What Cliff Lee Means to Me

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!

Let’s Talk About MLB Winter Meetings, Okay?

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.

The Trade Deadline

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.