Cliff’s Notes – My Thoughts on the Cliff Lee Signing
I recently wrote an article arguing that Cliff Lee is overrated when comparing his overall body of work to the contracts he was being offered in terms of length and cost. I did not include the Philadelphia Phillies in that article because at the time, there was no indication that they were even a consideration for Lee since no reports surfaced of any contract negotiations. Now that the Phillies have come in and swept Lee away from the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers, I must swallow some pride and admit a couple things. First off, I still believe that Cliff Lee is overrated and that the Phillies will being grossly overpaying after three years. Second, I must give credit to the Phillies for being aggressive and pursuing Lee to include him in arguably one of the greatest starting pitching rotations of all-time. Lee will be the #2 man behind 2010 Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay, and in front of Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels. In many respects, when Lee is at the top of his game he is the left-handed version of Halladay. Opponents surely are not looking forward to facing the Phillies. The Phillies, who just saw their best right-handed hitter and starting RF Jayson Werth bolt to Washington, did not stand still. They probably realized that there was not a better option to plug in to right field, so they have essentially changed their overall philosophy. They are not going to bludgeon teams with their offense anymore, which still contains Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. Instead, they have gone the other direction to dominate the league with pitching. So I applaud Ruben Amaro and the rest of the Phillies’ organization for being so flexible and creative. And yes, it pains me as a Mets’ fan to say that.
Most importantly, I must give credit to Cliff Lee. In current times, professional athletes seek the most amount of money they possibly can – which they are entitled to do so. Most times, the pursuit of the most money leads players to teams and organizations where there is little chance of succeeding as a team (See Jayson Werth article at http://fantasyjudgment.wordpress.com/2010/12/06/nationals-will-not-get-their-moneys-werth/). Here, Cliff Lee left several million dollars on the table from both the Yankees and Rangers’ contract offers. Granted, he had very good chances of winning had he signed with New York or Texas, but he realized the situation he would be in if he signed with the Phillies and joined their starting rotation. He also clearly enjoyed his time in Philadelphia after being traded there in 2009 and helping lead the Phillies to the World Series. Kudos to Lee for deciding to play on a team that he enjoyed being a part of and that gives him an excellent chance of winning a championship. No one can ever say he went for the money. And maybe he is overpriced and not deserving of more years and dollars than Roy Halladay. But he will certainly be worth more to the Phillies than Jayson Werth was to them or will be to the Nationals.