I have been thinking about a way to break this down and justify this in my head. I guess there are so many facets to this deal, you really cannot just make a blanket statement and run. While I appreciate the whole payroll consideration theory, that's only a fraction of the deal. One of the items that just does not resonate in my brain is what Cliff Lee has been traded for. Check this out, here is his career in trades, which is pretty remarkable.
The Expos traded him to the Indians...
Indians trade him to Phils
Phils get: Cliff Lee, Ben Francisco
Phils trade him to Mariners
Mariners get: Cliff Lee
I just find his career in trades to be remarkable and bizarre at the same time. Dealt with some pretty big names and certainly a cautionary tale when looking at throwing around prospects like they are nothing. I don't come from the school of protecting prospects either, but their perceived value to GM's is certainly misconstrued league wide.
I think if we sit back and look at the deals for Halladay and Lee, they are both great. We all know that we needed Lee and he certainly returned his value for the duration of his time here, thus far. Now, had we received this upcoming year out of him as well, that would have been even better. Couple in the Ben Francisco treat, and regardless of the market at the deadline last year, the deal is great. Provided the market at the deadline last year, and the deal is brilliant. We have covered this a million times over.
The latest Halladay deal was also not that bad at all. In fact, it's great on a number of different levels. At this point, the perceived value of Taylor, Drabek, and D’Arnaud could really not get any higher. If you are going to trade them, now is the time. When you get a top shelf player in return, I personally have no reason to complain. Add in the fact that they are getting money, from the Jays, and it's icing on the cake. In terms of trading for Halladay from a personnel and monetary standpoint this deal is again, brilliant. To make this even more complete, Halladay is also going to be extended at an absolutely perfect contract length and rate. It could not possibly be any better in my eyes and you cannot pass up the chance to get Halladay now.
From strictly a deal standpoint, we could sit here and argue semantics all day and it would be fun to do. I think we would have a hard time gathering a ton of people who did not like any of the deals above. Again, minor complaints, but these players that we are getting are surely top 5% of their positional tier, if not higher.
Where I think we have an issue is in Amaro's ability to get return for his big chips. In this case, Lee. This is not an easy thing to do, but the good GMs can all do this. There are clearly people who know a great deal about prospects and what projections tend to be. My issue isn't necessarily the prospects themselves, as much as it is the ability to help the team now. Obviously, as prospects, they still need development and realize they are not going find room on a ball club that just went back to back series. Prospects all have perceived value on the market, and clearly the players we are obtaining do not have that same value which hurts the team. These three guys could turn out to be gems for all I know, but that will most certainly take time to develop as they move up the circuit in their development. There is still some perceived value in Carrasco and Knapp, although they are both risks as well, but for a different reason that the prospects that the Phillies are obtaining.
All in all, I really do not understand the urgency in dealing Lee immediately. If we sit on him, we can just lie back and wait for teams to bid on Lee, Blanton, Werth, or Victorino. Then there are always the draft picks as well if all else fails. You cannot tell me that there isn't a better market for Lee, especially this time of year when every team thinks they are a contender. Randy Wolf just signed a deal and will make slightly more than Lee this year. I understand not every team in the league can swing that, but there is no doubt that you could swing some better prospects with a higher perceived value.
As I collect my thoughts and in writing this out, the Lee deal is just absolutely horrible. It really is bad business and I feel like Amaro's biggest issue is that he is trigger happy. Ibanez and Polanco were both deals that were out there and done too quickly. I can't fault him for getting his man because clearly Ibanez worked out while he was healthy. Based on last year's market, Ibanez was clearly overpaid. Maybe the money he could have saved by waiting the market out last year could have saved us Lee this year? In terms of Polanco, I don't hate the deal, but I really don't feel like he makes us a lot better. Is the money justified in that deal? At the time it seemed alright but we once again don't know the true valuation of the market. If it's another Ibanez type of deal, we could have potentially just needed to move a small piece with the ability to keep Blanton, Happ, Hamels, Lee, and Halladay. It's just a thought, but again, I think he moves too quickly for his own good.
Had he waited this out, the potential suitors for Lee's services could have really driven up his price. We could have opened up the bidding to the Mets, Yanks, and Red Sox, although it's highly unlikely that we would have dealt to any of those teams. The Met's don't have anything, Yanks aren't that crafty, but the Sox may have taken him and flipped someone else although they are generally the most stingy on return. I really think Theo knows how to trade at this point. Outside of that, you already know that Seattle has dropped a ton of payroll this year and it's obvious with this deal if you did not already know. Anaheim just lost Lackey, are bound to lose Escobar as well, so the need for a one year rental of his caliber would certainly keep them well afloat going into the market next year. Those two teams alone would drive up the price of the Lee being in the same division. Regardless, there are five teams involved and there is always the potential for a 3 way deal. You know, like the one that just happened.
Outside of the few teams that would be players in the Leepstakes, there is always the potential to send off other pieces. That does not mean that we could have flipped some other players and retained the draft picks at the end of the season. Bottom line is that you cannot trade Cliff Lee at the deadline. I can't think of any scenario in my head where they would not be in contention for the Division or Wild Card at the deadline. And if they were, he could more than likely garner a higher return than those two compensation picks. Lost in the mix as well is that Blanton is a pretty solid pitcher as well. Sure he is on a one year deal, but that is going to be another contract that need to be addressed next year as well. He will command a decent sum on the open market.
Best case scenario. We fail one of the Mariners on their physical and start over on the Lee front. Try to move him first and then move down the list. With the success that they have had, payroll limitations, and age of their pieces, this team is going to have some serious decisions to make. If you are still reading, thank you for following along and thinking this out with me.