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Phillies break ground by signing Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez; Cliff Lee's "stiff neck"


The worst thing the Phillies could possibly do after the All-Star break is lay a complete egg against the Mets, Cardinals, and Tigers.


So naturally, that’s exactly what they’re doing.Photo: Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images


The injury bug combined with the team’s core group of aging veterans is just too much for the team to overcome.


So in a surprise move that may or may not be related to the team's decline, the Phillies won the bidding war for Cuban pitcher Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez.  


This is a rather historic moment for the franchise, who NEVER get involved in bids for international players. The 6-year, $60 million dollar deal is the largest contract ever for an player of Gonzalez’s ilk- although it should be noted that the Red Sox paid over than $50 million just to negotiate for pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka back in 2007.


Not much is known about Gonzalez, but he apparently possesses a fastball ranging from 93 to 96 mph. Some sources say Gonzalez needs just a few minor league starts to be ready, while some say he might not be ready until 2014.


With Cliff Lee reportedly on the trading block (more on that in a minute) and Roy Halladay’s future unknown, this deal is interesting for two reasons.


1. After Cole Hamels finishes his disastrous 2013 season, Gonzalez will join him in the rotation (if not sooner and no later than) in 2014. That’s two relatively younger arms manning your staff if Lee is gone (Gonzalez is projected to be a number two-three starter). Of course, Gonzalez could be an ultimate bust, and the whole thing goes belly up, but something tells me the Phillies would do their homework on him before shelling out the money they did.


2. With the Phillies’ prospective television contract coming after 2015, the team needs to continue to be competitive before they technically can buy anybody on the planet. In other words, this team won’t be rebuilding, but rather retooling.


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Now back to Lee, who will miss his next start with a “stiff neck.” To be fair, Lee has given up seven home runs in his last two starts, so there is a possibility he could have some physical issues at this time. However, although sources say it’s a legitimate reason Lee is skipping his start, the addition of Gonzalez could mean the team is looking to add depth or possibly deal Lee for prospects. It’s kind of ironic that virtually every baseball insider is saying the Phillies are getting offers for Lee, and it would be foolish for Ruben Amaro not to listen to the packages teams would propose. Lee's contract is heavy, but personally, if the Phils get the right deal from with a team who will pay some of that salary, Lee could be gone.


This should get interesting.

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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Photo: Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images