Philadelphia Phillies projected rotation (with 2010 stats in parentheses):
Roy Halladay (21-10, 2.44 ERA, NL Cy Young winner)
Cliff Lee (12-9, 3.18 ERA)
Cole Hamels (12-11, 3.06 ERA)
Roy Oswalt (13-13, 2.76 ERA)
Joe Blanton (9-6, 4.82 ERA)
Four pitchers with an ERA of 3.18 or less. If those guys duplicate those numbers in 2011, the Phillies are going to be awful difficult to beat. Give full marks to Philadelphia, which shocked the baseball world by signing Lee (pictured) to a five-year deal worth $120 million late Monday.
This will be Lee's second stint in Philadelphia. He was with the club for the second half of 2009, when the Phillies made the World Series and lost to the New York Yankees. He spent time with both the Seattle Mariners and the American League champion Texas Rangers last year. His career mark in the postseason is 7-2 with a 2.18 ERA.
The Phillies obviously realized why they lost the National League pennant to the eventual World Series champion San Francisco Giants -- their starting pitching wasn't deep enough. They addressed that in a big way by acquiring the biggest name on the free-agent market this offseason.
It's interesting that Lee turned down the Yankees, who reportedly offer $138 million over six years. To be honest, it's actually quite refreshing to see New York not gets its way. Year after year, it seems like the best free agents gleefully accept the Yankees' money. Lee is going a bit against the grain here, and you can hardly blame him. Philadelphia was stacked even before his arrival. The path to the World Series is a little bit easier in the National League than it is in the American League. The chances of winning next year are arguably greater in Philadelphia than they are in New York.
As an aside, I would wager the Phillies spent their $120 million more wisely than the Washington Nationals did. The sad-sack Nationals gave former Philadelphia outfielder Jayson Werth similar money. Big mistake there.
Meanwhile, Lee is out of the American League. If you're any AL team not named the Yankees or the Rangers, who were reportedly the top two bidders for Lee, this is terrific news. AL pennant hopes just got a little higher in places like Boston, Chicago, Minnesota, Tampa Bay, Detroit and Anaheim.
This also could be terrific news for the Kansas City Royals. While Kansas City has no chance in hell of winning anything in 2011, the Royals are looking to trade former Cy Young award winner Zack Greinke. Having lost out on Lee, there's no doubt both the Yankees and Rangers will be in the running for Greinke's services. If the Royals are smart, they should be able to get a windfall in any deal.