Cliff Lee’s postgame interview last night is being spun by some as him wanting out of Philly, but even if that were the case, Ruben Amaro does not sound at all inclined to do it.
Talking to Jayson Stark of ESPN, Amaro makes it clear — for the second time this week — that he does not intent to trade any major pieces of the Phillies, including Lee or Jonathan Papelbon, another guy mentioned in early trade season rumblings:
“My job is to try and put a contending team on the field every year, and we have a much better chance to be a contending team with both of those guys on the club,” he said. “If we have those guys at the top of our rotation, we’re a better club. … It starts and ends with pitching, as far as I’m concerned. So the more quality pitching you have, the better chance you have to build around that to win … Whether you’re talking about re-tooling or re-wrapping or taking a different direction, I think there are ways we can do that,” he said. “But when you start talking about blowing it up, you’re basically saying you’re going to start from scratch. And that’s not happening.”
I can see why he says that. I just can’t see how the Phillies can make themselves better without making some pretty major moves.
Back during the 2015 playoffs the sorts of New York media types who love to find reasons to criticize players for petty reasons decided to criticize Yoenis Cespedes for playing golf the day of a playoff game. The Mets won the series with the Cubs during which the controversy, such as it was, occurred and it was soon dropped.
It was picked back up again in 2016 when Cespedes, while on the disabled list with a strained quad, was seen playing golf. Despite the fact that everyone involved said that golf did not contribute to his injury and that golf would have no impact on his injured quad, it was deemed “a bad look” by a columnist looking to get some mileage out of bashing Cespedes for having a hobby that probably half of all ballplayers share. They did it when he showed off his fancy cars too, by the way, even though just about every ballplayer has a fancy car or three. When you’re a superstar in New York — especially when you’re one with whom the media is not particularly close for various reasons — you’re going to catch hell for seemingly nothing.
Now there’s a new twist to the Cespedes golf saga. Yoenis himself says that his poor start — he’s hitting .195/.258/.354 and leads the league in strikeouts — is due to . . . not enough golf! From the New York Times:
He gave a possible reason for the poor start this weekend: not playing enough golf, a hobby beloved by many baseball players. And, yes, he is serious.
“In previous seasons, one of the things I did when I wasn’t going well was to play golf,” he said after a game on Friday in which he struck out four times but still drove in the go-ahead run in the 12th inning. “This year, I’m not playing golf.”
The story says Cespedes quit golf last summer because he worried that it was contributing to hamstring problems. He’s thinking about going back to it soon, as he thinks it’ll help his swing. Given that he’ll catch hell either way, he may as well do what he wants.