Did the Phillies really NEED to sign Cliff Lee?

If Twitter is an indication, all of Philadelphia is agog over Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro swooping in to get Cliff Lee(notes) while leaving the Yankees and Rangers in the cold.

Reaction has been likewise around the blogosphere at the "mystery team" coming away with Lee: It's like the Phillies might as well start printing World Series tickets.

And why not? They already have Roy Halladay(notes), Roy Oswalt(notes) and Cole Hamels(notes); three starting pitchers of top quality.

But do the Phillies need a fourth ace? Do they really need Cliff Lee?

I'm not trying to poop the party or throw a wet blanket over the Phanatic, but let's just slow down a second, here.

Lee's price tag — up to $135 million over six years — wasn't quite what the Yankees offered, but it's still a big ol' stack of dimes. Lee might be the coolest customer on any big league mound, but couldn't the $20 million-plus the Phillies are spending on him in 2011 be better allocated elsewhere on the roster?

Like, for example, the offense?

Yes, it finished second in the NL in runs scored in 2010. But what have you done for me lately? Consider, as Amaro (right) surely has:

Jayson Werth(notes), the team's most productive player in '10, left town with his beard.

• Raul Ibañez is a year older (so is Placido Polanco(notes)), just like the rest of us.

Jimmy Rollins(notes) has been in a slump for two years.

Chase Utley(notes) slumped this past season and seems perpetually banged up.

• The returns on slugger Ryan Howard(notes) have been diminishing.

• Rookie outfielder Domonic Brown(notes) might not be ready to rule the world.

• I happen to like the bullpen, but it probably could use one more steady arm.

The rotation looks ... obscene, no matter whom manager Charlie Manuel and coach Rich Dubee peg to be the fifth starter. With Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels already making a combined 100 starts or so, just how much better are the Phillies with Lee — with anyone — in the mix?

How does the song go? "Blue on black, tears on a river, a push on a shove — it don't mean much." It might just be overkill.

The Atlanta Braves rotation of 1997 — with Greg Maddux(notes), Tom Glavine(notes), John Smoltz(notes) and Denny Neagle — is probably most comparable to what the Phillies are doing. With that pitching, the Braves won 101 games and the first round of the playoffs, but lost in the NLCS to the Marlins. Philly achieved that much in 2010 without a fourth ace.

Phillies fans probably feel like little kids on Christmas morning after Santa left behind the mother lode. But what are you going to do with two new bikes? Or two Millennium Falcons? Or two Donkey Kong games?

They look great on paper. I'm just not sure Philly is closer to another World Series title today.

Follow Dave on Twitter — @AnswerDave

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