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Cliff Lee Trade Analysis
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Cliff Lee Trade Analysis
by Asher B. Chancey, BaseballEvolution.com
July 30, 2009

My Cliff Lee trade analysis will be performed with the assistance of long-time reader Michael Krause, who wrote me the following email:

What do you think of the Phillies sending Carrasco, Marson, Knapp, and Donald to Cleveland for Lee and Francisco? How will having lefties in the one and two spot affect them? The strong hitting teams in the NL seem to have a lot of righties, are the Phils at a big disadvantage? Is Moyer out of the playoff rotation? Hamels, Lee, Blanton, Happ/Pedro. That is an interesting possible lineup.

Michael Krause


And here is my response:

Hmmm. Let's see,

a) I don't really get why the Phillies would balk at giving four guys to the Blue Jays for a superstar, but they will give four Phillies (including Knapp, who people say may be the best out of Carrasco, Drabek, Happ, and Knapp) to the Indians for less than a superstar plus a mediocre outfielder. You know, I continue to be kind of shocked by how little minor league experience Drabek has – there is no guarantee with this guy. Knapp has even less, so there is even less of a guarantee. But at the end of the day, Knapp plus Carrasco to get Lee seems somehow to be less desirable than Drabek and Happ to get Halladay;

b) I really hope Ben Francisco wasn't the reason the Phillies had to part with four guys instead of three. I don't think he brings anything to the table that any other mediocre outfielder couldn't bring to Citizen's Bank Park;

c) I'll tell you what I like about Lee - in the last few years, he seems to have learned how to keep the ball down, and avoid walking people or giving up homeruns. The Phillies have three guys in the top 15 in the majors (not the NL, but the majors) in homeruns allowed, and the only reason Myers isn't there is because he's been hurt (he is ranked 22nd despite pitching only 23 innings this season). Having a guy who can come into Citizen’s Bank Park and not be automatically slated for four walks and a couple of dongs will help the team a lot;

d) I am currently pretending the Phillies don't have Pedro Martinez until he shows up and proves he can pitch;

e) Nevertheless, if the Phillies can get Pedro healthy and then freeze him in carbonite until the playoffs, then I like the Phillies rotation very much, particularly if they end up playing the Dodgers in a seven game series in the NLCS. If they end up with the Rockies in the first round, it will just have to be a slug fest – I would like to see an Aaron Cook/Cliff Lee match-up in Colorado.

f) I think that the Phils are definitely now stacked with left handed pitching. Ironically, the team in the National League that would suffer the worst against an all lefty rotation would probably be the Phillies. I'd rather have Lee pitching for us than against us, what with the Phillies wealth of lefty hitting. But if the Dodgers pull an eleventh hour deal for Halladay, we may have a problem.

g) It appears as thought he Phillies now have an embarassment of riches in the pitching department, considering the fact that both Pedro Martinez and Brett Myers are supposed to come back from the DL in August. In theory, this is a seven-man rotation, with Hamels, Lee, Happ, Blanton, Martinez, Moyer, and Myers. Now, we know Myers is headed for the bullpen, but that still leaves six. To tell you the truth, if Martinez can pitch, I would expect the Phils to put Happ in the bullpen before Moyer - somehow, it seems that veterans always get preference over rookie pitchers (remember when the Angels demoted Jered Weaver and kept Jeff Weaver? How about Jon Lieber over Cole Hamels?). Think about it like this - any team that would send Happ to the minors so Chan Ho Freaking Park could get the fifth spot in the rotation would put Happ in the 'pen over Jamie Moyer.

h) If, come October, if it develops that Cliff Lee is the Phillies most effective starter at home (prediction – that will be the case), and Pedro can be counted on for six good innings (prediction – uhhh. . . . ) then I say you go Hamels-Lee at home, then Blanton-Pedro-Hamels, and you use Happ as a lefty long-relief guy.

i) I would have loved to have had Halladay, but I am glad the Phillies still have Drabek and Happ. Plus, I think Cliff Lee suffers by comparison to a) Halladay, and b) the Cliff Lee of last season. He still has a 3.14 ERA (143 ERA+) and a K:BB ratio over 3:1; he’s having a better overall season than any of the Phillies’ starters. Plus, if the 2011 rotation is going to be Hamels, Lee, Happ, Drabek, Blanton, the Phillies are going to be in very good shape.

j) By the way, here is an unrelated fun fact - Jamie Moyer made his major league debut on June 16, 1986, or 18 days after a young pitcher for the New York Yankees made his major league debut. That pitcher was Doug Drabek, the father of Kyle Drabek, who could be Moyer's teammate by the end of this season.





Questions? Concerns? Comments? Asher lives in Philadelphia, PA, and can be reached at asher@baseballevolution.com.

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