Blog Entry

Lee saga ends with shock (Phils) result

Posted on: December 13, 2010 11:07 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2010 1:25 am
It was always going to be the Yankees. The Yankees or the Rangers, anyway.

Waiting on Cliff Lee to decide between them was tough, but for one of them, the wait was going to be worth it.

Except that it wasn't.

Cliff Lee didn't go for the Yankee dollars. Cliff Lee didn't go for the close-to-home, no-income-tax Rangers.

No, Cliff Lee went back to the place he never wanted to leave.

Cliff Lee is a Phillie.

He couldn't do anything about it when they exiled him to Seattle last winter. But this winter he had a choice, and he chose the team where he always seemed to be happiest.

To do it, he had to leave money on the table. A lot of money, it seems, more than $20 million in guaranteed cash.

The Yankees, who desperately wanted him, were offering seven years (or at least six with a player option for a seventh, which amounts to the same thing). The Rangers, who desperately wanted him, were offering six years at $138 million with an option for a seventh year, according to

And the Phillies? According to Jon Heyman of, Lee's contract with them guarantees him just $115 over five years, with a vesting option for a sixth year. And while the average annual value of $23 million put the Phillies in range with the other two teams, the length of contract is a significant difference for a pitcher who will turn 33 next August.

Players almost never leave anything close to that much money on the table when they're free agents. Players almost never turn down the Yankees when the Yankees are desperate to sign them (Greg Maddux may have been the last one, and the Yankee team he turned down was coming off four straight losing seasons).

Cliff Lee told the Yankees no. He told the Rangers no.

And he told the Phillies exactly what he wanted to tell them 12 months ago: "This is where I want to be."

Ever since that day when the Phils traded for Roy Halladay and sent Lee to the Mariners, Lee had said he didn't want to leave. Ever since that day, Phillies fans (and even some players) had criticized general manager Ruben Amaro for making the Lee trade.

Why not just keep Lee and Halladay, in one great rotation?

Well, a year later, the Phillies have just that. And they have a revitalized Cole Hamels. And Roy Oswalt.

Their next step, it seems, will be to trade Joe Blanton.

But what about the other two teams? What about the Yankees and the Rangers, the two teams that so badly wanted to sign Lee (and unlike the Phillies, did so little to disguise their desire)?

They look for Plan B, and it doesn't look good, not for either one of them.

The Yankees now need Andy Pettitte more than ever, which means they need to convince him not to retire. They'll still need to upgrade a rotation that simply wasn't good enough in the American League Championship Series against the Rangers, but that won't be easy. There's some thought that they could chase Kansas City's Zack Greinke, but it appears that more voices within the organization believe that Greinke isn't suited for pitching in New York.

They could go with their talented younger starters. But that seems like a very un-Yankee thing to do.

No, the Yankee thing to do was to throw tons of money at the best free-agent pitcher on the market, so much money that he couldn't say no.

They did that. And Cliff Lee said no.

And what about the Rangers, who were a first-place team but not a World Series team until they made the trade to acquire Lee from the Mariners in early July?

A trade for Greinke was their Plan B, but sources said the Rangers have been put off by the Royals' asking price, and now aren't sure Greinke is a realistic option. The same goes for Matt Garza of the Rays, also available in a trade but also at a large asking price.

One other option the Rangers have considered is to spend their money on third baseman Adrian Beltre, the best of the remaining free agents. But that would also be expensive, and it would mean moving incumbent (and team leader) Michael Young, either making him the designated hitter or trading him away.

It actually seems possible that the Rangers now won't make any big move this winter, and that they'll remind themselves that they got to the 2010 World Series by saving money over the winter and then remaking their team on the fly during the season.

They did it, of course, by trading for Cliff Lee.

He was the guy who made it work. He was the guy who was going to keep making it work.

All they had to do was keep him away from the Yankees.

But Cliff Lee didn't go to the Yankees. He went to the team he never wanted to leave.

Finally, 12 months later, Cliff Lee is once again a Phillie.

Category: MLB

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Lee saga ends with shock (Phils) result

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Lee saga ends with shock (Phils) result

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Lee saga ends with shock (Phils) result

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 5, 2011 1:32 pm

Lee saga ends with shock (Phils) result

Since: Nov 19, 2011
Posted on: December 3, 2011 7:06 pm

Lee saga ends with shock (Phils) result

Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 3, 2011 2:39 pm

Lee saga ends with shock (Phils) result

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Since: Oct 21, 2011
Posted on: October 22, 2011 6:49 am
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Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: December 15, 2010 11:05 pm

Lee saga ends with shock (Phils) result

I'm sure it's not anything personal. The Yankees suck & Lee Knows it.

Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: December 15, 2010 10:09 am

Lee saga ends with shock (Phils) result

Great post GrandSlam. The Sox paid almost 100 Million dollars just to talk to Dicek.He's turned into more of a bust than J.D.Drew for 5 years at 14 million a year.
I'm a RS fan & I'd trade DiceK for a dozen donuts with a breakfast sandwich to be named later.

Since: Dec 6, 2010
Posted on: December 14, 2010 6:54 pm

Lee saga ends with shock (Phils) result

Now I'm going to let go of the Lee saga! Everybody else do the same...boring!  Its over done with and all the gritty details are out there for why he's in Philly.  Now gimme something new to sink my teeth into.  Shouldn't be long we got NFL games this weekend and something good & bad is going to happen...goody, goody!

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