Update: Cliff Lee has reportedly agreed to a contract with the Phillies.
If the Phillies somehow manage to land Cliff Lee, they would undoubtedly have one of, if not the greatest pitching rotation in baseball history. Just imagine the Pirates having to face Lee, Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt in a three-game series. Pittsburgh would be lucky to score a run.
I personally believe the Giants have had the best pitching staff the last couple years, and this season, they proved me correct. Not only did the Giants' pitchers post one of the lowest September team ERAs of all time, Tim Lincecum and Co. went head-to-head with some of the best pitchers in baseball (Lee, Halladay and Oswalt) and beat them. In the playoffs.
But if San Francisco had to face Lee followed by Halladay followed by Oswalt followed by Hamels (Hamels would be the ace pitcher for quite a few MLB teams), I don't see how the the Giants could stand a chance.
You can make the argument that if the Yankees were to sign Lee, it would be even worse for baseball than if Lee rejoined the Phillies. However, the Yankees are already a near lock for either the AL East or AL wild-card crown, so just one more ace on their team wouldn't matter too much in the long run.
The National League, on the other hand, still has the possibility of being somewhat competitive next year. In the NL West, pretty much every team has a chance to win the division. In the Central, the Reds and Cardinals look about even and in the East, well... you can pretty much count on the Phillies having the edge, regardless of where Lee signs.
Lee joining the Phillies would put them on a whole different level than anyone else in the National League. In reality, only the AL East's Red Sox and Yankees would even have the talent level to compete with Philadelphia.
There is no denying how good Cliff Lee is. Let's face it, the Rangers were not good enough to make it to the World Series this year without him. He is already of the best playoff pitchers in the history of the sport and is worth every penny that he will be signed for. Of course, that is only if you believe that the average MLB player deserves to be paid $3 million a year.
Adding Lee to an already outstanding rotation is like adding insult to injury for any NL East opponents. How exactly can the Marlins compete with the payroll of the Phillies? Adding Lee to the Yankees rotation will at least make the Yankees-Red Sox games even better.
The best case scenario is that Lee stays with Texas. Angels fans will not be too happy, but there will at least be a little more parity in the American League. Most of all, it will keep the optimism level of Mets fans up, if only for a few months.