Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Twist ending for Met fans: Cliff Lee spurns Yankees, but picks Phillies

Cliff Lee turning down the Yankees should have been the highlight of my postseason. For once, Steinbrenner millions can't buy everything. Now Brian Cashman will have to think for a change instead of just taking out the checkbook. And then I found out where Lee was going.

I didn't believe it when I first heard that the Phillies might be in on Lee. After all, they had gotten Roy Halladay to agree to a three-year deal for $20 million a year, with an option for a fourth year. How could they give Lee a much bigger deal after the year Halladay had?

The story is still unfolding, but whatever Lee ends up getting, I have to think that Halladay, who was the unanimous choice for Cy Young, pitched a perfect game and added only the second no-hitter in postseason history, will get a contract extension real soon.

It appears that Lee took a lot less money than he would have gotten from the Yankees, and less than he would have gotten from Texas as well. Good for Lee for following his heart and not just making a decision based on money, especially when the Players' Association always wants players to take the biggest deal.

But why did Lee's heart have to be in Philadelphia?

I called Squawker Lisa and woke her up to tell her the news, and she was suitably outraged, though it should be pointed out that Lisa has been one of the few to write consistently that the Yankees were not going to get Lee. Once Lisa calmed down, she was able to mutter that Lee was taking his talents to South Street.

Don't worry, Lisa, now the Yankees can trade for Joe Blanton, since the Phillies will probably be looking to move him to cut salary to make room for Lee. And maybe Cashman, who gave Javier Vazquez a second chance, can hope the second time's a charm with the second-best free agent pitcher available this year, a fellow named Pavano.

Or Cashman can mortgage the farm system for Zack Greinke, a great pitcher who isn't likely to be great in New York.

How can I hate Lee when he personally called the Rangers to tell them they were out, while he had his agent call the Yankees?

As for the Mets, well, it's not as if they were going to beat the Phillies next year anyway, but now 2012 and 2013 don't look so great, either.

Not that I expect - or want - Sandy Alderson to suddenly start channeling Omar Minaya, but this latest Phillies blockbuster is going to put more pressure on the Mets to go after big-money players once they have payroll flexibility a year from now.

Almost everyone in the mainstream media predicted that the Yankees would get Lee. One of the reasons why some thought it might not happen was that Lee's wife had complained about some unruly Yankee fans. So the Lees end up turning down the Bronx - for Philadelphia.

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