WHEN I'M King of the World . . .
Ruben and his Merry Men will do some out-of-the-box thinking to help dig the Phillies' M*A*S*H Unit out of what could become a midseason grave . . . "Daily News Live" host Michael Barkann passed on the spin of a friend, name withheld, who definitely was thinking outside the box. "Why does no one talk about trading Cole Hamels in a Cliff Lee deal?" Why, indeed? The Roy Halladay-Cole Hamels duo was supposed to give Charlie Manuel a No. 1 and 1A at the top of his rotation. There is a reason for the ongoing wave of fan outrage at the Cliff Lee deal, which looks more and more pointless and arbitrary with each passing day. If the suits calling the shots had even rented Lee for 2010, Manuel would have had two No. 1s and a No. 1A. Nobody in baseball has that.
So, what about Halladay and Lee without Hamels (6-7, 4.05), who is having another pedestrian season and falling short of being a No. 2, let alone a 1A. Jamie Moyer (9-7, 4.13, age 47) trails Hamels in the Phils' gopher-ball derby, 19-15. Barkann's friend explains:
"Hamels would be perfect in Seattle. They would have 1 1/2 years to sign him long-term. He would be back on the West Coast with zero pressure . . . and he can go 17-12 every year for Seattle making $12 million a season." At that point, Barkann's friend flies into a Fantasy League froth of moves that brings back Cliff Lee and his off-the-charts numbers for Hamels and Low Class A teenage first-base phenom Jonathan Singleton. Then Ruben wraps up Jayson Werth "for 4 or 5 years at $13 million per season." Shane Victorino is traded in the winter and there is a flurry of moves and contracts aimed at tightening up the bullpen. And what about Lee's deal? "Lee will cost $18-20 million for 4 or 5 years." OK, stop the movie right there. Ruben Amaro was instructed to draw a line in the sand. No deals for a starting pitcher longer than 3 years. Lee was offered the same length and terms as those accepted by Halladay. Before Lee could make a counteroffer, he was a Seattle Mariner. And in shock.
There was an interesting observation at the end of all the proposed wheeling and dealing.
"I am still convinced that the Phillies 'parked' Lee in Seattle and with [Pat] Gillick's relationship to the Mariners, Amaro will get a right-of-first refusal on trade offers thrown at Seattle." Pat does have a history of maintaining cordial relations with the first three ballclubs he successfully served as general manager. That said, I don't see Cliff Lee ever wearing a Phillies uniform again.
When I'm King of the World . . .
There will be a 2,350-mile, 3-week professional cycling race in the United States, the Tour de Interstate . . . Why should the lousy roads in Belgium and the cobblestone stretches of Northeast France get all the skin when we could expose the battered and abraised Peleton to the spine-jarring majesty of our decaying interstate highway system? OK, so there's a lack of castles and chateaus along the interstates. So, we'll just swing the field down I-95 past King's Dominion, then cut over to I-4 for a few laps around the Magic Kingdom. No Alps? No problem? Pedaling out of Denver on I-70, the climbers will revel at the ascent through and up the Eisenhower Tunnel. At an average elevation of 11,112 feet, it is the highest point of the interstate system. With any luck, a blizzard could be raging at the western exit and 100 mph winds are not uncommon. Wait until the lads get a load of the climb up Pike's Peak. The Tour will finish up with a straight dash down the Cali I-5 starting at the City of Commerce and ending at the San Ysidro border crossing south of San Diego. To improve Versus ratings, this leg will be contested during the morning rush . . . Still on the subject of International Foot Month, I finally figured out the FIFA acronym: Flagrantly Incompetent Football Association. That one scowling referee who screwed the U.S. side on three different occasions in a World Cup group tie with Slovenia did everything but shout anti-American slogans. But the officiating for these contests that kept billions glued to their TVs was at least uniform - uniformly awful. No call was worse or more damaging to the outcome than the knockout-round goal clearly scored by England against mighty Germany and waved off even though replays at every angle showed the ball at least a foot inside the goal. It would have tied the game, 2-2. Instead, the Brits were forced to play in a defensive shell. Germany picked up the attacking tempo and shelled them. Nations go all-in on this amazing quadrennial spectacle that is controlled by the planet's most powerful governing body. FIFA's Draconian methods make the NFL look like a democracy. No use of replay for any phase, including the most difficult calls in the sport - offside on a scoring play. That's ridiculous in 2010 with the technology in place to get it right . . .
Unless the Phillies decide to go all in by dealing Jayson Werth for value before the deadline - if they can get value - they are better off letting nature take its course. Dom Brown is pounding Triple A pitching, gunning down runners, stealing bases. His time is near . . . And has the 2010 season had a more defining Phillies weekend than Cliff Lee pitching a complete-game masterpiece for the Mariners and Kyle Drabek tossing an Eastern League no-hitter for Toronto's New Hampshire affiliate? The horror . . .
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