Dec 13, 2010
Breaking News: Cliff Lee has Returned to Philly!
We interrupt this lazy blogging month to bring you the news that the Phillies signed the prodigal son, Cliff Lee, to join the starting rotation for the 2011 season (and beyond). As reported by Jon Heyman of SI.com at this link, it is probable that Lee accepted a discount in both dollars and years compared to the reported bids by the Yankees and Rangers. It was reported that Lee took a liking to Philadelphia and his Phillies teammates during his time there in 2009.
What does this mean for the Phillies? Well, at first glance, it looks like the forming of a stacked rotation (and that is a not an adjective to throw around lightly) by name value and performance value (with the latter being infinitely more important). They will have the pitchers ranked 1, 2, 17, and 22 in the league over the last 3 years in WAR, and all are projectable to be in this range at least for 2011.
At second glance, it means someone's gotta go. Probably, Joe Blanton, he of the $8 million salary, for a couple of minor leaguers. As a 5th starter, Blanton is superfluous (though he is a grinder and a perfectly fine league average pitcher who can go about 6 innings per start) because of the presence of Kyle Kendrick and the possible emergence of Vance Worley. Also, they have a sudden need for an outfielder with the departure of Jayson Werth to either play full-time or be a platoon mate for Domonic Brown and/or Ben Francisco and/or Raul Ibanez (think the 1993 Phillies outfield arrangement).
Another possibility is that Ibanez is shipped out since he's in the last year of his contract, paying him $12 million for this year, or that Francisco is used to bring in a relief pitcher. If Amaro has proven one thing during his time as GM, it's that he's not shy about making deals with nearly any team in the league.
Let's just say that 2011 will be another potentially exciting year. Kudos to Amaro for pulling off a buzzworthy signing. And maybe the most underrated part of the whole deal is the return of a pitcher with the eminently rhythmic name of Clifton Phifer Lee.