So Cliff Lee held a conference call with reporters today from Puerto Rico, where he was on vacation. During the call he expressed his shock and dismay at being traded without notice the same day he submitted to thea counter-offer for a contract extension. Based on some of his remarks, a number of people have rushed to conclude that, uh oh, it doesn't sound like Lee wants to be here very much.
Let's all give him a break. Remember where he's coming from. For one thing, Lee says he, his agent, and the Phillies were in the midst of negotiating a long-term contract when this happened. At one moment, Lee thought he was spending the rest of his career in one place, and the next moment he was gone. That's enough of a shock to the system as it is, and it's sufficient to make anyone perturbed.
And for another - and perhaps more importantly - Lee was a Phillie. The Phillies have gone to the World Series two times in a row. They're the team that gave Lee his first taste of postseason experience, and the team with which he excelled in October. The Phillies, in Lee's own words, are the "real deal", and Lee, like most guys, really wants to win. What of the? They haven't gone to the playoffs since Lee really broke into the Majors. Two years ago they lost 101 games. Players on other teams don't look at the M's and see a team knocking on the door with an excellent front office - they see a team that's still developing, a team that's always playing second fiddle to the . It'd be one thing if Lee were in Jack Wilson's position where he was coming from the . But for on-the-field reasons, there's not a player in baseball who would want to move from Philadelphia to Seattle. They're players. They don't see what we see.
We can't expect Lee to be ecstatic about getting dealt. Especially when he's on vacation. So nobody should overreact to anything he said or whatever tone he may have had during this afternoon's conference call. For him, it sucks, and we all just have to give him time to get used to the situation and see what this team's all about. The Mariners are good. The park is big, the defense is awesome, and players rave about the coaching staff. Eventually, Lee's going to be in a good place. He just isn't there yet, and Mariner fans ought to be patient with him. This is a guy who, when he takes the mound, we're all going to love. Now would be a good time for Seattle to begin embracing him the way it never did Erik Bedard.