Come To Think of It: Phillies Look Like Clear Winners in Cliff Lee Trade

Bob Warja@@bobwarjaSenior Writer IJuly 29, 2009

As I'm sure you've heard by now, the Philadelphia Phillies and Cleveland Indians have agreed to a trade that will send 2008 Cy Young award winner Cliff Lee to the Phillies for four minor leaguers, ESPN.com's Jason Stark is reporting.

According to Stark, league sources are saying that the deal is pending physical exams.

In Lee, the defending world champs are acquiring an ace pitcher without sacrificing their top prospect, Kyle Drabek. And they had a need for quality starting pitching help. 

Cole Hamels has a 4.42 ERA. Brett Myers had hip surgery in June. The seemingly ageless Jamie Moyer has 10 wins, but a hefty 5.32 ERA.

The soon to be 31-year-old Lee is quietly having another good season for the Indians, despite a losing record due to a lack of run support.

Lee has a 3.14 ERA and has walked just 33 in 152 innings. He comes cheaper than Halladay in terms of salary too. Lee will have an option for $9 million in 2010, and he'll be eligible for free agency.

Look, you only get so many chances to repeat as a World Series champion, so when you get the opportunity, you go for it.

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And that is just what the Phillies have done.

Along with Lee, Philadelphia gets outfielder Ben Francisco. In return, they send Triple-A right-hander Carlos Carrasco, Class A righty Jason Knapp, catcher Lou Marson, and shortstop Jason Donald to Cleveland.

Philly's ballpark should not present an insurmountable obstacle for Lee to overcome. Yes, he is a flyball pitcher, but as Stark points out, he has the second lowest flyball to home run percentage for pitchers in the major leagues.

But the best part of this trade may well be that the Phillies got their ace starting pitcher without having to give up the package that Toronto was asking for—Roy Halladay.

According to Stark, "The Phillies weren't required to give up pitcher J.A. Happ or the three prospects they balked at trading for Roy Halladayoutfielders Dominic Brown and Michael Taylor, and pitcher Kyle Drabek."

Jason Knapp is a 19-year-old pitcher who, according to ESPN's Keith Law, may be the key to the deal for the Indians. But he is currently sidelined with a shoulder issue and may be a couple years away.

The other pieces to the deal are no sure things either. Jason Donald projects as a league average shortstop defensively. Catcher Lou Marson hits for little power, though he now appears to be the heir to Victor Martinez, who is likely the next to go.

Carlos Carrasco has a plus fastball, but not much else. And Law offers this somewhat shocking assessment of the young right-hander:

"...his on-field makeup has been a major question for two years; he doesn't respond well to adversity between the lines and, according to multiple sources, was so upset about seeing his name in trade talks last year that he pulled himself from a start during warm-ups and may have deliberately pitched poorly to try to hurt his trade value "

In Francisco, the Phillies obtain much needed right-handed help off the bench. He is not a starter but can play all three outfield positions.

In short, it was a good trade for the Phillies. And even though they maintain a big lead in the NL East, Lee will certainly help them in the playoffs, come to think of it.