Flashback: 2009, when the Cleveland Indians traded Cliff Lee to the Philadelphia Phillies.
The star pitcher still had one more year on his contract. And that year, despite winning two games for the Phillies in the World Series, he and his team lost to the New York Yankees (giving the Yanks their 27th World Series title).
After the 2009 World Series, the Phils traded him to Seattle in a trade that brought them Roy Halladay. Lee spent the second half of last season with the Rangers, Now he’s back in Philadelphia after signing as a free agent, saying he never wanted to leave. This gives the Phillies a star-spangled 2011 rotation that includes Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and the impenetrable Lee. The question is, what will become of the teams Lee rejected and left behind?
The New York Yankees undoubtedly had the money and the power to sign Lee. However, what they didn’t have was the homey, comfortable feeling that the Phillies supposedly do. The team is evidently moving on. They have re-signed their prized closer Mariano Rivera and signed former Dodgers catcher Russell Martin. The Yankees can still be strong and play hard without Lee. All in all, they won’t fall apart just because they missed out on the star pitcher.
There is no doubt that Texas Rangers owner Nolan Ryan isn’t very happy. Why would he be? During the 2010 season, Lee got them to the World Series and almost got the team the title. Still, with Josh Hamilton, young power player Elvis Andrus, and star second baseman Ian Kinsler, the team has no reason to be depressed. However, their rotation definitely has a gaping hole.
Last but not least, the Angels of Anaheim, probably the contender that needed Lee the most. Even with Torii Hunter and Erick Aybar, the Angels will be going the same way as last year, so close yet so far away. The Angels are still a well-respected team and they have a strong infield.
So, there they are, the rejected teams. They’re all seeing red as far as Cliff Lee and the Phillies are concerned. As for the Phils, they are just waiting for April and wondering whether their new ace will really do the trick.