Former Red Sox pitcher and current ESPN analyst Curt Schilling was a guest on the Dennis and Callahan show Tuesday morning. Schilling was first asked if he was surprised that Cliff Lee accepted a $120 million deal with the Phillies, a contract that is worth some $30 million less than the reported offer from the Yankees.
"Don't underestimate a player saying he had as much fun as he ever had, and he mentioned that after playing in Philadelphia," said Schilling of Lee, who pitched for the Phillies in 2009. "That is a phenomenal city to play in when you are winning. I had one [winning year in Philadelphia] in 10 and it was one of the most memorable of my life. Very passionate, hard-core city and it's obviously a great group of guys. When you're talking about the difference between $22 and $25 million a year? There's a lot of things that come into the mix from a decision perspective that I would think don't have to do with the dollars."
As to where this leaves the Yankees, who were completely shut out of the A-list free agents this offseason, Schilling still feels the lure of New York City plus the club's history makes the franchise a draw for prospective players but wonders if things might have been different with Lee had ownership followed a previous model.
"I heard someone mention something I hadn't really thought of, which was if [George] Steinbrenner were alive this wouldn't have happened," said Schilling. "And I'm not sure I don't agree with that. I'm wondering how this all played out. Clearly CC [Sabathia] and Cliff Lee are close friends and that was always a big deal when you were looking around to do some things. And that clearly had no impact on his decision."
Schilling has been part of a pair of notable one-two duos at the top of a pitching rotation. And while he understands that ego can be a factor, he doesn't expect that to be a problem with Lee and Roy Halladay (and Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels) in Philadelphia.
"It's a dream, it really is," said Schilling of the Phillies' rotation. "In all honesty I played with two guys that I thought it bothered them when other people talked about it. I never talked about it. I pitched behind Randy [Johnson] and it didn't bother me. He was Randy. And I came here and it was Pedro [Martinez] and he was Pedro. I didn't care. Randy was bothered often by that when other people talked about it and clearly Pedro had problems with people writing about it as well … I don't see any the four guys [in Philadelphia] with that kind of makeup. What a dream, that's the kind of situation I would dream of pitching in."
When asked which of the two notable off-season acquisitions by the Red Sox would have the biggest long-term impact, Schilling didn't hesitate before giving his answer.
"[Adrian] Gonzalez," said Schilling. "When you look at the numbers Teixeira and Gonzalez are almost identical players except Gonzo is two years younger. And then you start think about the fact that Teixeira put all his numbers up in a hitter-friendly ballpark and Gonzalez has done the exact opposite. So if you look over the next four or five years the guy who is most likely to jump out and put up even better numbers than he already has has got to be Gonzalez. You're looking at a guy who could go from .285-.295 to .315-.320. And he's never been in a lineup with protection. Now he's got protection and that ballpark is suited for a left-handed hitter … you are looking at a guy who could be .320-45-140 with an on-base percentage of .420-.430."
The addition of Carl Crawford to the lineup of the Red Sox has meant a new flurry of trade rumors surrounding Jacoby Ellsbury. Schilling understands why the rumors exists but feels that keeping Ellsbury might be in the best interest of the Red Sox.
"There's a lot of questions around the kid's toughness," said Schilling. "And the unfortunate part is that I think there was some mishandling of the media side of this on both ends really. This is not a fan base that takes time to form opinions. I thought a lot of things were blown out of proportion from both sides. But he comes back and hits .330 in April and steals 22 bases no one is going to care. They got Carl, so now everyone thinks Jacoby is expendable. I look at it and see Carl and Jacoby in the same lineup and same outfield hitting one and nine as a pitcher's nightmare."
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