By Barry Jeffrey Jr:
So the Phillies have signed Cliff Lee and they now have possibly the best rotation in baseball in the last decade. Yet mostly what I am hearing out of the so-called experts is how old the aces are and how old and injury prone the rest of the team is. These same experts who salivate over the Red Sox and Yankees turn their nose up at the Phillies. They say Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Roy Oswalt are all in their 30s and are risks. You would think the Phillies are the only team with players in their 30s in the entire league listening to some of these people. Let’s look at this rotation of World War I veterans.
Cliff Lee will be in his late 30s by the end of his contract. The same contract that is 2 years less than what the Yankees offered him mind you. Had he signed that contract with the Yankees, would these same people be pointing things like his age out? It is very doubtful. I mean Roger Clemens, David Wells, David Cone, Mike Mussina, and Andy Pettite were all at an advanced age when they pitched for the Yankees, but it was never an issue. The Yankees have a magic fountain of youth hidden in George Steinbrenner’s former office or something I guess. Halladay and Oswalt have the same thing said about them as Lee.
They mention Oswalt’s back issues, but does not Josh Beckett of the Red Sox have his own back issues and is in the same age bracket? Does that not make him just as much a risk as Roy Oswalt? Despite the fact that Oswalt’s back issues were in 2009 and showed no real signs of being around in 2010, when Beckett had his issues. Yet Oswalt is still the “injury risk”. Roy Halladay is “old” and “he pitched so many innings”. Well yeah, that is what Roy Halladay does, has pretty much always done since he rediscovered himself as a pitcher back in 2002. However they never mention just how much of a work ethic Halladay has, how great his physical shape always is. Do people think he is a bigger injury risk than a CC Sabathia, who while younger has a physical shape more like Bartolo Colon than a MMA fighter?
Sometimes things like that mystify me. We hear about how Cliff Lee may injure an elbow, yet could Phil Hughes, AJ Burnett, or Daisuke Matsuzaka, who all have had injury issues, also injure themselves just as easily? Then we come to Cole Hamels, who is not old at all. We hear how he was so inconsistent back in 2009; the same people forget AJ Burnett and Clay Buckholz have had inconsistency issues in their careers. The air in Boston and New York apparently is a hyperbolic chamber and the Philly air causes a diabetic like condition where players get injured and heal slower and become just total inconsistent.
They talk about the Phillies core getting older too. It is true that they are, but JD Drew, David Ortiz, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Alex Rodriguez, and Jason Varitek are not 21 year old college kids themselves. They also point out the Phillies injuries, but fail to point out most of them were freak injuries, They also fail to mention that Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jed Lowrie, Mike Cameron, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Varitek, Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson, Russell Martin, & Damaso Marte all had injuries as well. Even though the Red Sox signed Carl Crawford, it does not mean their players are all going to be completely healthy and Raphael Soriano won’t make the Yankees 4th and 5th starters, who do not even exist yet, 15+ game winners.
Same way Cliff Lee does not replace Jayson Werth’s offense and defense in Philly. Basically what I am saying is, if you are going to bring up the Phillies issues “experts”, don’t turn around and claim the Red Sox and Yankees are unstoppable forces without issue of their own. Oh yeah and as for the Phillies “old men pitchers” there happens to be quite a lot of quality in the lower minors in guys like Jared Cosart, Brady Colvin, Jessie Biddle, Trevor May, Julio Rodriguez, Jonathon Pettibone, Josh Zeid, Justin DeFratus, BJ Rosenberg, Vance Worley, and Michael Schwimer who will possibly be in the rotation or bullpen either very soon or just when the big 3 will be ending their contracts.
It’s almost time for those most magic words for most baseball fans. Pitchers and catchers report. We hibernate from November to February, with a small wake up in December for the Winter Meetings. New faces, new hopes, and in some cases new pains where pills cannot reach brought on by what a person’s respective team has done during its off season. For some players, like Tony Sanchez of the Pirates, they get to taste their first big league camp.
Our Phillies are welcoming several new faces and we said goodbye to a few as well.
Barry Jeffrey Jr. writes “The Crow’s Nest” column for PSC.
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