Plan B: Phillies Trade Farm for Lee

Nick PoustCorrespondent IIJuly 29, 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)

The Philadelphia Phillies, desperate for a starting pitcher, traded four prospects for Cleveland Indians ace Cliff Lee.

The Philadelphia Phillies could not reach an agreement with the Toronto Blue Jays regarding the Jays' ace, Roy Halladay. Every proposition was shot down. The Blue Jays wanted the Phillies to include pitchers J.A. Happ, who has seven wins this season, and Kyle Drabek, their fifth ranked prospect. The Phillies didn’t want to include either, so “serious discussions” became a “stalemate” in a matter of hours.

Philadelphia moved on from Halladay and began focusing on their other targets. Cleveland Indians ace Cliff Lee was Plan B, and a mighty fine second choice, considering he won the American League Cy Young last season. The Phillies quickly worked on a deal with the Indians, but once again haggled over which prospects would be included.

The Indians asked about Happ and Drabek, but were told no. They weren’t upset. Their talks with the Phillies didn’t end. They wanted to trade Lee and knew that, even with Happ and Drabek out of the equation, they could piece together a deal full of talent. The two teams did. I assume their conversation went something like this:

Ruben Amaro Jr., Phillies General Manager: “Happ has been key for us and we can’t do without him. Drabek is part of our future and we think he could be our ace a year or two down the road.”

Mark Shaprio, Indians General Manager: “I understand, but are they the only young players you deem untouchable?”

Amaro: “Yes.”

Shapiro: “Alright then, we really like Carlos Carrasco, your top pitching prospect, and would like him to be the starting point.”

Amaro: (after pausing for a substantial amount of time) “Sure.”

Shapiro: “Good, now we want Jason Knapp, your 10th ranked prospect who has 111 strikeouts in 85 innings.”

Amaro: “Two of our top pitching prospects, huh?” [fantasizing Lee in a Phillies uniform]…”Well, if that’s what it will take.”

Shapiro: Fantastic! Let’s move on to the position players.”

Amaro: “Position players? I thought Carrasco and Knapp alone could get it done?”

Shapiro: “Who are you kidding? Okay, we want two players out of this group: shortstop and fourth-ranked prospect Jason Donald, catcher and third-ranked prospect Lou Marson, and Michael Taylor, power-hitting outfielder.”

Amaro: “No Dominic Brown or John Mayberry Jr., eh? Wow! Well then, I want to keep Taylor so he and Brown can play the outfield together for the next 12 years and have Mayberry available just in case he learns some plate discipline, so I’ll be willing to trade Marson and Donald.”

Shapiro: “Hazzaa! This is why I love working with you! So, let me get this straight, you are willing to part with four of your top-ten prospects for Cliff Lee, whose game may or may not translate to the National League?”

Amaro: “I’ll be willing to take that chance on Lee. He has tons of talent, a stifling repertoire of pitches, and I am confident that he will succeed and lead my team back to the promised land. Besides, who knows if Carrasco or Knapp will pan out? Marson and Donald could be career .240 hitters in the major leagues, unable to hit big-league pitching.”

Shapiro: “Well, when acquiring prospects, there is always that chance. But I think very highly of each player and believe that they could be part of a very bright future. Take Marson, for example. I have been trying to trade current catcher Victor Martinez for weeks now. I will find a taker, and when I do, I have his successor all ready. Any chance you would want to expand this deal…say, take Martinez off my hands?”

Amaro: “Though I need a catcher and badly, acquiring Martinez would mean including Brown or Taylor, right?”

Shapiro: “Right you are…are you interested?”

Amaro: “Not in the slightest! I am already giving up four of my best young players, which is already stupid enough.”

Shapiro: “Well, it was worth a try. So, the deal is Lee for Carrasco, Knapp, Donald, and Marson.”

Amaro: [pausing] “Man that’s a lot…um…um, yes. Would you by any chance include outfielder Ben Francisco? That would ease my pain just a bit.

Shapiro: “Done! let’s take a look at their medical records and then sign the paperwork [muttering under his breath]…before you come to your senses…What a steal!”