I ran a quick search of the archives here at Ramsayings before I started writing this post. Felt sure I’d written about Cliff Lee before, because, really, how has anyone with an interest in the Phillies not written about him? Whether it was his acquisition at the deadline in ’09 or his inexplicable trade before Roy Halladay arrived, I’ve somehow managed to not directly address the magical left hander.
My first memory of Cliff Lee is a fond one. Charlie fell asleep on my chest while we laid on the couch, watching Cliff carry a no-hitter through six innings. It was everything skeptical Phillies fans wanted to see in their new stud pitcher. I mean, how many players had we acquired in the past that just didn’t work out? What is Travis Lee up to, after all? Lee’s acquisition showed that the Phillies organization was serious about being a contender and not just a flash in the pan. It was a refreshing change from my youth, when the Phils were routinely a doormat and most Philadelphia teams found uninspiring ways to trade away their top-tier talent for little return.
That was just how we felt when Lee was traded in the 2009 offseason. Three nobodies who aren’t even seen as developing talent that can succeed at the professional level. We may only ever know Tyson Gillies for his run-in with the law last year. It was about money and restocking the farm system, we were told. Seemed an awful way to dispense with a player who single-handedly pitched us back into the ’09 series.
Now it seems the Phillies are atoning for all of Philadelphia’s sports sins. It’s as if Ruben Amaro is making us forget every bad trade and draft pick and free agent acquisition. Makes it easier to forget how Barkley and Schiling exited or how Shawn Bradley arrived. It’s a reassurance that last season was a precursor to the fall. We’re not selling off yet. The Phillies are transforming Philadelphia into a knowledgeable, passionate baseball town like it’s never been before. The Four Horsemen ride!
Nothing quite as excruciating as watching your team lose a star outfielder to a sorry team within the division — for unreasonably big bucks, mind — while watching them haplessly pursue bargain bin replacements like Jeff Francoeur, Matt Diaz, George Sherrill and Dennys Reyes. Would’ve been adding insult to injury if we tried to add any of those guys even in a platoon. Can’t rightly tell if it makes it hurt more to hear the Phillies bandied about as being in on Cliff Lee and Zack Greinke or if that’s just part of a push to make guys like me feel better about a team that really has no choice but to stand pat this offseason and hope things go a little differently in 2011.
Will say that the Nats being big spenders really warms my heart. Love that the Fish are being aggressive, too. The NL East doesn’t get enough credit for being the hornet’s nest it is.
Lastly, Selig really does need to expand the league to include the mystery team that gets cited any time talks heat up with a free agent. Craig Calcaterra has been writing about this over at Hardball Talk for a bit. The tweets coming out of Orlando have been positively hilarious. Have to say that the rumors definitely keep me engaged with baseball during what is otherwise a very slow offseason.
A co-worker said that it was “depressing” that I was already talking about looking forward to the Phillies next season. I told him that once upon a time I’d have felt that way in April!
Times certainly have changed for the Phillies. Watching the media circus around their acquisitions of Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay were the sort of spellbinding moves Philadelphia teams simply don’t make. We’ve historically been perma-sellers, unloading superstars like Charles Barkley and Curt Schilling and getting nothing in return. We’re the sort of town where teams move into a rebuilding year that lasts a decade or more. In short, the Phillies are spoiling us by being so competitive!
I don’t know if the Phillies can make the playoffs this year, but I like that they’re trying to piece together a top-notch rotation that will be here for the next several years. I still think they could make a strong run at the playoffs this year. They’ve shown they can do it in the past and if a team like the Rockies can go on a tear and snag the wild card the way they did in 2007, then why not us?
Make it exciting, Rube. Show us you’ve got what it takes to pull together a team for the ages without Pat Gillick looking over your shoulder. I won’t even mention that you’re working with your old boss Ed down in Houston. It shows that you have the desire and will to build a championship team and that’s what this city wants as much as the championships themselves. Go get Roy Oswalt for the 2010 run and see where we end up.