Phils' Lee tops list of NL difference makers
By Jack Magruder
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro's stealth signing of Cliff Lee was the impact move of the offseason.
Now armed with a rotation oozing the potential of the 1971 Baltimore quartet of 20-game winners Jim Palmer, Dave McNally, Mike Cuellar and Pat Dobson, the Phillies enter 2011 as a foregone conclusion to reach the World Series, at least among those who believe that winning starts on the mound.
Ace Roy Halladay has won two Cy Young awards, ace Lee has won one and ace Roy Oswalt has won 150 games in 10 seasons, going 7-1 with a 1.74 ERA when he joined the Phillies for the 2010 stretch run. No. 4 starter Cole Hamels was 4-0 in the 2008 postseason, winning the first and last games of the NLCS and winning the World Series MVP award.
It is almost in vogue to pick against the Phillies; their ascension seems so obvious.
Lee left almost $50 million on the table when he signed his five-year, $115 million contract, turning down longer, more lucrative offers from the Yankees (7 years, $15M) and Rangers (6 years with a vesting option, $161M if vested).
After watching San Francisco pitch its way into the 2010 World Series with an NLCS victory over the Phillies, Amaro sought out a known quantity. Lee was 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA for Philly in the 2008 postseason after being acquired at the trade deadline, posting the Phillies