Done Deal: Phillies Sign Cliff Lee

Perhaps feeling pressured by the Mets’ rabid activity over the past two weeks (signings of DJ Carrasco, Boof Bonser, and Ronny Paulino; hirings of Dave Hudgens, Jon DeBus, Ken Oberkfell, and Mookie Wilson to coaching staff), the Philadelphia Phillies responded by signing Cliff Lee to a 5-year, $120M contract.

Interesting … so all along, it was NOT about the money, because Lee was offered something in the neighborhood of $150M and 7 years to sign with the Yankees, and around $135-140M to stay in Texas. In the end, Lee was genuinely happy in Philadelphia, and apparently never wanted to leave the city of Brotherly Love to begin with.

What’s more interesting is how the Phillies are able to sign Lee now, but were financially unable to keep both him and Roy Halladay this time last year. I guess they made a boatload of money by selling out all of 2010 and then pre-selling out their 2011 season tickets? Also, they likely will be making a salary-dump deal, and do have a significant amount of cash coming off the books after 2011.

Of course, the Mets were never in the running for Lee, nor any free agent costing more than $2M per year. As we know, the Mets have the heavy liabilities of a brand-new ballpark and a TV network to weigh them down. Additionally, there are those contracts handed out like candy by Omar Minaya over the past 5 years. Just because the Phillies can spend $160M+ on their payroll doesn’t mean the Mets can reach that figure.

So here is the potential Phillies rotation, as of this moment:

1. Roy Halladay
1. Cliff Lee
1. Roy Oswalt
1. Cole Hamels
5. Joe Blanton

As everyone knows, there are only 4 aces in a deck of cards, thank goodness. Otherwise we might see the Phillies acquiring Zack Greinke next. If that “Phearsome Phoursome” can stay healthy and pitch the way we think they can, the Phillies might have the best starting rotation since the 1971 Orioles (but hey, even with all that pitching, the Orioles still didn’t win the World Championship).

Considering that Lee was offered a seven-year deal from the Yankees and either a 6- or 7-year deal from the Rangers, the Phillies’ 5-year contract appears to be a bargain. Yes, it’s a gamble to give five years to a 32-year-old pitcher with chronic back issues, but if Lee can give them two good years and help them to at least one World Series appearance, it’s well worth it. Of course, we won’t know for sure until we see what happens over the next five years.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Tommy2cat December 14, 2010 at 4:49 am
    There’s no getting around it. That’s a fantasy rotation. Query whether the Philly bullpen can hold down a lead, but they’ll be competing in virtually every game, in the absence of an injury bug.

    Hallady appears to be immune from injury, as does Oswalt. Lee and Hamels are somewhat suspect.

    I don’t think the Phillies can mail it in, yet. Their offense appears suspect, especially if Utley can’t stay healthy and Rollins remains inconsistent. The Mets have had a workable approach to Ryan Howard, Werth is gone and Ibanez is definitely showing his age.

    Teams that can hang in there against the Phillies into the 7th inning with superior bullpens are most likely to succeed against a team with the best rotation in major league baseball.

    • mrtasan December 14, 2010 at 11:01 am
      Halladay is the closest thing to a throwback workhorse pitcher…he isn’t immune to injury…he had a shin injury in the 2000s that messed up my fantasy team back when he was with the blue jays.

      Oswalt is a notoriously slow starter and catches fire in the second half.
      Hamels is streaky
      Lee can manage if he has to.

      the only reason i think we had worked around howard was by throwing feliciano at him everytime we faced him…and we dont have him anymore…

  2. shaddup and give me a pretzel December 14, 2010 at 8:52 am
    It is irrelevant to talk about pitching staff injuries before the way way before the season opens.

    But Blanton is pretty good, I wish Haap was #5.

  3. CatchDog December 14, 2010 at 9:54 am
    I’ll still take Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, Bumgardner and Zyto. Ditto with those blackbeards in the pen over the likes of Denny Reyes and Pepto Lidgemol. And I won’t even mention the age factor, let alone the injuries to the latter.

    Last year, the Philly fans were “oh so sure” that Halladay was going to win 30. Then it was an easy 25. Certainly he was gonna win 20 and the Championship.

    Strike three.

    It all looks good on paper. But unfortunately, there’s 162 games and then a few good teams who also have a say in the Phiten’s outcome. Makes it all the more sweeter.

    • Phils4ever December 14, 2010 at 4:10 pm
      yeah Catchdog…we Phils fans were oh so dissapointed with a perfect game, a no hitter, and the Cy Young from Halladay. What a letdown…..dork.
      • CatchDog December 15, 2010 at 8:48 am
        phils4ever – the dork was Ryan Howard standing like a statue at home plate as the Giants celebrated. Perhaps Cliff Lee could bat for him next season…
  4. CatchDog December 14, 2010 at 10:02 am
    Oh, and it’s a good thing I like mangoes 😉
  5. Walnutz15 December 14, 2010 at 10:17 am
    The icing on the cake with all of this….what hitter in their right mind would sign with the Mets (home park: Citi Field + all the pitchers in the NL East)???

    Josh Johnson
    Anibal Sanchez

    It might sound REALLY boring, and it might turn A LOT of fans off completely – but really….what can be done at this point, except to:

    – shed bad money/attitudes (Castillo/Perez)

    – get a better look at some of the in-house options (Emaus, Turner, Murphy, Evans, Thole, Niese, Gee, etc.)

    – look to restock on guys who have big money/bidding wars staring them in the face next winter (let’s face it, another crappy season would have anyone looking to bolt for greener pastures – *cough* Reyes *cough*)

    – keep talking throughout the season on big-names that could potential contribute to teams in a pennant race (the Beltran’s and K-Rod’s of the baseball world)

    I can’t, in my most impartial of opinions – downplay the significance of the Phils’ latest acquisition. They already had 2 pitchers that I would have given up a ton to acquire (Halladay/Oswalt — these are the types you spend on, Wilpons) — and have now re-acquired the big-game arm that they’ll need, once they inevitably get back to the post-season.

    Unless the Phils deal with a rash of injuries to the rotation, then I can’t see how they’re not set for a huge season – 100%, undisputed NL East champs, on paper RIGHT NOW. [Disclaimer: Standard “That’s Baseball, and why we play the games” reservation of rights thrown in. I’m not that blind.]

    In the process, it really makes the Mets’ season that much tougher….if not, down the road for the next handful of years.

    They should start by doing what they have to this winter. Who cares who they offend in the process? The fanbase is going to be numb soon….may as well scrape off some of the barnacles now.

  6. The Earl of Sports December 14, 2010 at 10:40 am
    I have four words that just sound so wonderful: Cole Hamels…Fourth Starter. Commander, loved the rotation listing (four #1’s). I agree with the clown above who mentions the bullpen, but the Phillies starters AVERAGED 6 2/3 innings per start. You’re not going to see a lot of Vance Whorley’s in the game, unless the Phillies knock Ollie Perez for 10 runs and they want to give Halladay the night off after 5.
    • Phils4ever December 14, 2010 at 4:12 pm
      The Phillies will now have the MLB leader in WAR (Lee), the NL WHIP leader (Oswalt), the NL Cy Young (Halladay), and the best lefty ERA in the second half of 2010 (Hamels).

      Hey, the Mets have a new coach!

  7. mrtasan December 14, 2010 at 10:49 am
    …to say it wasn’t about the money is retarded. you’re just repeating what all the news and sportscasters are saying.


    you idiots make it seem like these players aren’t human and will always choose the highest bidder. shame on all of you who thought just because the yankees have money, that they would get him…

    -middle relief

    plus I would think that the rotation would stack like this:
    Blanton/some other schmoe


    Matt Cerrone is a tool…his latest post on the phillies signing is retarded and he is super retarded to start comparing the phillies spending money and the mets since the phillies have won a world series and have been to the playoffs as much as the mets have in the last few years…they actually won something…and i’m a mets fan…this is how retarded matt cerrone is that fecken tool.

  8. gary s. December 14, 2010 at 11:24 am
    pelfrey, niese, dickey, gee, ollie perez..halliday, oswalt, lee, hamels, blanton.We are competitive in the 5th starter heard blanton going to red sox.maybe we can trade ollie to the phillies.Well, citifield has better restaurants than citizen bank park;.
  9. gary s. December 14, 2010 at 11:26 am
    I suggest the mets should hire disgraced jet coach Sal Alosi to trip some of the many baserunners who will be rounding third heading to the plate on the above pitching staff.That could knock our team e.r.a down a little.
    • Joe Janish December 14, 2010 at 11:35 am
      LOL! That’s a good one, Gary. The Mets are looking to overhaul their training / medical staff so he could be considered.
  10. Walnutz15 December 14, 2010 at 11:28 am
    I just find it funny that this happens not even 6 hours after listening to the FAN interview w/Alderson on Francesa’s show.

    What else would you like him to say, but essentially — I found it to be a desperate attempt at trying to convince the Met fanbase to be optimistic about 2011 — and that this team somehow has a legit chance at making the playoffs.

    Not his fault, but it’s an insult to fans — that he thinks some could be that naïve.

    A lot of teams go through dark periods, but The Wilpons have no one to blame but themselves — for the “executives” they’ve hired in the past, coupled with the jokes they’ve targeted and extended on the FA market.

    Just glad that we have some baseball people in charge now…..just hope they’re not hindered going forward.

    • Joe Janish December 14, 2010 at 11:38 am
      Correction: we have one baseball person (Ricciardi) and two business analysts in charge now. But that’s probably a good thing, considering both Omar Minaya and Jeff Wilpon “played” baseball and it didn’t help their decision-making.

      Oh my how lucky is it for Sandy that his Francesa interview wasn’t today?

      • Walnutz15 December 14, 2010 at 11:44 am
        I wasn’t too thrilled with the interview yesterday, and actually turned it off on my drive home.

        If that’s the kind of interview we’re gonna give this winter, then just don’t give it. (And I’m not saying it in a spoiled/entitled way) — it’s not what any of us want to hear, RE: the likes of Castillo/Perez.

        If either of those 2 make it to regular season action with the Mets — then I’m definitely not going to a game this season.

        Mark that down…..especially in a summer that sees me signing my life away.

  11. wohjr December 14, 2010 at 12:44 pm
    Now is the time to offer Big Pelf to the Yanks and see what shakes loose. I’d hate to do it, but the window is 3-4 years from now- if the Yanks are desperate they might throw some real prospects at us
    • Joe Janish December 14, 2010 at 1:03 pm
      Who would you want? I guess the conversation starts with Montero, but who else? Andrew Brackman? They seem pretty deep with pitchers, but not sure who stands out.
      • wohjr December 14, 2010 at 1:22 pm
        Seems unlikely they’d give montero but if they would heck yes! I’d do it for Sandy’s choice of two pitchers and the other catcher they have, romine.
      • wohjr December 14, 2010 at 3:08 pm
        Mike! What a strange assertion!

        They most certainly WOULD want Pelf, with the miss on Cliffy and HGHAndy looking like he’s gonna hang ’em up. Or maybe you think they’d rather sign Kevin Millwood and depend on AJ?? The Yanks would definitely listen– why wouldn’t they? How is it that they have “no need for him”?? Groundballs good for Yankee Stadium, I’d give them Pelf before Niese.

  12. gary s. December 14, 2010 at 1:00 pm
    why would the yanks help the mets?? and why would anyone want a pitcher with the yips?He’s our ace!!i HATE TO SAY THIS, BECAUSE I’VE BEEN SAYING FOR 2 YEARS TO MOVE THE FENCES IN!! BUT IF OUR 1-2 IS PELF AND NIESE, WE NEED TO MOVE THE FENCES FURTHER OUT!LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  13. gary s. December 14, 2010 at 1:02 pm
    btw, what’s more pathetic?Yankee fans crying over not getting Cliff Lee or the highlight of the Mets offseason being the announcmwnt of our new coaching staff?
    • Ryan December 14, 2010 at 2:40 pm
      Nothing pathetic about resigning Mookie Wilson.

      Mets need more speed in the outfield, after losing Francoeur.

  14. Mike December 14, 2010 at 2:14 pm
    gary s. you really make it hard to consistently like you. You make a good point then ramble on about the fences. That’s a tired argument at this point. Nothing will change until the players perform better, stop making excuses for them.

    Trading Pelfrey is not a terrible idea, but the Yankees have Hughes and Joba, so they really have no need for Pelfrey too. And since according to Francesa Hughes is as good as Hamels (gag!) there’s no way they want Pelf.

    As for this Lee stuff, I think all Phily fans should come to terms with the following: you may win another ring or two, but in 3-4 years you will have a really old team with a lot of money tied into players that are not guaranteed to be good anymore. I’m sure you are fine with that, but don’t believe you are magically going to fix those problems. That front office has its work cut out for it in the near future. It could end up ugly before it’s all done.

  15. gary s. December 14, 2010 at 7:24 pm
    Mike, i was joking about the fences..We are all going to need a sense of humor to survive 2011.btw, remember how all we have heard ad nauseum about citifield is that a big park would attract all the big time pitchers.Yet Halliday, Lee and Oswalt have all gone to a small park in Philly, not to ciitfield.So, you can make fun of me all u want, but the next genius on this site who talks about how the big ballpark is an advantage to pitchers will give me a good laugh..
    • Mike December 15, 2010 at 1:15 pm
      Okay, well played then. Still, those guys went to Phily to win, and yet they only have one ring when only Hamels was there. So unless they win then this argument is moot. Long term, pitchers park is better than banbox. If things get ugly in Philly then pitchers won’t want to go there given the small size. That’s what I believe.