Cliff Lee Surprise

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Hello everyone! Sorry to have been away the last couple of days, but I had a little tuning up done on my left eye, which made looking at a keyboard a challenge. But I’m back!

In checking out the blog-o-sphere, it seems that the baseball world is somewhere between shock and startling surprise over the Lee signing. I admit that I was following this one fairly closely and can honestly say that none of the “inside sources” saw this one coming. Even Rosenthal was reporting a fait accompli, in my opinion.

This obviously gives the Phillies an amazing rotation, at least on paper. I don’t think that this move automatically gives them the division title, though. For at least one more year the Braves will compete.

The scary part of this signing is the fact that MLB is rapidly changing into a world of “haves” and “have-nots”. On the AL side, you have Boston and NYY. On the NL side, you have the Phillies and the Mets. These four teams will spend whatever it takes. The rest of the teams won’t. If your favorite team is assigned to an “East” division, you can be competitive, as the Braves, Rays, and sometimes the Jays have shown. But to be competitive year in and year out with budgets that are maybe half the “Big Two” in each division spend is basically impossible, unless you believe the management of those teams is incompetent.

The strategy that is most often used is to develop talent internally, keep them while they’re cheap, then let them move on. While this works sometimes, if it were the preferred method don’t you think the Evil Empire would have perfected the model? It’s just too hard to develop a whole team this way, and the “holes” in the “whole” are what kills you.

As to the Braves, it’s hard to say what their strategy is. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s to focus its internal efforts on pitching and fill in the big league team with second-tier free agents and/or trades from their abundance of pitching. As to budgets, who knows? It appears that their budgets are actually going down slightly (though they deny this). They are stuck somewhere in the middle on budgets. They haven’t taken on the spend nothing and live on donations strategy (which, by the way, can be very profitable for an owner). And they haven’t endorsed the other proven budget winner, spending big (like in the Ted Turner Super-station days).

The Braves claim that they can’t afford to spend with the big boys anymore, and I guess that’s true. But riddle-me-this: Why can the Braves be a top-5 draw on the road virtually every year yet play at home to 40% empty seats?

Lots to talk about coming out of this.

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Tags: Atlanta Braves Braves Cliff Lee Philadelphia Phillies Phillies

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