To almost everyone, Cliff Lee was a consolation prize.
A Cy Young-winning consolation prize, yes, but he was no Roy Halladay, the pitcher coveted longingly by Ruben Amaro Jr. and the Philadelphia Phillies. Halladay was one of the top pitchers in the game, and Lee was just the ace of a crappy AL basement dweller.
And now, four starts later, we have confirmation. He's no Roy Halladay.
4-0. Two complete games. 0.82 ERA. 34 strikeouts, six walks.
Those numbers are mind-boggling. Cliff Lee himself is mind-boggling. And he's ours for 2010 as well.
I don't think even Amaro and his staff could have predicted this. I knew the trade was a winner, even if Carlos Carrasco and Jason Knapp become front-of-the-rotation guys, but I didn't know that Lee would look even better in red pinstripes than his former Indians teammate CC Sabathia did in Brewers navy.
But right now, even though the Cardinals have apparently locked up a World Series berth with the acquisition of thousand-year-old John Smoltz, the Phillies are looking good. The NL East lead that seemed to be shrinking a week ago is back to 5.5 games, the home-run mashing beast in Ryan Howard has awoken, and Brett Myers has given Brad Lidge a bit more job security by getting punched in the face in a bar fight. All is right in the world, and it's all thanks to Clifton Phifer Lee.