Just when you thought the Cliff Lee talk would simmer, we reel you back in! It is the Year in Review, so we have to cover everyone. Yes, including the guy who was here for a three month stretch that was one of the most important and unimaginable showings in Phillies history. As quickly as he came in, he was swept away by the front office to Seattle.
The brevity of Cliff Lee’s stay in Philadelphia is somewhat of a head-scratcher considering he dominated the final two months and the playoffs like he was Sandy Koufax. Still, it’s a piece of Phillies history that won’t soon be forgotten by the allegiance who witnessed it.
Beginning with a complete-game four-hitter against San Francisco in his first start with the Phils, to his finale; seven hard-fought innings in World Series Game 5 to keep the team gasping on life support. No matter the challenge, Cliff Lee seemed up for it.
In between his first and last starts, Lee tossed in a litany of season-altering performances, many of which you will see on our Top 25 list in the coming days. A complete-game shutout with 11 strikeouts against Arizona? Check. A CG-SO against Washington late in the season? You bet. A 4-0 postseason record with a 1.56 ERA and two complete games? Lee made it happen. What he could not help was a World Series defeat at the hands of the evil empire. But don’t blame Lee for that. His two WS victories presented a small window of opportunity for the Phillies; one which they could not capitalize on, unfortunately.
And just like that, it’s over. Feeling the need to secure long-term financial stability, coupled with the belief that Lee would test free-agent waters once 2010 was through, Ruben Amaro Jr. sent him packing to Seattle in that raucous three-team deal that brought Roy Halladay to Philly. Whether it was the correct move or not, it will only allow for Cliff Lee’s legendary status to grow here in this baseball-crazed town. Sure, we will learn to love the same type of shutdown efforts by Halladay every fifth day, but few have ever made their mark on a city like Cliff Lee.
There have been heaps and heaps of trades consummated at the deadline over the years, but few have rendered results like this one. It’s safe to say that this was one of the finest acquisitions in the history of this franchise.
And for that, we will always, always remember Clifton Phifer Lee.
2009 numbers (with PHI): 7-4, 3.39 ERA, 79.2 IP, 74 K, 10 BB, 3 CG, 1 Shutout
GRADE: 9.8/10 – Few players will ever steal the breath of a Phillies fan the way Lee did. This would have been a 10 out of 10 had the Phils captured back-to-back World Series titles, although it wasn’t from lack of effort Lee. Just an incredible season, there’s really no other way to put it.