Cliff Lee Trade a Win-Win

July 29, 2009 at 10:24 pm Leave a comment

Cliff Lee

The Cleveland Indians and the Philadelphia Phillies struck a deal that will send starter Cliff Lee and outfielder Ben Francisco to the Phillies for right-handers Carlos Carrasco and Jason Knapp, catcher Lou Marson, and shortstop Jason Donald. This is a perfect case of a win-win trade.

The Phillies added a top of the roatation starter in Cliff Lee, who has done nothing but dominate in the AL the past two years. Lee improves the Phillies rotation dramatically. He should be slotted at the top of the rotation or in the #2 spot, forcing the starters down a notch and displacing Rodrigo Lopez, who is overdue for an implosion.

Ben Francisco is an immediate upgrade to the Phillies bench that desperately lacks right-handed punch. Francisco is hitting .269/.383/.463 with more walks than strikeouts against lefties. His defense has been below average this year with an overall UZR/150 of -14.9.

The Indians clear about $9M from next year’s payroll and get some very good propsects in return.

Carlos Carrasco has a live fastball but poor command and no real out pitch. He also has make-up issues and is easily frazzled. He looks like a good #3-4 starter right now that will give a good 6 innings a game. He is still only 22 years old so he has room to grow up.

Jason Donald is the type of player I like. He can handle short, is above-average at second, and his bat plays up at both positions. His season in Triple-A has been a let down but he has been injured. He looks like a legit secondbaseman to me that will hit at least .280/.340/.440 with 10+ steals and good instincts and hustle.

Lou Marson is a contact oriented hitter that has had not problem hitting for average and getting on base since he reached High-A ball in 2007. Marson’s problem at the plate has been his power. He has a downward stroke that leads to a lot of groundballs. Marson will make a very good backup to Kelly Shoppach and, eventually, Carlos Santana. At worst, Marson is another trade chip for a team in need of a catcher.

Jason Knapp is the sleeper of the group. He has a plus fastball but lacks secondary pitches at this point in his career. He has pitched well in A-ball this year at the age of 18, striking out 111 in 85.1 innings and allowing only 3 homers. If Knapp can develop his curveball and change into just average pitches then the Indians have themselves a very good starting prospect.

This deal also allowed the Phillies to keep their top three prospects while adding a top of the rotation starter and it frees up salary for the Indians and gives them a bulk of prospects that can help them soon. This is a great trade for both teams involved.

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