Mariners Insider

Mariners 1, Reds 0 — Cliff Lee is really good, and still really going to be traded

Post by Ryan Divish on June 18, 2010 at 11:07 pm with 4 Comments »
June 18, 2010 11:15 pm
AP photo

The whole blog post should be these and only these words:

Cliff Lee is really good

That should suffice. Honestly, what more do you need to say?

Here’s a few things ….

  1. Cliff Lee has not walked a hitter in his last three starts.
  2. Cliff Lee has 67 strikeouts and just four walks on the season.
  3. Cliff Lee has gone eight innings or more in at least six of his starts.
  4. Cliff Lee is still going to be wearing another team’s uniform in about a month.

Sucks doesn’t it?

Obviously, I can’t be a Mariners fan. But I can be a fan of good baseball. And Cliff Lee is good baseball.

It will make my job far less entertaining when he is traded. It’s nice to come to the park on games he pitches. You know you are going to get a quality start. He’s going to work fast. He’s going to throw strikes. He’s going to make hitters swing. Even on his worst day, Cliff Lee is still better than most pitchers you will see.

Think about this, Lee didn’t even have his best stuff on Friday night. And he still  shut out the Reds, who came in leading the National League Central and lead the NL in runs per game at 5.01.

“It was pretty good,” Lee said. “Really, I didn’t have all my pitches working. It was one of those games where I relied on my changeup more and tried to keep my fastball down.”

Lee said he couldn’t seem to locate his cut fastball – that’s particularly good against right-handed batters. But part of what makes Lee so brilliant is his ability to adapt in game to what’s working and what isn’t, as well as what hitters are doing against him.

“It comes with experience,” he said. “Like with anything, the more you do something, the more you should be able to adapt and adjust. That’s neverending in this game.”

In the first inning, Lee gave up a pair of hits with two outs and noticed how aggressive Reds’ hitters were being, so he adjusted.

“I tried to use it to my advantage by throwing some first pitch changeups,” Lee said. “We got several outs early doing that.”

He makes it sound so simple. And for Lee it really is that simple. But what isn’t simple is all the preparation that goes into each start. The amount of physical and mental preparation that he does in between starts is what sets him apart. Roy Halladay does that. Jon Lester does that. Not all pitchers do that.

“You want to be consistent, that’s what successful players do,” he said. “They have a good work ethic and they do everything they can to prepare. I want to be that. All I know to do is to come in tomorrow and prepare for my next start like I always do.”

Reds manager Dusty Baker was impressed.

“I’ve never seen Cliff Lee other than at his best,” he said.

Neither have Mariners fans. But now the lingering question is: how long will they continue to see it?

Because he will be a free agent next season, because he plans to test the free agent market and because Seattle’s postseason hopes are non-existent, it’s highly likely general manager Jack Zduriencik will trade Lee in the coming weeks to acquire some prospects for him to aid in the rebuilding process.

Wakamatsu was asked about that possibility before and after the game.

“It’s nice to watch him to pitch like that right now, and that’s all I care about,” he said.

And really that’s all Wakamatsu can say. Obviously, he’d love to keep Lee – any manager would – but it just doesn’t seem feasible.

The talk of Lee being traded has grown strong in the last week and will only grow stronger. But Lee just shrugs it off.

“It’s out of my control,” he said. “That’s a better question for Jack. He’s the one who makes those decisions, but I don’t.”

Lee treats trade talk like he does lack of run support – by focusing on what’s in front of him.

“I’m a Mariner now, and I’m trying to help this team win,” he said. “If they tell me I’m going to wherever, I will try to help that team win. As of now, this is where I’m at.”

Leave a comment Comments → 4
  1. Pray4Peace says:

    It’s really a bummer that he has to be traded. There are enough good quality players on this team that if they played to even the minimal amount of their potential, Z wouldn’t have to go looking for more.

  2. dave8557 says:

    This is why the Mariners will never be a contender for the world series.

  3. jhockett says:

    I have to agree with you dave8557. It’s one of the reasons Junior left years ago. His quest for the ring! He knew he’d never got one here… still a problem today, 10 yrs later!

  4. westside_guy says:

    Lee is amazing and fun to watch (I know I’ve typed that a few times before, but it’s so bloody true). It’s like when Felix is really really on his game – but it’s incredible to watch Lee pitch every time!

    I’m torn between hoping he’ll get traded to an AL team so we still get to see him occasionally, and hoping he’ll get traded to an NL team so we don’t have to watch the M’s face him! It’s similar to having Pedro on the BoSox in the 90’s – when he was facing the M’s, you knew at the start of the game we were going to lose… but it was still fun watching those games because the guy was just so good.

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