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Posts Tagged ‘Cleveland Indians’

Well, the defending world champions got their man.  No it is not Roy Halladay, but it is a second ace they can pair with Cole Hamels for a strong 1-2 punch.  The big win in this deal is that the Phillies kept their top two pitching prospects, Happ and Drabek, the former who is having a strong season with the big club.  If they had traded for Halladay, one or both of these guys would have been on their way north of the border.  The difference between Halladay and Lee is not big enough that it would warrant the Phillies giving up one of these two elite pitching prospects.  

Here is what the Phillies gave up (Baseball America Prospect Rank in parentheses):

Carlos Carrasco, RHP (2) – Carrasco topped the Phillies prospect rankings in 2007 and 2008, and has been in the top 10 since 2003.  He is still just 22 years old, but has not really put it together.  In 2007 and 2008, he put up ERA’s of 4.86 and 4.32 at AA Reading.  This year, he has a 5.18 ERA at AAA Lehigh Valley compared to 3.06 for Drabek, who has supplanted him as the organizations top pitching prospect.

Lou Marson, Catcher (3) – While Marson has a solid bat and excellent plate discipline for a catcher, his arm is not as strong as you would want, and he threw out 37% of base runners in 2008.  If his arm strength slips at all, he will no longer be able to play catcher, and his bat will no longer be nearly as impressive.

Jason Donald, Shortstop (4) – Another guy on the list who does not really have a position.  He has an excellent bat for a shortstop, but is below average defensively.  Scouts also say he barely has the skill to play second.  This leaves third base as his other option, but like Marson, his bat suddenly does not seem like such a weapon at a premiere power position.  Many scouts project him as a super utility player; valuable, but not a difference maker like Lee.   

Jason Knapp, RHP (10) – Knapp is a power pitcher who can hit the high 90’s on the radar gone.  Like many young power pitchers, he also has trouble staying consistent.  His command is sub-par, and he is certainly a work in progress.  While the Phillies used him as a starter, it is projected that he will be a power bullpen arm.  Like Donald, valuable, but not irreplaceable. 

Overall, the Phillies did well in this trade.  They traded some solid prospects but no “can’t miss” guys, and got a reigning Cy Young winner.  Lee’s low HR/9 will play well in Citizens Bank Ballpark, and he will also benefit from a move to the weaker National League.  While I do not know if this move pushes the Phillies ahead of the Dodgers as favourites in the NL, it certainly moves them closer.  Considering that 4/5 of the current Phillies rotation is now left-handed, and the Dodgers feast on left-handed pitching (290/.375/.444), this could pose a matchup problem against the Dodgers..    

Almost unmentioned is the fact the Phillies are also adding OF Ben Francisco.  Current 4th OF Matt Stairs hits exclusively against right-handed pitchers.  This year, he has 66 AB’s and a .879 OPS against righties, and only 3 AB’s and a .250 OPS against lefties.  Francisco, on the other hand, owns a .845 OPS against lefties, over 100 points higher than against righties.  This addition will give the Phillies a potent platoon off the bench, capable of hitting left-handed and right-handed pitching. 

While the Phillies did well in this trade, so did the Indians.  They received four legitimate prospects for a pitcher with a limited track record of success in the major leagues.  I would say it is even more impressive than the haul they received last year for CC Sabathia, although he was only a half-season rental.  The Indians have done well to restock their farm system, and within a couple of years have an excellent core of young players to support star Grady Sizemore.

This trade was the definition of win-win, and was well played by both sides.  The real losers are the Toronto Blue Jays, who played hardball with the Phillies and may be left with nothing at the deadline.

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Yesterday, the St. Louis Cardinals filled a huge hole in their team, sending one-time bright prospect Chris Perez and a player to be named later to the Cleveland Indians for versatile infielder Mark DeRosa.  This is a perfect trade for both teams.

In DeRosa, the Cardinals get a player who can play almost anywhere defensively, and has a solid bat.  With Troy Glaus on the DL, Khalil Greene struggling mightily and Skip Schumaker still learning defensively at second, this is a big boost to the Cardinals playoff hopes.  While DeRosa has struggled a bit at times this year, the big year he had with the Cubs last year bodes well for a return to the National League Central.  They are currently tied with the Brewers for the division lead while boasting the top run differential.  While it is difficult to imagine St. Louis competing with whoever comes out of the American League, this trade helps make the Cardinals a serious contender in the NL.   

DeRosa is also not a big hit financially for the Cards, as he is in the final year of a contract that will see him collect $5 million in 2009.  The Cardinals will be on the hook for a little more than half of that, and will most likely let him walk in the off-season.  With the team trimming payroll this past off-season and the economic future still up in the air, it is important for them to not make any multi-year commitments.

In Perez, the Cardinals lose a former 42nd overall pick who still has the potential to be a back-end reliever, but right now has only shown himself to be an average bullpen arm.  He flirted with the closer role early in the season, but blew his first and only save opportunity.  His ERA sits at 4.18, and he is being killed by a painful 5.82 BB/9.  This is far from an irreplaceable player for St. Louis.

Trading DeRosa was a no brainer for Cleveland.  They are currently toiling in dead last in the AL with a 31-35 record, eleven games behind division leader Detroit.  The season is a lost cause, and like last year with CC Sabathia, GM Mark Shapiro has shown that he is willing to unload his assets rather than lose them in the off-season.

While this was a smart trade by Cleveland, I am surprised they did receive more in return.  Only five and a half months ago, Cleveland gave up three pitching prospects to acquire DeRosa from the Cubs.  His value has not dropped that much even though his OPS has a bit, and there were several contenders interested in him.  I thought Shapiro would be able to have a bit more of a bidding war, but in the end he needed to get a trade done or risk losing DeRosa for nothing.

This was a smart trade on the part of both GM’s, and will go a long way in helping the Cardinals bring home the NL Central title.

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