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The Phillies already had an outstanding rotation before stunning the baseball world with the acquisition of Lee last December. Lee helped Philadelphia reach the 2009 World Series after coming over in a midseason trade with Cleveland only to be dealt to Seattle on the same day the Phillies acquired Halladay from Toronto in December 2010. Lee was later traded to Texas and helped the Rangers win their first AL pennant before hitting the free-agent market.

The New York Yankees and Rangers were considered the front-runners for Lee’s services, but the Phillies slipped in and gave him a $120 million, five-year contract. Lee turned down more than $30 million more from the Yankees to return to Philadelphia.

“I felt like this was the best chance to win world championships. That’s what it’s all about,” Lee said. “Obviously, I played here in the past and enjoyed myself here and thought we had a really good team at that time. Since then, they’ve made a couple of additions that I think have made the team that much better. I felt like if I ever got an opportunity to come back and be a part of what’s going on here, I would take advantage of it, and that’s why.”

The personal accomplishments and accolades are nice. But the primary goal for everyone is winning a ring. Hamels was the staff ace and Blanton was the fourth starter when the Phillies won the franchise’s second World Series title three years ago.

Lee has been on the losing end of the World Series two straight years. Oswalt came close with Houston in 2005. Halladay had his first taste of the postseason last year when the Phillies lost to the eventual-champion San Francisco Giants in six games in the NLCS.

“A lot of us are to the point in our career where you feel like the biggest thing left for you to do is win a championship, whether you’ve already done it or you haven’t,” Halladay said. “That was my only goal going into last year was to try and win a World Series. So, coming close and coming up short is definitely hard. It’s disappointing. That’s why I still want to play this game. I want to be part of a world championship team.”

For the record, Hamels has the highest career batting average among the starters. He’s hitting .160 (50-312). Oswalt is right behind him at .157 (96-613). Lee has the most postseason hits with four.