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  1. Dave, here’s my question: What if the dynamics of trading for star pitchers has simply changed? CC Sabathia might be the exception rather than the rule. The Twins haul for Santana? Mostly junk. The initial Lee trade? Mostly junk. Toronto didn’t move Halladay before because the packages were not what they wanted. Lee again, mostly average/above average. I just have to wonder if the relative value assigned to high-end prospects vs high-end established players has changed, perhaps permanently. This would mean the Brewers didn’t get the memo on Sabathia, and everyone else has essentially shifted their trading patterns.

    Comment by tekhna — December 16, 2009 @ 12:05 pm

  2. I could buy this if the Blue Jays didn’t just get two premium prospects and a quality third guy for one year of Roy Halladay. The extension and the cash does not explain the difference in packages between Halladay and Lee.

    Comment by Dave Cameron — December 16, 2009 @ 12:10 pm

  3. My guess is that they see a 31-year old pitcher who has had just 2 good years and has a career FIP of 3.98. Sabathia, on the other hand, has a career FIP of 3.59 and has been under 3.7 for the past 5 years. Additionaly, Sabbathia strikes out 7.57 per 9 innings compared to 6.77 for Lee, a rather large difference, with a lower WHIP, and a much lower HR/9 rate.

    Put it all together and you have Sabathia putting up 30.2 WAR over the past 5 years, while Lee has put up 20.4, though Lee has 13.8 to Sabbathia’s 13.5 over the past 2 years.

    So it looks like the GMs are putting more faith in 5 years of data than in results from the past 2 years. Sabathia has been a stud for a long time now, while Lee is just starting to find himself at age 31. Another year or two with 6.0+ WAR and they might start to value him more.

    Comment by Seideberg — December 16, 2009 @ 12:15 pm

  4. I don’t get it either. Lee is pretty obviously a significantly better pitcher at this stage of his career than John Lackey. Maybe there is a consensus among pitching coaches that his arm is about to fall off or among doctors that the abdominal muscle injury which bothered him in 2007 is certain to recur any second now.

    Comment by Mike Green — December 16, 2009 @ 12:17 pm

  5. Maybe GM’s hate pitchers who use public transportation?

    Comment by DavidCEisen — December 16, 2009 @ 12:22 pm

  6. “Lee is Sabathia’s equal, or really close to it. ”

    While clearly he has been pretty close to CC’s equal the last two years, I don’t think MLB GM’s will overlook the fact that CC is two years younger, and has a longer UNINTERRUPTED run of excellence AND durability. On top of that they most likely view him as having better “stuff”.

    Of course with the innings CC has logged the last 3 years, things could change real fast. But I really think that the perception of CC as a “HORSE” and the age and stuff differences are the two factors influencing market value difference between the two pitchers.

    Comment by heyyoo — December 16, 2009 @ 12:24 pm

  7. It would be interesting to see if scouts view Lee as a top 10 pitcher in the game? I actually think it would be pretty interesting to see FanGraphs to do some sort of player ranking this off season. The trade value thing was cool, but just an overall ranking of players would be a bit different than that list. Compile that list and compare it to an average ranking that scouts came up with and we’d be able to get a pretty good read on the players. A proper blend of statistical analysis and scouting is the way to go, imo.

    Comment by Scottwood — December 16, 2009 @ 12:43 pm

  8. This is why i think there’s more to the Seattle trade than what has been leaked. Amaro has to of gotten a better return than this. cause as it stands it looks like these 3 players might never even make the majors.

    at least cleveland got 4 guys that will/have. carrasco will hang around for a while. marson will be a backup for a good 5+ years. donald will be the next mark derosa.

    both taylor and drabek are going to be in the majors in the next year. d’arnuad most likely will to.

    on the phillies side. they got aumont who might not make it due to injuries. ramirez is too far to project. and gillies is an all speed guy who posts good OBP. but hasn’t reached AA where speed/OBP guys go to die.

    Comment by BATTLETANK — December 16, 2009 @ 12:46 pm

  9. No one wants to hand out a long term uber-contract to Lee and then find out that he had a couple of good years and then faell back into something closer to the middle. That kind of gamble gets you fired. If you sign/trade for Halladay and he is injured, or is ineffective, no one is going to find fault because the data supporting his excellence is overwhelming. With Lee the chance he could regress is just high enough to leave the door open for that kind of criticism if he fails.

    It also hurts when the Yankees and Red Sox remove themselves from the bidding. Without those guys driving the market it’s hard to get serious leverage.

    Comment by Ed Nelson — December 16, 2009 @ 12:51 pm

  10. Something seems to be missing her, let me see if I can figure out what…. Oh yeah, some guy named Halladay. Amaro got back Roy f’ing Halladay. He’s better than Lee, only 15 months older and signed for 4 years instead of 1. Doesn’t that count for anything? If I can pick up Halladay, I don’t really care if I didn’t get a lot of prospects in return for Lee.

    It seems that Philly got the best player, Seattle got the second best player and Toronto got the best prospects. What’s wrong with that?

    Comment by MikeS — December 16, 2009 @ 12:52 pm

  11. I’ve read many scouting reports on Lee, new and old, and I have rarely found any that are overly complimentary. They basically state he is good when he has good location on his fastball, but that his “stuff” is mediocre at best. You mentioned a great change up, but that is never in his scouting reports…they always call him a one pitch pitcher. I’ve been ridiculously impressed with what he’s done over the last two years, but if scouts don’t think he’s great then it would explain why GM’s might not trust him to continue at this level. Let’s not forget he was garbage just a few years ago.

    Comment by Dave — December 16, 2009 @ 12:52 pm

  12. Is it possible there are some more advanced metrics that suggest Lee’s value is less than what we, the informed public, believe it to be? We tend to assume we know as much as the GMs, but that surely isn’t always the case.

    Just a random thought, but another poster said (different thread) that Lee’s HR/FB rate was unsustainably low. Without having looked into it, perhaps there’s some angle like that? Or evidence that his peak is otherwise going to be difficult to sustain?

    Comment by Jayson — December 16, 2009 @ 12:53 pm

  13. Someone failed their physical. Getting scared Dave?

    Comment by Dave — December 16, 2009 @ 12:57 pm

  14. although the positive side of lee’s profile is that he’s also pitched many fewer innings

    Comment by Will — December 16, 2009 @ 12:58 pm

  15. someone in the Lee trade flunked his physical. i’m assuming its Aumont?

    Comment by BATTLETANK — December 16, 2009 @ 12:58 pm

  16. While I agree with most everyone here when they say that GMs might not trust Lee’s 2-years of excellence over his prior 5+ years of less-than-excellence, another possibility might be that we, as amateur GMs, are wrong and that the prospects that the Indians and Jays traded for are actually better than we think. That the GMs actually wanted these guys because they believe in them for whatever reason (scouts, in-house stats).

    I’m not saying that’s the case, but it’s certainly a valid possibility. I’m still going with the “don’t 100% trust these last two years” theory, though

    Comment by lar @ wezen-ball — December 16, 2009 @ 1:00 pm

  17. xFIP adjusts for that, though. His xFIP the last 2 years is 3.62. That is 12th among qualified starters, and ahead of studs like Verlander. xFIP is not the only stat one should look at for pitchers, but even when adjusting for a HR/FB ratio that will probably be unsustainable, he still rates pretty well. tRA* was one advanced pitching metric that did not think that highly of him last year.

    Comment by Scottwood — December 16, 2009 @ 1:01 pm

  18. My guess is that the Cleveland trade was mostly incompetence and in the Philadelphia trade, the Phillies put a large value on having a “front-line” starter locked up for 3+ years. They apparently wanted Cliff Lee or Roy Halladay on their team and signed for the long-term. Negotiating with Lee on a long-term deal before he hit free agency was obviously becoming problematic. Halladay was willing to negotiate and sign a fairly team friendly contract. This and the fact that time was of the essence (had to move fast before teams like the Angels could put together a deal) lowered the value of Cliff Lee in the eyes of the Phillies. Luckily, for a team like the Mariners, they were able to swoop in and pick up some of that extra value.
    vr, Xei

    Comment by Xeifrank — December 16, 2009 @ 1:01 pm

  19. I think its a case of the GM wanting something and doing whatever to get it. In this case he wanted Halladay more than Lee and didn’t mind “giving” away Lee to get Halladay.I also think fans and bloggers value prospects differently than GMs.

    Comment by Paul Riker — December 16, 2009 @ 1:01 pm

  20. Lee likes to sleep with GM’s wives.

    Comment by aj — December 16, 2009 @ 1:02 pm

  21. Because Seattle didn’t send any prospects to Toronto. The deal was really two separate deals; Philly sent prospects to Toronto for Halladay, and Seattle sent prospects to Philly for Lee. Amaro could have gotten Halladay *and* kept Lee, so Halladay is completely irrelevant to this discussion.

    Comment by Alex Poterack — December 16, 2009 @ 1:06 pm

  22. But if the trades were independent, why wouldn’t you care what you get for Lee. Why would you ever trade someone and not get maximum value, regardless of what other trades you made. Now that Boston signed Lackey should no one care if they trade away Buckholz for no value just because they are better off with Lackey than Buckholz.

    The question posed by this post is an intriguing one. Whenever a GM does something that the analytical community doesn’t understand, the response of the analytical community is “the GM is stupid.” Now the same alledgedly stupid thing has been done twice by two different GM’s. It’s a valid question as to whether we’re missing something.

    Comment by Phillies Fan — December 16, 2009 @ 1:09 pm

  23. They were separate deals. Philly getting Halladay was not contingent on their giving up Lee.

    Comment by Daern — December 16, 2009 @ 1:12 pm

  24. The problem with that is why did they have to trade Lee within minutes (essentially) of acquiring Halladay? Why not use normal spin on having two aces, with a, “our roster is always evolving”? They could have bargained Lee up further, especially if the Angels were willing to put together a package for Halladay, they could have had division rivals bidding against each other. I still haven’t heard any prospects from Seattle going to Toronto, so…

    Comment by Mike K — December 16, 2009 @ 1:17 pm

  25. Or it could mean that a GM’s opinion(s) differ greatly when it comes to evaluating prospects. In all seriousness, what do we, outsiders looking in, know about prospects? Not as much as we need to know. Basically we have guys like John Sickels and Baseball America, among others, and that is where our knowledge stalls. What does John Sickels know about the probability of a prospect succeeding or not? Perhaps Amaro had his pick of Seattle prospects and he and his scouts thought the three they received were Seattle’s best prospects even if the general public’s consensus thought otherwise. The same goes for Shapiro.

    Comment by mike — December 16, 2009 @ 1:22 pm

  26. That’s a good question and until the trade is finalized one I cannot answer.
    vr, Xei

    Comment by Xeifrank — December 16, 2009 @ 1:22 pm

  27. Simply put, perception has become reality: The perceptiona mong GM’s, fans and everyone else in/around baseball that Lee is a tier below the top-tier starters. This clearly isn’t true given his recent performance (and everyone is saying it’s just the last 2 years…but he was a 18-game winner and finsihed 4th in Cy Young voting in 2005) but the perception that he is a notch below clearly pervades. So, if everyone thinks this, then that is his trade value, fair or not.

    GM’s aren’t going to pay more than the perceived value of a player, regardless of how great statistics are….if statistics drove everything, Bobby Abreu would have gone for more than 1/$5mm last year, Brandon Lyon never would have goten 3/$15mm this year and a whole slew of other deals would/wouldn’t ahve occurred the way they did. Stats help shape the perception, but at a certain point there is a “gut” feeling on players and that’s what the market will value them at.

    Comment by Charlie — December 16, 2009 @ 1:25 pm

  28. Santana’s record-breaking extension requirement brought down his trade value.

    Haren and Bedard led to big hauls not too long ago, but of course those also came with more years of team control.

    Comment by Victor — December 16, 2009 @ 1:26 pm

  29. I am probably in the minority, but I don’t find this *that* puzzling. The Brewers move for Sabathia was an overpay and the trade market for soon-to-be free agents has nearly deteriorated. And Cliff Lee is a soon-to-be free agent who, from what I’ve read, wants the quite a rich next contract. So Lee’s current value is basically for 1 season of excellence (presumably). Not too many GMs would give up the moon for that.

    Comment by rob — December 16, 2009 @ 1:26 pm

  30. another thing in play is that Benny Looper was the advanced scouting director at the time that Aumont/Gillies/Ramirez was drafted. he is now an assistant GM with the phils.

    Comment by BATTLETANK — December 16, 2009 @ 1:32 pm

  31. It might be more of a leverage thing. Philly seemed to have some monetary issue with it even this year for whatever reason. It is likely other teams would see that as soon as the first deal was done. Obviously, they are not going to sign Lee after the season. So they got a package back worth more than the draft picks and one season of Lee. I guess the sticking point is the last part of the statement and I guess this is were leverage comes in.

    Comment by walkoffblast — December 16, 2009 @ 1:35 pm

  32. The answer probably lies in the one important factor which has been completely missing from this discussion – the money. Can Phillie afford to have both on the staff at the same time? They have a budget and must get owner approval to go over the budget (and likely need owner approval to spend the big bucks on Halladay anyway). My guess is that Amaro was told “sure get Halladay, but stay within our budget”. Not having any guarantee he could get more for Lee than he had on the table, he took the best deal he had because combined with the Toronto deal, it was his best overall outcome. Anyone who really thinks these were separate deals needs only to check their own budget and ask why their second car isn’t a Ferrari.

    Comment by MJR — December 16, 2009 @ 1:40 pm

  33. Zach Greinke was almost traded for Jeff Francoeur three years ago. This probably isn’t relevant, but as a Braves fan, it keeps me up nights.

    Comment by Bronnt — December 16, 2009 @ 1:43 pm

  34. I don’t know how that “three years ago” non-sequitor got in there.

    Comment by Bronnt — December 16, 2009 @ 1:45 pm

  35. I’d give most GM’s credit for looking past win totals. They are smarter than the writers. Lee might have finished 4th in CY voting, but he finished 27th out of 93 eligible pitchers in FIP in 2005. His 4.73 FIP in 2006 ranked 62nd out of 84. And this was before he cratered to 5.48 in 2007.

    Your statement that it’s not just the last two years that Lee has been elite is incorrect. I’d give GM’s creidt for realizing this.

    Comment by heyyoo — December 16, 2009 @ 1:47 pm

  36. Same thing said three times, so I’ll respond to the first for all of you. I don’t believe the deals are unrelated. When was the last time a team traded away an ace and acquired a new one in the same year, much less at the same time? I’m not intimately familiar with their farm system so this is conjecture.

    Philly already shipped out a bunch of prospects to Cleveland for Lee. If they ship out a bunch more of (presumably) high quality prospects for Halladay then there farm system is really thin. Sure, you’ve got 2 great starters, but somebody has to play and pitch every day at AA and AAA, who’s gonna do that? Do you rush younger guys and maybe hinder/ruin their development by making them play against competition they are not ready for? And remember, one of those two pitchers is only around for one year. maybe Amaro needs warm bodies to fill those spots so younger guys can develop? Maybe he’s worried that he gets one great year and then a decade of being the pirates? I don’t know.

    Calling these two seperate deals is simplistic at best. One team does not trade 2 Cy young award winning pitchers simultaneously unless the deals are somehow related. Occam’s razor.

    Comment by MikeS — December 16, 2009 @ 2:08 pm

  37. I guess Philly’s budget is pretty tight. For an extra $9MM, they could have kept Lee for 2010.

    If the $9MM was the issue… why not trade Blanton? You can get back some scrubs and save all his salary. Blanton’s a decent pitcher. Some team would have taken him. You save, what, $6MM or so there? You’re most of the way to keeping Lee then.

    I don’t get it. Halladay-Lee-Hamels is just so ridiculously good.

    Comment by Rob in CT — December 16, 2009 @ 2:09 pm

  38. No he wasn’t. Some Braves and Royals scouts were at a game together and discussed the possibility of a deal centered around those two. That’s as far as it ever got. No one in either organization ever seriously considered it, as the Royals would never do something that stupid and the Braves knew it.

    Comment by Alex — December 16, 2009 @ 2:12 pm

  39. Maybe, just maybe, GM’s don’t look at just WAR and go $4 mill per WAR when making personnel decisions then call it a night.

    Comment by Chip — December 16, 2009 @ 2:19 pm

  40. Maybe, just maybe, GM’s don’t look at just WAR and go ‘$4 mill per WAR’ when making personnel decisions then call it a night.

    Comment by Chip — December 16, 2009 @ 2:20 pm

  41. Aumont will make it to the majors. Donald the next DeRosa? That is very optimistic. Carrasco hangs around for awhile? Maybe. He’s young too though. Absolutely no guarantees on that.

    Comment by Conballs — December 16, 2009 @ 2:21 pm

  42. Cleveland’s haul for Lee is equal in my eyes to Philly’s haul (subtract 1 prospect for 3 months of Lee). I agree the haul doesn’t equate to Lee’s presumed value here, but like has been written here, it seems to be the best deal out there because you’re probably not trading him to the AL East or anybody in the NL. Now you’re down to 9 teams. Take away Cleveland, Minnesota, Kansas City, Texas, Oakland and probably Detroit. Now you’re down to 3 teams. Chicago might not have had enough, plus what’s the incentive in a very winnable division? Now you’re down to 2 teams. It is surprising the Angels didn’t make a better offer.

    Comment by Conballs — December 16, 2009 @ 2:21 pm

  43. its a PR move for ill-informed phillies fans. the term prospect is inter-changeable to them. what it comes down to is a really bad salary dump. stinks like abreu.

    Comment by BATTLETANK — December 16, 2009 @ 2:25 pm

  44. “the Royals would never do something that stupid”

    I don’t know if that was supposed to be taken seriously.

    Comment by CMC_Stags — December 16, 2009 @ 2:40 pm

  45. you think Aumonts elbow and degenerative hip will hold up long enough for him to make it to the big leagues? i’m extremely skeptical on that.

    Donald is a jack of all trades, master of none. he could end up bouncing around because he’s good enough with all his tools. derosa comp seems very plausible.

    I’m not high on carrasco, but he’s going to be given at least the next 5 years of starting/reliever in baseball. i’d consider that ‘a while.’

    the phillies got two guys back who are profiled to be relievers. you don’t trade a cy young award winner and a top 10 pitcher in baseball for two ‘prospect relievers.’

    Comment by BATTLETANK — December 16, 2009 @ 2:44 pm

  46. Philadelphia Daily News reported a telling stat today that in my opinion offers a great look into both pitchers perceived value. In his 12 regular season starts with the Phillies Cliff Lee started 3 games in which he went less than 6 innings and gave up more than 6 runs. By comparason Roy Halladay has had only 3 such starts in the last 3 years, and only 5 over the last 6 years. Over the past 3 years Cliff Lee has 11 of these starts. Why the season ending numbers for the 2 pitchers are comparable Halladay is by far the more consistant pitcher. That being said i beleive it is a bit unfair to compare the prospects shipped to Toronto for Halladay with the prospects recieved from Seattle for Lee. I think a more fairer and much more interesting discussion would be comparing the prospects sent to Cleveland to aqquire Lee with the return from Seattle. Any Thoughts?

    Comment by Phightins26 — December 16, 2009 @ 2:48 pm

  47. No, but their giving up Lee was likely contingent on them getting Halladay.

    Comment by BS — December 16, 2009 @ 2:52 pm

  48. As you said Dave, what I don’t get is why the Phillies traded Lee if the best they could get for him was a reliever and a couple low-level prospects. Why not just hold on to him and enjoy the benefits of having 3 aces in your rotation for a year instead of settling for a marginal deal?

    Comment by R M — December 16, 2009 @ 2:56 pm

  49. I am a hard core baseball fan from Philly and have followed the Phillies as well as all baseball since the mid 60′s. The pitching by Cliff Lee here last year when he arrived and in the post season was some of the best I have seen in 45 yrs. How teams can undervalue him is astonishing. There is no fluke when you march through the Rockies, Dodgers and Yankees with high strikeout games and low walk games in the playoffs. Lee mixes up his pitches and throws strikes on the corners like Maddux did in his prime. And as great as Maddux was, he did not have any dominant performances in post season like Lee did. To keep reflecting on Lee’s early career and its inconsistencies like so many are doing, to me is wrong..He has clearly found himself over the past 2 years and is now a top 5 starter in all of baseball. People tend to forget the great Sandy Koufax started his career off in a very mediocre fashion before it all kicked in and he put together 5 amazing years in a row. I hope Lee torches the Yankees in the playoffs and comes back to pitch against the Phillies in the World Series this year.

    Comment by brad Cohen — December 16, 2009 @ 3:05 pm

  50. His stuff has improved from pre 2008. For example, his velocity has been steadily increasing for awhile

    Comment by John — December 16, 2009 @ 3:08 pm

  51. Lee’s age probably makes GMs wary, if he were 26 years old everybody would be falling all over him despite a checkered history and an “average” fastball (see Tom Glavine after 1991). The other thing might be his laid-back attitude not sitting well with some people, like during the World Series when people were questioning why he didn’t demand the ball on 3 days rest and instead was all “I’ll pitch whenever Charlie decides is best.” Personally, I quite like his chances to claim a second Cy Young in 2010 right now with the advantage of being an elite lefthander pitching in Safeco with Seattle’s defense behind him, plus the motivation of being in his walk year.

    Comment by sw — December 16, 2009 @ 3:11 pm

  52. Maybe Amaro and the Phils see Aumont as a better bullpen option than what will be in the FA market this year and next year? Brad Lidge isn’t the safest bet in the world. Maybe the Phils plan on using Aumont as their 7th or 8th inning guy as soon as this year, and were more concerned with patching up that shaky bullpen. I’ve read a lot of “1 year of Lee + 2 draft picks is much better than Aumont, Gillies and Ramirez” comments, but maybe Aumont can be at least as effective as Phil Hughes was for the Yankees this year in the setup role.

    If Aumont is pitching the 7th or 8th inning for the Phillies in August and September, and Gillies is in MLB by 2012, I think the Phillies will have made out pretty well in this deal. Of course, if Aumont can’t cut it as a starter OR out of the pen sometime soon, I’m fully willing to pile on Amaro for getting squat in return for a premium player.

    Comment by CH — December 16, 2009 @ 3:16 pm

  53. As a Phillies fan I am despondent about getting so little back for Lee. It makes no sense that they couldn’t get more for him, especially when other Seattle prospects (Saunders, Triunfel, Morrow) fit team needs better. As for the money, $9 million is nothing for a player like Lee. Put a collection box out in front of the stadium and get $2.25 from every fan that comes into the stadium and you break even. It’s a pittance in terms of the value returned.

    Comment by JBird — December 16, 2009 @ 4:06 pm

  54. But then some people would say that an inconsistent pitcher gives his team a better chance to win more games.

    Comment by Nathaniel Dawson — December 16, 2009 @ 4:12 pm

  55. Hey, parity is a good thing. Maybe Ruben is a socialist at heart.

    One good thing is that at least for one year the Phillies won’t be facing Cliff Lee unless either he is traded mid season or the Phillies and Mariners make the WS.

    Also, given that the Phillies have joined the biggies by “slot busting” the draft and by diving deep into the international free agent prospect market, do the supplemental picks even matter anymore? Will the US amateur draft even matter in a few years?

    Comment by neuter_your_dogma — December 16, 2009 @ 4:22 pm

  56. What jumps out at me from this article is the use of an arbitrary two-year period to place Lee among the league’s elite. Why not a one-year period or a three-year period? Obviously he doesn’t come out looking as good if you use any length of time other than exactly two years. Or is there some justification for thinking that the last two years are the best predictors of the future?

    Comment by Jeff — December 16, 2009 @ 4:25 pm

  57. There seems to be a logical inconsistency in Dave’s argument. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Dave’s logic, per se — rather, I think the inconsistency is inherent to the situation itself. Dave starts with this:

    “So, our options here are believe that two General Managers are lazy/incompetent and failed to extract the best return possible for their team when trading him, or that the market for Cliff Lee is just not very good. Let’s just agree to reject option A out of hand, as neither Shapiro or Amaro are lazy or stupid.”

    and ends with this:

    “It will be interesting to see what happens when Lee hits free agency next year. He is clearly expecting to get paid like a top tier starting pitcher, but major league GMs apparently do not see him as one. They should. He is.”

    So it’s wrong to presume that two particular GMs are incompetent, but it’s appropriate to conclude that all MLB GMs are fundamentally mistaken in how they value one of the game’s best players?

    Comment by Dingo — December 16, 2009 @ 4:37 pm

  58. I didn’t get a chance to read everyone’s posts but what puzzles me is, how much better could Halladay be over what Lee did in 09 for the Phils?

    12 GS, 79.2 IP, 74 K, 10 BB, 7 W, 3.39 ERA

    5 GS, 40.1 IP, 33 K, 6 BB, 4 W, 1.56 ERA

    They are still the favorites in the NL with Lee IMO and Halladay would not have been the difference in 08.

    Comment by EPark — December 16, 2009 @ 4:47 pm

  59. Lee for one year +2010 1st round pick+ 2010 supplemental pick+return for Blanton


    Blanton + 3 Mariner prospects?

    Such a brutal trade.

    Comment by Tim — December 16, 2009 @ 5:27 pm

  60. Dave, the answer is simple, Sabathia throws 95-97mph while Lee lives in the 89-92mph range. Sabathia has proven throughout his career he is an ace, Lee appeared last year. Sabathia has more stamina, and can pitch on 3 days rest, and pitch a CG, while Lee has never done it before. The sensation you have when Lee is pitching is different from the one’s you feel when Halladay, Sabathia, or Peavy are on the mound. You feel Lee will fail at any time, while you think Sabathia is gonna throw a no hitter every time out.

    Why? VELOCITY, MOVEMENT AND CONTROL. Lee has 2 of those but not all three.

    Comment by Tomas — December 16, 2009 @ 5:27 pm

  61. My question is:

    Whats wrong with Phillies holding onto Lee for one more year? Wont a rotation of Halladay, Lee, Cole Hamels, Pedro and lock up the NL East for 2010? And this is such a daunting rotation in any playoff series.

    Yes, Lee will potentially walk away at the end of the year – but is that too bad if your chances of winning in 2010 are skyrocketed because of holding onto him?

    I am of the belief that the farm system can be replenished later if there is a HUGE chance of winning it all in the current year.

    Sorry, I dont get this part of it, someone please educate me.

    Comment by Phils fan — December 16, 2009 @ 5:33 pm

  62. Why would Cliff Lee be seeking a $20-25 million per year extension if his market value isn’t that high?

    Personally, I believe that the Phillies thought the prospects they acquired for Lee almost make up for the prospects they gave up for Halladay. Aumont was the 11th overall pick in 2007, Ramirez is projected to be a #2 or 3 starter by 2011, and Gillies has put up a great AVG and OBP and his SLG% is starting to improve.

    Comment by Dwide Schrude — December 16, 2009 @ 5:35 pm

  63. Donald Duck has a better chance of being the next Mark DeRosa than Jason Donald does.

    And I’d wager a farm if I owned it that Drabeck doesn’t pitch in the majors next year. Remember he is coming off a year where his inning pitched went up 100 innings. They need to continue to strech him out if they want him to be an effective starter, and I doubt the majors is the place for that. D’arnuad played in A ball last year, now some players jump from A to the majors, but typically catchers do not. So I’ll double down on my hypothetical farm on that one too.

    I guess you assuming Carassco hangs around as a batting practice pitcher, otherwise I’m not sure how you know he is going to hang around for a while, certainly can’t make this claim based on his prior year.

    The prospects the Phils got are as exciting as the ones they gave up for Lee, very much blah all around…

    Comment by Knox — December 16, 2009 @ 6:16 pm

  64. This is so dumb. The phils will go into next year with a salary in the top 4 in all of baseball, this wasn’t about the money. This was about 1) Amaro having a man crush on Halladay 2) Amaro wanting to have some prospects to fill the void created by trading for Halladay, 3) Amaro doesn’t understand how arbitration works, and doesn’t like draft picks 4) and finally Amaro is not a very good GM

    Comment by Knox — December 16, 2009 @ 6:21 pm

  65. “Ramirez is projected to be a #2 or 3 starter by 2011.”

    For Clearwater or Reading?

    Comment by Choo — December 16, 2009 @ 7:03 pm

  66. Have you ever seen his curveball? It’s downright unfair.

    Comment by Switzlebeegen — December 16, 2009 @ 9:41 pm

  67. Heh Heh.

    Frankly, I think MOST prospects are highly over-rated.

    Peole are talking of Drabek as if he’s already a “MLB Ace playing in AA”. He’s not. He’s further away from being an MLB Ace then Cameron Maybin is to a 30-30 season.

    The Phils got the better pitcher (significantly, once you consider what Doc is going to do to NL hitters), and they got 6M bucks which basically pays Polanco for this year (when you consider the money saved on not resigning Feliz for 1y).

    Rather than look at isolated trades, when you look at all of the moves a team makes in an off-season, Philly has helped itself improve an already dominant team.

    Seattle has also greatly improved their team, and it appears that TOR has added the rebuilding pieces they were looking for.

    People have been ripping the “Two Big Trades” left and right, and I’m not exactly sure why. I think all teams involved have a chance to benefit from the trades executed.” From what I can see it’s because people think max Scherzer is going to develop into a MONSTER, despite a highish WHIP and lowish endurance and that Kyle Drabek’s “return to Earth’s atmosphere” after being promoted to AA is just a “minor speed bump”.

    Why just the other day Cameron Maybin enjoyed his 2nd 30-30 season, Alex Gordon hit .320, Delmon Young was a 4 WAR player, and Homer baily was the next great Texas Flame-thrower, and Brandon Wood and Reid Briegnac took their places as the “SS for a decade” for LAA and TBR.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — December 16, 2009 @ 9:52 pm

  68. Well, the Bedard trade did kinda stand out as one of the bigger heists of recent baseball history. If we were scientists, we’d be throwing it out as an outlying data point, along with most of Bavasi’s tenure in Seattle.

    Comment by NBarnes — December 16, 2009 @ 10:09 pm

  69. Why is everyone missing the point? Small markets have their own dynamics. You can’t tell a story on 2 data points. Lee has stated he doesn’t want to sign an extension, he wants an auction (read NYY) so his is a true 1 year deal. Lee’s start was unremarkable so a modest acquisition fee from Phila. is explainable. CC also had a rotten start before his midyear move. Santana didn’t send much the other way, if memory serves. Hudson and Mulder were sent for 1 year for similarly modest packages (no one knew Haren was Haren). And Bedard’s 2 years came for a king’s ransom. With only a handful of bidders, either there is competitive bidding or there isn’t.

    Comment by saj — December 16, 2009 @ 10:38 pm

  70. How can ANY of us forget the “spike curveball” unleashed on the yankees in the world series. Heck, Tim McCarver had never seen a “spike curveball” before and he’s “seen everything”.

    - sarcasm off -

    Aside from his fastball, Lee’s best pitch is his cutter, and he showed it to Jeter and ARod in the WS. By the time they realized it wasn’t a straight fastball, it was too late … and he threw it up, and down, etc. You can’t do that with a CB, no matter how good it is. Throwing a sub 90mph pitch by good hitters, up in the zone, was just wonderful to watch. He had hitters completely off balance the whole game.

    Meanwhile CC thought he would throw his cutter down the middle to Utley … with the movement heading TOWARD the sweet spot. Frustrating to watch.

    Lee’s “outstanding” curveball is actually his 4th best pitch. Just sayin’.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — December 16, 2009 @ 10:40 pm

  71. I think it has more to do with Lee only being “recently great”. We’ve seen pitchers have a couple of really good years and then go in the crapper. The demotion to AAA doesn;t help. Even if he has “completely turned the corner” … the ‘AAA’ thing remains in our minds.

    Lee gets more credit than that because he’s put up two very good years, but that’s nothing compared to the 5-8 years runs other top pitchers have put up. Is Jon Lester a top 5 pitcher?

    Another way of looking at it, a major injury turns Halladay into Matt Morris. A major injury turns Lee into Mike Hampton. One you can use, the other you can’t. Actually, looking back at Mike Hampton’s career makes me wonder if there aren’t more similarities between his path and Lee’s than we’d care to admit.

    I LOVE both pitchers, but Halladay and Lee don’t have similar track records, and likely won’t have comparable 2010 seasons (I think Hallday’s domination in his 1st year in the NL is going to be HUGE, then decrease slightly each year). I don;t see Lee being better than Hallday in ANY of the next 4 seasons.

    Would Lee be the ONLY top 10 SP to allow more H than IP? If his BB rate goes up, even a little, it could have a dramatic effect (again, see Mike Hampton for reference), and I think that’s a decent possibility.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — December 16, 2009 @ 10:54 pm

  72. Excellent point.

    Comment by cardsfan — December 17, 2009 @ 1:24 am

  73. “Hudson and Mulder were sent for 1 year for similarly modest packages (no one knew Haren was Haren). ”

    This comment caught my eye b/c the other day I was reading an old article that ripped BA for NOT having Haren highly rated (I don’t know if BA did or not). So, I looked up his MiLB numbers and StL situation at the time to see what was going on.

    As a 21yo Haren put up a WHIP of 1.084 in 193 IP of A-Ball.
    As a 22yo, Haren put up a WHIP of 0.993 in 100 IP of AA-AAA

    Those WHIP stats at THAT age, to me, are some darn fine indicators of future success. His K/9 rates? Only 7.9 and 7.5 *grin*

    I think people in StL knew that Haren was going to be good (maybe not Cy Young good, but good).

    IMO, StL was in the “win NOW” mode with Pujols, Edmonds, Rolen, Lankford, Matt Morris, Suppan, etc.

    The starting rotation was Morris, Marquis, Williams (Woody), Suppan and Carpenter. All 5 guys made at least 28 starts and pitched right around 200 IP each. Haren had yet to duplicate his MiLB WHIPs at the ML level.

    Meanwhile, Mulder had put up 4 really good years in OAK. StL’s rotation is all RHPs.

    StL made the trade after being swept by BOS in the WS. They said good-bye to Woody Williams, and the ’05 rotation of Carpenter, Marquis, Mulder, Suppan and Morris all (again) made at least 31 starts and all pitched right around 200 innings. They won the division again, and lost to HOU in the LCS. In 06, they won the WS. 3 Years, 3 post-seasons, 1 WS.

    Meanwhile, Haren goes to OAK and has some really good season, all 3 years 34 starts 200+IP and 1.2 WHIP

    StL won the WS in the year Mulder was lost for the season. Mulder’s injury makes the deal look far worse than it was at the time. Mulder’s career line in StL is 1.4 WAR for 4 years. That’s bad. In the 5 years since Haren left StL he’s racked up 25.5 WAR. That’s tough to read.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — December 17, 2009 @ 2:46 am

  74. Dave, you’re very keen on your rather lofty words you ‘spit out’.

    Last offseason you clearly called Lee a supporting player.

    “Grady Sizemore is an MVP candidate, and the surrounding cast includes valuable players such as Cliff Lee…”

    Don’t get me wrong, I hate the return for the Phillies, but how can you change your position so drastically in only 9 months (if Lee was Halladay good, you would have said it)? If you we’re so high on Cliff Lee, you would have clearly said “Following his solid Cy Young campaign…”, “He’s really turned his career around since being humiliated by being demoted, but proving the world that he’s a true ace caliber pitcher”. But, you didn’t. Your “advanced scouting” didn’t tell you he’ d dominate in ’09 like he did, or else you would have managed to say that.

    Would YOU, as any team GM, pay this man 7yrs/$120m like he’s seeking (or somewhere along the lines of that)? Dave, dance in the streets all you want, but when he turns Barry Zito on some team 2-3 years into a long-term deal, please turn off the Van Halen.

    Comment by that's how I role — December 17, 2009 @ 5:55 am

  75. Small market teams? We’re discussing the Phillies here.

    Comment by Rob in CT — December 17, 2009 @ 11:18 am

  76. But Occam’s razor would choose the most “simplistic” reason.

    Comment by neuter_your_dogma — December 17, 2009 @ 12:12 pm

  77. I read “valuable player.”

    Comment by neuter_your_dogma — December 17, 2009 @ 12:19 pm

  78. This is false. Cleveland also threw in a major league outfielder under team control for 4 years (Ben Fransico) in addition to Lee. Therefore, Cleveland got even less than you think for Lee.

    Comment by bobo — December 17, 2009 @ 12:30 pm

  79. I don’t think the Phillies saw themselves getting Halladay for just one year . The reports I heard were that they were confident Halladay would sign an extension for three years at a very reasonable salary (characterized in the papers I read as “below market”) with options ofr a fourth and fifth year. Depending on the options (player/team and at what cost) they could be getting Halladay for four years (current plus the 3 year extension). They don’t have the five year commitment at Sabbathia type money, they can get out one year earlier if injury issues crop up, and if they don’t they may be in line for another two years at a cost below that of premier pitching on the free-agent market. Halladay’s willingness to forgo testing the free agent market to go to a proven winner convenient to his home and family is what made him much more valuable, and that may have been in effect a parting gift to Toronto. The real issue is why the Phillies didn’t simply hang onto Lee as well for one more year? His 2010 salary is modest and they’d have a dominating one-two punch.

    Comment by Larry Grasso — December 17, 2009 @ 1:26 pm

  80. You’re right, Alex, it was strictly a “what if” mostly on the Braves side; they’ve coveted Greinke for years. It was more along the lines of “what if we could get Greinke,” followed by, “well, Dayton was here and helped scout Franceour,” and all of a sudden the Braves were getting Greinke for Frenchy straight up.

    Comment by geo — December 17, 2009 @ 3:47 pm

  81. I’ll bet GMs suspect he is juicing and might get caught. It would explain his suddenly finding himself at age 29-30.

    Comment by PhD Brian — December 17, 2009 @ 11:10 pm

  82. I was wondering about this question too. So I asked a friend about it. This person works with Lee and told me an interesting story from the player’s perspective. Cliff is mad. His wife is even madder. They loved Philly. Lee loved the team, his wife loved the player’s wives, they loved the fans, they loved the city. They were expecting to settle in to the good life there for a while.

    Then for the past several months the Phillies have been telling Lee how wonderful he is, how they are really serious about having him around for several years, how they are going to make more runs in the post-season, what a big part of the team he is. They even offered him $17M a year for 3 years. But before he could consider their offer, they traded him. To Seattle.

    You may know that Lee grew up in rural Arkansas. And to people who live in rural Arkansas, Seattle may just as well be Siberia.

    So to recap: The Phillies said they loved Cliff Lee. They offered him a king’s ransom. Then they sent him to Siberia. Cliff Lee is mad. His wife is even madder.

    This suggests a couple things. First, the Phillies fan wet dream of a Halladay/Lee rotation was never even a remote possibility. The Phillies would know that as soon as Lee learned that they had spent the money they had promised him on Halladay, that he might be somewhat angry. The prospect of Lee on the team as a second class lame duck would never work. Further, the Phillies must have guessed that even having Lee in the organization when they announced the Halladay deal could potentially explode on them as they waited around for another Lee trade to develop. I think they were trying to use a three-way trade as cover. That they only got a 2 plus 2 trade together didn’t matter much as long as it was concurrent. Because of this, both the Phillies and the Mariners knew dealing for Lee would only be a one year deal. This suggests part of why the Phillies took so little in return.

    Now, I don’t understand why Cleveland only got a bag of rock for Lee in the first trade, but because the Phillies didn’t give up that much to get him, I bet they were more willing to trade him for a similar bag of rocks. I think the two trades are more of an auto-correlation than two independent events. Taken together, the Phillies need to deal Lee quickly to avoid tainting their franchise with controversy over their nasty treatment of their playoff hero and that they got him cheap to begin with may explain why he went so cheaply this time.

    Since GMs and players are people, I think this is an issue that you won’t find the answers to in the numbers. I also thing that it would be a bad idea to drag Lee to a press conference in Seattle just now. First impressions are important and I know it would be hard for me to stand up there and say what a great deal this is to come to Seattle.

    However, it’s my opinion that in a couple months when Mr. Lee has recovered somewhat from such a vicious bitch slap that he will realize that Safeco is a serious pitchers park and that he will be pitching in front of the best defense in baseball. I think he will go out and approach his contract year with a vengeance.

    Comment by atfomd — December 17, 2009 @ 11:25 pm

  83. Well, they just did.

    Comment by joser — December 18, 2009 @ 4:58 am

  84. Nope

    Comment by joser — December 18, 2009 @ 5:02 am

  85. Nope. Honestly, the people who follow twitter on this stuff are like meth-heads in a blasting cap factory. Twitch twitch twitch….

    Comment by joser — December 18, 2009 @ 5:04 am

  86. Maybe, just maybe, Dave’s post was a little more nuanced than that.

    Comment by joser — December 18, 2009 @ 5:09 am

  87. Maybe, just maybe, you need to learn to use the submit button.

    Comment by joser — December 18, 2009 @ 5:09 am

  88. This again. Do people forget that the sainted Halladay got sent all the way down to high A ball in 2001 (after 3 years in the majors) to “find himself” at age 24? But maybe he’s been juicing continuously since. What else could explain all those complete games?

    Comment by joser — December 18, 2009 @ 5:19 am

  89. No, it wouldn;t explain him “finding himself”.

    Specifically he found “control”.

    Now, if he were chronically unhealthy and then was all of the sudden able to thrive through long seasons, especially at an advanced age (past peak years), that would be one type of red flag (actually, that describes Edgar Martinez).

    It is very possible that Lee worked with someone who provided a pitching philosophy that clicked with Lee, and that he was able to correct a few mechanical things combined with approach/practice that led to improved control/effectiveness. It’s also possible that he altered some his mental processes or how he went about getting hitters out.

    I don;t remember if he had a cutter before he was demoted, but that effective-as-heck pitch could also be a difference maker.

    Steroids, in this case, is a reach …. a really big reach.

    Steroids help recovery primarily, strength/muscle/speed secondary. If there was a steroid that could improve pitching control and command, I would have been all over it in college. *big grin*

    Comment by circlechange11 — December 18, 2009 @ 10:58 am

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