Results tagged ‘ Cliff Lee ’

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.

Tuesday’s Game Postponed

Nationals Phillies BaseballThe Phillies postponed tonight’s game against the Braves at Citizens Bank Park because of rain.

It will be made up at a later date.

The postponement does not alter the order of the Phillies rotation. Left-hander Cliff Lee will pitch tomorrow night, while right-hander A.J. Burnett will pitch the series finale Thursday afternoon. Right-handers Jonathan Pettibone, Kyle Kendrick and Roberto Hernandez would fall in line to pitch this weekend in Colorado.

But the Braves have skipped right-hander David Hale, who was scheduled to pitch tonight. Lee instead will face right-hander Julio Teheran and Burnett will face left-hander Alex Wood.

Perhaps a night off will help the Phillies starters get on track. They have pitched more than six innings just twice in 13 games, which has placed additional pressure on a bullpen with the third-highest ERA (5.53) in baseball.

Phillies starters are 22nd in baseball in innings pitched, but are seventh in pitches thrown. It is partially why Phillies games are averaging 3 hours, 17 minutes, which is the third-longest average in baseball.

“For me, the game starts with pitching and defense,” Ryne Sandberg said in his office before the postponement. “I think overall our pitchers have to establish the strike zone and work ahead in the counts. I think that has a big part in why we’re playing the slowest games and longest games in baseball. Every time I look at the clock and leave (the ballpark), it’s almost midnight. I can’t believe it, but it is what it is.

“Our pitchers are throwing a lot of pitches, so on the starting pitching side of things they’ve been limited on the time that they can be out there and then we’ve had to use our bullpen and then with some of our bullpen guys it has been the same thing with the amount of pitches coming out of the pen.”

The Phillies planned to celebrate Jackie Robinson Day tonight, but pregame festivities surrounding the Jackie Robinson Salute will take place tomorrow night, including both teams wearing No. 42 jerseys. All fans attending tomorrow night’s game will receive the commemorative Jackie Robinson print, featuring quotes from Phillies players and Sandberg on what Robinson meant to them.

Reports: Phillies Listening on Lee and Hamels

Cliff LeeInteresting start to the morning …

ESPN and CBSSports.com reported the Phillies have told teams they will listen to offers for Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee. Now why in the world would the Phillies do that? Well, it is important to note that listening is different than trading. But if some team is willing to offer premium talent for Hamels or Lee — and take their entire salary to boot — it would be foolish not to listen.

It would be foolish, however, to trade one of them for a package that does not address numerous and immediate needs. After all, what was the purpose of extending Chase Utley, signing Marlon Byrd and resigning Carlos Ruiz if the Phillies are not trying to win the next couple seasons?

The Phillies better than anybody know the risks of trading a top starting pitcher for young talent. They traded Lee to the Mariners in Dec. 2009 for Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies and J.C. Ramirez. They also have acquired Lee, Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt for prospects that included Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald, Lou Marson, Jason Knapp, Kyle Drabek, Travis d’Arnaud, Michael Taylor, J.A. Happ, Jonathan Villar and Anthony Gose.

Have any of those players come back to haunt the Phillies yet?

How certain can the Phillies be that the players they would get in return for Hamels or Lee would make a difference?

(Here are other examples of teams trading top starting pitching and getting very little in return.)

It also must be noted there are obstacles involved in any potential Hamels and Lee talks. First, both have limited no-trade clauses. Second, they are owed a ton of money. Hamels is owed $118.5 million over the next five years, which includes $22.5 million in salary each of the next five seasons, plus a $6 million buyout for a vesting option in 2019. Lee is owed $62.5 million over the next three years, which includes $25 million in salary each of the next two seasons, plus $12.5 million buyout for a vesting option for 2016.

If the Phillies trade either of them the other team must take their salary, which limits potential partners. The Phillies last ate money in a trade in 2005, when they shipped Jim Thome to the White Sox.

There are reasons it makes sense for the Phillies to listen. They have holes everywhere. They need to get younger. They could use the payroll relief. But there are plenty of reasons it won’t happen, too.

Lee Running Out of Bullets

Cliff LeeCliff Lee delivered the type of performance tonight the Phillies expected when they signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010.

But this start did not come in the thick of a pennant race. This start came with two inconsequential games remaining in the Phillies’ first losing season since 2002. Lee worked masterfully in eight innings in the final start of his season in a 1-0 loss to the Braves at Turner Field. He struck out six consecutive batters at one point — one short of tying Steve Carlton and Curt Schilling for the franchise record — and struck out 13 batters overall.

In the end, it was just another frustrating loss at the end of another frustrating season as Lee’s opportunities for meaningful baseball games shrink by the year. He has thrown 433 2/3 innings over the past two seasons and none have come in the postseason.

That’s a lot of wasted bullets.

“I am getting up there in age,” said Lee, who lost World Series with the Phillies in 2009 and Rangers in 2010. “I’m 35 years old now and when this contract’s over I plan on going home, so I’m running out of opportunities. All I can control is what I can control, and I’m going to do everything I can to help us win. That’s all I know how to do.”

So he doesn’t see himself playing beyond this contract? It expires following the 2015 season, unless a club option is exercised for 2016.

“Right now I don’t,” he said. “There are a lot of things that can happen between now and then, but I just know that my kids are 12 and 10 and I’ve basically missed the first half of their lives. I’m financially able to shut it down, so … that’s how I feel right now. But when the time comes I might look at it differently. I also want to finish being good, not struggling and fumbling through at the end. I want to finish strong and take it to the house. Next year I want to win a World Series, then another one, then another one and take it to the house. That’s what I’m wanting to do.”

Lee finished this season 14-8 with a 2.87 ERA, which is 10th in baseball. He became the first pitcher in baseball history to strike out 50 or more batters with one or fewer walks in a calendar month. He struck out 54 and walked just one in 39 innings in September.

He was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise forgettable year.

“What gives me hope is the fact that this has been a winning organization for quite a while and you’ve got to expect the front office to make moves and do everything they can to keep that going,” Lee said. “We’ve still got some key guys coming back that have been injured with (Ben) Revere and (Ryan) Howard. KK (Kyle Kendrick) finished the year hurt. (Roy) Halladay, if they bring him back. We had a lot of guys that weren’t able to help us like they normally would.”

Lee will join Cole Hamels atop next season’s rotation. After that, who knows?

Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez figures to be in there, or else why would have the Phillies signed him to a three-year, $12 million contract? Kendrick, who is eligible for salary arbitration, could be back, too. Ryne Sandberg hinted at the possibility when asked about next season’s rotation.

“That’s a good place to start,” he said about Lee and Hamels before the game. “Have KK in the mix. And then some decisions have to be made from there.”

Quiet Deadline for Phillies?

Michael YoungThe Phillies have spoiled fans with plenty of action at the trade deadline in recent years, one way or another.

Let’s look back, shall we?

  • 2006: Traded Bobby Abreu, Cory Lidle, Rheal Cormier, David Bell and Sal Fasano and DFA’d Ryan Franklin in a fire sale.
  • 2007: Acquired Kyle Lohse and Tadahito Iguchi.
  • 2008: Acquired Joe Blanton.
  • 2009: Acquired Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco and signed Pedro Martinez.
  • 2010: Acquired Roy Oswalt.
  • 2011: Acquired Hunter Pence.
  • 2012: Traded Shane Victorino and Pence.

This might be the quietest deadline since 2005, when the Phillies got Ugueth Urbina in June. I say that because last night the Red Sox acquired Jake Peavy from the White Sox, which means Lee isn’t going to Boston or anywhere else. So I believe at this point it’s Michael Young or nobody. The Phillies are not going to trade Lee just to trade him. Why do that? They don’t need to shed payroll, and they’ve already been burned once on a Lee deal. Teams aren’t beating down doors for Jonathan Papelbon, Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Ruiz or Delmon Young either, so they probably aren’t going anywhere. Ruben Amaro Jr. has said Chase Utley isn’t leaving as they’ve discussed a contract extension, so that’s basically it. It’s Michael Young or nobody, unless something crazy happens in the next few hours.

The Clock Is Ticking …

Cliff LeeThe speculation and rumors are at a full boil.

Depending on the time of day, Cliff Lee either is not going to be traded because the Phillies’ asking price is way too high — we’ve heard everything from three to four legitimate prospects to first, second and third born children — to there is a good chance he will be traded. Here’s what I know: the Phillies are willing to trade Lee. They are listening to offers for Lee. But they still plan to try to win next season and beyond — thus the $48 million to Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez and the expected contract extension with Chase Utley — so they’re not pressured to trade him. They’re not the Marlins or Pirates or another small-market team. They don’t have to shed payroll. Lee’s contract isn’t an issue (although it is an issue for other teams), and for all of those reasons I would say the chances the Phillies trade Lee are less likely than trading him.

Now, please keep in mind these things can change by the hour, minute, text message or phone call. The Phillies thought they had no chance to acquire Hunter Pence before the 2011 trade deadline, but eventually got the deal done. The same could happen for Lee, but I think the Phillies aren’t as motivated to move Lee as they were to acquire Pence.

The most likely Phillies player to be traded is Michael Young for obvious reasons. He has value as a veteran corner infielder that can also DH and he isn’t expected back next season. But don’t expect much in return for a two-month rental.

The rest? Utley is not going to be traded. (See above.) Jonathan Papelbon‘s trade value isn’t terribly high at the moment and not because of his strong comments Sunday to MLB.com. It’s because of his performance and contract. His velocity has dipped and his five blown saves are tied for third in baseball. Carlos Ruiz could be moved, but don’t expect much in return. His .581 OPS would be the worst among big-league catchers, if he had enough plate appearances to qualify.

Trading Jimmy Rollins is moot. He said Sunday he would not waive his trade rights. I suppose the Phillies could move Delmon Young, but they would get less for him than they would get for Michael Young. CSNPhilly.com reported the only three players the Phillies will not trade are Utley, Cole Hamels and Domonic Brown. No surprises there. The Phillies expect Hamels to bounce back and a team starved for young talent would be crazy to trade Brown at this point.

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