Reigning champs rein in reigning Cy Young winner

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It’s
the deal we’ve all been waiting for.

 

OK,
the second deal we’ve all been waiting for.

 

Instead
of breaking the bank on Roy Halladay, the Phillies got the next best thing
available, acquiring Cliff Lee along with outfielder Ben Francisco from the
Indians for four prospects — pitchers Carlos Carrasco and Jason Knapp,
shortstop Jason Donald and catcher Lou Marson.

 

Still,
don’t think for one second that Philadelphia passed on Halladay for some cheap
alternative.

 

For
one thing, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. paid a pretty penny to land
Lee.

 

Second,
the differences between Lee and Halladay aren’t as stark as you may
think. 

 

Like
Halladay, Lee has an American League Cy Young Award to his name, earning the
honor just a year ago with a 22-3 record and a 2.54 ERA.  

 

Both
pitchers have already turned in back-to-back complete games since the break. 
Halladay’s gone the distance four times in his last nine outings, while Lee’s
done it three times .

Both
were even drafted by Canadian teams — Halladay by the Blue Jays, and Lee by
the Montreal Expos.

 

The
ballparks are a wash — Cleveland’s Progressive Field and Philly’s Citizens
Bank Park both favor hitters. 

 

The
biggest differences are that Halladay has been doing it longer and can control
the outcome of a game unlike practically any other pitcher.

 

Lee
may not be far from achieving that status himself, though.

 

Instead
of fighting tooth and nail to even his record, the lefty actually has a chance
to garner run support now with the likes of Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Raul
Ibanez
backing him up.  If Jamie Moyer can win 10 games in Philly while
getting knocked around for a 5.32 ERA, it shouldn’t be too difficult for a guy
who’s got filthy breaking stuff, throws strikes (107/33 K/BB ratio) and doesn’t
get himself into too many jams. 

 

Switching
leagues also works in Lee’s favor, as he gets to face weak-hitting opposing
pitchers instead of dangerous DHs like Adam Lind, Jim Thome and David Ortiz.

 

Simply
put, Lee just climbed several rungs among fantasy starters and could ultimately
crack the Top 10-15.

 

So
what happens to Pedro Martinez? How does he fit into Philadelphia’s plans?
That’s something to keep an eye on in the days ahead, although it seems fairly
clear that he’ll still be given a long look at the back end of the club’s
rotation.

 

Of
the prospects heading back to Cleveland, the one worth paying attention to is
Carrasco. Long regarded as one of the Phillies’ top arms, the 22-year-old
righty has gotten good traction in the upper Minors —  until this season,
when he’s gone 6-9 with a 5.18 ERA. Still, the fact that he’s throwing to both
sides of the plate and getting his fair share of whiffs (112/38 K/BB ratio in
114 2/3 IP) bodes well for his big league prospects. It’s probably just a
matter of time before Carrasco replaces Lee in Cleveland’s rotation.

 

–Alex Cushing, MLB.com

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