December 14, 2009, the Philadelphia Phillies made a splash. Like a whale jumping into a pool, Ruben Amaro changed the face of the Phllies franchise by acquiring arguably the best pitcher in all of baseball; Roy Halladay. In doing so, he felt the only way to repair his decimated farm system was to unload Cliff Lee.
At the time, the town was up in arms about losing Lee at the expense of Halladay. So enticing was the thought of a Halladay/Hamels/Lee trio – however, it wasn’t to be.
And then it was. Exactly one year later – December 14, 2010 – Cliff Lee rejoins the Phillies. It’s the circle of life, except no one saw it coming. During the baseball Winter Meetings, the Phillies lost their starting right fielder after being outbid by the Washington Nationals, of all clubs. It appeared Amaro had run out of tricks to pull out of his sleeve.
And then he did this. He was able to sway Cliff Lee away from the bright lights and bigger bucks of the Big Apple to join a crew of Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt and in the process, assembling perhaps the greatest rotation in baseball history. Let that sink in for a second. This rotation could be the best in major league baseball history. Here in Philadelphia.
Remember when the biggest free agent signings were Lance Parrish, Gregg Jefferies, Benito Santiago, and Danny Tartabull. Those days are long, long gone. This is a special time to be a Phillies fan.
Welcome back, Cliff Lee.