re only getting a light-hitting outfielder or a middling reliever in return.
  • They would need to receive a huge package of prospects to trade Cole Hamels.
  • Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins have 10-and-5 rights and have repeatedly expressed their desire to remain in Philadelphia. The Phillies will listen to offers for Hamels, Utley and Rollins, but they are not going to give them away.

So, yes, the Phillies are not “looking” to trade Hamels. And they absolutely prefer to trade Lee over him. They would welcome a Papelbon trade, and they are willing to part with Bastardo because they have two younger, less expensive left-handers in Jake Diekman and Mario Hollands.

It is going to be an interesting couple of weeks for the Phillies. Like I said, they are active. But like I also mentioned, there are no indications they’re going to just get rid of players, either.

Enjoy the weekend.

Lee to Rejoin Rotation July 21

Cliff LeeThe Phillies announced today that Cliff Lee will rejoin the Phillies’ rotation July 21 against the Giants.

Lee has been on the DL since late May with a strained left elbow. He is scheduled to make his third rehab start Monday with Class A Clearwater, but apparently the Phillies are certain he will come out of that just fine. That’s good news for the Phillies, who are trying to trade him before the July 31 trade deadline.

But it won’t be easy. Lee will have only two starts to prove his health and effectiveness before the deadline. If I’m a contending team and I have prospects to give, it would be tough to send them to the Phillies after only seeing Lee twice following an elbow injury. And I can’t imagine the Phillies would take a lesser deal when there is absolutely no reason they can’t trade him before the Aug. 31 waiver trade deadline or in the offseason.

Both of those options might be more likely.

Lee’s Next Step Could Be Rehab Start

Cliff LeeCliff Lee continues to recover from his strained left elbow, taking another step forward today at Marlins Park.

He threw 60 pitches in a three-inning simulated game.

“We’re on pace,” Lee said.

Lee said he feels ready to begin a rehab assignment, which could happen Sunday with Class A Clearwater. That decision could come tomorrow, when the Phillies and Lee see how his elbow responded from today’s effort.

“I’ve been feeling better every day,” Lee said. “A couple rehab assignments then hopefully back up.”

If Lee makes two rehab starts he should be in line to rejoin the Phillies’ rotation after the All-Star break, although the Phillies did not rule out just one rehab start and a return shortly before the break.

Lee: Wednesday Is A Big Day

Cliff LeeCliff Lee took an important step in his recovery from a strained left elbow this afternoon at Turner Field.

He threw 20 fastballs in a bullpen session, his first since landing on the disabled list May 19.

“I can still tell something is there, but it’s not painful or uncomfortable at all,” Lee said afterward. “The past four or five days have been probably the best progression I’ve had since the first four or five days after I stopped throwing. Yeah, the last few days have been good.”

Lee said he “potentially” could be pitching for the Phillies before the All-Star break next month, but that remains to be seen.

“It’s tough to sit here and say anything right now,” he said. “Tomorrow is going to be the big day to see how I feel. Hopefully I come in and feel normal and continue as planned. I’ll have a bullpen in a couple more days. If I come in and there’ soreness or discomfort or something we’ll probably push it back a day or two.”

Lee estimated he was throwing 90 to 100 percent.

“I was throwing as hard as I could,” he said.

Rookie right-hander David Buchanan has made five starts in Lee’s place. He is 2-3 with a 5.97 ERA. Lee was 4-4 with a 3.18 ERA in 10 starts before the injury.

Amaro Talks Trade Possibilities

Ruben Amaro Jr.Ruben Amaro Jr. spoke for a few minutes this afternoon at Citizens Bank Park, where he was asked numerous questions about the upcoming July 31 trade deadline. He said no decisions have been made and he holds out hope the Phillies will do something with their current three-game winning streak.

If not, if the team returns to its losing ways, it seems safe to say a fire sale is a certainty.

Here are a few highlights:

Q: Are some of the contracts on the books inhibiting your ability to trade players?
A: Not that much because we’ve taken money back on deals before, so we’ll do it again if we have to.

Q: Are you already getting calls?
A: We’ve had discussions with a lot of teams about things.

Q: Do people like your guys?
A: Yes. Wouldn’t you? We have some pretty good players.

Q: In your mind, can Cliff Lee get back in time where he could become appealing to contending teams, if you go in that direction?
A: I think so. Cliff threw again today and it went well, which is good. Hopefully he can start going in a straight line.

Q: If you get into a rebuild situation and you subtracted, do you have any untouchables?
A: I can’t say there are any untouchables. We’ve talked about this before. I mean, some guys are less touchable than others.

Q: Where is your confidence/faith level this team can put together a run and get into this thing when it hasn’t won more than three straight in more than a year?
A: Yeah, it hasn’t been great in that regard. No question. Our recent history is not great. We’ve got to see what happens over the next couple of weeks because we’ve got (Cody) Asche coming back, we’re waiting on Cliff to jump back in this thing. We have our bullpen starting to do some things we hoped they would do earlier in the year. You’re seeing some of that growth now, finally. What’s my confidence level? I believe in our players, but if they keep playing at this same rate they were playing … if they play like the did the last three or four guys that’d be different. But if they keep playing at the rate they were playing the last week and a couple weeks prior then my confidence would be low. We’ll see. They have ability.

Q: You said a couple weeks ago you have no intentions to trade Chase Utley or Jimmy Rollins and you’ve received no indications they’re interested. Has anything changed?
A: It’s hard to speculate because they’re 10-and-5 guys. If someone comes and says we’d like to have Jimmy Rollins or Chase Utley or whatever player is out there, I have to do my job and listen and explore. But the reality of it is it could be all wasted time because they may not want to go anywhere. And at that time we may not want them to go anywhere either. A lot of it depends on what we want to do, and most of it depends on what they want to do.

Q: Are you confident in your ability to rebuild if you go that way?
A: Absolutely.

 

Lee Throwing, But No Timetable for Return

Cliff LeeCliff Lee said he felt fine after some light throwing yesterday at Citizens Bank Park.

Lee has been on the disabled list since May 19 with a strained left elbow. It was the first time he had thrown since May 18, when he threw 6 2/3 against the Reds. Lee said his elbow is not 100 percent yet, but it is improving.

“He’ll do that every other day for a couple of days and then back-to-back after that twice,” Ryne Sandberg said of the 30-35 throws Lee made yesterday. “And then keep progressing from there. … He just said he’s gradually gotten better and it got to the point where, pretty much no sensation in there. So that was the indication to start throwing yesterday.”

There is no timetable for Lee’s return, although he already has missed considerable time so he will need to rebuild arm strength. That will take weeks, not days.

Lee Still Feels Discomfort in Elbow

Cliff LeeThe Phillies had hoped Cliff Lee could begin his throwing program as early as last week, but the wait continues.

“It’s still there a little bit,” Lee said today about the discomfort in his left elbow. “It’s getting better.”

Lee has been on the 15-day disabled list since May 19 with a strained elbow. He said he plans to join the team on its upcoming six-game road trip to Washington and Cincinnati, which begins Tuesday night against the Nationals at Nationals Park. He is hopeful he can begin his throwing program on the road.

“There’s a chance that could happen on this road trip,” Ryne Sandberg said.

Phillies Cruise in LA

Cliff LeeGood morning from California.

If you missed last night’s 7-0 victory over the Dodgers because of the three-hour difference, you missed a rare night when the Phillies didn’t have to sweat out a victory. They took a 2-0 lead in the first inning and never looked back as Cliff Lee allowed four hits and struck out 10 in eight scoreless innings.

Lee is 2-2 with a 1.20 ERA in four starts since Opening Day. In 30 innings over those starts, he has allowed 33 hits, four earned runs, one walk and has struck out 37.

“He’s evolved over the years,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “He’s throwing more changeups, the curveball in different ways. He’s using more pitches. He used to be simple — stuff and location. He doesn’t throw quite as hard, but it doesn’t seem to matter a whole lot.”

Lee’s fastball has lost about one mph since last season, but it hasn’t affected his results.

Ryne Sandberg hit Carlos Ruiz fourth, despite hitting .204 with no home runs and two RBIs. He finished hitting .245 with one home run and four RBIs.

Ryan Howard continues to swing a hot bat. He hit his fifth home run of the season. It is just 19 games, but it is worth noting for the moment that his .905 OPS ranks 24th out of 199 qualifying hitters in baseball. Chase Utley is fourth at 1.086.

If you didn’t see Utley’s play in the bottom of the first inning you should watch it here. Lee called it “advanced” baseball.

Oh, Clifton

Cliff Lee, Jason HeywardCliff Lee cannot catch a break.

Take a look at some of the facts and figures to come from last night’s 1-0 loss to the Braves:

  • Lee allowed 11 hits, one run, one walk and struck out 13 in a complete game.
  • He threw a career-high 128 pitches in the 29th complete game of his career.
  • It is the ninth time since he rejoined the Phillies in 2011 that he has struck out 12 or more batters in a game. Lee is 2-5 with a 2.12 ERA in those starts, as the Phils have suffered four shutout losses and scored just 23 runs.
  • Lee is the first pitcher in 100 years to lose twice, despite allowing one run and striking out 13 or more batters in a complete game. (It has happened just 18 times since 1914.) The last time it happened in baseball? In Lee’s last start against the Braves on Sept. 27, 2013.
  • From Elias: Evan Gattis hit a 0-2 pitch from Lee for a solo home run for the game’s only run. Last year on Sept. 27, Chris Johnson hit a 0-2 pitch for a solo home run in a 1-0 victory. There has not been another game over the past three seasons (2012 to date) that ended 1-0 on an 0-2 homer.
  • Opponents are hitting .429 (6-for-14) with two doubles, one home run, three RBIs and five strikeouts against Lee this season, when they put the ball in play on a 0-2 count. To put that into perspective, hitters from 2011-13 hit a paltry .137 (55-for-401) with six doubles, eight home runs, 19 RBIs and 219 strikeouts against Lee in 0-2 counts.
  • Lee’s 3.82 run support average since he rejoined the Phillies in 2011 is the fifth-lowest out of 84 qualifying pitchers in baseball. The only ones with worse run support? Jeff Samardzija (3.38), Tim Lincecum (3.67), Justin Masterson (3.75) and Bud Norris (3.80).
  • From Elias: Lee has allowed 15 home runs on 0-2 pitches over the last 10 seasons, tying Mark Buehrle for the highest total in the major leagues in that time frame.
  • From Elias: Gattis was only the second player since 1900 to go 4-for-4 with a home run in a 1-0 win. The other was Hall-of-Famer Rogers Hornsby in a Cubs victory over the Reds at Wrigley Field in 1929.
  • From Elias: Julio Teheran and Lee each pitched complete games of nine innings. The last game in which both starters tossed complete games of at least nine innings was Aug. 27, 2012, when the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez and Twins’ Liam Hendricks did it at Target Field. Seattle won, 1-0.
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