I went through a range of emotions last night when I heard Cliff Lee signed with the Phillies.
Well actually thats a lie. It was right after the Ravens won their game, so I was pretty happy, and I was outside in the snow waiting for the bus, which was pretty peaceful, so I actually wasn't upset at all.
When I woke up this morning and turned on Sports Center, I then fully realized what had transpired, but I still wasn't that upset. In the long run, this may not be too terrible for the Mets, but more on that later. What this signing shows is the Phillies know they really are in a “win now” situation and they also know how precious, and irreplaceable championships are. The evidence for this claim is their money is now wrapped in up two long deals for pitchers nearing their mid-30's (although they are aces) and wrapped up in a few position players. For them to make any free agent moves in the future they will have to blow up their budget (become the Yankees of the East) and their farm system has been devastated. They know that the only way to make this worth is they need to maximize their possibility of another championship this year and next year, and they probably did that with the Cliff Lee signing. They have a very good shot to win the World Series next year, a decent shot the following year and after that, things start to fall apart. It's ok though, because they understand once you win, no one can ever take it away from you.
Essentially, what we see here is the cost and benefits analysis of a team “guaranteeing” one World Championship for the ability to have a good shot at the postseason each year for the next decade. Once this team starts to age (2 seasons) there will be little they can do about it financially, so they have to make it worth it now.
Of course the other side of the coin, the more patient, misunderstood, mature side, is to set up a team that can make moves every season and compete every season. This is what the Red Sox did, up until this year (think 2003-2008 or 9) and this is what the Mets hope to do.
The Phillies will now have great expectations and a target on their back next season. While with that rotation they will probably blow the division away, they will need to live up to the hype in order to make it all worth it. They will probably live up to the hype, as we seen in the last few seasons.
In the long run, this is good for the Mets. As long as the Mets play the next several seasons smart with evaluating talent, making trades and talent, this sets the Mets up (and sadly the Braves as well) to swap with the Phillies in 3 years. But to truly get an idea of what that would take, I would have to make some strong predictions about what the Mets will do, and I honestly cannot do that at this time.