As the MLB trading deadline approaches, the Philadelphia Phillies have definitely improved its chances to repeating as World Series Champs with its acquisition of Cliff Lee from the Cleveland Indians.
The deal has been in the works ever since the Philadelphia and Toronto have come to a standstill through their negotiations for the trade of Roy Halladay. Philadelphia was just not willing to give up their best blue chip prospects such as Kyle Draebek, Michael Taylor, and Dominic Brown along with 7-1 starter J.A. Happ.
However, Cliff Lee, even though he is not as great a pitcher as Roy Halladay is this season, is definitely a good second option. In fact, Cliff Lee was last year's AL Cy Young Winner, not Halladay. Clearly, Cliff Lee has not been doing as well this year as last year as shown how he posted a ERA of 2.54 when compared to this year's ERA of 3.14. However, his win-loss total of 7-9 is slightly misleading.
As of today, Cliff Lee has started for the Indians 22 times. In 19 out of those 22 starts, Cliff Lee has been great as evidenced when Cliff Lee goes 6.0 innings into a game, he gives up at a maximum of only 3 earned runs. However, for that kind of good pitching in a span of 19 games, Cliff Lee has only seven wins to show for it. What this shows is that Cliff Lee's superb pitching has been wasted because of a lack of run support. If you gave Cliff Lee half of the disputed remaining 12 games, Cliff Lee would have 14 wins right now, which would lead all AL pitchers....including Halladay.
What this trade shows is that the Indians are officially conceding this season in an effort to be a better team next season by gathering as many quality prospects from trade-able pieces as evidenced its trade of 1B Ryan Garko, and the trade of pitching ace Cliff Lee.
Also, catcher Victor Martinez has been rumored to be involved in trade rumors. With this trade, it has marks two consecutive years that Cleveland has traded away an ace with Lee this year and C.C. Sabathia last year.
Even though the Phillies really wanted Roy Halladay badly, at the price that Philadelphia needed to pay for Cliff Lee, I can't complain. Philadelphia virtually got Cliff Lee, a slightly worse pitcher than Halladay, at a vastly lower price. Philadelphia actually got to keep J.A. Happ, Kyle Draebek, and both their blue chip prospects outfielders, giving up some mid-level prospects for Lee.
For Philly, this was a huge win in that the acquisition of Cliff Lee not only gives them an ace to put alongside Cole Hamels at the top of the rotation, but also puts the Phillies as if not the team to beat, the second best team in the National League only to the Dodgers.
Also, it fills the Phillies' pitching need which was evident when Brett Myers went down with an injury earlier in the season. This trade also keeps the Phillies prepared for the future as if Kyle Draebek becomes as advertised a future ace, the Phillies would have a strong starting rotation of Lee, Hamels, Happ, and Draebek.
If everything goes according to the plan, the Phillies should be contenders to win the World Series for the next several years.