Cliff Lee agrees that Philadelphia is the place to be. (Getty images)
Sleepyhead summary: Late last night, Cliff Lee rejected huge offers from Texas and New York and accepted a five-year, $120 million deal to pitch for “a Goliath,” the word super-agent Scott Boras used to describe the Phillies at the winter meetings. Boras demonstrated that money talks last Sunday when he guided Jayson Werth down the yellow brick road to a $126 million jackpot. Days later, Lee spurned a record-breaking payout for a starting pitcher and followed his heart, signing back with the team he fell in love with a season ago, a team prepared to mound up with one of the best starting rotations this game has ever seen, thus proving that Philadelphia is truly the place to be, unless you're into stuff like money, then you go to Washington.
Beerleaguer: It changes everything, and yet it doesn’t. Although it could. Allow me to explain. A strong rotation got even stronger today. An elite team became even elite-rer. You can never have enough pitching and all that jazz. The Phillies have become a nightmare that no team wants to face. Put it this way, if you’re slated for a weekend set against Oswalt, Hamels and Blanton, you’re off the hook. Lee’s accomplishments speak for themselves. We all saw the 2009 postseason. He walked a grand total of 18 batters last season. He fanned 185, amounting to the best K/BB in the league. As pitchers go, Roy Halladay may be his only equal. One of them will become the Phillies' No. 2 starter.
But great pitching can also guide you to a mediocre 12-11 record and a second-round ouster in the postseason. Just ask Cole Hamels. A strong rotation didn’t prevent the Phils from being left high and dry in the Championship Series and many times during the regular season by an offense that couldn’t score. Twenty-four hours ago, the biggest need was still a bat to replace Jayson Werth, the Phillies best run producer over the last two seasons and lone power bat from the right side. None of that changed today.
The last 12 hours have been surreal. Hell, the last 52 weeks of this cyclical Cliff Lee saga have unfolded like nothing any of us have ever seen. It could get even crazier. Building the dream rotation a year ago didn’t prevent the Phillies from trading Lee. Surely, Ruben Amaro Jr. has already entertained the notion that three out of the four ain’t bad, especially if it meant improving in other areas. There's already talk of removing the fifth wheel. Blanton to Boston is heavily rumored, but I doubt it stops there. Amaro said the Phillies made headway on a number of trade possibilities during the winter meetings. They did “extensive” legwork into what it would take to Carlos Quentin, and that was before they were trading from a position of extreme strength, like they can today.
Today, they can shoot for the stars.