FanDuel - WFBC

December 14, 2010

Cliff Lee is ... a Phillie?: In what many are calling a stunning turn of events, Cliff Lee is returning to Philadelphia, a team who, just a year ago, let him go and broke his heart.

posted by dyams to baseball at 06:35 AM - 39 comments

I don't understand why Lee would want to return to Philly enough to leave $30 million-plus on the table. Has there ever been a top free-agent with more affection for a team that recently dumped him?

Lee was still upset enough at the Phillies during this year's World Series to say, "I didn't mind seeing them get beat, either, just because they got rid of me."

Even more amazingly, the best free agent pitcher on the market won't be his team's ace!

posted by rcade at 07:36 AM on December 14

I don't understand why Lee would want to return to Philly enough to leave $30 million-plus on the table.

Let's be honest and point out that adding Lee to Halladay and Oswalt in a single rotation gives the Phillies a 3-headed monster for pitching, and that's probably the best chance he has to win a World Series ring (though it didn't work out as often as expected for the last team in this situation).

He's been there twice, and hasn't won. Maybe he thinks the money (beyond the first $120,000,000) isn't as important.

With this rotation in Philly in the NL East, and the young stud rotation in San Fran in the NL West, and Albert Pujols stuck in the middle in the NL Central, I think I'm going to pay a bit more attention to the NL this year.

posted by grum@work at 07:46 AM on December 14

I don't understand why Lee would want to return to Philly enough to leave $30 million-plus on the table.

I guess for some people there does come a point where the sums involved are just so astronomical that it is no longer a matter of simply grabbing the maximum number of dollars. That is, there is a point where less-than-max is enough. And that is something I am sure the Yankee ownership will have a tough time getting their minds around, if they even can.

It does make me wonder, though, what it is about Philly that would trump the Yankees' offer. Or maybe, like me, Lee just despises the Yankees so much that he wouldn't play for them for any amount of money.

posted by billinnagoya at 07:59 AM on December 14

It does make me wonder, though, what it is about Philly that would trump the Yankees' offer.

Probably nightmares of this call being repeated over and over:

"A ground ball up the middle and just past Jeter's glove. That's a tough base hit for Lee to give up, as it scores another run this inning."

posted by grum@work at 08:02 AM on December 14

And that is something I am sure the Yankee ownership will have a tough time getting their minds around, if they even can.

The Phillies have bee shelling out cash on a rather steady pace themselves as of late. They don't take a backseat to practically anyone.

And why was Lee so giddy about his time with the Rangers, and seeing as how their offer had to be substantial also, it's tough to understand how the Phillies all of a sudden swooped in.

My feelings are Lee sees the Phillies, with Halladay and the rest of their staff (including the addition of him) as his best option to both return to and to win a World Series. That's the only way I can justify him wanting to return to the team who he carried one year, then shit-canned him the next year in favor of someone else.

posted by dyams at 08:28 AM on December 14

Maybe Lee also wants to have a chance to step into the batter's box now and then.

The former King of Ontario and the two Texas bridesmaids are going to make a substantial and motivated rotation.

posted by beaverboard at 08:30 AM on December 14

I don't really follow the National League. Is there such a thing as the Phillie discount?

posted by graymatters at 09:59 AM on December 14

Let's be honest and point out that adding Lee to Halladay and Oswalt in a single rotation gives the Phillies a 3-headed monster for pitching, and that's probably the best chance he has to win a World Series ring.

And Cole Hamels is not exactly anyone to sneeze at either. Best 4th starter in the league? By a wide margin.

posted by boredom_08 at 10:45 AM on December 14

Best 4th starter in the league? By a wide margin.

You could make the case that the Phillies have not only the best rotation in baseball, but from top to bottom, the best 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th starters. Unless Blanton gets shipped out, which seems likely.

posted by cl at 12:07 PM on December 14

Is there such a thing as the Phillie discount?

40 years ago, Curt Flood filed a lawsuit that changed baseball to fight his trade to Philadelphia. I wonder what he would say today.

posted by cl at 12:22 PM on December 14

The Phillies also give Lee one thing the Rangers and Yankees couldn't- a team focused on good fielding. Remember, Lee's one of those rare Stud Pitchers who has never racked up a 200+ strikout season.

posted by MKUltra at 12:39 PM on December 14

The Yankees had the lowest errors in the Majors last season, 14 less than the Phillies. They had lower errors two out of the previous three years before that.

posted by rcade at 12:45 PM on December 14

"A ground ball up the middle and just past Jeter's glove. That's a tough base hit for Lee to give up, as it scores another run this inning."

I LOL'ed. Well played, sir.

posted by deflated at 12:57 PM on December 14

I give a possible reason for Cliff Lee returning to the Phil's to something I heard on the radio by an otherwise ridiculous and pompous person who shall remain un-named.

Cliff's son is not doing well health-wise and the family has been moving around the country quite a bit as of late. Sometimes when your kid says he doesn't want to move anymore and liked it better when daddy was in Philadelphia, daddy has to listen. To me, it made a lot of sense when I heard that there was a possibility that the Yanks and Rangers were out of contention for his pitching contributions. As an AL west fan not of the Ranger persuasion it suits me just fine. 'Aint going to help my hapless favorites but at least it won't be any more worser.

posted by THX-1138 at 01:00 PM on December 14

I wonder what he would say today.

"How 'bout slidin' some of that money my way? You motherfuckers are makin' a whole lore more than I ever did and *I'm* the one that put my ass on the line to make these paydays happen! So pay up!"

posted by NoMich at 01:03 PM on December 14

had the lowest errors in the Majors last season

Error numbers are relative and don't tell the whole story.

A defence that makes a play on every ball is more likely to have more errors than guys who don't/won't/can't move more than 2 feet either direction.

posted by cixelsyd at 01:07 PM on December 14

Cliff's son is not doing well health-wise and the family has been moving around the country quite a bit as of late. Sometimes when your kid says he doesn't want to move anymore and liked it better when daddy was in Philadelphia, daddy has to listen.

He gives up 40 million to make his son happy? If that really is the case, he's my new favorite pitcher.

posted by cjets at 01:38 PM on December 14

Well, it's not like he's giving up 40 million for 500,000.

posted by NoMich at 01:39 PM on December 14

I'm still having a hard time wrapping my mind around the rotation of Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, and Hamels. When was the last time a team boasted a rotation that good?

/grumbait

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 02:00 PM on December 14

Cliff Lee will be 37 in the final season of this deal. That is getting up in years for a pitcher, although there are many who have pitched well when older. Could it be that Lee is hoping to avoid declining performance in the last year or two of his contract in a city such as New York? It could be bad enough in Philadelphia if he slips in year 4 or 5. As for the extra money, if Lee is still pitching well at age 37, he'll be able to pick up another contract from someone that will make up a lot of it.

posted by Howard_T at 02:04 PM on December 14

When was the last time a team boasted a rotation that good?


Maddux, Smoltz, Glavin, Avery, And a trunk full of dead hookers.....

posted by Debo270 at 02:10 PM on December 14

I think you can't discount his wife getting spit on & harassed by Yankee fans in the playoffs. We can say those things don't matter, but wouldn't all of us take that kind of treatment of our spouse seriously in considering where we worked?

posted by brainofdtrain at 03:15 PM on December 14

The Yankees had the lowest errors in the Majors last season, 14 less than the Phillies. They had lower errors two out of the previous three years before that.

Ignore the troll, everyone.

posted by yerfatma at 03:36 PM on December 14

Maddux, Smoltz, Glavin, Avery, And a trunk full of dead hookers.....

Uh oh. Is this like getting the band back together? Except with different musicians? Have they developed a taste for blood?

I think you can't discount his wife getting spit on & harassed by Yankee fans in the playoffs.

And if that's the case I would have to laugh if Cliff Lee nixed the Yankees because some of the fans played to type. That would earn them a big "Way to go!" from the Boston fans (which since the Mariners are in for another year of suckage I will find myself rooting for. It's OK as I lived there for a bit. BoSox fan in absentia. Or something like that.)

posted by THX-1138 at 03:52 PM on December 14

I think you can't discount his wife getting spit on & harassed by Yankee fans in the playoffs.

Because Phillies fans are known for being nice?

With the Phillies and Red Sox signing all the players, the Yankees are becoming lovable underdogs.

posted by rcade at 04:22 PM on December 14

When was the last time a team boasted a rotation that good?

Maddux, Smoltz, Glavin, Avery, And a trunk full of dead hookers.....

Um, why has everybody been ignoring the Giants, who won the World Series, oh, and beat the Phillies and Cliff Lee with an amazing rotation of Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, and Bumgarner, who are not only lights out, but are all still in their mid-20's or less? I mean, that's a better comparison to the Atlanta staff IMHO.

posted by greasepig at 05:25 PM on December 14

rcade,

Certainly not. That said, I've yet to hear anyone spit or verbally assault Mrs. Lee. They might've, but until i hear different i have no reason to assume they have.

posted by brainofdtrain at 06:14 PM on December 14

40 years ago, Curt Flood filed a lawsuit that changed baseball to fight his trade to Philadelphia. I wonder what he would say today.

I kind of picture him sitting together with WC Fields, both agreeing that "On the whole, I'd rather be in Philadelphia."

posted by billinnagoya at 07:05 PM on December 14

The Yankees had the lowest errors in the Majors last season, 14 less than the Phillies. They had lower errors two out of the previous three years before that.

Yes, but the point is that the fielder doesn't get charged with an error if ball is beyond the reach of his (declining) range. ... even though it may well be within reach for the majority of other major league shortstops (or other position players).

Matsui Hideki, for example, had a great fielding percentage, but that is only because he rarely dropped a fly ball that he could reach, or muffed the throw after fielding the ball. But don't forget the fact that his range was/is soooooooooooo limited that there were many fly balls most other outfielders could get, nor were runners intimidated by his throwing arm.

posted by billinnagoya at 07:16 PM on December 14

They broke his heart, he breaks their bank. Sounds about even.

posted by irunfromclones at 09:24 PM on December 14

I think you can't discount his wife getting spit on & harassed by Yankee fans in the playoffs.

Yeah, but now she has to worry about being vomited on.

posted by grum@work at 09:42 PM on December 14

When was the last time a team boasted a rotation that good?

The guy who created/runs Baseball-Reference.com answers the question.

posted by grum@work at 09:44 PM on December 14

Everyone acts like errors are charged when a player tears after a ball, dives, and the ball goes off their glove. Those are still ruled base hits, not errors. Quit being so over-dramatic about other charged-errors. Fine, Jeter and some others don't have the range of certain players, but many of the balls some of these others get a glove on are base hits.

As for Lee, it is what it is. The guy took less money to go to Philly. No tears shed by me.

posted by dyams at 06:22 AM on December 15

Quit being so over-dramatic about other charged-errors. Fine, Jeter and some others don't have the range of certain players, but many of the balls some of these others get a glove on are base hits.

posted by yerfatma at 08:39 AM on December 15

No tears shed by me.

I'm crying enough for the both of us. All day yesterday I was asking people where they were when they got the news.

posted by rcade at 09:04 AM on December 15

Top of a tower at the UT library perhaps?

posted by yerfatma at 11:27 AM on December 15

Who knew that the Lees were a bunch of car hating hippies:

"There's so many things that were so great. The proximity from the city to the ball park, how easy it was to get from point A to point B. You have to think about traffic in a lot of cities, even in Dallas where we were staying, to get the ballpark was hard, for me. For him, the National League. He loves to hit. Being able to get on the train and going to other cities real fast. The kids and I took a train to New York during the World Series last year and it was a great experience. It was so easy. The good food. The food is really good. It's a fun city. It's easy to live here, easy to be here, easy to fly into."

posted by NoMich at 07:56 AM on December 16

"There's so many things that were so great. The proximity from the city to the ball park, how easy it was to get from point A to point B. You have to think about traffic in a lot of cities, even in Dallas where we were staying, to get the ballpark was hard, for me. For him, the National League. He loves to hit. Being able to get on the train and going to other cities real fast. The kids and I took a train to New York during the World Series last year and it was a great experience. It was so easy. The good food. The food is really good. It's a fun city. It's easy to live here, easy to be here, easy to fly into. Like having four number-one starting pitchers in your rotation."

Fixed that for ya.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 10:29 AM on December 16

I'm not sure if I should be happy that a top player turned down the chance to become a Yankee or upset that Lee won't be pitching for them when he's got gray hair.

I don't understand why Lee would want to return to Philly enough to leave $30 million-plus on the table.

I think more players than we think leave money on the table. They sign extensions before testing out the market for top dollar. They like where they are. 30 million is a lot, he left guaranteed money on the table. But he's making more per year for the five years.

Top free agents are under a lot of pressure from the union and other players to sign for top dollar, and I think that has a lot to do with the mercenary attitude we attribute to players. But I think the widely held believe that all players simply choose most valuable contract is as accurate as the belief that college football teams are filled with hard working student athletes.

Quit being so over-dramatic about other charged-errors.

Eh, bringing up fielding percentage when discussing defense is similar to quoting wins when discussion pitching prowess. It's not over-dramatic to point out the flaws. It's quite appropriate.

posted by justgary at 07:02 PM on December 16

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