The twist and turns in the tenure of the general manager for the Philadelphia Phillies are many with regard to Cliff Lee. He has had an amplified influence on the team. Did you ever think that Lee would again be the backup plan for Roy Halladay?
By design my articles represent a baseball man’s thinking, the view from the dugout and the GM’s box. Most fans do not consider the budget, prospects on the radar, the organization’s weaknesses, the track record, the competition and the other intangibles. Please go to my author archives or Phillies page for my most recent coverage. Scroll down to Tal’s Handy Links at the bottom. Thank you.
The new summer schedule will allow me to publish the best 3 storylines each week, but there will be an updated calendar included with each feature: These posts involve commentary, polls and stats for the upcoming 7 days.
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There are moments when two careers overlap at important crossroads over a short span of time.
The trading deadline of 2009 was the first intersection, because Cole Hamels followed his championship season with a disappointing 162. As a result Rube Amaro offered to Toronto and Cleveland the same talent for either ace. The Blue Jays demanded Kyle Drabek and Dom Brown for their stud, but the Indians accepted the package with Jason Knapp as the key to the deal. That said, Lee immediately invigorated the squad with a string of sterling performances, and dominated in the postseason.
Which franchise got the better of the swap for Lee that cost the Phils: Knapp, Carlos Carrasco, Lou Marson and Jason Donald?
Cleveland released Knapp last August after 2 shoulder surgeries and the need for a third: He pitched 28.1 innings total in their system at Single-A. Carrasco provided 1 tour with bottom-of-the-rotation results and missed last year after Tommy John surgery. Marson is a reserve catcher and Donald is a utility infielder. Donald did not make the Reds this spring and is at Triple-A Louisville for them.
Amaro continued with the same strategy for the 2010 campaign regarding Lee and Halladay, which marked the 2nd time their paths crossed. His unchanged thinking was one or the other. Remember, this same pattern emerged in 2011 with Jonathan Papelbon and Ryan Madson. Again, management proceeded with the first to agree, which was for Halladay.
Did the red pinstripes land on the sweeter side of this exchange?
Kyle Drabek was central to the barter but Travis d’Arnaud may be the plum that was in that trade. After his 2011 implosion for Toronto and their Triple-A affiliate, Drabek had marginal success in his following opportunity. However, that was cut short by mid-June arm miseries and he had his 2nd Tommy John surgery. Michael Taylor is still in Triple-A for Oakland, and d’Arnaud–now a Met–is on his way to Queens if he has no setbacks at Triple-A Las Vegas.
All prospects are not the same on the road to the majors. Two of six make it from signing to Triple-A, and one becomes more than a September call-up or an emergency fill-in. However, there is a difference between being a bench player and a regular. That stated, when a club has an extended run of serious October baseball, they are drafting from 25th to 30th in each round, and that means no Pat Burrell or J.D. Drew.
Seattle had 3 months of Lee’s services for Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies and J.C. Ramirez. Three of six drafted youngsters earn a place on a Double-A roster and Ramirez is now a reliever for Reading at that level. Meanwhile, Gillies is spending his first summer with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. However, at the show Aumont has a better shot at 7th-frame setup than Antonio Bastardo, Jeremy Horst, Chad Durbin or Mike Stutes.
Carrasco, Marson and Donald have experienced limited achievement with the Indians. Drabek, Taylor and d’Arnaud have excelled for Triple-A squads. Drabek had a string of 13 acceptable starts over approximately 2 months last season for the Blue Jays. Aumont is on his way to being a closer, while d’Arnaud is the next starting receiver for our in-town divisional rivals.
In the end the majority owner’s approval produced both number ones and led to a staff of 4 aces.
Did you ever imagine that the day would come when you were thankful to have Lee?
In order of importance, location, movement and velocity are the fundamental parts for major-league success. Lee dominates with a 90-92 mph fastball, and, like Hamels, he struggles without pinpoint control of his arsenal. Halladay by comparison had a 89-91 mph heater on Monday night, which means he has enough fastball. In other words, he will–like Lee–go through mostly good and some bad stretches during the 162 when he overcomes his current hurdle.
Until then, we are at the 3rd crossroads of the 2 number ones, where Lee shines and Halladay is in his shadow.
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This is the 25th storyline for 2013. Check out my recent publication (Growing Pains) on the Phillies page or my author archives, where there is an excerpt photo. Also, my new feature is Story-poll. The last one was Lasting Impressions.
I will periodically publish the 2013 ERA for the NL East and the MLB 5. Thank you, to all who bookmarked my page.
Philadelphia Phillies storyline: The in-your-face surprise (Growing Pains)
Philadelphia Phillies story-poll: The biggest surprise (Lasting Impressions)
Tal Venada (Author Archives)