Tuesday December 21, 2010
This baseball offseason provided some drama. The Red Sox got Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez for their lineup but lost Victor Martinez to the Tigers. The Royals traded Zach Greinke to the suddenly contending Brewers. The Yankees got Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera back from free agency. Yet, the biggest news was Cliff Lee. Where would he go? Who would obtain the best pitcher on the market: the Yankees or the Rangers? Well, it turned out to be a familiar face looking for redemption:
The Philadelphia Phillies traded Lee last year to make room for Roy Halladay. Many questioned the move and wondered why they couldn’t have both. Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. thought that as well and went after Lee. They agreed to a 5-yr, $120 million deal; he joins a starting rotation that includes the following:
Cole Hamels Roy Oswalt
All three can be or have been the “ace” of any baseball team. Yet, they are all on the Philadelphia Phillies. What does that make Cliff Lee’s role? He’s exactly where he should be: not an ace but a gun.
Time for the magic man to take over!
Cliff Lee was the ace of the Phillies last year. He was the ace of the Rangers this past postseason. Both teams made it to the World Series only to fall short. Now he joins an already stacked rotation for the 2011 campaign. Lee took it because he never wanted to leave Philadelphia in the first place. He voiced his displeasure over being traded to Seattle when it happened. Now he returns to a team that clearly should be at least a favorite to win the World Series. Cliff Lee is no longer the ace, but he is what he seemed to be all along: a hired gun.
The “hired gun” phrase is for any pitcher who is recruited to elevate their team to the next level. It’s not a bad thing. It’s not a demotion from the more star-studded ace position. In fact, it makes Lee more dangerous. He would be the second starter behind Halladay. That makes them nearly unbeatable if both are on their A-game. Lee is arguably the best hired gun since David Cone. Toronto hired Cone to bring them back to the World Series; he brought them a title. The Yankees signed Cone to help return them to greatness; he helped bring 4 World Series rings during the Joe Torre era. A hired gun is the least talked about job, but it is also one of the most important jobs in baseball.
Cliff Lee is happy where he is right now. He returns to a team he never wanted to leave. He joins a team full of Cy Young winners, MVPs and World Series Champions. Cliff Lee returns as a hired gun, and he’s never been happier.
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