Blog Entry

Winners and losers in Lee aftermath

Posted on: December 14, 2010 9:17 am
Edited on: December 14, 2010 10:50 am
Cliff Lee What in the world of Mike Cuellar is going on?

By adding Cliff Lee to the already-potent Roy Halladay-Roy Oswalt-Cole Hamels top of the rotation, the Phillies potentially have the best top of the rotation since the Orioles had four 20-game winners in 1971 with Cuellar, Pat Dobson, Jim Palmer and Dave McNally.

It's certainly the best rotation since the mid-90s Braves that featured Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz, followed by someone like Steve Avery or Denny Neagle.

The bad news for the Phillies is that it wasn't starting pitching that let them down in October. It was not scoring enough runs against quality starting pitching from the Giants.

As for the offense, how has that changed? Jayson Werth, the team's best offensive player last season, is gone. Raul Ibanez and Placido Polanco are a year older -- and Jimmy Rollins seems to age two years for every year nowadays. He's not been the same player the last two years that he was before. There are also emerging questions about Chase Utley. And then there's Ryan Howard, who is still imposing in the lineup, but suddenly looks less protect and reminds people that he's 31 with fewer home runs than the year before in each of the last two seasons.

Still, ask most teams and they'd take their chances with Howard, Utley, Polanco and even roll the dice on whether Rollins will be happy, as long as they're behind a starting rotation for the ages, like the Phillies have accumulated.

The Phillies are the clear winner in this whole deal. Because even if there are chinks in the armor, it's still one heck of a suit of armor -- especially the sleeves.

For the Yankees, Andy Pettitte becomes that much more important to the Yankees. Pettitte has reportedly been mulling retirement, but is crucial to the team's rotation going forward. And if you think the Yankees feel bad about these developments, let's think about how the Mets feel having to be in the same division as Lee, Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels.

The Rangers, on other hand, were right all along. They could offer Lee comfort the Yankees couldn't match, and something he obviously valued in the end. However, the Phillies offered not only the pillow top mattress, but one he'd slept like a baby in before.

Texas also has a World Series-type team, but one without an ace. The Rangers weren't serious contenders until they pulled Lee from the Mariners last season, and now they're faced with the same problem months later.

The rivalry between New York and Boston means any time the Yankees lose, the Red Sox win and vice versa. The Red Sox, who have added Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez are better (no matter what Evan says ), and the Yankees aren't as good as expected -- so the Sox win.

The biggest winner in all this -- besides the Phillies and Lee -- could be the Royals. Kansas City is dangling a bona fide No. 1 starter in Zack Greinke. And don't think Andrew Friedman in Tampa isn't receiving calls on Matt Garza about right now. The prices on those two starters haven't gone down in the last 12 hours, that's for sure. If you're going to get one of those, you'll have to pay.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Since: Jan 2, 2007
Posted on: December 14, 2010 5:44 pm

Winners and losers in Lee aftermath

"Oswalt and Hamels are injury-prone"

Are you kidding me, jimrats?  Since joining the Astros as a 23-year-old rookie in 2001, Oswalt is not a pitcher I would describe as injury-prone.  If anything, I would describe him as rather durable and dependable-- almost work-horse in nature.

He joined the Astros in May of 2001 and threw 141 2/3 in what amounted to a full season for an early season call up.  His only season where he missed considerable time to iunjuries was 2003 when he logged 127 1/3 innings.  For the last ten years Oswalt has averaged 30 starts a year and 200+ innings.  How is that injury-prone?

I would also shy away from calling Hamels injury-prone.  After showing up in Philly in May of 2006, Hamels logged 132 innings in 23 starts.  The follwing season he started 28 games and logged 182 innings (6.5 innings per-- a pretty respectable number).  From 2008 through 2010 Hamels has started 96 games and logged almost 630 innings.  I could be crazy, but I'd think that three consecutive seasons of 33 starts and 210 innings per season is pretty durable.

I'm not sure what you consider "injury-prone," but I wouldn't use Roy Oswalt or Cole Hamels as examples.  Maybe compared to guys like Jim Kaat, Nolan Ryan, and Steve Carlton who used to log 300 innings a season back in the 1970s they are, but for today's version of baseball, that label doesn't apply.

Since: Oct 9, 2006
Posted on: December 14, 2010 5:12 pm

Winners and losers in Lee aftermath

Oswalt and Hamels are injury-prone as well.

Since: Oct 9, 2006
Posted on: December 14, 2010 5:09 pm

Winners and losers in Lee aftermath

Giants still have a better rotation - younger with much more upside. If Sanchez ever gets it together look out.

Since: Jan 9, 2010
Posted on: December 14, 2010 4:54 pm

Winners and losers in Lee aftermath

The biggest concern for the Phillies right now is the offense and its health.  Howard, Utley, and Rollins are the big cogs in the machine that makes the offense potent.  All three of them caught the injury bug that bothered them the entire year and the effects were obvious: the power offense suffered.  Werth left a big hole in the middle of the order, but Brown and Francisco can soften the impact to an extent.  Even still, with a rotation of Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, and Hamels, the Phillies really don't need the explosive offense they had in the recent years and they can turn to small ball and let Victorino, Utley, Brown, and Francisco loose on the basepaths.  The starters are inning-eating work horses and even though the bullpen needs some help, it isn't a major issue right now.

I still can't believe the Phillies were able to get Lee back.  There's nothing like solidifying the Phillies as favorites while spurning the Yankees in one move.

Since: Aug 25, 2006
Posted on: December 14, 2010 1:13 pm


Maybe we need to call the 2011 edition of the Phillies "Thirtysomething". They have suddenly gotten really old:

Roy Halladay    33
Roy Oswalt    33
Cliff Lee    32
Joe Blanton    30
Raul Ibanez    38
Placido Polanco    35
Jimmy Rollins    32
Carlos Ruiz    31
Chase Utley    31
Ryan Howard    31
Shane Victorino    30
Brad Lidge    33
Jose Contreras    39
Danys Baez    33
Ryan Madson    30
Brian Schneider    34
Ross Gload    34
Wilson Valdez    32

Seven starters, four starting pitchers, closer, three top set-up men, back-up catcher, back-up first base & top utility man - all over 30.

Since: Jul 8, 2009
Posted on: December 14, 2010 12:44 pm

Winners and losers in Lee aftermath

It is true that the Phillies' offense is a question mark.  Holes need to be filled and returning position players are a year older.  But what this rotation does is provide protection for losing streaks or quiet bats.  With this rotation, does is give you a strong chance to win 4 games out of every 5.  In turn this relaxes the offense.  Most importantly the Phillies can afford to let a Francisco or Brown become strong everyday players early in the season because their contributions will be less necessary.  Pitching and not hitting will keep the Phillies in games and later in the season the question marks will have answers. And should Polanco, Rollins, or Utley go down with an injury, the team proved last year that they could fill those holes.  Phillies Haters:  Go ahead and hate the Phillies for shrewd management and aggressive player acquisition but we all know you are having the most trouble swallowing the fact that a star player WANTED to go to Philly.  These are the same fans that threw snowballs at Santa.  Remember?

Since: Jan 2, 2007
Posted on: December 14, 2010 12:23 pm

Winners and losers in Lee aftermath

While I applaud the moves by Ruben Amaro to make the 2011 Phillies a pitching juggernaut that can go toe-to-toe with anybody, let's not get ahead of ourselves, KCrebel.  Domonic Brown should be a very good player someday.  Hopefully his lack of at bats last year doesn't slow down his development as a potential all-star outfielder.  I'd like to see him do well when the full-time job is his in 2011, but let's remember he's still a 23 year old rookie with less than 70 Major League at bats on his resume.  While his minor league numbers were excellent, he was only able to hit .210 in his limited at bats.  That doesn't exactly point to the second coming of Rickey Henderson or Barry Bonds on the horizon.

Ben Francisco "maybe a star on many teams"?  You can't be serious.  I like Francisco as a 4th outfielder-- nothing more.  He had a starting outfield job handed to him in Cleveland and  didn't exactly get Indian management to love him enough that they wouldn't trade him.  Remember the Indians sent him to Philly with Cliff Lee in exchange for Lou Marson (not exactly Thurman Munson reincarnated), Jason Donald (think of a poor man's Ben Francisco stat-wise), Carlos Carrasco (bullpen arm), and Jason Knapp (who hasn't even had a cup of coffee yet).

With those shots being taken, that doesn't mean I don't respect the Phillies.  I agree with you completely about them and Boston being the prohibitive favorites to hook up over the next two to three World Series.  I can't challenge that nor could I find a reasonable way of doing it.

The biggest issue with the Phillies is going to be staying healthy.  If that roster is healthy-- game over for the rest of the National League.  Utley and Rollins were banged up almost all year long in 2010 and must be healthy for this team to be dangerous moving forward.  With either of them hurting, their batting order becomes very pedestrian and in danger of being just above average.  Ryan Howard needs the protection in front and behind to keep him for swinging at balls in the dirt trying to hit three-run homers with nobody on base.  He has to know it's not all on his shoulders.  Keeping the others healthy is key.

Since: Jan 7, 2007
Posted on: December 14, 2010 12:03 pm

Winners and losers in Lee aftermath

LET'S DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Since: Nov 27, 2007
Posted on: December 14, 2010 11:50 am

Winners and losers in Lee aftermath

What a great deal for the Phils.  Ruben Amaro and the Phillies ownership have found a way to get on the same page.  They are proving that they are commited to winning "now" and that they want to be the best franchise in the city.

Great time to be a Philadelphia sports fan.  Flyer, Phils and Eagles are some of the best in professional sports.  This city deserves a good run.  Enjoy eveyone!!!

Merry Christmas Phialdelphia!!!

Since: Sep 14, 2006
Posted on: December 14, 2010 11:49 am

Winners and losers in Lee aftermath

A dynamic offense?  You mean like they had in the playoffs last year?  How many times did Howard whiff against the Giants?  The Phillies are old offensively and Utley is starting to look fragile.  They'll win the division easily, but the question is how will they hit in the playoffs next year?

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