The trade of Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald, Lou Marson and Jason Knapp for the 2008 Cy Young award winner, Cliff Lee, and an outfielder, Ben Francisco, should easily stabilize the Phillies pitching rotation and almost make them a lock to come out of the National League and play for the World Series. Most people wanted Roy Halladay as opposed to Cliff Lee, but the cost for Lee was significantly less and he brings almost as much as Halladay would have.
Jason Donald, a shortstop, wasn’t going to crack the Phillies line-up for a few years because of Jimmy Rollins, making him dispensable. Carlos Carrasco, a strong pitcher who lacks intensity and consistency, became expendable with the emergence of young pitching talent Kyle Drabek, Kyle Kendrick and JA Happ. Jason Knapp is a hard throwing 18 year-old prospect that could develop as a solid reliever or even starting pitcher, but the Phillies could grab another one of those type prospects next season. Finally, Lou Marson may have been the only player that could cause a hole in the Phillies organization. Marson, a catcher, was the heir to the duties behind home plate for the Phillies. Keep in mind; the Phillies have done a solid job filling the catcher hole with a middle talent veteran, Carlos Ruiz. The Phillies will be all right at catcher without Marson. From my perspective, the Phillies gave up nothing to get Cliff Lee, so this trade was a no brainer. In fact, the Phillies kept their three best minor league prospects – Dominic Brown, Michael Taylor and Kyle Drabek.
When I saw the Phillies put together the package for Cliff Lee with the Indians, I thought they were trying to get the Blue Jays to drop their asking price for Halladay. I guess I was wrong OR the Blue Jays are very stubborn, pricing themselves out of the market for moving their high salaried player. Regardless, the Phillies got a high level pitcher.
With the acquisition of Lee, this does bring up some issues with the Phillies current pitching rotation. Obviously, Cole Hamels remains your number 1 starter with Cliff Lee assuming the number 2 spot. This leaves a few pitchers for three spots – Pedro Martinez, JA Happ, Jamie Moyer, Joe Blanton, Rodrigo Lopez and Antonio Bastardo. Looking at this list, Bastardo either goes back to the minors or pitches out of the pen. Lopez can make his last start tonight and return to pitching out the pen or head to the triple A. Moyer leads the Phillies in wins and is a solid veteran presence. Joe Blanton has excellent experience and has pitched well. JA Happ, a rookie, has pitched some impressive games and looks like he should be a rotation guy. Who knows what to do with this rotation? With a four man rotation heading into the playoffs, assuming that Pedro gets his form back, you send out Hamels, Lee, Martinez and Blanton and I guess if I needed a fifth starter, it would have to be JA Happ. I think Jamie Moyer is just going to break down by the end of the season and players will figure out how to hit his junk. Luckily, I am not the pitching coach or manager of the Phillies, so I won’t have to deal with these decisions. However, I do get to complain or comment on the decision.
The Phillies went out and made a great move to help their ball club. I look forward to all the great things to come this season.