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Tuesday, December 14, 2010


In a stunning development, free-agent pitcher
Cliff Lee is returning to the Phillies.
Before heading off to bed Monday night, I went on the computer to see what was going on in the world. Much to my surprise, several sports outlets were reporting that the Phillies had become contenders for prized free agent left-handed pitcher Cliff Lee -- whom the Phillies had traded last December in the blockbuster deal to acquire Roy Halladay.

I shrugged it off, thinking they were just being used by Lee and his agent to drive up the price -- which was pretty high. Lee was already offered a 7-year, $154 million contract from the Yankees, and another significant deal from the Texas Rangers, whom Lee pitched to the World Series in October.

But what's the first thing I see Tuesday morning: that sources were reporting that Lee was returning to the Phillies.

I was stunned.

All indications are that Lee enjoyed his 4 months with the Phillies in 2009. And because of that the Phillies got Lee for a bargain: 5 years, $120 million.

So when the Phillies take the field in 2011, they will have quite the
 poker hand: Four aces. With Halladay, Lee, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee, the Phillies have the best starting rotation in baseball. Any of them could be the top guy with any other team; the Phils have all of them.

What it will mean next October, who knows? But if all four pitchers stay healthy, it should be a fun season.

Oh, and if this bitter cold pre-winter weather has you down, spring training starts in just 2 months, on Feb. 13.

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