Maybe the Blue Jays were asking too much for Roy Halliday… Philadelphia, already building a comfortable lead in the NL East and still the reigning World Series Champions, dealt away four prospects for last year’s AL Cy Young winner, Cliff Lee. Along for the ride is a right-handed hitting outfielder, Ben Francisco. Cleveland gets four ranked prospects, Jason Knapp, Carlos Carrasco, Lou Marson, and Jason Donald.
Philadelphia Gets: A starter who as every bit as good as Roy Halliday, but with a lower price tag. Lee’s salary is about $6 million per year less than Halliday, and he can stay through 2010 because of a club option… Don’t look at Lee’s record – the Indians haven’t done diddly when Lee is on the hill. Check out his control and ERA, which are both solid. Hamels, Lee, Happ, and Moyer (who has been better), with a dose of Joe Blanton makes for a killer rotation down the stretch, and you have two aces at the top for the playoffs. The Phillies have to be the favorite to make the 2009 World Series.
The Phillies also get a decent outfielder in Francisco – someone who can play left or right field (he looks more comfortable in left, though), hits with power and still retains a little speed. He’s certainly an upgrade over John Mayberry, Jr. – who may never be as good as Francisco. And – none of the prospects that Toronto asked for – Kyle Drabek, J.A. Happ, or outfielder Dominic Brown – were part of the deal. Happ has been a god send, and Drabek is frequently cited as the best pitching prospect the Phillies have.
Cleveland Gets: It’s not that Cleveland got NOTHING. They just didn’t get anyone who might immediately help, the way J.A. Happ could obviously step into the rotation and pitch today (or whatever day he was scheduled to pitch).
Jason Knapp was selected #2 in 2008 out of high school. He has a tender shoulder right now, which isn’t a positive and may actually hold up the completion of the deal. As a pitcher, though, Knapp has SERIOUS tools. He throws high 90s, fanned 111 in 95 innings at Lakewood in the SAL. When he arrives in 2011, Knapp could be a #2 starter. Granted, this is early, but this is the kind of prospect you want to see in a trade. Upside and at least a little proven ability.
Carlos Carrasco is a bit further along – learning a new pitch in AAA. The good news is he has good control and decent strikeout numbers. He’s just 22 and yet has had some success in the minors. Right now, I think he translates out to a #4 starter at best, but he could surprise you. He may get to make a few starts in September (or sooner) for Cleveland, and prove to be a positive. The best news is that he has improved his control at each level and that bodes well for him the more he pitches.
Jason Donald is a shortstop who, until this year, had been a decent hitter – mixing a little power with nice patience and a touch of speed. He suffered a knee injury this year, though, and in AAA has struggled to hit .240. In time, he might serve as a potential replacement for Jhonny Peralta should he move to third (where Andy Marte has failed to make an impact). I see Donald as a Rich Aurilia type and could be helpful for a couple of years if he can make one more step up. Donald might move to second, with Asdrubel Cabrera manning short next year, too. Either way, it should be a solid infield.
Lou Marson is a catcher with skills – Scott Bradley with more walks. I thought he might become the Phillies catcher for the next decade. He’s a good contact hitter, has some patience – and has shown improvement at every level. And, he’s just 23. Adding Marson means that Victor Martinez is still (more?) expendable – though you’d like to see someone who can play first base emerge (or, in the case of Travis Hafner, get healthy).
In summary, I like the trade for both teams. Obviously, Philadelphia could be a solid winner not just for 2009, but 2010, and retains three blue chippers. If you are a Cleveland fan, though, you have to feel a bit cheated out of what should have been a tiny dynasty over the last three years. Two aces are gone and a third (Fausto Carmona) fell by the wayside. The Indians SHOULD have been in the playoffs every year since 2007. Someone is to blame for that, and I don’t know who. On the other hand, in the last three days, the Indians have picked up five guys (Jess Todd, in the Mark DeRosa deal) who could be on the major league roster in three years, and four might be on the roster next year.