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For Phillies' Sake, K. Drabek Had Better Be Good

And so, the Phillies turned away from Roy Halladay and traded for Cliff Lee instead. The price was steep: four prospects, all of them rated among the Phillies' Top 10 by Baseball America before the season.

But one name was conspicuously absent from that quartet: Class AAA RHP Kyle Drabek, considered the jewel of the Phillies' farm system. Given the Toronto Blue Jays' very obvious coveting of Drabek in their talks with the Phillies regarding Halladay, and the Phillies' hesistancy to part with him, it is safe to assume the Phillies chose to downgrade to Lee as a means of holding on to Drabek while still providing a substantial upgrade to their rotation.

Not a bad play. Lee is 15 months younger than Halladay, and considerably cheaper ($8 million club option in 2010, vs. Halladay's $15.75 million guaranteed) -- which means, in terms of actual value (expected wins relative to cost) over the course of the next season and a half, there may not be much difference between Lee and Halladay.

Except for one thing. Come this October (and for that matter, next October as well), when every game is critical and teams with dominant starters tend to go the furthest, who would you rather have on the mound? Put another way, in a potential first-round matchup with the Giants, which duo would you rather send to the mound to face Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain -- Cole Hamels and Halladay, or Hamels and Lee?

That's why Drabek had better be good. For the (apparent) sake of keeping him, the Phillies took the lesser of two pitchers. And if Lee, perish the thought, happens to falter in October, heaven help young Kyle Drabek.

By Dave Sheinin  |  July 29, 2009; 3:38 PM ET
Categories:  Blue Jays , Indians , Phillies  | Tags: Blue Jays, Cliff Lee, Indians, Kyle Drabek, Phillies, Roy Halladay, roy halladay, trade  
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Comments

You are forgetting a huge factor to this deal, Dave - the Phillies also get to keep JA Happ. Happ is 26 years old and currently 7-1 on the big league club. Drabek still has to prove his self at some point in the majors. Happ has done that and continues to do that. His only loss came last week against the Cardinals, who benefited from the huge boost they got that day with Matt Holiday. Its safe to say the Cards were playing at a higher level that day just based on the excitement of their new teammate. Also, young Happ, wasn't able to concentrate because he was worried about getting shipped off to Canada at any moment. We should still consider Happ unbeaten for argument's sake.

I am loving this deal. Kudos to Ruben Amaro for making the deal. The Phils hang on to TWO stud pitchers and actually held on to their best position players down on the farm. The guys they gave up are not their best. And for all the Haliday talk....who won the Cy Young in the AL last year again? Oh yeah - Cliff Lee. His record this year is a result of being on a suck team with the worst run support in the MLB. His ERA is still very good and he just inherited the best offensive line-up in the majors. Four lefties in their rotation is going to pose huge problems for any team, no matter what anyone says. And don't forget about Pedro Martinez as a possible 5th starter or to appear in long relief. Brett Myers is also slated to return in a bullpen role.

The Phils are loaded with pitching right now to go along with the best defense and best line-up in the game. And for all the complaining about not getting Haliday, lets remember the Phils are still the champs. Amaro deserves the benefit of the doubt on this one. And they might not be done making moves. They could use another reliever. Bottom line - the best just got better.

Posted by: PhilliesPhan | July 29, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

I don't see why Lee couldn't outduel Matt Cain - I don't see why that's such a mismatch. Lee is a Cy Young winner and sure he's had a down year - but this is Cain's first winning season. It's a wash. Still, they gave up four prospects. That may have an effect in the coming seasons.

Posted by: AsstGM | July 29, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

PhilliesPhan is exactly right. This article is off the mark and glaringly omits the critical fact that the Phillies got to retain on their leading starters of this year (and not just Drabek, but also Taylor and Brown (both demanded by Toronto).

With Hammels, Lee and Happ all in play, they've greatly improved the starting rotation without giving up one of its presently critical members.

Posted by: seano1 | July 29, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Wow -- the elite team in the NL East and, as proved last year, in ALL of baseball is still suffering the pessimistic view points of uneducated sports writers. This Dave Shiner needs to get a life and realize that the PHILLIES are "the single BEST team" in baseball. Not by their numeric record but by their recent achievements. Why doesn't it surprise me that a WASHINGTON Nationals fan writes such garbage -- he states... "heaven help Kyle Drabek" LOL -- his Nats are 32-68 as of this writing and 27 games behind the DOMINENT Phillies. The Nat's will be back -- oh let's say by 2025.. Envious SHiner?

Posted by: btphila | July 29, 2009 5:58 PM | Report abuse

This is a great deal with Lee's history and 3.14 ERA, coupled with the Phillies offense. Lee should pick up a lot more W's the rest of this season. Way to go Phils!

Posted by: CA_Pete | July 29, 2009 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Wow -- the elite team in the NL East and, as proved last year, in ALL of baseball is still suffering the pessimistic view points of uneducated sports writers. This Dave Shiner needs to get a life and realize that the PHILLIES are "the single BEST team" in baseball. Not by their numeric record but by their recent achievements. Why doesn't it surprise me that a WASHINGTON Nationals fan writes such garbage -- he states... "heaven help Kyle Drabek" LOL -- his Nats are 32-68 as of this writing and 27 games behind the DOMINENT Phillies. The Nat's will be back -- oh let's say by 2025.. Envious SHiner?

Posted by: btphila | July 29, 2009 5:58 PM
=========================

WOW is right!! As in how thin skinned can you be!! Sheinin didn't bash the trade, in fact he called it a substantial upgrade to the rotation and "not a bad play"!!
The fact is that Drabek was the major piece in the Halladay discussions, so if Lee fails to provide a lift, Drabek will be labeled as the player who was kept instead of aquiring Halladay!!
Stop talking like you have some form of dynasty in Philly!! You have a great team, enjoy them, but don't bash other teams just to make yourself feel better!! Success can be fleeting and often is in MLB!!

Posted by: dkidwell61 | July 29, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Dave - I think you seriously underrate the capacity of Philadelphia fans to forgive and forget.

I know you did not say that Cliff Lee is a bad pitcher, or talk about his HR/FB rate that may revert to normal, or even mention his park-neutralized, fielding independet pitching (xFIP) is nearly a run higher than his ERA. Instead, you said it was "not a bad play" going for him and keeping the better prospects rather than stripping the system for Halladay.

Even if Lee were to stumble in the playoffs, which is possible for every great pitcher (see CC '07 - '08), the Philly fans are not likely to even mention that the consensus best right hander in baseball could have been theirs. They aren't even likely to complain if Lee reverts to a 4 ERA pitcher in the regular season because they have a playoff spot sewn up this year. They are well known as forgiving fans.

Whether they win or lose the World Series they are guaranteed to make this year, Kyle Drabek will never hear anyone say "we kept you instead of getting Halladay?" even if his first half season is like Homer Bailey's, Edwin Jackson's, Phil Hughes's, or Clay Buchholz's.

Your problem is that rich history of Nats beat writing. While you may have written more stories about Phillies games and players than the Nationals since you have been the national baseball beat writer and not the Nationals baseball beat writer, those stories have a detectable bias. It might be a bias toward thoughtful analysis and occasional push against the conventional wisdom, but it is a bias nevertheless.

You are just lucky the Phillies fans don't go to extremes on everything and are well known for their tolerance and thought, or else you'd get chided mercilessly. And we all know what kind of #$(

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | July 30, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

I disagree with the last comment. Philly fans do not "forgive and forget". Forgive, maybe, but we NEVER forget. Anything.

Ex 1: JD Drew. This loser is booed mercilessly whenever he visits Philly. Over 10 years ago, the Phils selected him #1 in the draft and he refused to sign because he thought they were a losing franchise, which they were at the time. So, he sat out for a year and eventually signed with the Cards. We have never forgotten the way he snubbed the city and the franchise. The guy had batteries hurled at his head years after the incident. People still bring signs to the park to this day to remind him that we haven't forgotten. You can hear the boos on the other side of town when Drew comes up to bat.

Ex 2: Scott Rolen. There is practically a waiting list for tickets along the third base line whenever this pansy comes to town just so fans can boo and heckle his candy a$$. He was the franchise player for years and eventually whined and complained his way out of Philly because Larry Bowa was "too hard on him". He was a clubhouse cancer and did everything in his power to buck the manager and the front office of the club in his final years. Clearly, it wasn't just Bowa, because Rolen got booted out of St Louis, after winning a World Series, for clashing with Tony LaRussa. He was shipped off to Canada to rot during his final years. Us Philly fans will never forget the crap he pulled during his final years in town. He will forever be booed and heckled here.

The only case that comes to mind of forgiveness is for Jimmy Rollins. Last summer, he accused the fans of being "front runners" because we pack the park when the team is playing well, and we come down on them when they play like crap. Jimmy was booed hardcore for weeks following his comments, but he really picked it up, started playing well, and the rest is history. I feel as though if we didn't win the title, Jimmy might have been booed out of town by now. He was forgiven for bringing a title home. Mitch Williams wasn't forgiven for his 1993 sin until last year, when a title was finally brought home. Much like Buckner up in Boston in 2004. Mitch also has a great personality and lots of character, which made it easier to forgive him, but it still took 15 years.

Posted by: PhilliesPhan | July 30, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

The WP is known for it's analysis. Most of the time.

Cliff Lee is the reigning AL Cy Young award winner. His AL ERA is 3.14. The Phils score about 5.48 runs per game. You have an American League offense, running around the NL.

The Phils will get very close, from there, stuff happens. It is rare to three peat. The Phils have as good a chance as anyone ever has, to do so.

Toronto wanted Happ, Drabek, and Brown for Halladay. That was too much. Ruben did the right thing. You can't give away the store. The Phils can pay $140 million but they cannot pay $160 million in salaries. The younguns are needed for the planned turnover of talent.


Posted by: joboggi | July 30, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

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