So Cliff Lee is back with the Phillies. What a mind blower this was when the news sunk in after the numbness went away. Even though there were whispers that somehow the Phillies were very much engaged, I refused to believe it and kept hanging onto the slim hope that Lee would re-sign with the Rangers. So much for that.
I’m not gonna start sugar coating this for you the way so many have already, and I’m not gonna knock the deal itself, Cliff Lee or the Phillies either. This is a tremendous pickup for the Phillies and his addition to an already formidable staff makes them the team to beat and the heavy favorites in the National League next season. That’s an indisputable fact, and if your allegiance to the Mets makes that too difficult to see, then you might want to stop reading this post here.
Regarding the length of the deal, which is reported to be for five years and $120 million dollars, the Phillies nailed it. While the Yankees and Rangers were dangling seven year deals, the Phillies put their foot down and said no and Ruben Amaro should be commended for sticking to his guns. Is there an option, yes, but if Lee pitches like he always has they will gladly welcome him back. If he gets hurt than he probably doesn’t pitch the innings necessary for the option to vest, giving the Phillies some much needed protection. I wish we had those options with Carlos Beltran and Johan Santana in their final years as opposed to their bloated guarantees.
Lee wanted a full no trade clause, but again he didn’t get it, settling for a partial no trade clause instead.
Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. sees things a little differently than most GMs. No matter how good his team does, he is always on the move looking for ways to make his team better, and not letting money or even prospects stand in his way. In many respects he reminds of John Schuerholz the former GM of the Braves who was the same way.
As Matt Forman wrote yesterday, Philadelphia finished with the best record in the majors for the first time in franchise history, despite injuries to Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley, and looked on track to reach a third consecutive World Series before tripping up against the Giants in the NL Championship Series. They were that good before this latest addition.
I’ve read the rants on how the Philadelphia Phillies’ minor leagues are in complete shambles. Don’t believe it, because nothing could be further from the truth. Baseball America recently wrote that despite what they gave up for Halladay and Oswalt, they never gave up their number one prospect Domonic Brown, and this summer they wrote, “No team has more talent in A-ball than the Phillies.” Help is on the way. In the mid-season Baseball America Top 50 Prospects this summer, the Phillies had two players featured including Brown at #4. The Mets had none.
Some are saying that Cliff Lee has chronic problems with his back. I guess it’s an attempt to try and knock the deal for some some sort of relief over the ill effects of the trade. But the fact is that Cliff Lee has made 98 starts in the last three seasons, more than anyone on the Mets.
As Mark Simon of ESPN wrote, “over the last three seasons, four pitchers have pitched to an ERA below 3.00 and thrown at least 650 innings. Two of those who could be called ultimate workhorses are Lee and his soon-to-be teammate, Halladay.”
I’d be more concerned about about Johan Santana’s shoulder and elbow, than the Phillies should be about Cliff Lee’s back.
Obviously, we already know that there will be no corresponding move by the Mets to a dramatic trade like this by a division rival. That’s not to say I think the Mets should go out and spend $120 million dollars just to prove some absurd point. I also never advocated that the Mets go out and sign Cliff Lee.
That said, I’m sure the Mets will scurry around and make some PR moves and a few statements, and their cronies affiliated with SNY will do what they can to maintain the positive vibes in the fanbase. That’s to be expected, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
This whole thing only bugs me in one particular way, and I hope in the next few days somebody can ask Mr. Alderson about it.
I understand Alderson’s assertion that the Mets have no flexibility.
I understand that our payroll will be somewhere in the the vicinity of $135-$140 million in 2011 according to what he said.
I understand that leaves about $6 or $7 million dollars to spend this offseason to fill several key roster spots including a starting pitcher and a setup man.
What I don’t understand is how the Phillies can increase their payroll from $140 million in 2010 to $165 million in 2011, and why the Mets can’t do the same?
Despite a successful cable network, a brand new ballpark, the most expensive food concessions in the league, and one of the most profitable minor league baseball franchises in the Wilpon owned Brooklyn Cyclones, I don’t get why we can’t spend comparably to the Philadelphia Phillies who have nowhere near the revenue stream the Mets do?
It’s bad enough that we must play the ugly step sister to the New York Yankees in this city, but must we now play the poor and impoverished cousin of the Phillies too?
Yes I know, the Mets aren’t cheap and that they will be spending $135 – $140 million dollars. I want to to know why we can’t spend as much as the Phillies do?
This morning I heard one of the sportscasters say that the Phillies were able to do this deal because they have $50 million dollars in bloated contracts coming of the books after 2011. I almost choked. Now where have I heard that before?