Cliff Lee's agent: we didn't force a trade

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Early yesterday
it was reported that Cliff Lee was demanding $23 million a year. A few
hours later, Philly fans’ hopes of a 1-2 punch of Halladay and Lee were
shattered, Lee was on his way west, and Mariners fans were jumping for
absolute joy.  The conventional wisdom that has emerged: Lee’s
extension demands were way more than the Phillies wanted to pay him,
and rather than rent an increasingly brooding Cliff Lee for 2009, they
flipped him for prospects to cover for those that were sent north to
Toronto, turning what would have been an audacious move into a merely
good, albeit decidedly lateral move.

Not so, says Lee’s agent, Darek Braunecker:

At no point did we make any sort of financial demands. The negotiations were in the very preliminary stages. As
recently as [Monday], both sides would have characterized the
discussions as encouraging. Unfortunately, something transpired that we
had no control over that dictated this move . . . Since the end of the postseason, his intent was to remain there beyond
next season. That’s been the goal. Unfortunately, some circumstances
transpired that we couldn’t control.”

Braunecker
says that they didn’t get very far down the road with Philly, so that
the reports that have Lee’s demands forcing the trade are inaccurate.

But “something transpired that we had no control over that dictated this
move”?  “[S]ome circumstances transpired that we couldn’t control”? 
All that sounds rather funny, doesn’t it?  It’s the sort of detached
language one uses to try and distance oneself from trouble without
putting too fine a point on specific blame.

Like, say, describing someone getting up and storming away from the
negotiating table without admitting that they got up because you were
being crazy with your demands.

2017 Preview: The National League West

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League West.

The Giants had the best record in all of baseball at the All-Star Break and the Dodgers lost the best pitcher in the world in Clayton Kershaw for a big chunk of the season. Yet, somehow, L.A. won the NL West by four games. The biggest culprit was the Giants’ suspect bullpen, which they put some real money toward fixing this winter. Is it enough? Or is a a Dodgers team with a healthy Kershaw just too talented for San Francisco to handle?

Below them is an intriguing Rockies team, though probably not a truly good Rockies team. The Dbacks have a lot of assorted talent but are nonetheless in reshuffle mode following a miserable 2016 campaign. The Padres, meanwhile, are in full-fledged rebuilding mode, but do possess some of the best minor league talent in the game.

Here are our previews of the 2017 NL West:

Los Angeles Dodgers
San Francisco Giants
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Diego Padres

2017 Preview: The American League West

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League West

There’s not a lot of separation between the top three teams in this division. Indeed, it would not be a surprise for either the Astros, Rangers or Mariners to end the year on top. Part of that is because none of these contenders are perfect, with all three facing some big challenges in putting together a strong rotation.

Meanwhile, the best baseball player in the universe toils in Anaheim, where he’ll most likely have to content himself to playing spoiler. Up the coast in Oakland . . . um, green is pretty?

Our 2017 AL West Previews:

Houston Astros
Seattle Mariners
Texas Rangers
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Oakland Athletics