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Phillies Rumors: Cliff Lee shows rust in return

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Cliff Lee pitched his first game since May last night, and it sure looked like it.

Norm Hall

If the Phillies were harboring any hope that Cliff Lee would show scouts enough to enable the team to engage in real trade negotiations, they were likely dashed during last night's 7-4 loss to the Giants (make sure to read Liz Roscher's recap here).

San Francisco hitters made Lee pay for his rustiness. He gave up six earned runs on 12 hits with three strikeouts and one walk in 5.2 innings, raising his ERA to 3.67.

So while Lee's elbow appeared to be healthy to the many, many, many scouts who were in attendance...

...the results showed the left-hander still has a long way to go.

Last night's performance does not change my stance from late last week, when I wrote that the Phillies are likely to maximize any return for Lee by waiting until the winter, after Lee has regained his sharpness and proven to everyone that he is healthy.

Lee's outing was certainly a disappointment, but shouldn't be a surprise. He pitched like a guy who missed the last two months with an elbow injury. We're likely to see the old Cliff Lee by next month or sometime in September, which should enable the Phils to engage in trade talks after the season is over.

But for right now, a trade before July 31 seems virtually impossible, unless a team falls all over itself in desperation.

Hamels Off the Market?

Hey, another report that contradicts previous reports! That never happens in July!!!

The wording of Buster's tweet is interesting here. It's not that the Phillies haven't received any viable offers for Hamels, which was reported in the Boston Globe on Monday. Olney is saying the Phils are telling teams he isn't even available.

While this news makes my heart happy, it also seems short-sighted of the Phillies to tell other clubs that the man who could be the best starting pitcher on the market (depending on what the Rays do with David Price) is not available at all.

General manager Ruben Amaro should at least be listening to offers from other teams, and perhaps he is. We really don't know anything. Hopefully he's at least doing that due diligence. That being said, the Phils should not move Hamels for anything less than a team's top prospect, another top-5 prospect, and a lower-level minor leaguer with high upside.

Hamels, just 30, is a guy you keep around during a rebuild unless he can fetch you multiple high-end pieces that will accelerate that rebuild.

Tigers Interested in Bastardo, Maybe Papelbon?

At least one Phillie did well in his audition last night.

Bastardo pitched a scoreless inning of relief in the 7th, giving up an infield hit, striking out two and walking none. In fact, Bastardo threw 13 pitches in the 7th, ALL OF THEM FOR STRIKES.

Someone likes attention, doesn't he?

Given the redundancy of left-handers in the Phils' bullpen (Jake Diekman and Mario Hollands), the Phillies do not need Bastardo at all. My guess is he'll be traded by the end of the week, and he's the one Phil you can take to the bank will be dealt before July 31.

As for Papelbon, earlier in the day, Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal said Jonathan Papelbon was garnering little interest on the trade market.

Perhaps it would be better for the Phillies to forget about landing prospects and simply seek the financial relief of trading players such as Lee and closer Jonathan Papelbon, who is generating little interest, according to major-league sources.

So, one Fox Sports baseball reporter says Papelbon is generating little interest, while the other says Detroit is keeping tabs on him. I guess there's a lot of grey area in there, we'll just have to wait and see.

Papelbon did not appear in last night's game.

Pirates On Burnett & Bastardo

And we mentioned yesterday that the Pirates had interest in Burnett. They apparently are also interested in Bastardo as well.

Right now, Pittsburgh has left-hander Tony Watson (1.36 ERA in 46.1 innings) and Justin Wilson (4.62 ERA in 37.0 innings) as lefties in their 'pen, and could be looking for an upgrade from Wilson. Bastardo would certainly provide that.

If Pittsburgh trades for Burnett, it would not be at all surprising to see Bastardo thrown into the deal.