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Some Random Ramblings

So Cliff Lee’s a Philadelphia Phillie again and he left a lot of money on the table. First of all, as someone on Twitter mentioned yesterday (if I could remember who I’d give a shout), I want to find that table that has all this money on it. I could use some! Second of all, I can’t overstate how frustrating it is to hear people actually praising Cliff Lee for things like not caring about the money and all that jazz. He’s still guaranteed $120 million. No, it isn’t $154 million or $138 million, but his $24 million per year salary is almost 500 times more than an average salary of $50,000 per year. Yes, I understand baseball players work hard, but ultimately he’s playing a game. He’s playing said game that he presumably at least enjoys doing for $24 million per season. I just take a little umbrage when athletes are lauded for not going after the huge contract when they still get this kind of money. A player stays someplace for $600,000 over, say, $1.3 million, then yeah, that’s awesome. $600,000 is life changing money, but it’s not enough to retire on. Let’s say that Cliff Lee has spent every dime he’s ever earned. He could probably retire about mid-April with the checks he’s made and be set for life if he invests well. Sorry for that rant, but these things really annoy me.

Two questions arise from this monumental signing. The first is where the Phillies rotation ranks in baseball lore. I hesitate to put it at the level of those early 1970s Orioles rotation, but I think they’re on par with the Braves staffs of the 1990s and probably a wee bit better. The Braves didn’t always have a reliable fourth starter ready to go. Often someone stepped up and provided big seasons, but I’m not sure there’s been a better starting four to start a season than these Phillies since those O’s of almost 40 years ago. This doesn’t, however, mean that they should cancel the season and just play a World Series between the Red Sox and Phillies. The Phillies still have their warts. Three quarters of their infield (Polanco, Rollins and Utley) aren’t exactly the pictures of health while their first baseman is not expected to age particularly well based on his comparable players. Plus, they’re way too lefty heavy. The pitching staff will mask a lot of weaknesses, but as we saw against the Giants, when it gets to a short series, the opponents might be able to match up pretty well on the mound. I think the Phillies are the prohibitive favorite, but let’s not start engraving the trophy just yet. Lots can happen between December 15 and late October.

Did you really think that i wouldn’t mention Greinke and what that means for him? Cliff Lee signing with the Phillies is fantastic for the Royals. They were not a likely trade destination that can be crossed off and they could possibly energize a couple of other teams to get into the mix. It’s hard to say right now as both the Yankees and Rangers seem to be licking their wounds, but there’s a chance they’ll be so upset by getting passed over that they will make a big play for Greinke that Dayton Moore just will not be able to turn down. This opens the door a little wider for the Blue Jays as they might see the Yankees as a team they can now overtake because they didn’t get their 1A. This also potentially opens the door for the Red Sox to look into acquiring Greinke as a means to further demoralize the Yanks. The Braves, Mets, Marlins and Nationals may also put on more of a press in order to at least attempt to keep pace with the Phillies. I’m not sure I like the returns that are attainable from the Mets or Nationals, but the Braves and Marlins would be interesting trade partners.

Then we have a team like the Angels who are easily the losers of the off-season so far. They appear to be focusing more on offense at this point, but any time you have the chance to acquire an ace like Zack Greinke, you have to at least look into it. This is the one team who became a less likely trade partner because they don’t need to do as much to keep up with the Rangers. Still, though, if this shows them an opening, they have some interesting pieces. Obviously I’d want Trout in a deal, but I think that is extremely unlikely. Too bad, but there are other players who would not depress me one bit to become Royals in that organization.

The one team I’d love to see get involved, but hasn’t seemed to yet is the Cardinals. They have exactly what the Royals are looking for in a legitimate center fielder (Colby Rasmus) and a minor league pitcher who is on the verge of being able to replace Greinke (Shelby Miller). I’m not sure that it would even take anybody else because that’s a ton of talent coming back to Kansas City. As much as I’d hate to see Zack pitching for the Cardinals, I’d be fine with it because it would mean I’d get to watch Rasmus play center and hit in the middle of the lineup. He is the real deal.

There are a few marquee free agents still left out there, but for the most part the big names have been locked up and are set to start with their new teams. That means the time to trade Zack is now. As far as I’m concerned, the Royals are on the clock and need to make a move soon before he says something that might reduce his trade value to a potential suitor. It’ll look weird to see his name on someone else’s roster, but at this point it’s the best option unless he’s willing to sign here for five more years. And maybe that’s Dayton plan. He wants him to see the talent in spring training and hopes that he’ll have a chance of heart and realizes that he wants to win in Kansas City not somewhere else. I’m not going to run out and buy a Greinke jersey just yet, though. I’ll have to see that to believe it.

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