Nov 172010
Former Phillie Cliff Lee

Free Agent LHP Cliff Lee

November 17:

Philadelphia Phillies news and stories from around the web…

Phillies GM Amaro won’t talk about any moves to reacquire Cliff Lee

November 17 Philadelphia Daily News:

“Ruben Amaro Jr. is more than willing to express gratitude to the 3.6 million fans who flooded the Phillies’ bank accounts with ticket dollars this season. Just don’t expect the general manager to articulate his plan for spending that money, as several reporters did yesterday.

Amaro was particularly coy when asked about his interaction with Darek Braunecker, the agent for Cliff Lee. The Phillies have harbored thoughts of reacquiring the star lefthander almost since the day they traded him to the Mariners last December. And according to one person who spoke with the pitcher over the summer, Lee would welcome a return to Philadelphia. Although the bulk of the Phillies’ attention has been devoted to their bullpen, adding another starter would hardly be a shock. Roy Halladay, Joe Blanton, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt are all under club control through at least 2012, and the Phillies figure to have young righthanders Kyle Kendrick and Vance Worley in the mix for the fifth spot in the rotation. But Amaro spoke yesterday of wanting to add some competition for that fifth spot in the rotation. And you can bet that if Lee were a financial reality, the Phils would look for ways to make such a deal work.

Problem is, it might not be a financial reality, particularly with the Rangers and Yankees jockeying for position. A contingent of Rangers executives – CEO Chuck Greenberg, president Nolan Ryan and GM Jon Daniels – flew to Arkansas to meet with Lee and Braunecker Monday, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. The Yankees recently made a similar trip. One longtime baseball writer for the New York Post predicted in print that Lee would end up signing a 5-year, $125 million contract. That would be a huge load for the Phillies, who already have at least $138 million committed to 17 players next season, which already comes close to exceeding their entire Opening Day payroll from last season.

Amaro said he has not “directly” talked with Braunecker, although he declined to define “directly.” He declined to comment when asked whether somebody else from the organization had spoken with the agent.

Asked about the possibility of adding a big-name pitcher, he responded: “I do not know. That’s not really one of our priorities.”

Then again, Amaro said the same thing at this point last year, and the Phillies acquired Halladay in December.”

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At general manager meetings, Amaro looking to upgrade bullpen

November 17 Philadelphia Inquirer:

“In recent years, the Phillies have found baseball’s general manager meetings to be as fruitful as the orange groves in Central Florida.

Former Phillies general manager Pat Gillick struck a deal with the Houston Astros in 2007 for closer Brad Lidge, and last year current Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. used this forum to lay the groundwork for the deal that landed 2010 Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay in Philadelphia.

After arriving Monday morning and spending most of Tuesday in meetings with his peers discussing the collective-bargaining agreement that expires after next season, Amaro indicated that the process of piecing together the 2011 Phillies could be a bit slower than usual.

“I have a sneaking suspicion that it may take a little longer this time because there may be some guys out there in January or even into February who might be able to help us,” Amaro said. “I just have a feeling that sometimes patience pays off and, in this case and this year, it may very well even though I’m not a very patient person.”

The general manager made it clear that his top priority is upgrading the bullpen because he felt that was the area in which the World Series champion San Francisco Giants had a distinct advantage over the Phillies.

“Pitching always wins,” Amaro said. “A perfect example was this year with San Francisco winning the World Series. I thought they had a deeper bullpen and a more balanced bullpen. I would say the bullpen remains probably the top priority.”

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His approach sets Halladay apart

November 17 Philadelphia Daily News columnist Sam Donnellon:

“THE DAY after Roy Halladay was traded to the Phillies last December, a few reporters from Toronto called. All said about the same thing, to expect everything when he was on the mound, not much from him when he wasn’t. Nice guy, but he wasn’t going to fill even the corner of a bulletin board, at any time.

Oh, and one more thing.

“He’ll make the entire staff better,” said Steve Simmons, of the Toronto Star. “Right down to the last arm, the last reliever.”

Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee said yesterday that Halladay did that for his staff in 2010. Jose Contreras switched from starter to reliever and was a find. Ryan Madson had his best season yet when he wasn’t kicking inanimate objects. Brad Lidge bounced back. Cole Hamels did, too. Even Kyle Kendrick, whose locker was situated close to Halladay’s, seemed to be figuring things out there for a while.

Who knows, maybe even the breakout season of catcher Carlos Ruiz, whom Halladay dubbed, “Probably the best I’ve ever had,” had something to do with Doc coming to town.

“Roy just sets such a great example,” Dubee said. “Preparation. Before his starts. And also the way he approaches each game on the mound.”

Dubee also reminded those on a conference call yesterday, after Halladay was named the 2010 National League Cy Young Award winner, how Roy Wonder kept the team afloat in the first part of the season, when bodies were dropping daily and the upstart Braves were threatening to create a double-digit, first-place lead.

And yet none of that really factored into the pitcher’s unanimous selection yesterday, his second Cy Young Award, and first in the National League. The numbers ruled the day. His 21 victories were a league best. So was the amount of innings he pitched, his ultimate source of pride. A perfect game helped. The votes were in by the time he threw an unprecedented second no-no in the postseason.

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