Preface: Cliff Lee was undeniably awesome in most of his starts for the Phillies in 2009.
Unfortunately, the Phillies are not owned by Comcast Spectacor and do not have an endless revenue stream. Phillies fans must also realize that Ruben Amaro, Jr. would like to keep his job past 2010. So, while the fans would like to sell out for 2010, RAJ must maintain the health of the franchise while still improving the current model. He has done that this week, if all reports are indeed true.
Let's get some housecleaning out of the way first.
Roy Halladay is the best RH Starter in the game right now. He is better than Cliff Lee. Sort of like saying that $100 is more than $99, I know, but still better. He is also, according to all reports, giving the Phillies a discount in years and dollars for the chance to join the two-time defending NL Champs.
While Cliff Lee won the 2008 AL Cy Young and was amazing in his first five starts with Philly and his first four postseason starts, he was rather pedestrian in six of his other seven starts for the Phils. That inconsistency is not found in Roy Halladay. Lee also does not have nearly the body of work that Halladay has, and is only about a year younger.
With all that said, of course it would have been fantastic to have Roy Halladay on the bump followed by Cliff Lee. But it was never going to happen because RAJ needed to insure the long-term health of the team.
Most reports, though being spun a bit now by Lee's agents, stated that Lee wanted to cash in on what would likely be his last big money deal. Well, with Halladay in the mix, the Phillies would not be able to afford $30 million a year going to two players. So Lee would have left as a Free Agent.
So if you're in the camp that says that the Phils should have gone over budget this year for the sole purpose of going all-in for 2010 and then recouping two draft picks after Lee leaves, you're forgetting a big "if." Say Lee leaves for the riches of the Yankees. And then the Yankees also sign another tier one FA.
Guess what? The Phillies only get one draft pick now. Considering the BoSox would likely be in on Lee as well, that scenario is quite likely. You think Milwaukee would have traded for Sabathia knowing not only that he would sign with NY, but that AJ Burnett would sign there, too; thus costing them one of their compensatory picks?
As for the prospects that Philadelphia is sending off, to the best of my knowledge, no "prospect" has ever won a World Series. Kyle Drabek and Micheal Taylor have their faults and their merits, but just bear in mind that few big time pitching prospects ever pan out. The Phillies have also kept the prospect they consider most important in Domonic Brown. They also, according to reports, have managed to keep JA Happ.
So the Phillies have basically traded Jason Donald, Carlos Carrassco, Lou Marson, Jason Knapp, Kyle Drabek, Travis d'Arnaud and Michael Taylor for Roy Halladay, Ben Francisco, Phillipe Aumont, Travis Gilles and $6 million of Toronto's money.
Four guys who probably never make the big club, one guy ranked organizationally lower than the guy the Phils kept, the fourth ranked C in the system and the No. 1 pitching prospect for the best right-hander in the game, a competent fourth OF and a pitching prospect with as much upside as Drabek.
Not too shabby. And they keep Domonic Brown if Werth leaves after 2010. Gilles has potential to take over in CF should Shane Victorino price himself out of town.
Remember that Toronto had asked for Drabek, Taylor, Brown and Happ in July.
RAJ did a masterful job getting this done.