Cliff Lee remembered it as if it had happened yesterday instead of last December. Lee was hunting in Arkansas when he received a call from his
She saw rumors of his possible trade by the Phillies to Seattle on TV.
He dismissed it as Hot Stove conjecture at the time.
“I just thought it was rumors,” Lee said Monday night, prior to Game 5
of the World Series. “The next day I was going hunting again on the
Mississippi River and I got the call from [Phillies GM] Ruben [Amaro, Jr.] on the
way there, and he told me that it’s for sure.”
Lee said he was at the beginning stages of negotiating a new contract.
The Phillies had made Lee an offer and he countered. The day the pitcher countered, he was traded.
“My initial reaction was disbelief and shock,” said Lee. “At first, I
didn’t believe it because I thought we were working out an extension with the Phillies.”
The player with the quirky phantom throw before innings, a hat that
looks like it has been run through a pig pen, and a left arm that he doesn’t
ice after starts, said there simply wasn’t enough communication between him
and the Phillies. Lee also soon learned of their interest in acquiring Roy Halladay.
“There was not enough dialog,” Lee said. “Basically they had an
opportunity to get the best pitcher in baseball, too. I can’t blame them for
choosing Halladay over me basically.
“I think anybody who really knows baseball, if you had one pitcher to
build around, it would be him. He’s the best pitcher in the game. I can’t
blame them for making that decision.”
Two years, no rings
Lee, acquired by the Texas Rangers from Seattle on July 9, started Games
1 and Game 5 of the World Series for the second year in a row. Last year,
it was for Philadelphia.
“I thought I was going to spend the rest of my career there. I loved my
time there in Philly, but obviously this goes to show this is a business and
you never know what’s going to happen.”
On Monday night, the lefty was cruising until he missed on a cutter.
Edgar Renteria’s three-run home run gave the San Francisco Giants a 3-0 lead
and a World Series’ championship. It was his second loss of this year’s World Series. Last year, with the Phillies, he went 2-0. In nine postseason starts, Lee is 7-2 with a 2.13 ERA.
What does the future hold?
This winter, Lee is set to become a free agent and will probably command
a contract in the vicinity of five years and $125 million dollars. He’s expected to garner a lot of attention from the New York Yankees and the Rangers. Even the Washington Nationals have indicated they will throw
their hat in the ring for the services of Lee.
Numerous media outlets consider it a foregone conclusion that Lee will
sign with the Yankees in the offseason, but Lee hasn’t ruled out returning to
the Rangers. Everything from clubhouse chemistry to the actions of the club
will influence his decision.
“I like this team. It’s a very fun team to play on,” Lee told reporters after the Rangers lost Game 5 of the World Series. “I don’t know if I’m going to be a part of it or not. To be honest with you, I would love to
be, but so many things can happen. You never know.”
Of course, the most important thing is to be on a team that has a
legitimate shot at winning the World Series.
“That’s what every player that plays this game should strive for, to get
to the World Series and win it,” Lee said.