The truth really does set you free

BY LOU ORLANDO for High Hopes

It’s been more than two months since the Phillies traded Cliff Lee to the Seattle Mariners for a cache of young prospects. Yet, the uproar over the trade simply won’t go away. Why?

As recently as this past weekend, both the local talk-radio shows spent considerable time dissecting the trade while callers were still being critical and voicing strong objections. Why?

In my opinion, it’s because the Phillies didn’t tell us the whole truth behind the trade from the start, and to this day, as evidenced by Ruben Amaro’s comments a recent edition of The Inquirer, the Phillies continue to bob and weave while trying to put their own self-serving spin on the story.

I feel like the Phillies were trying to hoodwink myself and the rest of the fans from the very start. Let’s look at the facts.

First, the trade never was the three-team trade the Phillies made it out to be because none of the players the Phillies sent to Toronto ended up in Seattle, and none of the players the Phillies received from Seattle ended up in Toronto. Rather, they were two very distinct trades made at the same time. I’m surprised the Phillies didn’t try to call it a four-team trade when Toronto immediately traded Michael Taylor to Oakland!

The reason the trades were made at the same time was because the Phillies didn’t want the media and the fans, even for a minute, to start going gaga over having a starting rotation led by Roy Halladay and Lee. Had that feeling been allowed to mushroom, trading Lee afterwards would have brought a hailstorm of backlash. So, why not keep both Halladay and Lee?

The Phillies could have afforded to keep Lee for 2010. After all, they freed up $24 million in salary by no longer having to pay Brett Myers ($12 million), Adam Eaton ($8 million) and Geoff Jenkins ($4 million). With $24 million saved plus the $6 million Toronto is paying on Halladay’s 2010 contract, within that $30 million there was room for Lee’s $9 million salary.

The Phillies said keeping Hallday and Lee would have been impossible because they needed money to help pay current players who were arbitration eligible. I can understand that, but, let’s be real, no one in that group (Victorino, Ruiz, Blanton and Durbin) are super star break-the-bank caliber players.

Amaro continues to give conflicting reasons for the trade. Initially, trading Lee was all about restocking the minor league system. Lately, Amaro has taken to saying, “We aren’t the New York Yankees!”

That latter statement allows anyone with even a third-grade diploma realize he’s talking about money. So is it restocking the farm system, or is it the money?

But all that said, if the Phillies go on to win the National League pennant this year and return to the World Series (And I believe they will), come October, no one will be talking about Cliff Lee.

My point is that few would be talking about him now if the Phillies simply had told the whole truth from the beginning. Whatever the reason, I can handle the truth. But what’s the real truth? Presently, one can only speculate.

I think the Phillies preferred Roy Halladay over Lee because they viewed his talent and signability to be greater. Additionally, the Phillies knew, even if they kept Lee for 2010, that they’d have to let him walk because they weren’t going to be able to afford to pay him and Halladay going forward.

Lastly, trading Lee during the season would have been a public relations nightmare. So they opted to do it before the season began, probably figuring the prospects they’d get now are more valuable than the two supplementary draft choices they would have received when Lee signed elsewhere.

I think that’s the way it went down, and if I’m right, I don’t have a problem with any of it. I may not like it, but can see their logic.

All the Phillies had to do was say so in the first place and this Lee talk would be over. Instead, they are still being chastised for the trade by the media and the fans. And the irony of it all is, they brought it on themselves.

The truth sets you free. It’s good to be free.

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8 Comments

Filed under Editorial

8 responses to “The truth really does set you free

  1. Homer

    Actually, there is a greater point that no one seems to recognize. And I really wanna vomit when I hear (and I’ve heard it 3,356 times), if we got rid of Blanton then we have Halladay, Lee and Hammels for one year because the money they saved by letting Blanton go would mean that Lee would only cost them a million bucks this year. And that is true. But this is what everyone is missing. With that rotation, you have a decent shot to win it again. Then, knowing you have a zero, and I mean zero shot of resigning Lee as he wants CC money, you are done with being a lock for anything. Why? Because Blanton is gone. Think about two years from now. Halladay, Hammels and Happ? Or, Halladay, Hammels, Blanton and Happ locked up for three years as it is now. That was the method for the madness. I don’t want “next year,” I want the next three. I don’t think people put the proper value on Blanton. Solid, 15 game winners who eat innings are really, really hard to find.
    Wow, Homer just spoke for like three minutes without toking on the pipe.
    Love,
    HoMer

  2. Louie The Looper

    HoMer:

    Valid points, however, I disagree with your asssessments of Blanton and Happ.

    First, keeping Lee guards against Hollywood Hamels going into another self-induced funk.

    Second, we could have kept Lee and let him walk and the end of this season and then signed a Blanton-like pitcher for 2011. Little in Blanton’s resume suggests hard-to-find.

    Finally, I like J.A. Happ. He pitched great for us last year and almost won the NL ROY award. But I look at him as a 4th or 5th starter at best. Happ benefited from a paltry .270 BBIP and led all of baseball with an unsustainable 85.2 percent left-on-base rate. For a non-strikeout pitcher, those numbers will be almost impossible to repeat.

    But I think the main point made in the article wasn’t whether the Phillies should have kept Cliff Lee for 2010 or not, but rather the opaque way his trade was presented to us fans.

    Unlike Tom Cruise and Demi Moore in the movie “A Few Good Men”, Jack Nicholson could never tell Philly fans, “You can’t handle the truth!”

    Fact is, we can, and we’d like to hear more of it, not only from the Phillies, but from Ed Stefanski, Joe Banner and Andy Reid, too.

    Wow! Louie The Looper prattled on for almost five minutes and I’ve been bongless my whole life. To me, tokes are those silver things you put into slot machines.

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  4. Homer

    Little in Blanton’s resume suggests hard-to-find.????????????????? First, let me be clear, everything rests on the performance of Hammels, but we knew that. Second, I said that a rotation of H,H and H would be great but not enough. I love Happ as well. I just don’t get the Blanton doubters. Here is the HoMer challenge to Loop and everyone else. Since Mr. Blanton is Mr. Dime O Dozen, show me comparable pitchers with the numbers he has (and I also want to see the ones who have World Series experience) over the past 3 years.
    Good luck! You can research it this weekend while we are all getting snowed in.
    HoMer

  5. Louie The Looper

    HoMer,

    First, didn’t say Blanton types are a dime-a-dozen. To point, I said guys like Blanton are not that hard to find. They’re not all over the place, but they aren’t secreted, either.

    I’m going to eliminate “pitched in a World Series” from your criteria. That’s the luck of the draw. For example, Blanton has pitched in two World Series while Roy Halladay hasn’t pitched in any.

    That said, here’s a list of pitchers that I would equate with Blanton’s skill set. Like Blanton, none deserve a grade of A, but they’re all solid C+, B- or B pitchers capable of filling the fourth slot in a rotation; delivering an ERA in the 4.00 to 4.50 range, and if the odds prevail, winning 12-15 games on a winning team like the Phillies.

    Some don’t have the win totals of Blanton, but that can be attributed for some to pitching for a losing team.

    Randy Wolf
    Paul Maholm
    Joel Piniero
    Jason Marquis
    Gil Meche
    Kyle Lohse
    Jon Garland
    Aaron Cook
    Kevin Millwood
    Brad Penny
    Bradon Looper
    Ian Snell
    Doug Davis
    Bronson Arroyo

    Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot to like about Joe Blanton and he could pitch on my team anytime. I’m just saying that finding someone like him isn’t the Herculian task you present it to be.

  6. TheDude

    Regarding the Great Blanton Debate….Blanton’s a pretty solid #3 man. Looks like he’s won 63 in his first 5 years in the bigs. K’s to walks of almost 3 to 1 last year looks more like a #2 man than a #3. would you rather have Blanton or any of these guys from your bigger NL rivals:

    Mike Pelphrey (Mets) …sucks
    Jair Jurrjens (Braves) ..promising but unproven
    Hiroki Kuroda (Dodgers)….a cut below
    Brad Penny (Cardinals)….washed up and wasn’t that good to begin with
    Ubaldo Jimenez (Rockies)…came unglued in postseason lost two of the 4 to Phils

    Country Joe looks pretty good to me compared to these guys and the rest of the league is worse.

  7. Pingback: The truth really does set you free « High Hopes: Philly Sports | Drakz Free Online Service

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