Dec 152010
Phillies aces

R2C2? Four Horsemen? Four Loko?

December 15:

Philadelphia Phillies news and stories from around the web…

It’s official: Lee a Phillie

December 15 Philadelphia Inquirer:

“It’s official: Cliff Lee is a member of the Phillies.

The Phillies announced that Lee has signed a five-year, $120 million contract with the Phillies. The deal has a vesting option for 2016 and includes an awards package.

Lee and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. will meet the media at 3 p.m.

Lee will wear No. 33.

Here is more from the Phillies press release:

Lee, 32, went 12-9 with a 3.18 ERA in 28 combined starts last season between the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers. He tied for the American League lead with seven complete games and led all major league pitchers in fewest walks per 9.0 innings pitched (0.76; Roy Halladay was second at 1.08).”

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Phillies now the ‘it’ franchise

December 15 Camden Courier-Post columnist Mike Daniels:

“When I was a kid watching the Phillies battle for last place most years, no great player in baseball wanted to be a Phillie.

Sure, the team lured Lance Parrish that one year (and what a flop that turned out to be), but otherwise there were no premier free agents who came to the Phillies for the better part of three decades. Nobody waived their no-trade clause to land here. And certainly, there was no player in baseball willing to take less money to be a Phillie.

A Phils game at cavernous Veterans Stadium was the easiest ticket in town. Heck, they gave out tickets for free in packs of Phillies Franks. You could walk up to the stadium on any day, no matter who the Phils were playing, and get a seat anywhere you wanted. Personally, I loved sitting up in the 600- or 700-level and having an entire section to put my legs up across a few seats and relax for a nice night of booing and making fun of the slop players the Phils trotted out there — the Desi Relafords, Rod Bookers and Rob Duceys of the world.

This wasn’t all that long ago, either.

It was only 8 1/2 years ago when Scott Rolen, convinced that ownership would never spend what it took to build a winning team around him, talked his way out of town.

It was only 10 years ago that they had a great pitcher — Curt Schilling — who after years of waiting for a winner to blossom here, finally gave up and requested a trade. He was shipped to Arizona and promptly won a World Series.

Generally, Philadelphia was considered a baseball backwater, a team with cheap owners, a lousy stadium and a languid, shrinking fan base. And, aside from the fluke that was 1993, there wasn’t much winning going on, either.

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Phils could make pitch for history

December 15 Camden Courier-Post:

“In retrospect, it was as much about the Phillies‘ slumping bats and San Francisco’s unhittable pitching staff that proved to be the difference in the National League Championship Series last season.

But if one decision defined the doomed series for the Phillies, it was probably Charlie Manuel’s ill-fated choice of Joe Blanton to start Game 4 rather than bringing Roy Halladay back on short rest.

There was no offseason move that could guarantee the Phillies will overcome the stumbling blocks that kept them from the World Series in 2010. But when the news broke late Monday that Cliff Lee would be returning to Philadelphia, it at least assured Manuel of an easy decision should his team need another big start in a Game 4.

The Phillies will trot out one of the most accomplished rotations in recent baseball history next season, with Lee, Cy Young award winner Roy Halladay, former World Series MVP Cole Hamels and last year’s pennant-race hero Roy Oswalt.

It’s a rotation so intimidating, there may not be an appropriate comparison. Signing Lee comes as a big surprise, both in Philadelphia, where the offseason was shaping up to be a particularly quiet one, and around baseball, where heavy hitters like the Rangers and Yankees were in hot pursuit of the lefty.

But the four months Lee spent in Philadelphia in 2009 had made quite an impression, and after turning down what appeared to be more lucrative deals in New York and Texas, Lee is back to finish the job he started when he nearly pitched the Phillies to a World Series title just two years ago.

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Four great pitchers won’t guarantee Phillies a championship

December 15 Philadelphia Daily News:

“SOMEWHERE, Mets owner Fred Wilpon is thinking that Bernie Madoff is the least of his problems, and retired Braves manager Bobby Cox is telling his wife that he can’t wait to take that April cruise after all.

The Phillies were the reasonably prohibitive favorites to win the National League East and now they are the ridiculously prohibitive favorites. That much is a given, as we all go about the business of picking up our jaws off the floor and preparing for the return of Cliff Lee to the starting rotation.

What is there to say, after “Wow?”

It is hard to spin this as anything but the story of the year in baseball in 2011, this rotation for the ages, this return of Lee a year after he was spurned by the Phillies and traded away to the far left side of the continent. The assembled rotation – Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels – will be the talk of the sport. The Phillies‘ quest for another world championship will be as well-chronicled as it will be expected.

That this is historic goes without saying.

That history is not their friend, though, seems odd.

But the last five teams that had at least four starters win at least 15 games – which is now one of the presumptions for the 2011 Phillies – were the 1993 Braves, the 1998 Braves, the 2001 Mariners, the 2003 Yankees and the 2004 Cardinals. The Yankees won the fewest games of the bunch (101) and the Mariners won the most (an astounding 116).

None of them won the World Series.

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A look inside the Phillies’ signing of Cliff Lee

December 15 Philadelphia Daily News columnist Paul Hagen:

“SOMETIME around 1 o’clock this afternoon at Nationals Park in Washington, Jayson Werth will face a battery of cameras and microphones and talk about the 7-year, $126 million contract he signed to leave the Phillies as a free agent.

It’s possible that, somewhere in the same time frame, Cliff Lee will go through the same drill at Citizens Bank Park, discussing his decision to return to the Phillies, reportedly for less money than he could have gotten from the Yankees or Rangers.

If those breaking news stories align, it will be great theater. From all indications, Werth took as much as $60 million more from a last-place team than he was offered by a contender. Lee took the opposite approach. We can compare that while waiting for Lee to pass his physical and the deal to be formally announced. In the meantime, here’s a deeper look at one of the most stunning days in Phillies history.

Question: How much did Cliff Lee leave really leave on the table by coming back to the Phillies?

Answer: The Associated Press reports that Lee has a $120 million, 5-year contract. His year-by-year numbers, according to the AP, are $11 million next season, $21.5 million in 2012 and $25 million in each of the following three seasons. He has an option for 2016 for $27.5 million, with a $12.5 million buyout. For the option to be guaranteed, the AP said, he must pitch 200 innings in 2015 or 400 innings combined in 2014 and 2015, and cannot finish the ’15 season on the disabled list with a left shoulder or elbow injury.

The offers from other teams are guesstimates. One report had the Yankees guaranteeing $138 million for 6 years. That’s an average annual value of $23 million, compared with $24 million from the Phillies.

And even if the Yankees actually offered more, by the time you figure that taxes will eat up a lot of the difference, it’s probably not worth playing somewhere where you won’t be as happy as you’d be somewhere else. Besides, believe this: Lee wasn’t going to New York. Stories about his wife not wanting to live there were dead on.

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Cliff Lee deal with Phillies proves we know less than we think we do

December 15 Washington Post columnist Thomas Boswell:

“Not so fast. When everybody knows the future, be careful.

Last month, everybody in the Ballpark in Texas as the World Series ended was almost certain they knew what uniforms Cliff Lee, Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth were going to be wearing after they signed the biggest free agent contracts of the offseason: Yankees, Angels and Red Sox, respectively. And Lee to New York was a lock.

Instead, it’s turned out to be the Phillies, Red Sox and Nationals that get to hold the holiday news conferences and toast themselves.

Everybody, as is so often the case in baseball, was dead wrong, just as they (we) were wrong about a Ranger-Giants Series. No one saw it coming. These days, that seems to be the new norm.

In the early hours after Lee’s out-of-the-blue signing with the Phillies, everybody in baseball is now full of certainty once again. They (we) know who will be in the ’11 World Series and probably win it, too. The Phils with their Four Aces – Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels – have just been anointed.

In the blissful aftermath of seeing Lee turn down an extra $30 million not to become a Yankee, there’s widespread holiday cheer. Never before has a $120 million deal – that’s $24 million a year for a 32-year-old pitcher who’s gone 14-13 and 12-9 the last two years – been hailed as healthy for baseball. Apparently, anything that blocks the Yanks from buying a world title is good for ball.

Besides, the prospect of a World Series between the Phillies and the winter’s other big winner, the Red Sox, has the appeal of novelty. Have these ancient franchises ever met in the World Series? Not since 1915. Just a handful of years ago, the Red Sox hadn’t won a Series in 86 years and the Phillies had won only one championship in more than a century. ”

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