It’s beginning to look a lot like Chrrrrristmasss — well at least in Boston and Philadelphia. The Phillies shocked everybody yesterday, signing Cliff Lee to a 5 year $120 million dollar deal that instantly gives the Philadelphia the best starting rotation in baseball. I see this as a major setback for both the Yankees and the Rangers, as the Ranger have lost and ace and the Yankees have lost the best left-handed arm they could have gotten to help combat Boston’s new left happy line-up. This does mean, however, that New York will have deep pockets to sign nearly every other available player they want — and you know they’ll pull a big trade out of their hat sometime next season. All of that said, I think this move immediately makes the Red Sox and the Phillies the favorites for next season — I’ll predict here and now that they meet in the World Series. Let’s take a look at their starting rotations for 2011:
Phillies: Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt
Red Sox: John Lester, Clay Bucholz, Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, John Lackey (Tim Wakefield)
Those rotations could create some fantastic pitching match-ups, but I think the Red Sox have a serious advantage offensively. That said, the average Philadelphia starter is a better pitcher and the Phillies have the advantage of playing in the National league — meaning the Red Sox won’t have nearly the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the Phillies rotation, as they would, say, the Yankees. Still, I believe that Boston’s chances of beating the Yankees in a 7 game series went up substantially with the Yanks missing out on Lee.
Lee’s move to the Phillies certainly was a surprise, and I can’t help but speculate on why he chose the Phils. He seemed to be happy in Texas, where he pitched the team to the World Series. The Yankees offered him crazy money and a chance to play in a huge market for a serious contender. His reasons for passing the Yanks by could have been the quality of life issue he raised, or it could simply have been the fact that he’d have to share a division with the Red Sox. Lee must have seen the Phillies’ rotation, wanted to get in on the action, and realized a playoff birth was more of a guarantee in Philly than anywhere else. His career numbers will likely be much better in the NL than the AL East, suggesting that he may have been concerned about his legacy. I’m sure his true reasons had something to do with getting a chance to win and his family’s quality of life — maybe his family has friends in the Philly area, who knows.
Regardless, the 2011 season should, without a doubt, be a competitive one.
Sox in 7 games.