Cliff Lee To Philadelphia

Ruben Amaro has taken a lot of crap from the sabermetric community since stepping into the role of Phillies GM. He just built himself a really huge wall today, though, with the outstanding acquisition of Cliff Lee. Amazingly enough, he was able to get one of the game’s best pitchers without surrendering any of his highly coveted talents.

Instead of giving up J.A. Happ, Kyle Drabek, and Dominic Brown or Michael Taylor to get Roy Halladay, Amaro managed to hang onto all four and get Lee instead. This is simply a fantastic deal for the Phillies, who add a frontline starter for 2009 and 2010 without giving up any players that were going to help their team in the short term.

Lee, you know about – last year’s AL Cy Young winner, he reinvented himself and has sustained his excellence this year as an All-Star caliber LHP. The Phillies hold a no-brainer club option for 2010 at just $9 million, making him a massive bargain. He’s a top shelf starting pitcher making a fraction of his value and without a long term commitment required. He’s an extremely valuable asset.

To get him, they gave up a good teenage arm currently on the DL with shoulder problems in Jason Knapp, a solid pitching prospect that is a lower risk/lower upside guy in Carlos Carrasco, and decent-but-not-great infield prospects in SS/2B Jason Donald and catcher Lou Marson.

Put simply, the Indians should have done better than this or just kept Lee. For a +5 win pitcher, they got quantity over quality, and all four of the guys they acquired come with pretty significant question marks. Carrasco’s probably the best prospect of the bunch (his upside is lower than Knapp’s, but the risk is much, much lower), but none of these guys are premium, high value guys.

Sorry Cleveland – you got hosed here. This is just not a good deal for the Indians in any way, shape, or form. Ruben Amaro just cleaned Mark Shapiro’s clock on this trade.

Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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Shapiro wanted Knapp. While I agree that he should have pushed for the inclusion of at least Michael Taylor, it’s clear the Phillies held the cards. Few teams were willing to give up AAA talent. The Indians were obviously underwhelmed by offers around the league, and the Phillies lucked out. The economic slump probably has helped the Phillies more than any other team in baseball, as the World Series win and great attendance figures has left the team relatively insulated from the downturn.