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Cliff Lee was honest about his desire to play for a winner


It’s been brewing for quite some time, but Cliff Lee has probably been unhappy for a while.


He didn’t win his first game last year until July 4th, he almost decapitated Shane Victorino in the dugout against the Cardinals last Memorial Day weekend, and hasn’t exactly pulled any punches when asked about the Phillies’ disappointing showing so far in 2013. Photo: csnne.com


After the Phillies beat the Twins Thursday night for Lee’s eighth win of the season, Lee was once again asked about his current and pending situation regarding his future in a Phillies uniform. Lee is being as diplomatic as possible on the matter, saying he wants to win here first and foremost. I don’t doubt that for a minute. After all, Lee turned down a considerable amount of less money from the Yankees to return to Philadelphia in December 2010.


At the same time, Lee is showing frustration, which is what anyone in his position would probably do. He didn’t sign that contract knowing Chase Utley had severe knee issues. He didn’t sign that contract knowing Ryan Howard would blow out his achillies and become a singles hitter with bad knees. He didn’t know his fellow ace Roy Halladay would fall off a cliff (no pun intended). He didn’t know the team’s middle relief would go from stellar to atrocious. He didn’t know that the wheels would fall off this team as quickly as it did, and neither did we.


Is Lee free and clear from any criticism? No way. The Phils were up 4-0 in Game 2 of the 2011 NLDS when Lee essentially coughed up the game to the Cardinals. In saying that, you could point a lot of fingers at a lot of Phillies for coming up short in that series. Mainly the team’s offense that has been sleeping for three years. Moreover, Lee didn’t do himself any favors last season with some of his performances. In saying that, I’d still gladly take my chances with Cliff Lee on the mound in a big game than most pitchers in the big leagues.

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At this stage, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that the Phillies need to retool. If anyone thinks this team can jump ahead of the eight teams with better records competing for a division title and two wild card slots, they’re crazy. Lee truly is better off trying to win somewhere else. And if the Phillies can get one of baseball’s top prospects and some everyday players in return, they would be foolish not to. And I’m not talking about the bag of baseballs Ruben Amaro basically got for him when they dealt him to Seattle, either. The same goes for Jonathan Papelbon. These two pitchers are clearly the best trade options this team has to offer. If the team wants to compete again in the near future, this almost has to be done.


2008 was a long time ago. The sooner everybody realizes that, the better.


Although he wants to win in Philadelphia, Cliff Lee may have realized this already.


 Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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Photo: csnne.com

Thumbnail: Andrea Kohalmi