If the reports are correct (and I'm still in the camp that says that we really can't trust anything until the deals are finally announced), the Phillies are selling off Cliff Lee for 2010 because, with Roy Halladay in the fold, they're going to be over their $140M budget.
So, the Phillies would rather a) avoid paying Lee in 2010 and get three of the Mariners prospects than b) pay Lee in 2010 and let him go in free agency while getting two compensation draft picks. The Mariners prospects are slightly more valuable than two compensation picks, but only slightly. But, for this exercise, let's say it's a wash.
This part of the deal then is really just about money. Cliff Lee is under contract for 2010 for $9 million. The Phillies last year had a total home attendance of just over 3,600,000. Add in the 8 home playoff games, and we're just under 4,000,000 fans watching baseball games at Citizens Bank Park.
The math here is very easy. If the Phillies charged $2 extra per ticket in 2010, they'd make up almost all of Cliff Lee's contract. And that's without figuring in an attendance bump (albeit slight considering the number of sell-outs last year) or other ways the Phillies could capitalize on a rotation of Halladay/Lee/Hamels/Happ/Blanton (makes you salivate, doesn't it?).
So, here's my question to you: would you, as a paying customer of the Philadelphia Phillies, be willing to fork over $2 extra per ticket next year to keep Lee on the team along with newly acquired Halladay?
The poll is below, but I'm betting I know the answer to this one. And if the math here is this simple and obvious, then why the hell is Ruben Amaro so hell-bent on getting rid of Cliff Lee?
[Edited Wednesday morning with Cliff Lee's correct 2010 contract value. His base is $8M but he has a $1M bump this year. My point still stands.]