Cliff Lee pitched great again yesterday and people are starting to speculate about whether the Phillies will shop him before the trade deadline. For his part, Lee says he wants to win. From Jim Salisbury at CSNPhilly.com:
Q: With the current makeup of this team, do you think it can be a playoff team?
A: “I can’t look at it any other way besides I expect us to win and catch up with the Braves and get into the postseason. That’s the only way you can look at it.”
Q: If it doesn’t turn around, do you want to stay?
A: “I definitely want to win. There’s no doubt about that. I want to win. I don’t know how to say it besides that. I want to win.”
Q: If it doesn’t turn around, are you prepared to stay here for two months and play out the string?
A: “I don’t have any control over that. I know that I want to win and I’ll voice that to whoever. And that’s that. I want to win here. That’s why I signed here and that’s where my focus is.”
This is being spun by some Philly scribes on Twitter as Lee being open to a trade or being non-committal to the Phillies. And I suppose I see why that is. But I feel more like this is a “what is he supposed to say?” situation. Clearly he can’t say he’d prefer to play on another team (and certainly can’t say he doesn’t think the Phillies are a winning team).
And while there might be some loyalty points won if he were to say “I want to be in Philly no matter what, this is my team, bro!” Lee has been around this block before and knows what the trade deadline is all about. If he does something like that and it’s later reported that the Phillies are shopping him it will lead to stories about how he’s unhappy or something. And if he does land on another team he might be received as less-than-happy to be there.
These, in my view, are the words of a pro trying to act like a pro. Nothing more, nothing less.