While trying to process what happened tonight with Cliff Lee and the Phillies, a timeline of important events in the past 364 days helps put things together. Although it might just confuse you more. I'd recommend some smelling salts and a brown paper bag because this whole thing is ridiculous.
December 15th, 2009 - Cliff Lee Says Playing for Phillies was "The Most Fun He's Ever Had"
January 19th, 2010 - Mariners Extend Felix Hernandez, Not Cliff Lee
January 21st, 2010 - Phillies Sign Joe Blanton to 3 year Extension, Skeptics Question Amaro
March 17th, 2010 - Cliff Lee Suspended for 5 Games for Throwing at Chris Snyder
March 19th, 2010 - Cliff Lee Strains Lower Abdomen
April 30th, 2010 - Cliff Lee Debuts For Mariners, Throws Seven Scoreless in Loss
June 8th, 2010 - Cliff Lee Posting Absurd Strikeouts per Walk Ratio
July 29th, 2010 - Ruben Amaro Trades Previously Untouchable JA Happ + More for Roy Oswalt
August 20th, 2010 - Tyson Gillies, Received in the Cliff Lee Deal, Arrested for Cocaine Possession
October 6th, 2010 - Roy Halladay Throws 2nd Postseason No-Hitter of All Time
November 1st, 2010 - Cliff Lee Loses Second Straight World Series
November 12th, 2010 - 17 Execs Vote on Where Cliff Lee Will End Up, None Say Philadelphia
November 16th, 2010 - Roy Halladay Wins NL Cy Young Award
December 1st, 2010 - Cliff Lee Declines Rangers Arbitration Offer
December 10th, 2010 - Yankees Formally Offer Cliff Lee 6 Years, $140 Million
December 10th, 2010 - Fake Jon Heyman Twitter Turns World Upside Down With Zack Greinke Rumor
December 11th, 2010 - Rangers Reportedly Offer Cliff Lee "A Menu Of Offers"
December 11th, 2010 - Jon Heyman Unleashes His "mysteryteam" Hashtag on Twitter, Internet Explodes
Yesterday - Out of Nowhere, The Phillies Could Be That Third "Mystery Team"
Yesterday - Phillies Confirmed As Finalists for Cliff Lee, Yankees Nervous
Last Night - Phillies Sign Cliff Lee, Terms Not Officially Disclosed
Now, we know that the deal is officially 5 years and $107.5 million. He could get bought out after the fifth year (at age 37) for the price of $12.5 million or kept for a steep $27.5. So a minimum of $120 mil, max of $135. Wow. Due to a significant uptick in payroll there's no question Amaro will be looking even harder into trading Blanton and Ibanez. Good luck with that.
It's not unheard of for lefties who rely on placement and a variety of pitches to excel past their mid-thirties. Cliff Lee is currently at 1409 Major League innings pitched at age 32. Andy Pettitte, who started his career at age 23 - almost the same age as Lee began, pitched 1875.2 innings during those 8 years. He has gone on to throw 1179.1 in the 6 years since then, and continues to add onto that total. He'll turn 38 in June.
In a list of comparisons by Baseball-Reference based on age and pitching similarity, only Chris Carpenter, Kirk Rueter and John Burkett have had any success after age 32. And even the three of them (save Carpenter who has been hot and cold with injuries) haven't been consistent past that age.
No doubt it's a jarring deal, and a bold one, that may not play out as well as Amaro hopes, especially if Cliff's back continues to act up. But the projection of a Roy Halladay-Cliff Lee-Roy Oswalt-Cole Hamels front four is absolutely insane and way too hard for anyone to pass up. Expect a jack in ticket prices as the Phillies payroll goes up, but another World Series or four would surely do the trick.
Soon I'll write something with the phrase "mortgaging the future" in it, but for now I'm just enjoying the ride. Imagine this rotation...