Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Philadelphia Phillies' 10 Item Checklist to Overtake the Braves and Mets- Part 10

July 04, 2010 - Detroit, MI, UNITED STATES - epa02237001 Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Cliff Lee (L) gets a hug by Felix Hernandez after the left the game after the eighth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan, USA on 04 July 2010. The Mariners beat the Tigers 8-1. Lee was the winning pitcher.

Part 10 of 12

9. Cliff Lee is not traded to the Mets or Braves

This one is largely out of the Phillies control, but needless to say would inflict a painful blow. For fans, and perhaps some players, who never bought into the rationale for trading away last season's postseason hero, a Cliff Lee trade to one of the Phils' chief rivals would add insult to injury.

Considering that the Seattle Mariners are mired in dead last with little hope to dig its way to the top, and Lee is almost surely going to test the free agent waters at season's end, it is an overwhelmingly safe bet that he will be moved before the trade deadline. 

Heading into the season, Atlanta's starting rotation was considered a key strength. An injury to Jair Jurrjens and a 1-9 start by Kenshin Kawakami has put a little chink in that armor, so renting an ace for the pennant run might not be out of the question.

The more likely destination would be the "Big Apple." Over the past week, speculation about the Mets' interest in Lee has heated up. GM Omar Minaya has a history of rolling the dice by trading prospects for veterans and obtaining Lee would probably make them the instant favorite amongst baseball pundits. 

Should Lee land with another elite team such as the Yankees, Dodgers, Cardinals, Red Sox, etc— it would also make the Phillies quest for another World Series title much more challenging. But first things first, so near term concerns would revolve around their own division rivals. 

There seems little hope that the Phillies would craft a pre-emptive strike and re-acquire the pitcher they dumped for a trio of long-range prospects. The team's dearth of minor league talent, bloated payroll, and clumsy handling of the Lee deal last winter make it unlikely, so they can only hope that a team like the Rangers wins the sweepstakes. 

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