With the trade deadline only two months away, and the Philadelphia Phillies languishing in last place in the NL East (albeit only four games out of first), it must be time to trade some stars, or at least have a weeks-long media and fan discussion, a third annual thing now in Philadelphia. We’ve already seen the argument for trading Chase Utley, sheer silliness now, considering the veteran’s popularity and current rank among leading hitters, so it must be time to…trade Cliff Lee. The quality veteran starter has been the subject of trade rumors since 2009, and has played for four different teams in that time, compiling a 67-51 record with no ERA over 3.22 (the low was 2.40 for the ’11 Phils).
Thus, Bleacher Report’s featured columnist Anthony Maimone makes the argument that Lee is certainly (well, almost certainly) headed to the Yankees. Maimone gives four reasons for the potential deal: 1) the pitcher’s current DL status (strained elbow ligament) – um, he’ll be rested for later, 2) a qualified Yankees belief Lee will rebound from his injury (“if the Yankees make a move” – the baseball equivalent of the post hoc error), 3) the Yankees’ ability to take on the player’s owed salary, and 4) something to give for him, catching prospect Gary Sanchez, and maybe more.
Never mind Lee’s no-trade clause, never mind his comfort in Philadelphia, never mind his wife’s opinion.
But we’ve seen this sort of presumption that the Yankees will prevail in any trade they want to make for quite a while, and indeed, even in regard to Lee himself. Let’s turn back the clock to 2010, when Lee was helping the Texas Rangers eliminate the Bombers from the ALCS. Following Yankee fans spitting on and cursing out Ranger wives, including Kristen Lee, ESPN New York’s Andrew Marchand still liked the Yankees’ chances to land Lee. On October 27 that year he quoted Lee’s agent as follows: “The story [as distinct from the actual spitting and cursing, one supposes] is not an issue to us. [Kristen’s] experience in New York is certainly a non-issue. She enjoys New York as much as anyone enjoys New York.” Marchand also noted Lee’s friendship with C.C. Sabathia. (Duh – it wouldn’t be an agent’s job to keep the Yankees in any trade discussion, would it?)
Lee’s trade to the Yankees then, of course, turned out to be ripe nonsense. He signed with Philadelphia, where it was widely reported that his wife’s view of the City of Brotherly Love was extremely positive (Phillies beat writer Andrew Miller: “She LOVES Philly.” ESPN’s Jerry Krasnick re: Kristen’s view of her husband’s trade from Philadelphia after the 2009 season: “I saw one of the [Phillies] owners and I just started crying. The whole entire time, we couldn’t believe it got pulled out from under us.”)
Could Lee end up in New York anyway? Of course. Major League Baseball is a business. Do beware, however, of “definitive” analysis of the situation. Maimone’s conveniently ignored Kristen Lee entirely in his piece.