Zo Knows: Phillies got Cliff Lee but are guaranteed little
Full disclosure: I am a raving Philadelphia Phillies fan.
Now that I have that out of the way: How ‘bout them Phils!
In what has to be considered one of sport’s most confusing, mind-boggling, overnight transactions ever, the Philadelphia Phillies came out of nowhere and stole Pitcher Cliff Lee from the team he led to a World Series, as well as from a team that has won more World Series than any other franchise out there. And the funny thing is:
They were the lowest bidder!
Or at least they were the lowest bidder in terms of guaranteed years. The New York Yankees and Texas Rangers were offering Cliff Lee six years. ESPN.com is reporting that the Phillies and Lee have come to terms on a deal that will pay Lee $120 million over five years. Yes, the Phillies had to put a premium on those five years, giving up $24 million per year for this bonafide ace. But when you look at the numbers and consider the low-risk for injury that Lee presents, the Phillies got very good value when you compare this transaction to what pitchers of Lee’s status have garnered in free agency in years past.
Now that we have the numbers and contracts out of the way, let’s go to the field. The Phillies may have actually solidified the best starting rotation in the history of baseball. If you thought Roy Oswalt, Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels were something to see down the stretch last season, just wait until you see what they can do with the addition of Lee to a four-man rotation. The Phillies are going to prevent a whole lot of runs, something that is eerily important to them as their hitters get appreciably old, especially since Jason Werth took his talents down to the Nation’s capitol. Clearly, the Phillies General Manager has intentions on turning this Phillies team from a team that relied on hitting to one that relies on pitching, which of course, is what wins you championships. The Phils should know this better than anyone, as their bats were silenced by the outstanding pitching of the San Francisco Giants in the NLDS this past fall.
Then again, it is not as if having Oswalt, Hamels and Halladay last year didn’t give the Phillies a big edge on the mound. Truth be told, adding Lee to the playoff rotation offers the Phillies very little in terms of increasing their chances at winning in the postseason. Fact is, you really don’t need more than three pitchers to win in this league, and given how teams like the Giants and the St. Louis Cardinals are so good at the pitching position, it’s hard to imagine a fourth starter being the key to this particular team’s playoff success.
This leads us to speculation that the Phillies have no intention of keeping all four pitchers. Philadelphia already had Lee once, and if they really wanted four aces, they would have never traded him away for anything like they did last offseason. It’s quite likely that the Phillies will trade one of their high-level pitchers for a big bat in the lineup. The numbers say that Cole Hamels is most likely to go, because of his age and his wildly-fluctuating numbers. Surely, somebody will give up a pretty penny to get Hamels, most notably, those two teams that the Phils bamboozled when they signed Cliff Lee.
However, let’s save that conversation for another day, no matter how likely that actually is. As it stands right now, the Phillies have made a move for a third consecutive year in a row that makes them the favorites to win the NL Pennant. They say pitching wins championships, and over the last three years, the Phillies have acquired four big name pitchers and have just one championship to show for it. If the motto is more than just a motto, then the Phillies should see their number of recent championships go plural. And when you have a staff like the one they have right now, it’s hard to imagine things turning out any other way.
No related posts.