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 Phillies land Lee and Francisco from Tribe

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PostSubject: Phillies land Lee and Francisco from Tribe   Wed Jul 29, 2009 6:17 pm

Phillies land Lee from Tribe
Defending AL Cy Young winner to join world champions

By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com

07/29/09 4:14 PM ET

PHOENIX -- The Phillies got their Cy Young winner.

After it appeared the Phillies would land Blue Jays right-hander Roy Halladay before Friday's Trade Deadline, the Phillies acquired Indians left-hander Cliff Lee. Sources told MLB.com that the Phillies and Indians have reached an agreement that would send Lee and outfielder Ben Francisco to the Phillies for prospects Jason Knapp, Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald and Lou Marson.

The agreement is pending a review of medical records.

If it goes well, an announcement could be made later today.

"You hate to lose [Lee]," one Indians veteran said. "You can't replace him. To go out and do what he does every fifth day is incredible."

The Phillies improved their rotation and added a much-needed right-handed bat for their bench. The Indians get four of the top 10 prospects in Philadelphia's system, according to Baseball America. The Blue Jays? Well, they might have overplayed their hand with less than 48 hours to go before the deadline.

The deal seems attractive to the Phillies for a few reasons:

• Lee bolsters a rotation that has pitched much better recently. Phillies starters had a 5.27 ERA through July 2, but have a 2.71 ERA since. Lee was the American League's 2008 Cy Young winner. He is 7-9 with a 3.14 ERA this season, and 3-2 with a 2.37 ERA in his past five starts. He's had the eighth-worst run support of any AL pitcher this season. That should not be a problem with the Phillies, who have the best offense in the National League.

• The Phillies got Lee without giving up the three players the Blue Jays had demanded in a deal for Halladay -- Phillies left-hander J.A. Happ, Double-A Reading right-hander Kyle Drabek and Class A Clearwater outfielder Dominic Brown. Happ is a legitimate NL Rookie of the Year candidate, and Drabek and Brown are the organization's top pitching and player prospects, respectively. The Phillies also didn't give up Triple-A outfielder Michael Taylor, whom Baseball America considers a Top-25 prospect.

• Lee has a $9 million club option for next season, while Halladay will earn $15.75 million. That $6.75 million difference will impact the Phillies' offseason. They have a $5 million club option on Pedro Feliz and expect Joe Blanton, who is salary arbitration eligible, to get a raise from the $5.475 million he makes this season.

• Francisco is hitting .250 with 10 home runs and 33 RBIs this season. He is an upgrade over outfielder John Mayberry Jr., who is hitting .189 with four homers and eight RBIs. Francisco also enables the Phillies to be more careful with leftfielder Raul Ibanez, who is recovering from a groin injury that sidelined him for weeks before the All-Star break.

The deal makes sense for the Indians, too.

Knapp is the centerpiece of the four-player package. A second-round pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, his fastball is clocked around 98 mph. He is just 18 and was 2-7 with a 4.01 ERA in Class A Lakewood, but some scouts have said recently that they think Knapp has more upside than Drabek.

Knapp has been on the disabled list with shoulder soreness, but it is not serious.

"His right shoulder seemed tired," Phillies assistant general manager Chuck Lamar said Monday. "We took all precautions, but he got a clean bill of health. No problems. When you have that kind of talent at 18, we didn't want to take any chances. But safe to say, the way he's thrown, stuff-wise, he has to be one of the better young Minor League pitching prospects in baseball."

Carrasco (6-9, 5.18 ERA) has struggled this season in Triple-A, but the Phillies remained high on him. The Indians have liked him since last season, when they talked about a potential trade for CC Sabathia.

"We like Carlos right now better than any time last year," Lamar said. "I know that may seem funny because of his results last year, but some of that was self-induced by us. There were some things he needed to do to become a good Major League pitcher, [like] start to learn to throw more inside. We introduced a slider to him. He's gone through some growing pains. We could have called him to the Majors several times this year, but we thought it would impede his development."

Donald could be an everyday player, but has struggled this season adjusting to Triple-A pitching. He is coming back from left knee surgery. Marson has the potential to be an everyday catcher.

Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi reacted to the news that the Phillies -- who were widely considered the best fit for the Blue Jays -- were no longer in the Halladay sweepstakes.

"All the teams we've been talking to, we've looked at them as potential matches," Ricciardi said. "But, once again, we said from the beginning that we'd have to be moved to move the player. At this point, we haven't been moved."

He said reports that talks between the Phillies and Blues got heated were unfounded.

"That is absolutely, positively not true," Ricciardi said. "I have a great relationship with [Phillies general manager] Ruben Amaro Jr. I don't even know how animosity can even come out of something like this. Either you agree or you disagree. We have nothing but respect for the Phillies."

The Phillies and Blue Jays agreed to disagree, so the Phillies went in a different direction.

And they got their Cy Young winner anyway.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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