Clifton Phifer Lee
Ruben Amaro, I’ll never doubt you again. You are a smart, beautiful man. And you have great hair. So much for a quiet offseason, right? You wily, stealthy, brilliant son of a bitch!
Perhaps you have heard by now, but the baseball world was seismically rocked tonight by one of the most unbelievable developments in recent memory. Clifton Phifer Lee, crown jewel of the free agent market, has decided he wants to come back to Philadelphia, spurning the New York Yankees and their offer of $148M in the process (oh, and the Rangers, too). It’s not like Lee is taking $100M less to sign with the Phillies, but this is still beyond shocking. Initial reports are the contract will be for five years, with a vesting option for a sixth that would bring the total value up to $135M, so Cliff and his family won’t exactly be applying for welfare anytime soon. Still, this just goes to show that throwing the biggest contract at a player isn’t always going to get it done. Lord knows that’s not something the Yankees are at all used to.
Anyone who knows anything will tell you that Cliff Lee genuinely loved his time in Philadelphia (we heard it all season), however brief, and was devastated when Amaro — fearful a long-term contract extension wasn’t going to materialize — traded him away to Seattle after getting Roy Halladay from Toronto. He loved the organization, his teammates, the fans, the atmosphere, the city. Everything. His wife and kids did, too. This wasn’t some fake affinity for a team and city that players so often emptily profess right before they bolt for the highest bidder. No, this fondness was as real as real gets, and what has transpired tonight proves just that. Welcome back to Philadelphia, Cliff. You won’t regret it.
Almost exactly one year ago to the day, I lambasted Amaro for trading Cliff Lee after a virtuoso playoff performance, as I felt he acted too hastily and did not get fair value for one of the premier pitchers in the game (and make no mistake, the return from Seattle was — and remains — positively shitty). Yeah, we had just acquired Roy Halladay and signed him to a three-year extension. That was awesome. Still, I couldn’t bring myself to fully enjoy the acquisition because I was so excited at the prospect of having a Lee-Halladay-Hamels starting rotation — a dream that was torpedoed within a matter of hours. I didn’t buy into the company line the Phillies spouted about not having the money to sign Lee to the contract he was seeking. This organization can pretty much print its own money at this point. And even if it was true, I didn’t care. I would have rather had Cliff Lee for one year and then collected the compensatory draft picks upon him leaving in free agency, as long as it meant seeing that trio of starting pitchers lead my favorite baseball team in 2010. So, naturally, I harbored palpable resentment and was vociferous in my criticism of Amaro. But then Ruben channelled his inner Pat Gillick and demonstrated some serious talent as a general manager. Between trading for Roy Oswalt mid-season and absolutely stunning the baseball world tonight by bringing Lee back into the fold, I’d have to say Amaro has, in the words of Jeff Daniels in the American classic Dumb & Dumber, TOTALLY REDEEMED HIMSELF. I guess that’s why he has his job and I have mine, and for that I am thankful.
Furthermore, let’s not overlook the fact that it’s about time the Yankees and their fans didn’t get what they wanted — what they felt they deserved. My level of schadenfreude right now is almost shameful. Almost. Those assholes can take that insufferable sense of entitlement and shove it up far, far up their collective ass. Hey, you guys like apples?
All of a sudden, the sting of losing to the Giants has completely worn off. I guess a starting rotation of Halladay-Lee-Hamels-Oswalt will do that. I’d also like to thank Jayson Werth and Scott Boras for making this all possible. Only two months until pitchers and catchers report, which is two months too long.
For your viewing pleasure:
Yes, we are indeed talkin’ fuckin’ Lee.