Amaro: Trading Lee messed with Phils’ karma

Ruben Amaro, left, regrets dealing Cliff Lee

We’ve made our feelings about the Cliff Lee trade pretty clear over the last seven months.
OK, maybe not ever.
Larry Andersen for Jeff Bagwell was bad.
Steve Carlton for Rick Wise was worse, and Heathcliff Slocumb to Seattle for Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe helped turn the Boston Red Sox into world champions.
The Cincinnati Reds sending Frank Robinson to the Baltimore Orioles for Milt Pappas in 1965 has to be a top-five clustershag, as Robinson immediately won the AL MVP award, made six all-star games and later captured the triple crown.
But sending Lee packing was dumb nonetheless.
So, after all these months, it is nice to see Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro finally admit that dealing Lee to the Mariners in the three-way trade that brought him Roy Halladay damaged his struggling club.
On a cosmic level, anyway.
The GM who barely blinked at handing first baseman Ryan Howard a five-year, $125 million extension before his existing deal was even an issue, was asked by Angelo Cataldi and the Morning Team at 610 WIP in Philly if sending Lee away in order to save $9 million and stay within budget damaged the Phils’ winning karma. Click here for the audio.
“If that’s what happened, and I believe in karma, if that was the deal, then I’ll blame myself for the woes,” Amaro said.
“I’m the guy at the helm here, so if people want to blame, they can blame me. Whoever said that may very well be right. I hope they’re not.”
The struggling Phillies enter play tonight at Yankee Stadium with a 33-30 record, 3 1/2 games behind in the National League East.
Fearful Lee would leave after the 2010 season as a free agent with nothing but draft compensation coming back in return, Amaro traded Lee to Seattle for minor leaguers J.C. Ramirez, Phillippe Aumont and Tyson Gillies.
Many, including BareBones, contend that pairing Lee with Halladay and an improved Cole Hamels would have made the Phillies virtually unbeatable down the stretch and in the postseason.
Yet, Amaro insists on standing behind the move.
Karma be damned.
“I think it was the right thing to do for the organization,” Amaro said. “Might I feel differently if we are not playing in the playoffs and getting to the World Series? Maybe. But I think it was the right thing for our organization.”
The Phillies are believed to be interested in re-acquiring Lee, whom the Mariners are shopping since he is not likely to re-sign with the Mariners.
Such a move would cost Amaro another trunk load of prospects from a farm system already thinned by trading for Lee at last season’s trade deadline, and then having to part with stud pitching prospect Kyle Drabek and Michael Taylor, among others, in the three-way deal with Seattle and Toronto.
And it was all so avoidable, as Lee was happy in Philadelphia and was beloved by fans.
Plus, the guy kicked ass.
His performance against the Yankees in the ’09 World Series was one of the best I’d ever seen on a big stage.
Amaro did admit he is looking to “shake things up.”
Whether such a shake up involves Lee in the days leading up to the July 31 deadline remains to be seen.
“If I could push a button and change things, I would,” Amaro said. “I don’t know what button to push other than the one that says, ‘Go out there and continue to work hard and play and we’re going to get this thing turned around.’ If I start not believing that, then you may see some change.”

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