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With the Farm Still Intact After Cliff Lee Deal, Phillies' Repeat Hopes Grow

NEW YORK - APRIL 16:  Cliff Lee #31 of the Cleveland Indians pitches against the New York Yankees during opening day at the new Yankee Stadium on April 16, 2009 in the Bronx borough of New York City. This is the first regular season MLB game being played at the new venue which replaced the old Yankee Stadium as the Yankees home field.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
C KSenior Analyst IJuly 29, 2009

For nearly three weeks, Roy Halladay was the presumed starting pitcher the Philadelphia Phillies would acquire at the trading deadline.

Yet the Toronto Blue Jays' overwhelming asking price became too much, as the Phillies were unwilling to give up their top two prospects, Kyle Drabek and Dominic Brown. The Phillies were also unwilling to give up current starter J.A. Happ.

Happ lost his first start last Friday since his major league debut, which ran across a span of 32 appearances.

But less than one hour ago, it was reported that the Phillies have moved on from the Halladay sweepstakes and traded for Cleveland Indians pitcher Cliff Lee.

Lee, who won the Cy Young Award for the American League last season, has a 7-9 record this season with a 3.14 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP.

The Phillies also acquired outfielder Ben Francisco, who is a right-handed bat the Phillies will be able to bring off the bench when needed.

Moving to Cleveland are pitching prospects Jason Knapp and Carlos Carrasco, catcher Lou Marson, and infielder Jason Donald.

Knapp, a second-round pick in 2008, has the highest potential of any of the four. At 18 years old, Knapp is not ready to be moved to the majors, but has a few years to improve.

He is 6'5", 240 pounds, and throws a menacing 98 MPH.

Carrasco's hype has died down after his disappointing showing in the minors this season, yet he remains a top pitching prospect. He was overtaken by Kyle Drabek as the Phillies' No. 1 minor leaguer this season.

Marson has played very well in the minors this season and is likely going to be a solid catcher in the majors. His short time with the Phillies this season was not impressive, yet he returned to the minors soon after and continued his great play.

Marson was expendable due to the fact that the Phillies' Single-A catching prospect, Travis D’Arnaud, appears to have more potential. Marson is much further along than D'Arnaud, and with Carlos Ruiz as the apparent Phillies catcher for the next few seasons, D'Arnaud is a better fit.

Donald was a highly touted infielder coming into spring training, yet with Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins already occupying the middle infield, he has no place on the team. His trade value wouldn't have been higher than now, and the Phillies have zero use for him in the future.

The Phillies addressed two of their most gaping holes by acquiring a No. 1 pitcher and a right-handed bat off the bench, while the Indians acquired four high-potential prospects, all of which except for Knapp will be major league-ready in 2010.

Both teams saw improvements, and neither hurt the state of its chances of winning in the near future.

Marson and Donald were very expendable for the Phillies, and Carrasco was the pitcher the Phillies were most looking to use in a trade.

Knapp is an extremely talented pitcher, and the Phillies would have loved to keep him. But if you want the best, you need to give the best (or close to it).

Many Phillies fans will be left unhappy, as they were drooling at the fact of having a Cole Hamels/Halladay combination at the top of the rotation. But in all honesty, the difference in price between Halladay and Lee was too large.

Acquiring Halladay would have meant giving up Drabek, Happ, Brown, either Michael Taylor or Marson, and possibly even Knapp. The fact that none of Drabek, Happ, Brown, or Taylor was dealt to the Indians shows how extreme the price for Halladay was.

The future for the Phillies is not hit as hard as a trade with Toronto would have been, and the current team improves nearly as much as it would have with Halladay.

More to come as more information becomes available.

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