Say what you will, when Ruben Amaro seeks redemption, he doesn't hold back!
The Phillies stunned everyone in baseball, especially the pundits, by snatching Cliff Lee, the prized free agent pitcher of the season, from the richer claws of the NY Yankees and the favored grasp of the Texas Rangers. In doing so, they reacquired a player who expressed deep disappointment and surprise at his original departure a year earlier.
Bloggers and posters throughout the Delaware Valley had had a field day with Amaro's poor decision last off-season to trade the popular and successful Lee for three prospects whose prospects aren't very bright. Now, they're going to have to start singing Amaro's praises all over again.
The Phillies already had the second highest overall team salary prior to the signing of Lee which only goes to show that 123 straight sellouts has produced sufficient cash flow.
Lee reportedly turned down bigger money and longer terms to come back to Philadelphia, where he clearly enjoyed his half season stay. Already, the Phils' starting rotation is being called the best and/or compared to the great starting rotations of the past. It certainly does look formidable. Here's a comparison to one great rotation that lasted two seasons (1971 and '72). (Three of the four Orioles pitchers were together in Baltimore for many years)
Cliff Lee 102-61
Cole Hamels 60-45
Roy Halladay 169-86
Roy Oswalt 150-83
Jim Palmer 268-152
Dave McNally 184-119
Mike Cuellar 185-130
Pat Dobson 122-129
Readers of this space know me for the glass half-empty guy I am, so here is my take on the signing:
The Phils indeed possess the most formidable starting rotation in the baseball with this signing. What they do NOT possess is a reliable bullpen, sufficient right-handed hitting nor a stable outfield. Good pitching beats good hitting (or at least in last season's post-season, hitting that has stopped hitting altogether), but it cannot overcome all deficiencies. The other jokers in the deck for the Phillies are the rebound of Jimmy Rollins, the elbow of Placido Polanco, the full recovery of his batting eye by Chase Utley and the emegence of Domonic Brown. This is not a team without question marks.
Oh, and one more thing about this signing: I wouldn't put it past Amaro to be thinking about trading a starter not named Blanton for a hitter.
All that said, welcome back Cliff!