Surprise? Cliff Lee Signs with the Phillies

In case you haven’t heard, Cliff Lee has signed with the Philadelphia Phillies. He signed a 5 year, $120 million deal with a vesting option for a sixth year that would bring the total to $135 million. The media was somewhat surprised that Lee turned down the Yankees and the Rangers to make a last minute signing with the Phillies, after-all you never even heard about the Phillies being interested until this week.
Cliff Lee
After analyzing the situation, it isn’t really that surprising to me. Did I expect the Phillies to sign him? Only after, I heard about their interest this week.

Here’s why:

  • Not the Yankees: The Yankees offered the most money and were desperate to sign Lee. Lee was thought to want a 7th year and the Yankees reluctantly included that, and he still turned them down and didn’t even get a 7th year. Why? Simple, his wife’s bad experience with Yankees’ fans. Lee’s wife was reportedly harassed while Lee pitched in Yankee Stadium this past post-season. Of course, Yankees fans were expecting to wow Lee with money, but if you don’t win the wife, you don’t win the player. Lee is a family man and this truly proves it. Good for him.
  • Not the Rangers: The Rangers were in love with Cliff Lee. He was the missing piece that took them to the World Series this year. They needed him and that was their downfall. They completely botched the negotiating process, by asking Lee to name his price. It clearly didn’t sit well with his agent and I’m sure that helped influence the decision. Another factor that I think influenced his decision to spurn the Rangers was the ownership mess. Yes, the Rangers now have an owner (Nolan Ryan) and the bankruptcy is in the past, but spending a ton of money on Lee would hurt their ability to compete.
  • To the Phillies: The way the situation unfolded, it seemed that Lee was waiting for the Phillies to make an offer. He was stalling with the Rangers and Yankees because he didn’t really want to be apart of either organization. The Phillies embraced him back in 2009 and he was one of the main reasons that team made it to the World Series. He loved his time in Philadelphia and maybe he didn’t hold a grudge on the trade since he knew he would return via free agency?

Now the Phillies have probably the best rotation ever assembled in the MLB – Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels. Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz was one of the best rotations ever and they only won the World Series once. In 2009, the St. Louis Cardinals had a tremendous rotation of Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter and Joel Pineiro and they didn’t even make the NLCS. Last season, the Phillies had a great rotation of Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels and they didn’t win the World Series either. On the flip side, the San Francisco Giants won the World Series behind solid pitching and timely hitting. The difference is the Giants had a dominant bullpen, something the Phillies still don’t have.

Does the the power staff make the Phillies a lock to win the World Series? No, but they are a favorite and their window is small. They will lose bats after this season and their aces are aging.

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