Thursday, July 30, 2009

Acquiring Propsects at the Trade Deadline, Fools Gold or Treasure?

Yesterday's transaction between the Cleveland Indians and the Philadelphia Phillies read as follows: July 29: Indians trade Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco to the Phillies for Lou Marson , Jason Knapp, Jason Donald, & Carlos Carrasco. While the Phillies addressed their need for an additional frontline starter and a backup outfielder, what exactly did the Indians get in return?

The centerpiece of the deal for the Indians are the two pitchers they received in Knapp and Carrasco. Knapp has yet to turn 19, and is throwing in the 97 MPH range. He is a few years away from the Majors, but the scouts drool over his upside. At his age, the Indians can afford to bring him along slowly. Carrasco at 22 entered the year as the #2 prospect in the Phillies organization, and is a veteran of two Futures games. He has hit a speed bump in AAA, posting an ERA over 5, however, he could benefit from the change of moving into a lower pressure situation in Cleveland. He throws in the mid 90's with two good offspeed pitches. Donald projects as a backup infielder, as he is hitting .230 at AAA. Marson adds to an already crowded catching situation with Victor Martinez and Kelly Shoppach. The departure of Ryan Garko could allow Martinez to shift to first base full-time and open the door for Marson to compete for the full-time catching gig.

This trade begs the question of the title of the article, did the Indians acquire a hidden treasure from the Phillies or a bag of fools gold? Does the scouting department of the Indians see something that the rest of us do not? Was this the best offer that they could get for Lee at the trade deadline? Approaching age 31, do they Indians feel that Lee's best days are behind him? Will the two pitchers reach their potential and eventually fill the void left by the trade of Lee?

With any trade, as time passes, the answer will be revealed. History, however, tells us a different story of prospect trades gone to bust. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick offers his view on nine trades where prospects didn't pan out entitled, "They're Called 'Prospects' For a Reason".


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