Curt Schilling rips the Phillies for not keeping Cliff Lee

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Curt Schilling was asked how he likes the Phillies this year. If you think his response was a diplomatic and conventional “I think they’ll be a good ballclub” kind of thing then you’re not familiar with Curt Schilling’s work:

“I think trading Cliff Lee was the stupidest thing they’ve ever done,
and they didn’t have to. They didn’t have to do it. It
was a stupid, stupid move. They could’ve had a World Series berth
locked up right now with those two guys at the top of their rotation. Those guys would’ve finished legitimately 1-2 (as) Cy Young candidates
on the same staff. You’ve got Cole Hamels in the three
slot, which is a dream come true for both. They would’ve been a 110-win
team.”

He goes on and on, of course, dismissing the Phillies concerns about organizational depth which they claim to be the primary reason for the Lee trade (i.e. they wanted some prospects back) and claiming that Lee may have been even more valuable to the Phillies than Halladay in some ways because of his postseason experience, saying “Doc’s never pitched in October. I think he’ll be great and be awesome
and all that stuff, but he could get to October and not be the guy.”

Setting aside Schilling’s silly claims that Cliff Lee would make the Phillies a 110-win team and that Halladay will somehow forget how to be awesome in October, I can’t help but think that there’s some psychological dynamic at work here on Schilling’s part. The writer of the story makes a comparison of Halladay and Lee to Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling on the Diamondbacks with which Schilling appears to agree. Schilling is obviously making an egotistical assumption that his path to success — as the part of two-Cy Young pitcher quality staff — is the optimum, if not the only way to build a champion. Moreover, in that comparison, Schilling clearly is Cliff Lee: the obviously excellent but still inferior pitcher. The prospect of Lee being traded away is, in Schilling’s mind, the equivalent of a rejection of Schilling himself, thus causing him to lash out with a fury and resentment even he himself cannot fully understand, acknowledge or control.

OK, you know what? I don’t like getting in Curt Schilling’s head. It’s kinda scary in there (reminds me of this) so let’s forget it.  How about this: if the Phillies had done with Lee what the Diamondbacks did with Johnson and Schilling and all of the other veterans that won that 2001 World Series, there would be an increased likelihood that they, like the Diamondbacks, would crater competitively a few short years later, crushed under veteran salary obligations and a relatively bare minor league cupboard.

Ruben Amaro decided that he’d rather build something for the long term. It may or may not work, but I think the effort is entitled to far more respect than Schilling — who basically claims that Amaro is just trying to cover his butt — gives it.

Padres sign Trevor Cahill

Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Trevor Cahill (53) during the seventh inning of Game 3 in baseball's National League Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, Monday, Oct. 12, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
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The Padres have signed Trevor Cahill to a one-year, $1.75 million contract.

As recently as the middle of the 2015 season it looked like Cahill’s career would meet a premature end, but after being released by the Braves and signing with the Cubs in August of that season he has been a remarkably effective reliever. He has posted a 2.61 ERA in 61 games in Chicago and has posted a strikeout rate far above his career norms.

He’s not someone you necessarily want taking the hill when the leverage is high, but in San Diego the leverage won’t be all that high all that often.

Justin Verlander: “I’m too old to be part of a rebuilding process”

DETROIT, MI - JULY 20: Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers pitches in the eighth inning of the game against the Minnesota Twins on July 20, 2016 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
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The Tigers have sent some mixed signals this winter. The offseason began with widespread reports that GM Al Avila was going to break up the team. Indeed, it was reported that he was willing to field offers for any and all players, on up to Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera.

As the offseason has unfolded, however, a rebuild has not materialized.

Avila traded away outfielder Cameron Maybin. He signed old friends Omar Infante and Alex Avila. He made the usual sorts of minor league signings every team makes to fill out the roster. Detroit still needs a center fielder and there continue to be rumors that outfielder J.D. Martinez and second baseman Ian Kinsler could be had for the right price, but it’s been pretty quiet at 2100 Woodward Avenue.

If that changes, however, and the Tigers do start to rebuild, there’s one key member of the team who doesn’t really want a part of it. From the Detroit Free Press:

Justin Verlander is 33 years and 330 days old.

He’s not that old.

But the Detroit Tigers ace right-hander – a 12-year major league veteran – is old enough in baseball years to know that he doesn’t really want to be part of a rebuilding process.

“Would it have been upsetting for me if we started trading away everybody?” he told MLB Network Radio on Friday morning. “I’m too old to be part of a rebuilding process.”

Verlander will make $28 million a year for each of the next three seasons and has a vesting option for 2020 if he finishes in the top 5 of the 2019 Cy Young vote. He had an excellent return-to-form in 2016, but his contract is still pretty big for a pitcher with his mileage, making it seem unlikely that he would be moved absent the team eating a huge portion of his salary. The same could be said for Miguel Cabrera who, despite still being one of the best hitters in baseball, is making between $28-32 million between now and 2023. A wonderful player, but an extraordinarily difficult contract to move. Both superstars have full no-trade protection as 10-5 men as well.

At the moment the rebuild does not seem to be materializing and the Tigers — as I think they should, probably — will enter 2017 aiming for the AL Central crown, not aiming at restocking their farm system.

But what will Verlander think, however, if the Tigers find themselves out of contention come May? What will he think if Ian Kinsler — a valuable player on a tradable contract — is sold off? Or Justin Upton? Or J.D. Martinez?

It’s worth watching.