Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Deal is done; Phils get Lee

The Phillies have acquired pitcher Cliff Lee and outfielder Ben Francisco from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for Jason Knapp, Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald and Lou Marson.

If Lee remains on his current schedule, he would start Saturday and face Giants ace Tim Lincecum in his Phils debut.

Lee's record vs. NL teams is an imposing 12-2

“He works as hard as anybody,” Chad Durbin, who played with Lee in Cleveland, told Scott Lauber of The Wilmington News Journal. “The same things you hear about (Roy) Halladay’s work ethic, that’s true for him. He’s a horse. To get a guy like that, and to keep Happ and Drabek, it’s impressive. Ruben [Amaro Jr.] did a good job.”

Lee, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner, was 7-9 with a 3.14 ERA and three complete games in 22 starts for Cleveland this season. The Indians scored two runs or fewer while he was in the game in 12 of his 22 starts (54.5%), including zero runs four times. Lee, who will turn 31 next month, had pitched at least 7.0 innings in 14 of his 22 starts.

Last season, Lee went 22-3 with a 2.54 ERA in 31 starts en route to his first Cy Young Award, leading the league in both wins and ERA. He induced 27 double-play groundouts, which was tied for fifth-most in the AL and would have led the Phillies staff by nine (Brett Myers - 18).

Over the last two seasons (2008-09), Lee has the fourth-best ERA (2.78) and fourth-most innings (375.1) among all major league pitchers, is tied for second in wins (29) and shutouts (3) and has the third-most complete games (7).

A fourth-round selection by the Montreal Expos in the 2000 draft, Lee is 83-48 (.634) in his major league career with a 4.01 ERA in 182 games (178 starts), all for Cleveland. He is a two-time AL All-Star (2008 & 2009) and finished fourth in Cy Young Award voting in 2005 (18-5, 3.79 ERA).

Francisco may be the right-handed pinch-hitter the Phils need. He is batting .250 with 10 homers, 33 RBI and a .758 OPS. In his career, Francisco is 3-for-17 with one home run as a pinch-hitter.

In his last nine games, the 27-year-old hit .394 (13-33) with four home runs and eight RBI. Francisco made 81 starts for the Indians this year: 43 in left field, 30 in center field and eight in right field, with all five of his assists coming from center. Francisco, 27, was originally selected in the fifth round of the 2002 draft by Cleveland.

Ed Price of the Newark Star-Ledger ran down some thoughts on the Phils' prospects. Marson is "not the best defensive player and has a singles and doubles type bat while Donald "doesn't move great at shortstop but has a capable bat." Carrasco, meanwhile, "has three solid pitches."

Knapp is the key for the Tribe. The team thinks he has top of the rotation type stuff but he is a long way away.

Marson and Donald both had good seasons last year at Reading, but have struggled in 2009. Marson, 22, was batting .294 with just one homer and 24 RBI in 63 games at Lehigh Valley. Donald, 24, who is coming off minor surgery in June to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee, is hitting just .236 with one homer and 16 RBI at Lehigh Valley.

Carrasco, 22, is 6-8 with a 5.18 ERA in 20 starts for Lehigh Valley and was passed over three times this season when the Phillies needed a starter.

Knapp, a 6-foot-5, 18-year-old right-hander and the Phillies’ third-round pick last year, is 2-7 with a 4.01 ERA in 17 starts for low-A Lakewood and has missed his last few starts because of a knee injury. The flamethrower had 111 strikeouts in 85.1 innings, ranking second in the South Atlantic League in strikeouts per 9.0 innings pitched (11.71).

Any way you slice this, it looks like a great trade for the Phillies.

Listen to Lee talk about the trade by banging the link...

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