A new Lefty on the mound in Philly

Time to head to the “way-back machine”.  Yes, way back to those early days of this summer when the Toronto Blue Jays announced that Roy Halladay was on the market and Philadelphia Phillies fans were foaming at the mouth to add him to a rotation in need of a boost in the Phils’ efforts to repeat as World Series champions. 

Well, depending on your perspective, either the Blue Jays held out for the best deal possible or horribly miscalculated and were forced to retain Halladay’s services (at least for the remainder of this season) as the Jays’ trade demands were never met.

Meanwhile, the Phillies picked up a “consolation prize” from the Cleveland Indians when they engineered a trade for pitcher Cliff Lee

It's been all smiles for Cliff Lee since his acquistion by the Phillies last month

It's been all smiles for Cliff Lee since his acquistion by the Phillies last month

Now, remember, this is the same Cliff Lee who was the American League Cy Young Award winner in 2008.  Amazingly, he was the second consecutive Indians Cy Young Award winner to be dealt the following July, as the Indians essentially repeated their trade of CC Sabathia to the Milwaukee Brewers just one season earlier.

History will tell if the Indians end up scoring with the prospects acquired in these two deals, but Phillies fans could care less about that (or the elusive Roy Halladay) at this point as Lee is duplicating Sabathia’s success as a mid-season pickup for a National League contender with an amazing stretch of his own.

High praise, indeed, from both Hal Bodley of MLB.com and Rich Hofmann of the Philadelphia Daily News who have both penned columns this week comparing Lee to the legendary Hall of Fame pitcher Steve Carlton, who was also acquired in trade by the Phillies (prior to the 1972 season). 

Hofmann points out that Carlton enjoyed a stretch during his debut season in Philadelphia in which he won six consecutive starts and allowed one earned run or less in each of those starts – unprecedented before or since in Phillies history. 

All Cliff Lee has done in his first five starts is to come within one game of matching that streak.  And he will be on the mound again this Saturday against the Atlanta Braves to attempt to equal the efforts of the man that Phillies fans remember fondly as “Lefty”.

The left-handed Lee is also attempting to do in 2009 what Carlton took 8 years to accomplish after that amazing first season with the Phillies – win a World Series.  And I’ll be rooting for him. 

What’s not to love about this story?  Passionate fans, committed ownership, and nimble management (specifically, General Manager Ruben Amaro, Jr.) willing to get creative in the face of the failed deal with Toronto and accept the calculated risk of moving on quickly to their second choice.  All for the purpose of capturing titles while the window of opportunity is still open.

And, hey, the upshot of all of this is that Lee is signed through 2010 and will remain a Phillie through at least next season.  Perhaps a three-peat is in the offing?

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~ by acm213 on August 27, 2009.

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