Beerman's Offseason Report Card

Beerman’s Report Card: Cliff Lee Trade

PHILLIES TRADE CLIFF LEE TO SEATTLE FOR PROSPECTS PHILLIPPE AUMONT, TYSON GILLIES AND JUAN RAMIREZ

Hello, dead horse. Prepare to be beaten.

As stated Tuesday in the Roy Halladay post – which prompted a slew of Roy Halladay vs. Cliff Lee and Kyle Drabek vs. Phillippe Aumont arguments on the comments page – the other shoe dropped.

Postseason hero and former AL Cy Young winner, Cliff Lee was dealt to the Mariners in a puzzling move on the same day that Roy Halladay was acquired. We were told it was to “replenish the farm system.”

Let me quote the former pro wrestler, Sid Justice, “JACK TUNNEY, THIS IS BOGUS!”

When is the last time you saw an NL Champion “replenish the farm system?” The term “NL Champion” means that the team was not good enough to win the World Series. Why? Well, pitching had a helluva lot to do with it.

This is the same Phillies team that had such little confidence in its starting pitchers against the New York Yankees, that Pedro Martinez started two games of the World Series.

For one year you could have had, without question, the best rotation in baseball. Who would want to play the Phils in a postseason series when you had to face Halladay, Lee and Cole Hamels? The rotation could have been set up to have not only the best top two in baseball, but the best 3-4-5 in Hamels, Joe Blanton and JA Happ. In actuality, it is not Roy Halladay that is replacing Lee in the rotation. It is either Jamie Moyer or Kyle Kendrick, cause either of them would have been the odd man out.

If Lee walked after this year, the Phillies would have received two-first round picks.

Those two-first round picks couldn’t have helped replenish the farm system?

Phillippe Aumont only pitched in 51 innings last season in the minors. How much further along could he be than a first-rounder? His size and stature are nice and he seems to have a powerful arm, but he is projected by many to never crack a starting rotation and pitch out of the bullpen for his professional career.

Tyson Gillies hit .341 in single-A ball last year, but is projected by many to be a fourth outfielder at best. The average looks nice and he has a lot of speed, but scouts have been quick to mention that the park he played in, Slater Bros. Stadium is one of the most hitter-friendly stadiums in the minors.

The other prospect in the deal was Juan Ramirez, another pitcher thought to be a reliever at best.

What it comes down to is the Phillies gave up an ace in exchange for three prospects. Since when can’t a World Series contender have enough pitching? Lee was due to make only $9MM this season. If the money was an option, then why not let Joe Blanton walk? Ruben Amaro gave up a $20MM pitcher, due to make a fraction of that. This is just bad business.

The Phillies have a stadium that is sold out nearly every night. Money should never be an option. Furthermore, the Phils are not in rebuilding mode for good reason. The team is built to win now. Look at the teams that have been a staple of success over the past few years: Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers, Angels. Do any of them ever make a deal to bring in prospects? Look at teams with payrolls that are near the top of the ranks like the Phillies: Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers, Angels, Cubs, Mets and White Sox. Do any of them ever make a deal to bring in prospects, especially coming off a year when they just weren’t good enough?

NO! They want to win now. The Yankees went as far as improving their rotation by bringing in Javier Vazquez. The Red Sox brought in John Lackey. At the deadline and all but eliminated last year, the White Sox brought in Jake Peavy to help them contend later.

This brings two more interesting thoughts:

– If Cliff Lee HAD to be dealt…and I mean HAAAAAAAAD to be dealt, why did it have to be done on the same day as the Halladay deal? In a year that had a very weak free agent class for starting pitchers, you couldn’t have done better than a projected relief pitcher and a fourth outfielder? Amaro made this deal right away because of the backlash that he knew was coming. Fans would be much quicker to remember the loss of Lee by looking at the headline on the opposite page that reads “PHILLIES ACQUIRE HALLADAY”.

Imagine the backlash had he pulled the trigger on a Lee deal a month later. Seems like the easy way out.

– The general consensus of people who back this trade (keep in mind, people who back it still baffle me), was that Lee was not going to resign, so it was a “smart move.” How are fans so certain of this? Lee himself said that he was shocked he was traded and that they had just begun preliminary contract talks.

If that is the answer to why you HAD to trade Cliff Lee, then why is Jayson Werth still on the roster going into this year? He is in the last year of a deal and in line for a huge raise as he prepares to enter free agency next winter. Under those circumstances, shouldn’t Amaro have looked at moving Werth in the off-season too? That way we could have even more prospects. Teams in the Phillies position should not be in the business of moving All-Stars out of town via trades.

Fans are quick to love Amaro, but he is no Pat Gillick. Like I said on Tuesday, Amaro inherited a World Series champion with a deep farm system. Ownership has let the payroll increase on a yearly basis. While bringing in Roy Halladay was simply awesome, this might be the deal that Amaro is most remembered for. It really makes you wonder what his plan for the Phillies is.

beermansGradefWhat happens when come mid- to late-July, the Phillies decide they need another starter. It is no secret, pitching costs more in July than it does any other time of the year. Will Amaro dig into his newly replenished farm system and overpay for a Jason Marquis/Jarrod Washburn-type?

Is the plan to win a World Series or simply contend for an NL crown? The Phillies are the class of the National League. Nobody can doubt that. But in a seven-game series, who would you really take? Our Fightins or the Yankees or Red Sox?

What could Roy Halladay do in the World Series that Cliff Lee didn’t? Now ask yourself this, what could Cliff Lee do in the postseason that Pedro Martinez didn’t?

I understand we want the team to be productive for years to come. But which year is more important right now, 2010 or 2014?

BEERMAN’S GRADE: F

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