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The winners and losers of the Cliff Lee deal

Dec 14, 2010, 9:18 AM EDT

Aces

The easy answer is that the Phillies and their fans are the biggest winners here. That goes without saying and explanation, I hope. But let’s look at the others in this epic story to see who comes out ahead and who comes out behind by Cliff Lee joining the Phillies:

WINNERS

Ruben Amaro: I said last night on Twitter that Amaro was a ninja for coming in so quietly for the kill. I’m thinking this morning that “ninja” doesn’t do it justice. Amaro is certainly not perfect as a GM — I still don’t like the Ryan Howard extension and his trading away of Cliff Lee last year cost him tens of millions of dollars to get him back — but in terms of approach and tightness of the ship he runs, Amaro is without peer. No one saw this coming before yesterday. No one believed it once it happened. Impressive.

The Red Sox: The Yankees didn’t get their man. They’re not done of course, but when your arch rival loses out on his primary objective, you can’t help but be happy. For the Yankees to improve their pitching staff now, they will have to give up talent. Talent which could have been used to make other moves later.

Andy Pettitte: This is bad for the Yankees, but good for the pocket book of the guy who this morning finds himself in much greater demand today than he was yesterday.

Carlos Ruiz: I lost it in the Twitter onslaught late last night, but someone made an excellent point: Chooch just has to sit back and catch the ball for seven or eight innings, four out of every five games. The men throwing it have a better plan than he could come up with on his own. And they’ll more often than not put it right where he places his glove.

The Rangers: I’ve said it multiple times, but they didn’t need Cliff Lee, even if it would have been nice to have him for a couple of years.  They don’t need the risk a six-year deal would have entailed. They have the pieces to compete in the AL West for several years. For them, losing out on Lee was really winning.

Any team shopping a starter: The Yankees, for the first time in modern memory, are desperate. I don’t want to overstate things — I’m sure Cashman and his guys thought about what might happen if they don’t get Lee — but they certainly need to deal. There are a lot of teams who will now reassess which of their pitchers are available in light of this deal.  I’ll throw one out there: Frank Wren: call Brian Cashman and see if he’ll take Derek Lowe’s entire contract off your hands!

LOSERS

The Yankees: for reasons stated.

The Braves and the rest of the NL East: I won’t suggest that having four aces will guarantee the Phillies the World Series — just ask the 1991-94 and 1996-2005 Braves how that worked out — but over the course of 162 games there is no way this rotation doesn’t grind their division rivals into dust. I suppose this is why God created the Wild Card.

LeBron James: See, it’s possible to take a bit less money and to go someplace where you’re not the top dog in the hopes of winning a title without being a deluded, self-important jerk about it. Really, if it wasn’t for “the Decision” James wouldn’t be getting the crap he’s getting. It was all about manner, not destination. Lee just made his decision and let the reporters take over. James could have done that too.

Playing card manufacturers: If someone hasn’t already placed a call to get a license for a deck of Phillies cards with Halladay, Lee, Hamels and Oswalt as the four aces then I don’t believe in humanity anymore.

I’m sure there are others, but those are all who spring to mind at the moment.

  1. Brian - Dec 14, 2010 at 9:24 AM

    Craig, don’t downplay Ruiz’s importance to the Phillies staff. The little man calls a top-notch game and it’s telling that guys like Halladay and Oswalt “throw it where Chooch asks for it.” He takes a lot of pressure off the pitchers and let’s them focus on what they’re throwing, rather than sequence and strategy. Ruiz handles that better than most catchers do.

    Also worth noting is that Lee’s first time with the Phillies, he was caught almost exclusively by Paul Bako, save for the playoffs. Will Brian Schneider be getting more playing time?

    • Jonny 5 - Dec 14, 2010 at 9:40 AM

      My first thought. Halladay’s perfect game was called completely by Chooch. Halladay might have shook off one pitch that entire game. Chooch does get a break because the ball will likely end up where he calls it though…

  2. BC - Dec 14, 2010 at 9:28 AM

    Hello!!! I called it yesterday! And I have no media credentials or agents and GM’s on speed dial!
    So the Phillies will win 140 games next year, and my Mets are dead and buried until at least 2015.
    68 days to the Daytona 500….

    • Jonny 5 - Dec 14, 2010 at 9:37 AM

      Where can we meet so I can hug you? Tell me how they’ll trade for Greinke now. tell me, do it now.!!!

      • BC - Dec 14, 2010 at 9:40 AM

        Trade Blanton, that stud young outfielder whose name escapes me now, and $15 million to KC for Greinke. Then they’ll win 150 games.

      • Jonny 5 - Dec 14, 2010 at 11:25 AM

        Nooo. Kendrick and about 2 prospects coming from boston when Joe goes…. I should have been more specific. Dammits!!!

      • Utley's Hair - Dec 14, 2010 at 12:13 PM

        Greinke? He’d make a helluva No. 5, wouldn’t he?

        Hey Jamie? Wanna coach?

  3. yankeesfanlen - Dec 14, 2010 at 9:29 AM

    On the playing card comment- I hope no one gets injured or the Phillies will not be playing with a full deck.

  4. phillygirl4 - Dec 14, 2010 at 9:30 AM

    Maybe Jayson Werth is a winner and a loser.

    Winner for obvious reasons. Loser b/c he’ll have to watch the Phillies kick butt all season on the forever last place Nats.

  5. yankeesfanlen - Dec 14, 2010 at 9:35 AM

    Potential Winner: Carl Pavano. Stranger things have happened (Clemens comes to mind).

  6. Jonny 5 - Dec 14, 2010 at 9:36 AM

    Don’t forget.

    “The people spitting on Mrs. Lee in NY” = Losers

    “Cliff Lee” = Winner

    He got to go where he wanted afterall, and has the chance to go down in history much like a group of Braves did. Possibly “best rotation ever” group of guys here.

  7. edog623 - Dec 14, 2010 at 9:42 AM

    Why is this being seen as a good move by Amaro? It looks to me like a miscalculation that cost Philly the 2010 World Series. They traded for Halladay and immediately ditched Lee under the assumption that they couldn’t resign him. Now it seems he was willing to take 30-50 million less than his market value to pitch for the Phillies. Isn’t this a whole situation a misread of where they stood with Lee? They traded Lee, went a season without him and came up just barely short of a World Series berth (against the team that did have Lee) and then realized their mistake and signed him as a free agent. Looks like they never needed to let him go in the first place.

    • sportsdrenched - Dec 14, 2010 at 9:51 AM

      But if they had Lee they probably wouldn’t have traded for Halladay. Now they have both. Win!

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Dec 14, 2010 at 10:05 AM

        Wrong player, keeping Lee doesn’t preclude them from getting Halladay, it probably keeps them from getting Oswalt.

      • Utley's Hair - Dec 14, 2010 at 1:52 PM

        Right on, COPO. Halladay, Oswalt and the Phightins—much like Cliffy and the Walkers—ran into a San Francisco buzz(ed)saw in Octember. The Dwarves got red hot.

    • Brian - Dec 14, 2010 at 10:25 AM

      It didn’t cost them the World Series…the Giants got hot and beat everyone, including Lee.

    • deep64blue - Dec 14, 2010 at 1:13 PM

      He wouldn’t have signed this deal last year – now he knows the value of being where you want to be.

  8. sportsdrenched - Dec 14, 2010 at 10:01 AM

    Glad he didn’t sign with the Yankees.

    It’s refreshing to see an athlete go where they enjoy playing and leave money on the table to do that.

    …and damn that’s a good rotation the Phillies have.

  9. PanchoHerreraFanClub - Dec 14, 2010 at 10:21 AM

    Note to Cashman – Brad Penny is available.

    • BC - Dec 14, 2010 at 10:39 AM

      Note to Cashman – Ed Whitson is also available.

      • Old Gator - Dec 14, 2010 at 11:03 AM

        Wake up people. Ricky Nolasco is available. Scrooge McLoria has been drooling so much at what he thinks he can get from the Borg on the cheap right now that his secretary had to take him aside gently and suggest that maybe he ought to consider Depends.

      • BC - Dec 14, 2010 at 12:15 PM

        Or Nardil.

  10. Chris Fiorentino - Dec 14, 2010 at 10:34 AM

    I said it on an earlier thread, but I owe it to Mr. Amaro to say it again…great move sir. You are absolutely a genius. I may have had my problems with you in the past, but you have proven your worth as a GM in the business with this deal. I didn’t give you credit for the Halladay deal…he wanted to come here. OK. But now you got Lee back, and we even get to keep the bag of baseballs you got for him last year. But seriously. Great job Ruben. You deserve every single accolade you get. You outbid the Yankers for the best free agent pitcher on the market.

    These same idiot Yanker fans having sour grapes were just talking about getting 4 hall of fame years, then 2 above average years and 1 bad year on the back-end. Now they can only say the Phillies have “bad back” pitchers, blah blah. Sure, I learned my lesson last year when they broke my heart and couldn’t beat the 3 to 1 underdog Giants in the NLCS. But I will say this loudly and clearly…there is nobody in the NL East who can match the Phillies for 162 games. They will make the playoffs. The question is whether the offense will go south once again, or will they score 3 runs a game and win the 2011 World Series.

    Only time will tell.

    • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Dec 14, 2010 at 10:49 AM

      I look forward to talking filthy trash to you all next season on here. Sure, you will have the better team behind you, but I’ll bring the wit, sarcasm and just downright rudeness to the conversation as you never before seen. By the end of the 2011 season, you will be crying tears of joy for your team’s successes but tears of sadness will inevitably follow since by then I will have utterly crushed your pride, self esteem and overall sense of decency. You’ve been put on notice.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Dec 14, 2010 at 11:09 AM

        Mr. Cerrano, this year, I have visions not of sugar plums or some fat red-suited bastard squeezing down my chimney…

        I have visions of starting the year with 2010 NL Cy Young winner Roy “Doc” Halladay starting the season for the 2011 Philadelphia Phillies.

        Then Clifford Pfifer Lee will make his 2011 debut with the team he carried to game 6 of the 2009 World Series against those hated Yankers.

        Then the man who went 7-1 with a 1.74 ERA in 12 starts with the Phillies late last year, Roy Oswalt, gets the ball.

        Then, the man who is probably the greatest #4 starter in the history of baseball, Cole Hamels, will get the ball.

        Teams will be looking ahead to hope they get that 5th starter, whoever he is. The schedule in April looks like the Braves will get starter #5 on Sunday, April 10th. May be the first loss of the season for the 8-0 Phillies(LOL…here we go!!!)

    • Jonny 5 - Dec 14, 2010 at 11:30 AM

      Thank GOD You’re alive Chris!! I thought if you didn’t A) throw yourself into a volcano to make this happen, you B) at least had Cardiac arrest from the news. I’m glad you will be as content as can be now with your Cliffy back. I’m so ready for the season to begin….

      • Chris Fiorentino - Dec 14, 2010 at 11:34 AM

        I usually stay in the cave until Pitchers and catchers, but my emergency Phillies red batphone went off during the Monday Night football game and it said “Phillies signing Cliff Lee” I usually don’t care about the ball and bat sport until February, but this had my ears open.

        Just set up the Spring Training trip to Clearwater…got to go to see the best rotation of all time do their thing in sunny FLA.

  11. arrabin56 - Dec 14, 2010 at 10:50 AM

    Wait, why are the playing card manufacturers losers? Shouldn’t they be winners?

  12. flyerscup2010 - Dec 14, 2010 at 11:04 AM

    Craig, carlos ruiz called halladay’s no hitter and perfect game entirely, halladay only shook off one pitch in each game. he’s a great catcher and he calls the games and is known around the league for the unorthodox way he calls games. don’t downplay his importance.

  13. yankees1996 - Dec 14, 2010 at 11:28 AM

    Yea, I just knew this was the way it was going to turn out when the Winter Meetings ended with no signing or announcement. I cannot fault Cliff Lee in the least he is going to play for a team he enjoyed playing for and that is respectable. I was talking to my brother last night and he of course was making fun of me and the Yankees saying that this is the begininng of the end and the Mets are going to soon rule NY again and all the other trash talk he laid on me and I took it all and let him have his glory. The last thing he told me though proved to be eerie, he told me that the “mystery team” involved was going to be the one Lee was going to choose and he said that team was the Phillies. I had nothing more to say to him than ” I don’t know where he is going but I know it is not to the Yankees”.

  14. macjacmccoy - Dec 14, 2010 at 1:47 PM

    Carlos Ruiz: I lost it in the Twitter onslaught late last night, but someone made an excellent point: Chooch just has to sit back and catch the ball for seven or eight innings, four out of every five games. The men throwing it have a better plan than he could come up with on his own. And they’ll more often than not put it right where he places his glove.

    As I Braves fan you by fault watch more Phillies games then most non fans of the team. Add in your a MLB blogger and I expect more. If you watch a Phillies game you will see something you dont see when watching many other games. And thats the lack of times you see the pitcher shake of Ruiz. With the exception of Roy Oswalt during his first month with the team when he was still learning to trust him. Every guy who has pitched to Ruiz has said how great of a game he calls. Roy Halladay gushed about it all last year that he just goes out there an throws what Ruiz puts down. It takes alot for superstar players especially pitchers to let someone else call the shots and the fact that it continues to happen when Ruiz is behind the plate shows how good a plan he can come up with.

  15. macjacmccoy - Dec 14, 2010 at 1:52 PM

    thanks for writing about lebron for me…. dunno if u saw my comment or not but still

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