Tuesday Rockpile: What Cliff Lee as a Phillie Means For the Rockies

Yesterday was a whirlwind day to follow twitter.  Late Sunday night, Sports' Illustrated's Jon Heyman tweeted that a "mystery team" was getting involved in the Cliff Lee sweepstakes.  What ensued was a barrage of unabashed mockery to both Heyman and the concept of a mystery team, spewed by faceless fans and notable sportswriters alike.  Obviously agents were just leaking baseless rumors to drive up his price.  Right?  JC Bradbury stood firmly against the grain:

Why are fake mystery teams so hard for GMs to see but obvious to everyone else? They're not fake.

He had a point.  Brian Cashman has plenty of resources at his disposal, and Bradbury proved correct.  As quickly as the Troy Tulowitzki extension news came out two weeks ago, Lee went from choosing between Texas and New York to dusting off his 2009 ballcap last night.  He signed for roughly  $120million over five years, with a sixth year vesting option, turning down up to $161mil from Texas and a possible $148mil from the Yankees.

For what it's worth, from Randy Miller, biographer of the late Phillies announcer Harry Kalas and Phillies beat writer:

A good source tells me that Cliff Lee''s wife is the main reason he didn't sign with Yankees. She wanted NO PART of New York, i was told.

I won't analyze how this makes sense or doesn't make sense for the Phillies.  This is a Rockies blog, so let's make this topical.  What does Cliff Lee playing in Philadelphia mean for the Rockies next year? Not a whole lot, but what effect there is could be positive.  

The Rockies will play the Phillies just five times in 2011 (three at home), meaning Lee will face Colorado from zero to two times, resulting in no more than one game differential in Colorado's final standing.  Meanwhile, Lee will be facing wild card hopefuls Atlanta and Florida  3-5 times, as well as 0-2 starts vs. Los Angeles, San Francisco, Cincinnati and St. Louis.  If anything, Lee as a Phillie helps the Rockies in the standings.  It isn't as if the Phillies weren't everyone's preseason favorite in the National League already,

Pitching generally wins championships, or so they say.   The Phillies rotation would certainly be a gauntlet to face in the postseason with Roy Haladay, Roy Oswaly, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, if the Rockies are fortunate enough to make it there. Craig Calcaterra examines Philly's vaunted rotation as one of the best ever.    Dave Cameron compares the slew of aces to the mid-90's Braves.  Of course, there is one big lesson from that Atlanta team.

"As those great Braves teams show, a ridiculously great rotation is not enough to start planning a parade. The Phillies are certainly contenders, but they're going to need more than just their Big Four to win it all." - Dave Cameron

Of course, we don't need to go back 15 years to know elite pitchers can be toppled in the postseason.  The Giants finished 2009 with a team wOBA of .305, worst in MLB.  They rebounded in 2010 and happened to face all four of the "Big Four" in the 2010 postseason, going 6-2 against the four pitchers some have called "Four Loko."  They beat each hurler at least once.  Aces aren't always the trump card.

Off-topic.   

So the regular season affect of the Lee signing on the Rockies is negligible, possibly leaning helpful.  While the postseason seems scary, well, the freaking Giants freaking managed okay.  The plan ought to be winning the NLWest and allowing the wild card Giants to display an encore in the NLDS.  At any rate, it seems the effect of Lee landing in Philadephia for Colorado is pretty small, although there are potentially some additional indirect waves here:

  • Cliff Lee just took a sort of "hometown" discount on his big payday as a free agent to play in Philadelphia.  He will start 2011 at the age of 32.  Ubaldo Jimenez will also be 32 in his first projected free agent season, in 2015.  Will Lee's discounted contract be a blueprint for a Ubaldo free agent contract, or even part of an extension?
  • With Texas out of the Lee sweepstakes, they may focus on signing Adrian Beltre, not only for themselves but to keep him away from the Angels.  If so, might the zombie rumors of Michael Young-to-the-Rockies re-surface?
  • Suddenly, the Yankees and Rangers are starved for a starting pitcher.   How fortunate are the Rockies that Dan O'Dowd convinced Jorge de la Rosa to sign before this point?  de la Rosa and Carl Pavano would be the best pitchers on the free agent market if he were still available, and the name Pavano still tastes bitter in the mouth of Yankee fans.  You can also kiss any pipe dream of acquiring Zack Greinke out the window, as his price just went way up.

 

 

Stats behind the Winter Meetings moves - Stats & Info Blog - ESPN  Hat tip to Resolution for this one.  Mark Simon picks a stat called "well hit average" based on line-drives and deep fly balls and notes that Ty Wigginton rated very favorably in 2010, in fact, right with Troy Tulowitzki.  Simon's implication is that Coors Field might help Ty Wigginton's game even more than an average boost. Given the Rockies' front office's longterm love affair with Wigginton, there might be something to it.

Top 20 fantasy second basemen for 2011 - The Hardball Times makes a fantasy forecast at Colorado's weakest position, but surprsingly, a Rockies player places in the top 20.  And it isn't Jose Lopez.

Rockies continue to rely on farm system | ColoradoRockies.com: News  Matt Miller (AAA) and Juan Nicasio (A+) were chosen by MLB.com as organizationa players of the year. 

Starting Pitcher DL Projections (Part 1) | FanGraphs Baseball - Projecting disabled list visits in the future?  That's a tough task, but Jeff Zimmerman is trying to do it.

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