A Great Catch

The Phillies announced late Monday night that they had signed Cliff Lee. (Ron Cortes/Staff file photo)


Well, this just doesn’t happen anywhere, but certainly not in Philadelphia.

Cliff Lee, by most reasonable estimates, decided to pay more than $40 million for the privilege of pitching for the Phillies. That’s the rough difference between the contract he agreed to and the reported numbers offered by the New York Yankees.

The result: The 2011 Phillies may begin the season with the single greatest pitching rotation in the history of Major League Baseball. Hyperbole? Not at all. In Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt and Lee, the top four starters include two Cy Young winners and three guys who won MVP awards in postseason series. All four are in their prime.

One caveat: Remember who we’re dealing with here. Ruben Amaro Jr. was the guy who blew your mind by acquiring Halladay last year, then broke your heart by flipping Lee in a trade the same day. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that Amaro sees Halladay and Lee as his top two starters and will look to move either Oswalt or Hamels. In that case, it would almost certainly be Oswalt, although he does have a no-trade clause.


What was the Phillies' boldest move of the last year?

I don’t bring that up to be a buzz-kill. Just trying to cope with the stunning turn of events that saw the Phillies re-acquire Lee when the entire universe thought he would sign with the Yankees.

Remember the days when everyone eventually signed with the Yankees or Red Sox? They are officially over. And your Phillies are unofficially the team to beat in 2011.

Remember Spahn and Sain and pray for rain? How about Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, Hamels and pray for the opponents?

Unbelievable. Can’t wait to hear Amaro and Lee explain how this all went down.

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