Cliff Lee Deal Good for Phils (but Halladay Would Be Even Better)
Fox Sports is reporting that the Phillies have traded for Cleveland ace Cliff Lee. I’d be more comfortable if Jayson Stark broke the news, but he’s clearly asleep on the job. All my calls to the dugout and clubhouse in Allentown have gone unanswered, so we’re going with Ken Rosenthal. The Phillies give up Jason Donald, Lou Marson (nothing & nothing) along with Carlos Carrasco and Jason Knapp. Knapp by far has the most upside of any of these prospects in my opinion (What Would Mel Kiper Jr. Say?).
What they Gave Up:
Lou Marson is a young catcher, and he could theoretically be a nice piece on a major league club down the road, but we’re not talking about Joe Mauer here. We could very well be talking about Carlos Ruiz, so as tough as it is to give up catchers, no real harm here. The Phils are so deep offensively they can get away with a solid defensive guy behind the old dish.
Jason Donald is old for a prospect. He’ll be 25 in a month, and the Phillies have no place to put him. If you assume you are going to have J-Roll for a few more years, what are you going to do, groom Donald until he’s 28? This is a no-brainer.
Carlos Carassco was the hottest pitcher in the Phillies system for a while, but he’s struggled at AAA some. Granted, he’s not on a great team up there, but some of their pitchers like Drew Carpenter have had great success despite the less than dynamic offense. I’ve heard a lot of raves about Carassco’s stuff, but he’s never blown me away. I don’t see him being a top of the rotation guy. Maybe a poor man’s Carlos Silva.
Jason Knapp is a very young power pitcher with a high ceiling. He’s been erratic in Low-A ball this year, but he holds opponents to a .200 batting average and has 111 K’s in 85 innings. That’s some serious sh*t. Knapp projects to be the real deal, but he’s 20. Anything can happen.
What the Phillies Get:
Cliff Lee is a polished, experienced guy that should do extremely well in the National League. He’ll get plenty of run support, and I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if he’s the Phillies best pitcher from here until the end of the season. He seems less of a proven commodity than Halladay, though, and not quite as dynamic. The Phils also get right hand hitting Ben Francisco. Couldn’t pick him out of a two-man lineup.
What it Means:
The Phillies edge closer to being prohibitive favorites in the National League. A playoff rotation of Lee, Hamels, Blanton and Happ seems formidable against possible NL foes. They should cruise to the NL East crown, and will have time to get their bullpen sorted out in September.
What it Doesn’t Mean:
The Phillies aren’t striking fear in the hearts of the Yankees with this deal. They’re being aggressive, but safe. They’ve gone out and gotten a frontline starter, but they haven’t given up the farm. I like the deal, but once you taste Halladay, it’s hard to go back to ground chuck, if you know what I mean. The deal also doesn’t address the aforementioned bullpen, which remains basically in tatters.
I like the deal as a separate entity from acquiring Halladay. I think the Phils gave up guys they could afford to give up, and made their team better. I will be anxious to see how Lee fares under this spotlight and the pressure of the postseason. Despite Halladay’s lack of postseason experience I have no doubt he’d step up. With Lee, I’m not 100 percent sold.
An added bonus: I can start referring to him as Clifford Lee, much like how Peter Gammons inexplicably called Cliff Floyd Clifford Floyd for the first several years of his career.
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