Phillies starter Cliff Lee, dealing with a tear in the flexor tendon in his left elbow, threw on Thursday but continued to feel discomfort as MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports. If the discomfort leaves Lee unable to pitch, he’ll have to undergo season-ending surgery.
Lee, 36, is entering the final year of a five-year, $120 million contract with the Phillies. They owe him $25 million for this season plus $12.5 million as part of a buyout for the 2016 season. The lefty made only 13 starts last season with elbow-related issues. In the three seasons prior, Lee had compiled a sterling 2.80 ERA and a 667/102 K/BB ratio across 666 1/3 innings. If Lee has to miss the rest of the season, his two-inning stint against the Astros on March 5 will have been his final appearance in a Phillies uniform.
The Phillies had hoped Lee would be healthy and productive during the spring in an effort to eventually trade him as part of their rebuilding process. As it stands now, they’re not likely to get anything of value before his contract expires.
Joel Sherman in the New York Post, where all stories in baseball are viewed through the lens of Yankees fandom whether it has anything to do with the Yankees or not:
The current rotation concerns of the Yankees and Rangers could be worse — Cliff Lee could have accepted one of the two highest total bids in December 2010.
The argument is that, now that Cliff Lee is breaking down, it sure would’ve been a bad thing to have signed him. Which, frankly, is kind of silly.
Cliff Lee’s contract is not fantastic — and as I mentioned yesterday, giving anyone an option buyout of $12.5 million is silly — but it’s not like Cliff Lee has been chopped liver over the life of his deal. Between 2011 and 2013, Lee averaged 31 starts, 222 innings, 222 strikeouts and a crazy-low 34 walks. His ERA over that span: 2.80. Do you not think that the Yankees could’ve used that in 2011 when they lost in the LDS or 2012 when they lost in the LCS? You don’t think one more ace may have gotten them to another World Series?
More fundamentally, would the money left on the back of Lee’s deal plus whatever was lost last season when Lee had to have been shut down really changed the Yankees’ fate today? They already have tens of millions in bad money sitting on the books. Would a few million more make a difference?
Sometimes it’s not all about the Yankees. And even if it is, it’s not always as dramatic as the all-about-the-Yankees crew likes to make it sound.
Jon Paul Morosi reports that an MRI confirms that Phillies starter Cliff Lee has a tear in the flexor tendon of his pitching arm.
This comes two days after Lee experiencing discomfort in his left elbow after throwing two innings Thursday in his Grapefruit League debut. And a year in which he was limited to 81 and a third innings due to elbow soreness. The Phillies are saying that this is not the sort of tear that would require Tommy John surgery but, I mean, tears in elbow tendons aren’t exactly wonderful when you’re a pitcher.
Lee, 36, is due $25 million this year. If he does manager to pitch 200 innings this year and not end the season on the disabled list due to elbow problems, he’ll trigger a $27 million vesting option for the 2016 season. Even if he doesn’t — which seems quite likely — he has a $12.5 million buyout because Ruben.