July 24, 2010

Stop talking about Cliff Lee.

The Philadelphia Phillies continue to scout Roy Oswalt, Dan Haren and any other available ace pitcher with a pulse, but all anyone can talk about is Cliff Lee, Cliff Lee, Cliff Lee.

And it needs to stop....right after this blog post.

Trading for a third ace, completing the triumvirate everyone longed for last offseason, can't be naysayed and nitpicked because of the Lee deal. Lee is gone, and he's not coming back. He's now a member of the Texas Rangers, and he'll probably sign a lucrative, nine-figure deal this offseason with a team other than the Phillies. Do I wish he was here? Of course, but as Chevy Chase says in Dirty Work, hindsight is 20/20, my friend.

Maybe the presence of the three prospects Ruben Amaro Jr. got for Lee will free up others to be moved in a Haren deal. Maybe, now that the team is floundering in the post-Lee era, Phillies ownership will see the value of adding payroll in order to bring home another championship.

Either way, it's outrageous how many people are clinging to Cliff Lee. The Phillies, and their fans, need to concern themselves with the future; more importantly, the immediate future. They need to call up Dom Brown, they need to move Jayson Werth for prospects, and they need to turn those prospects into another lights-out starter, no matter the cost. That's how you shake up a stagnant team, and that's how you prep for future championship runs.

Yes, I know that pitching, at least starting pitching, has not been a major flaw with the 2010 Phillies. They can't score runs. Roy Halladay has a 2.28 ERA...and only 11 wins. Lee has a 2.56 ERA, so he'd be good for what, nine? Jamie Moyer and his 4.84 ERA already had nine when he went down with an elbow injury. It'd be far more beneficial if the corpses of Raul Ibanez and Jimmy Rollins came back to life, or if Shane Victorino (career OBP of .342; .314 in 2010) started taking some pitches, or if our terrible bench was slightly less terrible.

Maybe that'll happen; Raul has shown vague, vague signs of life, and Ross Gload came up big in last night's game against the Rockies. A starter like Oswalt and Haren could then make all the difference in a bounce-back second half, but mainly, bringing one of them in would be part of a 2011 reload. One of the selling points on moving Lee was his expiring contract; Oswalt and Haren, however, are locked up for a few years. This could be a prime opportunity to go all-in for 2011 and 2012, while a (hopefully) healthy Chase Utley and Ryan Howard still have a full tank of gas.

Amaro walked away from a Q&A at Wrigley Field earlier this week because a reporter brought up Lee again. He was right to do that, but for the wrong reasons. He shouldn't talk about Cliff Lee because he has a lot of work to do: a flawed roster to patch up, a rejuvenated minor league cupboard to empty and an almost-aged group of superstars with only a season or two left to win big. Everyone said that we'd all forgive the Lee deal if the Phillies won another championship. For the sake of our sanity, it's time for Amaro to make that happen.

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