By Tony Fryckberg:
Those are the odds in poker of drawing a straight flush. A straight flush is the only hand in poker that can beat four aces.
Ruben Amaro has pocket aces, the third ace fell on the turn, and now it’s time for the river card–and he’s all in. The dealer? A guy named Darek Braunecker, the agent for one Clifton Phifer Lee.
Today, word got out that the Cliff Lee sweepstakes was down to two, er, make that three teams: the cash-rich Yankees, the hometown Rangers, and a “mystery team.” As the day drug on, it became apparent that the mystery team was in fact, the Phillies.
In fact, it seems as though with each passing minute, the thought, the dream of the true Dream Rotation becomes closer to reality.
We all knew that the Yankees were breaking the bank. No doubt–they’re the Yankees, and that what the Yankees do. 7 years, $20 plus million per, that CC Sabathia money, and if the Yankees and Hal Steinbrenner get their way, it’ll be Cliff Lee money too. But there’s also the fact that Lee’s wife wasn’t made very welcome when the Rangers and her husband visited New York in the playoffs.
The newly cash-infused Rangers, led by Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, we’re Lee’s last employer, and perhaps a new power on the block in baseball. They liked what they saw of Lee after his acquisition from Seattle for a king’s ransom, led by mega-prospect Justin Smoak, and now with the negotiation of a new TV contract, they have the money.
Where would Lee go? After l’affair du Lee last offseason, Amaro’s basically “take it or leave it” contract offer, and his pursuit and eventual landing of Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay and Lee’s exit, we all wondered if bad blood existed between the left hander and his former employer.
Apparently, there’s none at all. Folks, if this was about the money, he’d be a Yankee right now. If it were about principle, he’d be a Ranger again. This is about Lee getting paid AND winning a championship. He knows that the best chance he has of doing that is here in Philadelphia. Plus, he doesn’t have to be “the guy,” and he can still get paid like “the guy.”
So now, here’s my speculation as to what will happen (or what has already happened). Brace yourself, this is earth-shattering. The Phillies will sign Cliff Lee.
Read it again–the Phillies will sign Cliff Lee. In fact, I believe that the contract has already been agreed to, and all that is standing in the way is Joe Blanton. If the Phillies can find a taker for the rotund righty (even if it means eating half of the $17.5MM owed on his deal), they will announce the signing shortly thereafter. I think the deal will closely mirror the deal signed by Roy Halladay last winter, maybe adding a few million in bonus money, but it won’t look markedly different than that same deal that Amaro offered Lee last December–the deal that Lee’s agent rejected and set all this in motion.
Halladay-Lee-Oswalt-Hamels? That’s ridiculous. That is without a doubt the best 4-man rotation in baseball today. It ranks up there with the best in baseball history.
Amaro’s waiting for his river card. Will he get his fourth ace? Will he get his unbeatable hand? I have a feeling we’ll be finding out sooner rather than later.
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