Cliff Lee sweepstakes. I honestly didn't put much credence into it. I had already resigned myself to the fact that Lee would be wearing pinstripes next year (the bad kind) and that, at worst, the next time we'd see him would be in Game 1 of the 2011 World Series. I woke up this morning, prepared for my day, and I decided to check my e-mail as I waited for my car to defrost. What greeted me in my inbox and on Facebook was shocking: "CLIFF LEE IS BACK!!"
Clifton Phifer Lee, the man the Phillies traded this time last year to the Seattle Mariners, the man who reluctantly left town and eventually pitched the Texas Rangers into the World Series, the man who spurned the Yankees and their offer of more years and more money . . . Cliff Lee is back.
To say this excites me is a ginormous, awesomely huge understatement. Although there are still a few holes in the line-up and the bullpen could use some work, the Phillies are heading into 2011 with the following rotation: Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels and Who Cares. I've seen the top foursome already dubbed as R2-C2 on various websites today, and I imagine the Phillies marketing department has at least considered contacting George Lucas to see if his famous droid's likeness could be licensed for Phillies t-shirts next year.
And as much as I'd like to say, "I told you so," based on the last line of my World Series post-mortem post, I am as shocked and excited as everyone else. Bring on 2011.
Lingering Questions: Will Topps just use photos from 2009 with Lee in a Phillies uniform and Photoshop out the "HK" patch? Given that Halladay assumed Lee's #34 last offseason, what number will Lee wear? He's worn #31 (with the Indians) and #33 (with the Rangers) and both those numbers are currently unoccupied.