Why The Cliff Lee Trade Was So Good For The Phillies

Pat EganCorrespondent IJuly 31, 2009

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)

For the first time since the Scott Rolen trade the Phillies were involved in probably the biggest trade at the deadline. But unlike Rolen who was basically given away for Placido Polonco (who turned into Ugeth Urbina...who turned into Rambo) Bud Smith (who is coaching HS baseball now never to pitch a game for the Phillies) Mike Timlin (who booked it for Boston) The Phillies were actually the buyers. And what they bought was well worth the price

Last season the Brewers made a splash. Ironically it was also with the Indians. They traded their top prospects for CC Sabathia and everyone was shocked and said that CC would leave for free agency and the deal would end up favoring Cleveland. What not many people seemed to really notice was why the Brewers were so willing to give up Matt Laporta.

Laporta played both first base, and LF. Well at the time that the Brewers made the trade they had reigning Rookie of the Year in Ryan Braun manning LF and a Prince at firstbase. It appeared that Laporta played two positions that were currently occupied by some of the best young talent in baseball. So the Brewers knew what they were giving up in laporta. But they also knew that to make it with the Brewers Laporta would have to learn another position.

Now the reason this is relevent is because the Phillies did a similar thing on Wednsday when they aquired reiging Cy Young winner Cliff Lee from the Indians. Many are saying this trade was even. and that the players the Phillies gave up are still very good prospects and they are right. They are very good prospects. But lets look at what they gave up and why they gave them up


Carlos Carrasco: A fall from grace was certainly not in the plans for this 22 year old future ace. Remember this guy beat out Kyle Kendrick for the 5th starters spot.....before losing the spot himself to Chan Ho Park. After blowing through the Phillies system he ammased quite the resume on the way. This is a kid that at the age of 21 had already: been in 2 futures games, one of which he started and won. Was named the Phillies top prospect by baseball America twice. And was an all star in Low A, High A, and AA. But then he hit 2009 and he became a pig. Started out terribly.  believe he started out the season 0-6. I talked to a writter at the Philadelphia Daily News who said that his velocity was down and he thought he was destined for surgery. Thats what you want to hear from one of your best pitching prospects. He sort of turned it around but was still very inconsistent. He currently holds a 6-9 record with a 5.18 ERA in 114.2 IP he has 112 K's. His out pitch is his change up. He faces none other then Pedro Martinez tonight in Leigh High Valley.


Lou Marson: Drafted in the 4th round out of HS Marson was slow out of the gate. But like Seabiscuit he surged and at every level he got better. He had his breakout seaosn in 07 where he led the leam in OBP and Average. He was selected to the futures game. Played for Team USA in the Bejing Olympics (in both the Futures Game and the Olympics he started behind Rangers catching prospect Taylor Teagarden) He earned himself a September callup where in his first start he cranked his first career HR. He has a really good chance to be the next great hitting catcher. He started off slow in AAA but quickly got his average up to his normal Lou like numbers of .300. In his first game for Columbus he went 1-3. Personally i dont understand why the Indians really wanted Marson. They already have Carlos Santana in AA and he was rated as one of the best catching prospects in all of minor league baseball. He is currently at AA and was thought of as their catcher of the future when V Mart moves on. (which looks like it should be any min. now to Boston) Santana is currently hitting .280 with 19 HR's and 75 RBIs at AA. Only thing i can think of is that they move Santana to first base have Marson play catcher and Laporta play LF. Who knows. But they did get a very good catcher

Jason Donald: Just like Marson this guy had his breakout year last year. Hell he wasnt even on my radar. But the former 3rd round pick scorched AA pitching last year hit .307 with 14 HR's and 54 RBI's along with 11 SB. And this was as a SS/2B. He was also selected to the futures game where he started. He joined Lou in Beijing for the Olympics and was close to being delt last year at the deadline for lefty reliever Ron Mahay. Good thing we hung onto him. Donald looked like he had a bright future but not with the Phillies. He played 2B/SS and those two positions are occupied so the Phillies sent him to the AFL and moved him to 3B. He hit .400 and his defense at 3rd was a work in progress but when i noticed that he wasnt playing 3rd for the Pigs and was losing that spot to Mike Cervanak and was still playing SS i knew the writing was on the wall. He has struggled greatly this year and was injured for a while with a wrist injury. He has only hit just .236 for the AAA Pigs with 1 HR and 16 RBI's but he went 2-3 in his AAA return from his rehab at the GCL and went 1-3 in his debut with Columbus. Hes still a great prospect who has all star potential

Jason Knapp: The key to the deal was this 2008 Second Round pick. Knapp was only 18 years old and as dominating SAL hitters. At one point he was leading all of minor league baseball in K's. But he remembered he as 18 and began to struggle before being put on the DL. You know how high an organization values another teams prospect when they are willing to trade for him even though he is on the DL. He currently has a 2-7 record (Lakewood had little to no offesne) with a 4.01 ERA and 111 K's in 85.1 IP. Hes got ace like stuff but is a ways way and will probably need TJ before too long but he is a hell of a talent


Now here is where the Laporta story fits in. The reason the Phillies didnt mind giving up Marson are three reasons. The first is Carlos Ruiz. Love him, hate him. He is what he is. He will never be the guy who raked 17 HR's in AAA. He is a .230 hitter with 5 Hr's if your lucky. But what he brings you is the most underrated thing a catcher has. Instincts and defensive ability. Pitchers love the way Chooch calls a game. combine that with his arm strength and the fact that many attributed Brad Lidge's resurgence last year on the fact that very time he threw his slider he was confident that Ruiz was going to catch it. Fact is Ruiz is here to stay.....at least for a few years anyway. There was just no place for Marson. Its not that Chooch was better because i still believe Marson will be the better play. But with the offense the Phillies have they dont mind trading a hitting catcher for a defensive stud. But the reason that trading Marson isnt that big of a deal is the other two reasons. The second reason is in Lakewood and is named Travis D'Arnaud.

He was taken with the supplemental pick the Phils had from the Indians of all teams when they signed David Delluci. He was taken out of Hs and was thought of as a really good defesive catcher whos bat would have to come around. His bat sure did come around last year. Enough for me to pu D'Arnaud in my top 10 prospects list. Last year He hit a combined .305 between Wiliamsport and Lakewood. He hit 6 Hr's with 30 RBI's. This season however started of Mendoza like for Travis. But as of recently he has really been swinging the bat well. He has brought his bat up to .245 with 12 HR's and 56 RBI's with 3 SB. The third Reason is in Williamsport. His name is Sebastian Valle. He was one of the best hitters last season with the GCL Phillies and this season solidified himself as the best catcher in Low Low A. Kid can rake. SO Those are the catchers of the future. Keep an eye on them if your a Phillis fan.


Same pretty much goes for Jason Donald. When the Phils didnt move him to thirdbase it was obvious on what was going to happen. Donald plys second and Short and both of those positions are locked up for the next few years. What made Donald expendable was Jimmy at SS and the fact that the real SS of the future is in Clearwater by the name of Freddy Galvis. Considered major league ready defensivly his bat is another story. At only 19 he is hitting suprisingly well this year. Hes only hitting .230 but hit a cold streak. Before that he was hitting for average.