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Phillies Fans Are Celebrating A Merry Cliffmas

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Last week around this time, the Yankees and Rangers were the clear frontrunners in the Cliff Lee Sweepstakes.  The pressure apparently did nothing to persuade Lee as he decided to leave more money on the table to re-join Philadelphia. The Phillies came out of nowhere to sign him, but that comes as no surprise because their GM, Ruben Amaro Jr., is a man of mystery. The Phillies have a policy against discussing negotiations with players and he often leaves everybody in the dark wondering how the Phillies’ off-season is coming along. No one ever thought Philly was in the running for Lee, but Amaro Jr. knew all along that they had a significant chance of landing the big lefty.  Now, they have the most formidable pitching rotation in baseball with Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels to go along with Lee. Each one of these guys has a shot at winning 15-20 games a year, and they could actually rival the Atlanta Braves’ rotation of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz and Steve Avery.

Although it may be a bit early to make that kind of comparison, they can become one the greatest pitching staff of all-time, only if they remain healthy. Charlie Manuel and Ruben Amaro Jr. on WIP in Philly to talk about whether Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels is the best pitching rotation Charlie Manuel has ever seen, whether the Cliff Lee signing has made them more eager to start spring training, and how tough it is to be a General Manager in baseball having to deal with free agency and pleasing the fans.

Charlie Manuel: Whether Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels is the best pitching rotation Charlie Manuel has ever seen:

“I will tell you that this is the best pitching rotation that I have ever had and it goes down there as one of the better ones in baseball for a long time.”

Charlie Manuel: Whether the Cliff Lee signing has made them more eager to start spring training:

“Yeah, I think today in his press conference he made the statement that he is ready to go, like I am ready too.  I think the sooner the better.  We got quite a bit better today and we have got a tremendous rotation.”

Charlie Manuel: How he found out about Ruben Amaro Jr. was going to go after Cliff Lee:

“When the season was over we talked about it in the office. I remember bringing it up and I think I said something to him, ‘Don’t forget Cliff.’ And he says, ‘Charlie believe me, we will do what we can.  I will definitely watch that.’  When the money started getting big with the Yankees and Texas, I didn’t know that we had a shot or not.  I think Cliff… evidently he showed today how much he liked us and he proved that he wanted to pitch for us.  He let guys know that it was definitely on his mind from the start. He said that today in his conference, which was great.  Our city and our team and our players they are the ones that really kind of won Cliff over and I think of course he did such a great job for us and he is a huge addition to our rotation.”

Charlie Manuel: Whether he is happy having Cliff Lee back on the team and part of the rotation:

“Definitely. I am very excited about that.  I look at our guys and I look at Roy Oswalt and look at Roy Halladay, I look at Hamels and I look at Cliff, you guys might not believe it, a lot of them are similar in a lot of ways as far as they are different characters and they have a different makeup but at the same time they are the same in their professionalism and their determination and their intensity, it is off the charts.  I think one of the biggest things about them is that they are all going to be a tremendous fit. They are going to challenge one another but at the same time they will be sitting in the dugout and they will be talking.  They will be sitting beside one another and they will be talking about pitching and they will be talking about baseball, and if I am wrong you can call me in about five or six months to tell me. I think I am pretty much right.”

Ruben Amaro Jr. : How tough it is to be a General Manager in baseball having to deal with free agency and pleasing the fans:

“Well you know naturally everybody is human.  To a point, sure, but at the same time I have to look at the big picture here and, listen, we are not going to make the right decisions all the time.  We are going to be criticized.  That is the nature of this job.  If you are not tough-skinned enough to handle it you shouldn’t be in this business.  Fortunately for me, I was a terrible player, I got booed all the time.  So I was already for this, ‘Ruben you stink!  Why are you back in Philly?’  Does it bother you?  Sure it does, but everybody is human, but at the same time that is occupational hazard.  You have got to kind of live with it.  Me personally, I just have to know that we are not going to make the right decisions all the time.  It is not going to happen.  We are human beings just like the players.  They are not going to make the pitch all the time, they are not going to get a hit all the time.  This is part of the nature of the beast, so hopefully you make more of the right decisions than the wrong ones.”

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