Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Phillies close to "settling" for Cliff Lee

Roy Halladay is an excellent pitcher, one of the best in the game, and the Phillies were thought to have a great chance to acquire him. Unfortunately, as talks went on between the Blue Jays and Phillies, it became more and more apparent that the Jays wanted more than the Phillies were willing to give up to get Halladay. So, instead of hoping the price would drop, the Phillies began looking at other options. How about acquiring the 2008 Cy Young award winner instead?

Cliff Lee, who the Phillies saw as Plan B if they couldn't get Halladay, appears to be on the verge of being traded to Philadelphia. Reports vary on what the Phillies will give up in return, but it will take a package that includes some or all of the following players: Jason Knapp, Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald, Lou Marson and Michael Taylor. Notice that the list does not include Kyle Drabek or J.A. Happ, two players the Blue Jays demanded that the Phillies were adamant that they didn't want to give up.

For that price, Lee is an absolute steal when compared to Halladay. If the Phillies were to get Halladay for Happ or Drabek, or both, they would be greatly compromising their future for a great shot at winning now. Instead, the Phillies jumped on the chance to get Lee, who still gives them a solid shot at winning a title, and gave up players that were going to have little impact on the team in the next few seasons.

Yes, there is a drop-off from Halladay to Lee, but the Phillies are smart to get a great pitcher without having to give up the farm. Lee hasn't been quite as dominant this season as he was in his career year in 2008, but he has still posted a 7-9 record with a 3.14 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP. That ERA would place him second on the team, slightly behind Happ.

I'll post more later on the deal if/when it goes down. Losing out on Halladay and getting Lee might disappoint Phillies fans, but once they get over it, they will understand what the front office is thinking. Instead of mortgaging the next few years for a great shot at winning it all, why not risk very little for a slightly less great shot at winning? Cliff Lee would be a solid addition to a Phillies rotation that is shaping up to be the best in the NL.

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