Philadelphia Phillies: Cliff Lee and 6 Best Trade Deadline Deals in Team History

Joe IannelloAnalyst IIIJuly 24, 2011

Philadelphia Phillies: Cliff Lee and 6 Best Trade Deadline Deals in Team History

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    The trade deadline is fast approaching and rumors have been swirling by the minute. GM Ruben Amaro of the Philadelphia Phillies has made quite a name for himself since taking over the reigns from Hall of Fame Inductee Pat Gillick in 2009.

    Amaro has acquired some of the biggest and best names in baseball at the trade deadline in the past three seasons, and many rival executives expect the same in 2011. Amaro has gone on the record many times this season stating that the Phillies will not be "making any major moves this season." 

    That statement obviously needs to be taken with a grain of salt, as numerous reports have the Phillies in pursuit of Carlos Beltran and Hunter Pence to name a few.

    This Philadelphia Phillies team may be the greatest roster ever assembled on paper in team history, and it seems almost a certainty that Ruben Amaro will make a huge splash again at the trade deadline.

    After all, the signs around Citizens Bank Park that say, "In Ruben We Trust" are not in reference to CSNPhilly.com's Ruben Frank. You can be assured that some of the most recent trade deadline acquisitions by Amaro will be on this list, but who else will make the cut?

    Here is a look back at the six best trade deadline deals in Philadelphia Phillies team history.

6. Bobby Abreu Trade, July 30, 2006

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    GM Pat Gillick made a major move in his first season at the helm of the Philadelphia Phillies.

    He traded long-time fan favorite Bobby Abreu to the New York Yankees along with Cory Lidle. The move was clearly a salary dump as the Phillies received what many considered to be four "marginal" prospects at best.

    The Phillies received shortstop C.J. Henry, reliever Matt Smith, catcher Jesus Sanchez and right-hander Carlos Monasterios. You may be sitting there thinking, "Who the heck are those guys?"

    The deal was interesting in that the Phillies had to pay Abreu $1.5 million just to waive his no-trade clause and accepting the condition that the Yankees were not obligated to pick up his option for 2008.

    If you want some perspective on how much money the Phillies saved on a former Gold Glove winner that wouldn't dive for a ball, Abreu was making $13.5 million in 2006 and $15.5 million in 2007. Also, he had a club option for $16 million in 2008 with a $2 million buyout.

    The real reward in this trade was that it allowed for financial flexibility for the Phillies. The Phillies have had great success since this trade was made, so would the Phillies still have had the same success with Abreu on their team?

    Since the trade, they have won four consecutive NL East pennants, appeared in back-to-back World Series and of course won the 2008 World Series.

    Even Pat Gillick couldn't have predicted how quickly this team would win. Remember after the Abreu trade when he stated, "We won't contend next year."

5. The Arrival of Joe Blanton, July 17, 2008

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    The Philadelphia Phillies acquired Joe Blanton at the trade deadline in 2008, and even though he's called "Fat Joe," this move was seen as a small one when it was made.

    Before Phillies fans became spoiled with acquisitions like Halladay, Lee and Oswalt, they were used to marginal moves like Turk Wendell or Joe Blanton. 

    You can't exactly blame Philly Nation for not throwing a parade for a guy that was 5-12 with a 4.96 ERA when he was acquired. But Blanton was a big piece in the puzzle that brought Philadelphia their first world championship of any major sport in 25 years, and that is why he finds a spot on this list.

    Blanton went 4-0 with the Phillies during the 2008 regular season and 2-0 in the playoffs. He will live in Phillies infamy forever after clubbing a home run in the World Series against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and earning the decision.

    Now, if only we could take back re-signing him to a three-year deal worth $24 million.

4. Bring in the Baker, June 15, 1977

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    The Phillies acquired Bake "Shake n' Bake" McBride and pitcher Steve Waterbury from the St. Louis Cardinals for three players. If you're wondering who Steve Waterbury is, it's probably because he never played a game in the majors for the Phillies.

    Bake Mcbride on the other hand, played a huge role on the 1980 Philadelphia Phillies that won the World Series, and that has earned him a spot on this list.

    Bake was a terrific leadoff hitter who had excellent speed and did not strike out much. He also was a very good right fielder with good range and accurate arm.

    His role on the 1980 World Series championship team can not be overlooked as he hit .309 with nine HR and 87 RBI during the regular season and .304 with a homer and five RBI in the World Series.

    "Shake n' Bake" was a great trade deadline acquisition whose value wasn't truly appreciated until years after the deal was made.

3. H20 Is Born, July 29, 2010

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    Consider this. When Oswalt was traded to the Phillies at the deadline last season, he looked like the Oswalt of old and went 7-1 with a 1.74 ERA in 13 games with the Phillies.

    Clearly, pitching for a contender and in front of the Philly faithful brought Roy's game to another level.

    The Phillies won 10 of the 11 games Oswalt started for them before they clinched the NL East title, and they won the NL East by six games.

    The Phillies won two of Oswalt's three postseason starts, and the Phillies lost Game 6 of the NLCS despite the fact that Oswalt allowed only one run in six innings.

    Oswalt was arguably the Phillies' best pitcher in their playoff series against the San Francisco Giants as he posted a 1.84 ERA in three games.

    Ed Wade finally made Phillies fans smile when he not only traded Roy Oswalt, but he also sent $11 million to the Phillies in return. The Phillies received a pitcher in Oswalt who owns a .643 career winning percentage which ranks fifth among active pitchers in MLB.

    The Phillies traded J.A. Happ and two prospects for Oswalt and cash.

    Now, if Oswalt can stay healthy and give Philadelphia back the "Four Aces," than we can have the "Vanimal and the Four Horsemen" instead of Fat Joe and the Terror Squad.

2. Dick Ruthven, June 15, 1978

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    The Dick Ruthven trade deadline deal may be another acquisition that was not fully appreciated until years later. The Phillies felt that they could trade reliever Gene Garber to the Atlanta Braves because of the emergence of Tug McGraw in their bullpen.

    Ruthven was a key cog in the Phillies starting rotation in 1980 as he went 17-10 with a 3.55 ERA. He also logged over 220 innings and made 33 starts.

    In the playoffs, he earned the win in Game 5 of the legendary NLCS series against the Houston Astros. Many still consider that NLCS to be one of the greatest playoff series in baseball history.

1. The Yankee-Killer Cliff Lee, July 29, 2009

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    Rumors swirled for weeks at the proposition of the Philadelphia Phillies acquiring Roy Halladay, but the club certainly wasn't disapointed when they received the 2008 AL Cy Young Winner Cliff Lee instead.

    The Phillies realized that Cole Hamels was not the same pitcher he was from 2008, and they needed a legitimate No. 1 at the top of their rotation if they had any shot of repeating their 2008 World Series Championship. 

    Ruben Amaro worked out a deal to acquire Lee and outfielder Ben Francisco for Jason Donald, catcher Lou Marson and minor league pitchers Carlos Carrasco and Jason Knapp. What ensued was one of the best love stories in Philadelphia sports history.

    In 2009 with the Phillies, Lee went 7-4 with a 3.39 ERA in 12 starts while racking up an impressive 79.2 IP. Oh yeah, he had 74 K's to just 10 BB's.

    Lee was the extra help that the Phillies needed to get back to the World Series for the second consecutive year. In the playoffs, Lee posted a ridiculous 4-0 record in five starts, had two complete games and an ERA of 1.56.

    In five playoff games started, he pitched 40.1 innings, allowed just 27 hits and seven earned runs. So, for all of the Phillies (and Ruben Amaro) naysayers who claimed that the Phillies haven't won anything with Cliff Lee, iit could be strongly argued that the Phillies would not have even made it back to the World Series without the Lee acquisition.

    Lee was quite simply their best player on the biggest of stages. The way he handled himself (and the Yankees lineup) has forever endeared himself to the Philadelphia Phaithful.

    Whether it was the nonchalant, no-look catch of a popup, the behind-the-back snag of a line drive, the utter dominance Lee displayed in the biggest of stages against sports' most storied franchise or all of the above.

    He will forever be a fan favorite in the City of Brotherly Love

    Cliff Lee has all of the qualities that the fans of Philadelphia love. He simply is Philadelphia.

    Thank goodness Ruben Amaro and Co. swallowed their pride and brought back the guy who never should have been traded in the first place in Cliff Lee.