Critics say the Phils came up small and couldn’t catch the big fish, but J.P. Ricciardi’s demands for Roy Halladay were outrageous compared to the package they built for Cleveland’s top hurler and all-purpose outfielder.
Beerleaguer: Halladay may have been worth every penny, but in the end, Lee, the reigning AL Cy Young winner, will be more than enough for a Phillies team rolling at 58-40. Ultimately, the Phils would be elated to receive just a couple post-season wins from their new lefty, something Lee, who is 12-2 against the National League, and Halladay alike could deliver easily. Or not, since luck plays the biggest part.
Disappointed in getting the second-fiddle? Recall that the Phils “settled” for Joe Blanton last season, who was the only one left standing after Shane Victorino fell the giant C.C. Sabathia, and Rich Harden and the Cubs went quietly in the other division series. Lee holds a $9 million club option for next season, so the Phils also avoid the free agent rat race that suckers many teams into making disastrous deals for starting pitching. His addition also impacts many facets of the rotation, from the number of starts for Jamie Moyer, to the future of veterans like Pedro Martinez and Rodrigo Lopez. Those details are still unclear, and it's possible the Phillies are not done dealing. The Phillies still hold a ton of chips. A ton.
Meanwhile, the Phils made a significant upgrade to their bench, acquiring that elusive right-handed bench bat they’ve been seeking since winter. Although he’s unproven as a pinch hitter, Ben Francisco, 27, is a sound defender hitting .250/.336/.422 with 10 homers and 13 stolen bases in 341 plate appearances this season. In other words, he hasn’t exactly been collecting dust the way John Mayberry and Eric Bruntlett have and is much better than either one; he’ll be ready to contribute immediately and should help preserve Raul Ibanez, plus he’s been a hot hitter of late. He’s arbitration eligible forever, too, which means the Phils could flip him if need be.
The prospects the Phils managed to keep may be the most appealing part of this trade, and in this writer’s opinion, it starts and ends with their big outfielders: Dominic Brown and Michael Taylor. These aren’t your run-of-the-mill enigmas, they’re polished power and speed producers with a chance to refuel the Phillies’ lineup with impact talent once the current roster’s well runs dry. The Phillies’ brass may be celebrating Kyle Drabek’s stay most. The 21-year-old righty has handled his Double-A promotion will star-like poise and has moved to the head of the pack among pitchers in the Phillies’ chain. He's a future Major League pitcher. The Phillies know it, and so do the Blue Jays. As for J.A. Happ, he may be added to a suddenly-thin bullpen, a role he embraced earlier this season.
Turnin to the package sent to Cleveland, 18-year-old Jason Knapp was considered by some scouts to be the best in the Phillies’ farm and anchors this particular deal. Knapp throws in the high-90s, but has been sidelined with shoulder soreness. Meanwhile, shortstop Jason Donald and catcher Lou Marson are nice position prospects, but not the kind of players who win titles. Donald is blocked at shortstop and had his best season in 2008 as an older prospect in Double-A. Marson lacks power, but most importantly, a glove, which is what the offense-rich Phillies value most behind home plate. The Indians may have received their best buy-low prize in Carlos Carrasco, a big, physical right-hander considered by many to be the top prospect in their system less than a year ago. Confidence remains a one of the main knocks on the Venezuelan right-hander, but his future still appears bright despite a so-so season.
Game chat: Use this thread to discuss the trade and tonight’s series finale with the Diamondbacks. If there’s any new information, you’re on your own. I’m off to a concert.