Cliff Lee phillies throwing

Cliff Lee: “Philly fans don’t need a teleprompter to tell them to cheer”


Cliff Lee gave his introductory news conference with the Phillies earlier this afternoon (see the video below).  There were a few notable quotes from Lee. One was about how Philly fans are great because “they don’t need a teleprompter to tell them too cheer.” I suppose that could be construed as a swipe at the fans in either Texas or Seattle, so that’s fun.

More interesting to me was when he was asked about taking the shorter, less-guaranteed money deal to come to Philly.  His response.

“When you hit a certain point, enough is enough.”

Money, that is.  Which I imagine is a quote that some people will run with in the next 24 hours as evidence that Lee is selfless and team-oriented and stuff. It’ll be interesting to see if anyone who does run with it also notes that, if Lee pitches as well as he believes he can over the next five years, he’ll end up making more money on this deal than he would have on the Yankees deal. And that he’s making more per-year for each of the next five years than he would have on the Yankees.

Which isn’t to slam Lee, of course. Good for him for going where he wanted on what are really great terms.  But just be wary of anyone who spins this as a selfless deal in which he turned down the big Yankee dollars on a matter of principle. Because anyone writing that is distorting things pretty significantly.

Nationals fire reigning Manager of the Year Matt Williams

Washington Nationals' manager Matt Williams looks on from the dugout during a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Friday, May 2, 2014, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)

Matt Williams was voted the National League Manager of the Year on November 11, 2014, receiving 18 of 30 first-place votes from Baseball Writers Association of America members.

Today the Nationals fired him following a season full of disappointment, reports of clubhouse discontent, and Jonathan Papelbon choking Bryce Harper in the dugout.

Williams went 179-145 (.552) in two seasons in Washington, which is an excellent winning percentage, but when you take over a stacked team the expectations are extremely high and there was seemingly nothing anyone could point to about his actual managing that suggested he was doing a good job.

His in-game tactics and particularly his rigid bullpen usage patterns infuriated fans. His dealings with the local media became increasingly antagonistic. And even setting aside two players literally fighting in the dugout there’s ample evidence that Williams lost the clubhouse a long time ago.

Williams was far from the only thing wrong with the Nationals this season and he’s hardly the primary person to blame for their disappointing record, but it’s also hard to make a strong case for his sticking around–meaningless, beat writer-voted award or not–and general manager Mike Rizzo predictably acted quickly to move on.

Now we’ll see who gets to take the next crack at managing the Nationals to play up to expectations.

Dan Haren plans to retire after the playoffs are over

Dan Haren
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Dan Haren, who said two months ago that he was leaning toward retiring after the season, reiterated those plans following the Cubs’ regular season finale Sunday.

At age 34 he started 32 games for the Marlins and Cubs with a 3.60 ERA and 132/38 K/BB ratio in 187 innings, so Haren would have no problem finding work and a solid paycheck for 2016.

However, he’s not expected to part of the Cubs’ playoff roster and told Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago:

That was it for me. If I have to pitch in the postseason, I’ll be ready for sure. Happy the way the last few starts have gone. Being able to contribute to this amazing team. I’m just thankful to be a part of it. If I don’t pitch in the postseason, that’s it. It’s been fun. Hopefully there’s a lot more games to go. … If my name is called, I’ll be ready.

Injuries has lessened Haren’s overall effectiveness in recent years, but he’s remained a solid mid-rotation starter and has pitched 13 seasons in the big leagues with a 3.75 ERA in 2,419 innings. He made three All-Star teams and earned more than $80 million.