Not even Ben Franklin loved Philadelphia this much.
The Phillies reintroduced Cliff Lee to the masses yesterday, confirming the details on a five-year, $120 million deal for the 32-year-old ace. Lee, dressed in Phillies colors — blue dress shirt, red tie — couldn’t mask his excitement.
“Here I am. I never wanted to leave this place in the first place,” Lee said. “To get an opportunity to come back and be part of this team and this pitching rotation is going to be something that is historic.”
Lee famously turned down more lucrative offers from the Yankees and Rangers to return. Lee praised everything about the city, from the Phillies’ clubhouse to Old City’s historic landmarks to the fans at Citizens Bank Park.
“They don’t need a teleprompter to tell them to get up and cheer,” Lee said.
At the end of the day, the money didn’t matter. This is where Lee and his family felt most comfortable.
“It’s plenty of money,” Lee said. When you hit a certain point, enough is enough.”
Then, there’s the lure of winning a World Series. With their new lights-out starting rotation — Lee, Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt — the Phillies are now 9-5 favorites to win a world championship. Huge expectations? No worry.
“That’s perfect,” Lee said.
Amaro: Phils at ‘flex point’
Ruben Amaro, Jr. could run for mayor. No doubt his approval ratings are better than Michael Nutter’s.
Somehow, the crafty GM convinced management to shell out extra cash for Cliff Lee. But even he admits that it’ll be a challenge to address other needs.
“We’re no longer flexible. We’ve reached our flex point,” Amaro said.
The Phillies have committed $300 million to just three guys — Lee, Roy Halladay and Ryan Howard.
“That’s one of the boxes you kind of put yourself into,” Amaro said. “Now you have to make choices.”
That includes decisions on Jimmy Rollins (free agent after 2011) and Cole Hamels (free agent after 2012). Amaro will cross that bridge later. With Lee, he’s confident this team can compete for world championships for years to come.
“For our long-term success at the major-league level, we felt like this was the right thing to do.”