Just one month ago when the MLB trade deadline was upon us, rumors flew left and right as to what the Philadelphia Phillies were going to do with Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon. As we all came to realize, neither was traded and both are still on the active roster entering September.
Though these two individuals are holding a lot of money compared to some others, they are necessary pieces to this team if they want to contend next season.
The Phillies would be more competitive with Lee as he will be arguably the Phils’ best pitcher, and someone who can win games and eat up innings. When Cole Hamels is at his best, what one-two combo is better than Philadelphia’s? Not many from my estimation.
However, if you notice, the Phillies need Lee due to their lack of experience and talent at the bottom of the rotation. Lee has the ability to pitch all scheduled starts and has the command and arm strength to continue that trend. His chances of injury are slim, seeing as he has stayed relatively healthy in recent years.
Keeping Lee also allows players like Tyler Cloyd, Ethan Martin and Jonathan Pettibone to grow as pitchers and learn from his continued success and leadership abilities. Lee is essential in keeping this starting rotation alive heading into the next handful of seasons.
Now on to Jonathan Papelbon. ‘Pap’ has obviously had his doubts about this team, as he mentioned twice during spring training and later on in the year. Most fans are divided as to how necessary his comments were, but all that aside, Papelbon is still one of the best closers in baseball.
I feel his struggles in the latter part of the season have been more of the reason of him shutting it down, as opposed to his ability as a closer. Papelbon still has a great fastball, cutter and breaking ball. His intimidation factor still affects hitters and when he is “dialed in”, there’s no other closer on the mound I would rather have. Papelbon should also continue to be on this roster to due his past history of winning and closing out big games. Very few closers in current baseball have a better resume than ‘Pap.’
All in all, these guys are eating up a ton of money for this team, but their prior success and current dexterity should not deter the front office or Phillies fans as a whole. They should continue to play their games and with new manager Ryne Sandberg, I feel the attitude and momentum of this team has just took a turn for the better.