Cliff Lee Shocks Baseball, Signs With The Philadelphia Phillies

December 14, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

So, I guess there was a mystery team after all.

Usually when an agent tells everyone there is a “mystery team,” it’s nine times out of 10 just him trying to make agent speak and trying to drum up interest in his client.

It’s like when a girl tells you she is leaving for another guy. You kind of don’t believe it, but in the end, it proves to be true.

Unfortunately for the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers, there was a mystery team involved in the Cliff Lee sweepstakes, and that team was the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Phillies shocked baseball early this morning when they signed Lee to a five-year, $120 million contract. The contract also includes a vesting option for a sixth year.

I am for one, am shocked. I thought if there really was a mystery team, it would have been the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. I thought they might have been desperate enough to outbid everyone.

I am not shocked, however, that Lee spurned the Yankees. I called this back in November in my Free Agent Primer.

Let’s go back to two winters ago and the CC Sabathia negotiations. It seemed Sabathia had very little interest in pitching in New York. By all accounts, he wanted to stay in California. But because he was a free agent in the most depressed baseball market in years, no other team could afford him except for the Yankees.

Even then, Brian Cashman had to fly to California, bid against himself and practically beg Sabathia to come to NY. If any of the California teams were seriously interested in Sabathia at that time, I would bet he would be pitching with those teams instead of the Yankees right now.

My point is, this time around the Yankees had serious competition and the player they were going after had options. The Yankees weren’t the only game in town.

Lee never showed to have much interest in NY and choose the best situation for him and his family. The key word in that last sentence is “choose.”

Unlike Sabathia, Lee didn’t have to sign with the Yankees out of default.

Lee clearly liked his time spent in Philadelphia back in 2009 and now gives the Phillies a rotation for the ages. Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton and Lee is one ridiculous five-man rotation.

The Phillies now have $147 million tied up into 11 players. Look for them to try to trade Blanton or Raul Ibanez to free up some money.

So the question is, which team lost out more on not getting Lee? The Rangers or the Yankees?

I am going to say the Rangers on this one. Despite the fact that Lee wouldn’t have taken up a good chunk of their payroll, he gave them something they haven’t had in years—a true, bona fide, punch-you-in-the-mouth ace.

Lee made the Rangers a World Series contender. He gave them someone that can walk into any stadium and shut another team down.

Now the Rangers have a bunch of No. 2 and 3 starters in their rotation. That might be good enough to win the division, but, as they found out this season, aces win the World Series, not No. 3 starters.

Expect the “Zack Greinke to the Rangers” trade rumors to heat up.

The reason the Yankees don’t hurt as much as the Rangers do in this one is because they still have Sabathia and Phil Hughes. Would Lee have shifted the balance of power back in the Yankees’ favor in the AL East? Yes it would have. But it’s not the end of the world.

Expect the Yankees to bring back Andy Pettitte to fill out the rotation. I don’t expect them to pursue Greinke at all.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

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