Note to Phillies fans and media: We got Roy Oswalt, so enough about Cliff Lee

Phillies fans are never happy unless they are miserable. Trust me, I am one, so I have firsthand knowledge. We love … live … to complain about our sports teams, and that goes double for a franchise that, until the last few years, was an absolute laughingstock in its sport. We wear 10,000 losses (and counting) like a badge of honor. Winning? It’s almost like we still haven’t properly figured out what that’s supposed to feel like.

He's not in Philly anymore --  get over it.
He’s not in Philly anymore — get over it.

So with that, Phillies fans — and media, please we’ll get to the media in a second — must find something to complain about in order to feel properly balanced while rooting for our favorite team. But what’s to complain about when your team has won three straight division titles and has gone to two consecutive World Series, winning one?

Honestly, Phillies fans … what is there to complain about? Oh, right, Cliff Lee. When all else fails, complain about the one that got away.

The Phillies traded some of their top prospects – yet held on to the very top guys in the system – to acquire Cliff Lee in the middle of the 2009 season. He immediately became a hero in Philly, carrying the hopes and dreams of millions of Phillies fans on his left arm (it’s a wonder he could even throw). In the offseason, Ruben Amaro felt the negotiations to extend Lee’s contract were going nowhere and saw a chance to get Roy Halladay, the pitcher Amaro really wanted all along when he had traded for Lee during the season.

Feeling that the Phillies couldn’t afford both Cy Young pitchers, Amaro traded Lee for moderate prospects and gave up some of his top farm hands – though not the heavily-coveted Domonic Brown – to get Halladay. Could the Phillies have kept Lee and gotten Halladay? Probably. No, not probably. Certainly. They certainly could have done that, but they felt it was too much money to spend and had erroneously locked up way too much money in Jamie Moyer and, to a lesser extent Joe Blanton, to make keeping both aces financially viable.

It’s been seven months and Amaro officially realized that he was wrong. While he couldn’t get Lee back from the Mariners and he wasn’t able to get Dan Haren away from the Diamondbacks, Amaro did the absolute next-best thing. He fleeced the Astros for the service of Roy Oswalt – this deal is an absolute robbery – without giving up any of his top prospects in the minors and getting back $11 million dollars to help defray the cost of Oswalt over the next two years.

Amaro is, in essence, getting a year and a half of Oswalt at half price and gave up his fourth starter in J.A. Happ – a solid pitcher who is already in his late 20s and likely won’t be anything more than a good third or fourth option in any rotation – as well as a speedy center field prospect who can’t really hit and a Class-A project at shortstop who has over 100 strikeouts and 42 errors in less than 100 games this season.

An absolute robbery. Yet still, if you read the message boards and comments on local news websites (note: I strongly suggest you do not do either of those things), all you hear about is "Cliff Lee Cliff Lee Cliff Lee." The Phillies just traded for, nay stole, one of the best pitchers in the National League over the last half decade – admittedly a pitcher with a bad back, but one that hasn’t really kept him out of the lineup and, while in his 30s, is still younger than Halladay – and still people can’t let this Cliff Lee thing go.

Paul Hagen of the Philadelphia Daily News has a column titled: Phils should have just kept Cliff Lee. Here’s his lede:

IT’S ALL RIGHT to be unhappy with the trade that sent Cliff Lee packing last December. There were good, sound arguments for pairing him with Roy Halladay at the top of the Phillies rotation and going all in to try to win a second world championship in 3 years.

Why not just submit a column that starts: I couldn’t think of anything else to write, so I’m going to look back in my archives and whine about something I already whined about six times in the last seven months.

Let it go, Paul. Let it go, Sal Paolantonio, who was on Philadelphia radio hosting a show when the deal went down and said that the Oswalt trade finally "washes away the stain" of trading Cliff Lee. Let it go, Jayson Stark – probably the most respected and beloved Phillies reporter in recent memory – who went on ESPN and joked about what it would be like if the Phillies had Halladay, Oswalt, Cole Hamels and Lee. He knows that would be impossible, but he said it because he knew some crazy fan in Philly would hear it and call into talk radio to complain about why that didn’t happen.

For full disclosure, it wasn’t just the Philly media who were on this angle. FOX’s Ken Rosenthal gave us his "shoulda been you, Cliff" take on the trade. MLB Network dedicated an entire segment to the Lee angle just minutes after the Oswalt trade was official. Already sick of hearing about it, I changed the channel. Even Stan McNeal falls back on the "what if" argument. Rumor has it they actually dragged out an equine carcass, draped Lee’s old Phils jersey on top of it and passed around a Louisville Slugger, taking whacks until everyone on the set felt properly satiated. It’s just a rumor.

Complaining about the Phillies losing Lee the day they gained Oswalt is like complaining the franchise traded Ryne Sandberg the day they drafted Chase Utley. Let it go. Lee is a great pitcher, and it would be great to still have him. Clearly Amaro knows that. So what do those who perpetually bring up Lee want him to do? Would it help to have him go on the public address at Citizens Bank Park and apologize? How about a press conference in front of the Liberty Bell where he can publicly admit he was wrong? Maybe he can wear a Phanatic costume and we can all throw baseballs at him with Lee’s face stamped between the seams.

How about this? How about Amaro rectifies the Lee situation by getting one of the top arms available this year – another bona fide ace go to with Halladay – without leveraging the future very much at all. How about with all the injuries the Phillies have had this season – more than 130 games missed from their starting infield alone – Amaro has produced a team that’s just 2 1/2 games out of first place in the division, 1 1/2 in the wild card. And that’s before Oswalt has even stepped on the mound in a Phillies uniform, which will happen tonight in Washington.

"Oh, but it should have been Cliff Lee pitching tonight …" Shut up and go away. You can come back if there’s another parade. That way, we won’t be able to hear you complaining over the high fives and confetti.

You can read/listen to more from Dan Levy at OntheDLpodcast.com and follow him on Twitter @onthedlpodcast

Phillies fans are never happy unless they are miserable. Trust me, I am one, so I have firsthand knowledge. We love … live … to complain about our sports teams, and that goes double for a franchise that, until the last few years, was an absolute laughingstock in its sport. We wear 10,000 losses (and counting) like a badge of honor. Winning? It’s almost like we still haven’t properly figured out what that’s supposed to feel like.

He's not in Philly anymore --  get over it.
He’s not in Philly anymore — get over it.

So with that, Phillies fans — and media, please we’ll get to the media in a second — must find something to complain about in order to feel properly balanced while rooting for our favorite team. But what’s to complain about when your team has won three straight division titles and has gone to two consecutive World Series, winning one?

Honestly, Phillies fans … what is there to complain about? Oh, right, Cliff Lee. When all else fails, complain about the one that got away.

The Phillies traded some of their top prospects – yet held on to the very top guys in the system – to acquire Cliff Lee in the middle of the 2009 season. He immediately became a hero in Philly, carrying the hopes and dreams of millions of Phillies fans on his left arm (it’s a wonder he could even throw). In the offseason, Ruben Amaro felt the negotiations to extend Lee’s contract were going nowhere and saw a chance to get Roy Halladay, the pitcher Amaro really wanted all along when he had traded for Lee during the season.

Feeling that the Phillies couldn’t afford both Cy Young pitchers, Amaro traded Lee for moderate prospects and gave up some of his top farm hands – though not the heavily-coveted Domonic Brown – to get Halladay. Could the Phillies have kept Lee and gotten Halladay? Probably. No, not probably. Certainly. They certainly could have done that, but they felt it was too much money to spend and had erroneously locked up way too much money in Jamie Moyer and, to a lesser extent Joe Blanton, to make keeping both aces financially viable.

It’s been seven months and Amaro officially realized that he was wrong. While he couldn’t get Lee back from the Mariners and he wasn’t able to get Dan Haren away from the Diamondbacks, Amaro did the absolute next-best thing. He fleeced the Astros for the service of Roy Oswalt – this deal is an absolute robbery – without giving up any of his top prospects in the minors and getting back $11 million dollars to help defray the cost of Oswalt over the next two years.

Amaro is, in essence, getting a year and a half of Oswalt at half price and gave up his fourth starter in J.A. Happ – a solid pitcher who is already in his late 20s and likely won’t be anything more than a good third or fourth option in any rotation – as well as a speedy center field prospect who can’t really hit and a Class-A project at shortstop who has over 100 strikeouts and 42 errors in less than 100 games this season.

An absolute robbery. Yet still, if you read the message boards and comments on local news websites (note: I strongly suggest you do not do either of those things), all you hear about is "Cliff Lee Cliff Lee Cliff Lee." The Phillies just traded for, nay stole, one of the best pitchers in the National League over the last half decade – admittedly a pitcher with a bad back, but one that hasn’t really kept him out of the lineup and, while in his 30s, is still younger than Halladay – and still people can’t let this Cliff Lee thing go.

Paul Hagen of the Philadelphia Daily News has a column titled: Phils should have just kept Cliff Lee. Here’s his lede:

IT’S ALL RIGHT to be unhappy with the trade that sent Cliff Lee packing last December. There were good, sound arguments for pairing him with Roy Halladay at the top of the Phillies rotation and going all in to try to win a second world championship in 3 years.

Why not just submit a column that starts: I couldn’t think of anything else to write, so I’m going to look back in my archives and whine about something I already whined about six times in the last seven months.

Let it go, Paul. Let it go, Sal Paolantonio, who was on Philadelphia radio hosting a show when the deal went down and said that the Oswalt trade finally "washes away the stain" of trading Cliff Lee. Let it go, Jayson Stark – probably the most respected and beloved Phillies reporter in recent memory – who went on ESPN and joked about what it would be like if the Phillies had Halladay, Oswalt, Cole Hamels and Lee. He knows that would be impossible, but he said it because he knew some crazy fan in Philly would hear it and call into talk radio to complain about why that didn’t happen.

For full disclosure, it wasn’t just the Philly media who were on this angle. FOX’s Ken Rosenthal gave us his "shoulda been you, Cliff" take on the trade. MLB Network dedicated an entire segment to the Lee angle just minutes after the Oswalt trade was official. Already sick of hearing about it, I changed the channel. Even Stan McNeal falls back on the "what if" argument. Rumor has it they actually dragged out an equine carcass, draped Lee’s old Phils jersey on top of it and passed around a Louisville Slugger, taking whacks until everyone on the set felt properly satiated. It’s just a rumor.

Complaining about the Phillies losing Lee the day they gained Oswalt is like complaining the franchise traded Ryne Sandberg the day they drafted Chase Utley. Let it go. Lee is a great pitcher, and it would be great to still have him. Clearly Amaro knows that. So what do those who perpetually bring up Lee want him to do? Would it help to have him go on the public address at Citizens Bank Park and apologize? How about a press conference in front of the Liberty Bell where he can publicly admit he was wrong? Maybe he can wear a Phanatic costume and we can all throw baseballs at him with Lee’s face stamped between the seams.

How about this? How about Amaro rectifies the Lee situation by getting one of the top arms available this year – another bona fide ace go to with Halladay – without leveraging the future very much at all. How about with all the injuries the Phillies have had this season – more than 130 games missed from their starting infield alone – Amaro has produced a team that’s just 2 1/2 games out of first place in the division, 1 1/2 in the wild card. And that’s before Oswalt has even stepped on the mound in a Phillies uniform, which will happen tonight in Washington.

"Oh, but it should have been Cliff Lee pitching tonight …" Shut up and go away. You can come back if there’s another parade. That way, we won’t be able to hear you complaining over the high fives and confetti.

You can read/listen to more from Dan Levy at OntheDLpodcast.com and follow him on Twitter @onthedlpodcast

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