Phillies sign Lee, take a dump on NL East

Posted: December 15, 2010 in Mets

The sentiment the Mets and the rest of the NL East are expressing right about now

The dust has settled, and I’ve had a full day to let the news sink in about Cliff Lee’s out of the blue signing with the Phillies.
Throughout the entire free agency process, it seemed only the Yankees and Rangers were serious contenders (although the delirious Nats tried to get in on the action as well) for Lee’s services.
At the 11th hour, the Phillies swooped in and grabbed the pitcher they foolishly traded away a year ago to form perhaps the best starting rotation in the last 20 years. (Atlanta and the Yankees had great staffs in the late 90s to early 2000s but this one just might be better if everyone stays healthy).
This doesn’t really affect the Mets in 2011, because they aren’t going to be contenders. The new brain trust is taking this first year to evaluate what they have and take some foolish contracts off the books by the end of the season. The Mets’ primary concern these days is player development, and Sandy Alderson and company seem to have a long-term plan in place.
They’re not spending money this offseason and are laying in the weeds looking for deals. The Phillies will be odds on favorites to win it all in 2011, despite a few chinks in the armor in the offense. Jimmy Rollins has been a non-factor the last two years, Raul Ibanez is overpaid and incredibly old, and Placido Polanco and Chase Utley are showing a lot of wear and tear. Still, pitching wins championships and the Phillies’ super staff will keep them in almost every game. The one silver lining I take out of the Lee signing is this: the Phillies are committing a ton of money and a lot of years to a 32-year-old pitcher, one who had some back problems this year. So I’m hoping this super staff doesn’t have a particularly long shelf life, although if the Phils are to win a championship or two the next few years, the big money deals will certainly be worth it.
The Mets shouldn’t do anything different right now. For once, they can treat 2011 as a rebuilding year. The hefty contracts of Ollie Perez, Luis Castillo and Carlos Beltran come off the books after the ’11 season, so the Mets will have more money to play with next winter. But as I’ve said several times, spending big money on aging free agents isn’t the way to go. Acquiring young talent is the best way to achieve longterm success. The next two drafts will be big for the Mets, as they hope to build on an already solid minor-league core of players. Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel foolishly rushed prospects like Jenrry Mejia and Ruben Tejada last year, basically taking away a year of development (especially in Mejia’s case, as the kid should have been starting in the minors, not playing a mop-up relief role on the big-league squad). Alderson has already said Mejia and Tejada will likely spend most of the year in AAA, which is good news.
So to Mets fans, I say this: Today certainly sucked big time, but this team as currently constructed wasn’t going to contend even if Lee hadn’t signed, so it doesn’t change things all that much. Just sucks to see all my Philly friends gloating and celebrating this surprising early Christmas gift.
Now more than ever, I need a Giants win over the Eagles on Sunday.

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