The Phillies lost 89 games in 2013. Many prognosticators believe the team will struggle again in 2014, with an aging and injury-prone lineup.
As one of the few sure things on the roster, Cliff Lee is a commodity both with the Phillies and in the trade value he has should they decide to shop him. The prevailing school of thought is that the team will indeed shop Lee if they feel they are not a contender after the season's first 2-3 months.
Lee is unconcerned.
"I don’t have a full no-trade clause, so there’s nothing I can do about that," Lee said following a two-inning outing in Dunedin against the Blue Jays. "I don’t have control over it, so there’s no sense worrying about it. I signed back with the Phillies because I wanted to come here and win, and that’s what I intend on doing."
In the last five seasons, Lee has been traded from Cleveland to Philadelphia, Philadelphia to Seattle, Seattle to Texas.
Here is the list of the 11 players those team received back when they traded Lee: Jason Knapp, Jason Donald, Carlos Carrasco, Lou Marson, Tyson Gillies, Phillippe Aumont, J.C. Ramirez, Justin Smoak, Josh Lueke, Blake Beaven and Matthew Lawson. None have established themselves as big league All-Stars, and only a few are big leaguers, period.
"That’s trades," Lee said. "When you get guys from the minor leagues, you never know what you’re going to get. It’s hard to replace a guy who is established and has had success in the big leagues, no matter how you replace him with. There are a few phenoms who come up like the (Bryce) Harpers and (Mike) Trouts of the world, but a lot of young guys come up and you never know. That’s why you get package deals, you get one big leaguer for three or four minor leaguers. You just hope one is going to pan out. You never know.”
Lee is confident he won't have to worry about trade rumors in 2014. He believes in the Phillies.
"Obviously we’ve got everybody on the field that needs to be there. We’ve got our key guys healthy," Lee said. "We just need to be more consistent and fundamentally sound and execute.
"(Ryne) Sandberg and the coaching staff has been preaching that from Day 1 and it’s definitely good to hear. It’s definitely the key to winning – for every team, especially a team that has the talent. If we just do the basic execution and play fundamental baseball we can beat anyone."