Cliff Lee has left the building, as the Cleveland Indians traded their ace to the Philadelphia Phillies for AAA RHP Carlos Carrasco, SS Jason Donald, C Lou Marson, and RHP Jason Knapp. I'm left...strangely...numb.
There was no doubt something afoot last night, when the Indians and the discussions for the Tribe lefty heated up. The Indians spent a bit of time last season rooting through the Phillies minor league organization before they dealt CC Sabathia to the Brewers. Nothing the Phillies had to offer, including Carlos Carrasco, interested Mark Shapiro enough to seriously consider the City of Brother Love as possible suitors. My how things have changed.
Lee leaving is a near-final admission by the Dolans and Shapiro that the Cleveland Indians are long done for 2010. Shapiro's rebuild 1.0 is a complete and utter failure, with the peak coming in 2007, one game from the world series, and the gutter coming, well, take your pick. The deal is staggering, in that it hinges on a 19-year old power pitcher in single A ball who was shut down this year because of a sore arm. Jason Knapp has the capability of topping out in the upper-90's. He also has injury concerns, and we all know how (Adam Miller) upside (Adam Miller) can (Adam Miller) sometimes (Adam Miller) go (Adam Miller) down (Adam Miller) the (Adam Miller) drain. Young power pitchers aren't a dime a dozen, but blown out arms are. Giving up Lee with this kid being the anchor of the deal is a monster risk for a club that has proven it can't take the next step once they HAVE players that can win a series.
The rest of the deal is a pure head scratcher.
Carlos Carrasco has a big arm, but has been lit-up by triple A pitching this year, and many scouts have questioned his head. Lou Marson is a catcher. He's a freakin' catcher. THEY TRADED FOR A FREAKIN' CATCHER? Sure, Victor Martinez will likely leave Cleveland in the next 48 hours, making Marson a likely fill-in. He's top five in the Phillies organization, so he's no slouch behind the plate. Here's the thing. Don't the Indians have Carlos Santana, Wyatt Toregas, Chris Gimenez and Kelly Shoppach? Now they have one more...for a Cy Young award winner with numbers in the ballpark of Roy Halladay. Oh yeah, they have Jason Donald, a SS that many can't figure out where he may play. He could be a second baseman, or a shortstop, or maybe he could play third base. Nice. They picked up a utility guy.
Oh, I'm sure I'll have to stomach some morons talking about how the Indians are a small-mid market team, and that this was the best they could do under the circumstances. That's garbage. Lee was a cheap asset over the next 1 1/2 years, and they had plenty of time to shop him for a package that might include the likes of a player like Kyle Drabek or Domonic Brown or Michael Taylor, who most, including the Blue Jays, considered the three potential gets that were guarantees for the majors. The Indians couldn't get a single one of them.
Well done Shapiro.
The best part about it is that the Indians not only gave up Lee for the package of overrated garbage, but they had to give up Ben Francisco as well. Now, I'm not sad to see Francisco and his fourth outfielder stats gone, but it's funny that the Indians had to give up TWO players for their less than standard haul. It's like shooting a dog in the neck with a BB gun, then kicking him in the ass on his way out the door. I could get into the Francisco piece, but at least this should get Matt LaPorta up to the big club, so I'll just leave it alone. I guess keeping Francisco as insurance for Grady's injury was like everything else Shapiro spews out of his mouth.
You know, I get this team is constrained by the market. I get it. The problem I have is that unless they align every planet, and every prospect works out in the next five years or so, this team will never win a series. The ONLY way to win is to spend when you are on the precipice. No, the team may fail to make money for a few seasons, but a World Series trophy would certainly curtail that. The Indians mantra continues to be "just not enough."
Shapiro was jerkin' everyone around today, mumbling about how this team was better off than when he took over in 2002. You've got to love the irony. The Indians are hunting for a future ace, by trading away an ace. Make that two.
See you around Cliff...
More tomorrow after the Indians deal Victor Martinez for a can of corn.
Great posts on the trade at Tony Lastoria's Indians Prospect Insider and Paul Cousineau's The Diatribe. Here's another from Paul as well.