December 15, 2010

Phillies land one heck of a poker hand

by Dan Bilicki In: Baseball

It’s so shocking I’ve needed a few days to get over it: Cliff Lee is back with the Phillies. Yes, Philadelphia now has four aces.

The Ex-Rangers southpaw spurned advances by Texas and the Yankees to return to the city of brotherly love, where he went to the World Series two seasons ago.

Apparently money and extra years on a contract didn’t to Lee, who essentially took a hometown discount to play in Philly. His reported deal with the Phillies is two years and about $50 million lighter than the one tendered by the Bronx Bombers, who have a lot of work to do to with the free agent market looking pretty weak on top now.

But enough about New York and their failure to buy stars this off-season, how about the rotation that Philadelphia will trot out this season? Cy Young winner Roy Halladay, former Cy Young winner Lee, former Astros ace Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels, who has been demoted from the Phillies opening day starter a few years ago to fourth man in the rotation – and it’s not like he’s pitching worse either. After that you have Joe Blanton, but hey, everybody needs a Ringo, right?

There is no team in the league that can go toe-to-toe with the Phillies rotation right now. It’s even tough to find a historical comparison. I guess the closest in recent memory is the Braves rotation during the 90s, when they could trot out Greg Maddux, John Smoltz and Tom Glavine three days in a row and have a good chance of sweeping anyone.

But having four guys like this is just plain ridiculous. As long as these guys can stay healthy – and Doc and Cliff are both iron-men of sorts – the Phillies are a lock-down favourite to win the NL next season.

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