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Don’t Count the Rings Just Yet

By Mike Silva ~ December 14th, 2010. Filed under: Mike Silva.

Cliff Lee was supposed to team up with an ace and create a “super rotation” that will throw the balance of power out of whack in baseball. Remember those cries when it appeared he was about to join the Yankees the day after Lebron James “The Decision?” Six months later it actually happens, but it’s the Phillies, not the Yankees with the super rotation. This might be the biggest sports surprise we have seen in quite some time, especially after Ruben Amaro Jr. admitted the team was “tapped” post Oswalt deal.

The decision by Lee to sign in Philadelphia is a major blow to New York. Obviously it leaves the Yankees with a gaping hole in the rotation in a free agent market bereft of a quality Plan B talent. Worse yet, the Mets, who are trying to use 2011 to contend on a value budget, now have to deal with Lee/Halladay tandem for the next three years, and another two of Lee after that. Logic says the NL East will be dominated by the Phillies, just like Atlanta did for over a decade. Should everyone just pack up the bats, ball, and gloves and write off the National League till 2015? Hardly not.

First, I challenge those ready to crown the Phillies the next dynasty to read the story of the Atlanta Braves. Bobby Cox has a similar “super rotation” with Smoltz, Glavine, Maddux, and great years from Steve Avery, Denny Neagle, and Kevin Millwood during that time. It’s every bit the foursome of Philadelphia, with probably a better offense surrounding that group. Just like the Braves, I suspect the Phillies will not have money to wildly spend on a bullpen, making it an Achilles heel like pretty much every other team. How many championships did the Braves win during their run? One. The same amount the Phillies have to date.  Also this current Phillies group, unlike the Braves, will probably have to contend with additional playoff teams starting in 2012.

Next, take a look at the offense. Domonic Brown is an interesting prospect, but will he produce at Jayson Werth‘s level? Remember, he is just a prospect and didn’t take the NL by storm in his 2010 cup of coffee. An outfield with Brown, aging Raul Ibanez, and role player Shane Victorino isn’t a “fearsome threesome.” Of course they still have Utley and Howard, but an aging Rollins makes me believe it could be a lineup that takes a serious step back in 2011. Don’t get me started on Howard who I believe is very overrated. Do we honestly believe Amaro has any more money? The same team that received revenue sharing in 2005 is going to outspend the Mets and Boston Red Sox? I think not. Right now, with Lee, they have $147 million dollars of payroll tied into just 11 players. Will they be able to afford any kind of depth on that roster? This is also a problem with flexibility as they have quite a few long term contracts to deal with. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hamels and Utley leave when they become free agents because the Phillies can’t afford them.

Finally, the rotation itself, although outstanding, has some age to it. There is nothing that gives me reason to question Halladay/Lee, but Hamels always has been hittable, and Roy Oswalt wasn’t exactly lighting it up before his trade to the Phillies. This is a tough rotation, but no more difficult to beat in a short series than San Francisco, or Boston, if their arms stay healthy. I don’t hear anyone conceding to either of those teams.

So before the fans of the local teams take a baseball vacation till 2015, remember there are no guarantees. Last I looked Lee doesn’t come to Philadelphia with a treasure chest of championship rings. The games still have to be played, and yes, the Phillies are tough, but far from a sure thing.

Instead of complaining, I relish the opportunity to watch both teams attempt to beat this squad, and break the heart of a city with the most losses in professional baseball history. Remember, expectations have a way of adding complexity to the process. Let’s see the Phillies actually play some baseball before anything is conceded.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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3 Responses to Don’t Count the Rings Just Yet

  1. Stu B

    This move brings to mind the Mets trading for Frank Viola in 1989, creating the rotation of Gooden, Viola, Cone, Fernandez, and Darling/Ojeda. It didn’t do much good.

  2. Duffman

    Well if your counting start with 2 as Philly already has 1 WS ring. and they’ve been to WS 2 out of 3 years. And the last 3 NLCS. Im a mets fan but you gotta call a spade a spade. This Just might be the best team Ive seen assembled in my 37 year lifetime.

  3. George

    By coincidence, Joe Janish at Mets Today compared to 2011 Phillies to the 1990 Mets rotation and lineup.

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