A daily accumulation of history and present as I follow the 2011 year through the baseball season and reflect on the glories and disappointments of the greatest game on Earth.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Cliff Lee

So what kind of Christmas present can you get after spending 13 prospects and $250million+?
In mid-December, the Phillies found out when they gave their fans the present that they yanked away from them the year earlier and sold it as a coup of enormous potential. They had just blown the playoffs to the Giants, who went on to win the World Series based solely on pitching. All the same, the Phillies had lost the NL Championship because their offense was lousy in the clutch. The Phillies had also lost Jayson Werth, who was viewed as a saviour to the team, but was now an overpaid price for the Washington Nationals allowing one to wonder if it's about money, opportunity, or love that a player accepts the chance to go to another team. I guess we'll just have to believe that it's the extra year that nobody who wasn't ruling the cellars of their division would have to pony more up to get.
Of course, we have to be happy for the big losers, i.e. the Yankees who missed out on their opportunity to lay claim to Lee. Thus, we see that the if you can't beat them join them mentality that brought Jason Giambi to the Bronx for a shave and a steroid nightmare wasn't convincing to Lee who in the past few years established himself as great since finding a way out of the baseball Hell that is Cleveland. At least he did it classier than Lebron did, but you knew that after being a revolving door for football teams, baseball players, and anything else of remote value, the populace would over-react and spew venom. Then again, we can't say that King James didn't kind of sort of deserve it.
So Christmas dinner was served and Lee was in the City of Brotherly Love, the fans were digging out their old jerseys or wishing that they hadn't used them to clean motor oil off of their garage floors, and life was good. The baseball gods were smiling because now the team had the big 4 to make them win the division. Roy Halladay and his perfect game and no hitter. Roy Oswalt and h is lost legacy that was brought back to life in a short stint in Philadelphia. And then there was Cole Hamels of the awesome 2008 and the lousy season after that. Sure, last year, he was back to form in ERA, but the 12-11 record shows that the team doesn't hit for him.
Thus, the true problems aren't solved because Howard has a big hole in his swing. Jayson Werth is gone. Raul Ibanez is older than dirt. Polanco is a singles man. Jimmy Rollins is washed up. Chase Utley has potential when he isn't fragile and injured. Sure, there are a few prospects coming up and Carlos Ruiz is a nice feeling for the hometown fans, but who is there to put a fear in pitchers come the playoffs? Ryan Howard isn't the man and no matter how much some fans complain and argue otherwise, what has he done in the clutch? Even Alex Rodriguez reinvented himself against Minnesota's bullpen, which I could pretty much break through on in any given high profile October game.
But I digress...
I'm not saying that Lee was a bad move. He'll do exceptionally and the fans love him, but... how much hard luck can the staff handle as the offense doesn't produce and Brad Lidge implodes in the closer role. Now those masseusse and psychiatric jobs will definitely be high pay as they hope to stave off the late inning sadness and try to be like the Orioles of the early 1970s were supposed to be the greatest pitching staff ever. Then again, there was the mid nineties Braves and the 1954 Indians.
No matter what happens, they'll be fun to watch even if the pink cap wearing sunny side up rooters of Philthydelphia will be screaming loyalty now that they're winning despite the fact that they were nowhere to be found in 2005, but what's new? That's Boston and New York, too. But such is the joy of being a baseball fan in a world of bandwagon jumpers.

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