Ruben Amaro has done it! He has supplanted himself among some of the best general managers in the game today. He has listened to the fans and his coach, and went out and got not only an ace to back up Cole Hamels in Cliff Lee, but a right handed bat to come off of the bench in Ben Francisco.
After weeks of reports that said that the Phillies were going after Toronto Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay, the Phillies stayed true to themselves, and what they believed in, despite many critics, and turned their heads when the Jays demanded the Phillies top prospects.
And for that composure, and stubbornness themselves, the Phillies have landed arguably an even better deal. The Phillies managed to not give up any of their top two prospects, and while, they did have to give up a lot of prospects, the Phillies launched themselves to an even better chance at repeating as World Series champs.
Sure, those prospects were Carlos Carrasco, Jason Knapp, Jason Donald, and Lou Marson, but the Phillies got back a guy that will be the third or fourth highest paid pitcher on the roster next year, and a guy that can give the bullpen a rest, and go deep into games.
Cliff Lee is the perfect fit for what we need right now. He is still young, and might be able to be re-signed by the Phils in 2011 when he will be a free agent.
Oh, did I mention that with the addition of Lee, the Phillies starting rotation goes from shaky, to lethal all in one day. Sure they have been pitching well as of late, but all hot streaks come to an end sometime, and what if that sometime was the play-offs? What if the rotations wheels came off of the bus right when we needed them most? Then of course, the front office would be questioned for not making a move to fix the leak in the rotation.
But that is in the past now. Here is what our rotation will look like, if not for only small changes.
#1: Cole Hamels
#2: Cliff Lee
#3: Joe Blanton
#4: J.A. Happ/Jamie Moyer
#5 Pedro Martinez
Also, do not forget that Pedro Martinez will be the #5 starter no matter what. After all, that is what we signed him for, and he will not go to the bullpen lightly if told.
So that narrows the decision down to either Moyer or Happ. In my personal opinion, Happ causes less stress in his starts, while Moyer is always hit away from a big inning. My mind wants Moyer to go to the pen, but my gut says Happ will. After all, he has the experience so far this year, and Moyer is more effective over multiple innings.
Sorry Rodrigo Lopez, but we have just found an upgrade over you, even though you did go undefeated with us, and post some nice numbers (3-0 with a 3.09 ERA, 15 K’s, 6 BB’s, and 26 hits, over 23.1 innings pitched.)
Happ is arguably the hottest #5 starter in the league right now, and should probably be the #3 based on how he is pitching, but that is just how well the Phillies staff is pitching right now!
Lee gives the Phillies some favorable matchups in the Divisional Round of the play-offs. We have two #1 pitchers, and Joe Blanton backing them up. I would think that if the series were to go to 4 games, that the Phils would give the ball to Happ instead of Moyer. Although I guess it would be a win-win situation because of Moyer’s experience, while Happ would probably be performing better than Moyer.
Lee is a career 12-2 against the National League during interleague play, and has posted a 3.18 ERA, allowed 133 hits, gave up 19 homeruns and 44 walks, and has struck out 108 over 141.1 innings pitched in 22 games. Lee has not pitched much against our division rivals, or really any of our potential play-offs matchups, but when he has, he has performed well. Here are his splits: ( All stats come from Baseball Reference.)