Cliff Lee had another stellar season for the Philadelphia Phillies. But, this terrific starting pitcher moved no closer to his first championship. So, his recent comments regarding retirement are fully understandable.
Lee mentioned how he views the end of his career playing out after having made his final regular season start. Legitimate self-imposed pressure mounts when anyone in any field knows that they have a limited amount of time to accomplish a major career goal.
Despite the seemingly endless “Lee will be traded somewhere” stories, number 33 has remained in red pinstripes since he blew up baseball's hot stove by signing a massive free agent contract with Philadelphia on December 15, 2010.
Fans will always wonder how Lee's absence affected the fate of the 2010 season. More importantly, the trajectory of the organization seemed to veer off-course as a result of the deal that sent him to the Seattle Mariners on December 16, 2009.
Continuing this downward trend line, where the Phillies have finished each subsequent season since 2008 in a lower place than before, obviously has cut faith in the future. The hope is that Ryne Sandberg's new baseball world order and restored health among a variety of players (which is an old refrain) will reverse fortunes.
Realists can believe that 2014 will be better than 2013. But, true 'Fall Classic' contention is likely to be at least two seasons away.
Lee's guaranteed contract ends in 2015, or 2016, depending upon vesting options. Hopefully, this sterling southpaw and his teammates are dancing in October by then.