About the returns…

As we await the inevitable announcement that Clifton Phifer Lee and Ben Francisco are Philly-bound (that announcement appears likely to come some time after the conclusion of today’s game), we might as well explore the prospect returns the Indians will no doubt be touting.

The Indians were looking for pitching, pitching and more pitching. In this trade, they’d be getting pitching, pitching and a couple position players, one of which is a catcher, fueling speculation that Victor Martinez will be next on the block before Friday’s 4 p.m. ET Trade Deadline.

Here’s a rundown of the four players, with recent comments from Phillies assistant GM Chuck LaMar, courtesy of MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki.


knapp.jpg18 years old, 6-foot-5, 215 pounds

It would appear Knapp is the key to the deal, from the Indians’ perspective (well, that, and cutting costs, but that’s another topic for another blog entry).

Knapp doesn’t turn 19 until Aug. 31, and he’s struck out 111 batters in 85 1/3 innings in the South Atlantic League. By all accounts, he’s a competitive, confident kid with electric stuff (his fastball has been clocked at 98 mph).

But Knapp hasn’t pitched since July 11 because of right shoulder soreness. It’s not considered serious, but it’s still a bit of a red flag at this early stage of his development.

“His right shoulder seemed tired,” LaMar said. “We took all precautions, but he got an immediate, clean bill of health. No problems. He started to throw [Sunday]. No problems. Somewhere in that first week in August, he’ll be back on the mound pitching for Lakewood. When you have that kind of talent at 18, we just didn’t want to take any chances. But safe to say, the way he’s thrown, stuff-wise, he has to be one of the better young Minor League pitching prospects in baseball.”

Kyle Drabek was the prospect that apparently stood in the way of Roy Halladay to the Phillies. The Blue Jays wanted him, and the Phillies wouldn’t part with him. Knapp might even be a more promising prospect than Drabek, but it’s way too soon to tell. If nothing else, Knapp is bigger than the 6-foot, 185-pound Drabek.

“Kyle Drabek is not a real big guy,” LaMar said. “And Jason has thrown many outings this year up to 98 [mph]. And he won’t be 19 until August. To catch a Kyle Drabek, his secondary pitches will have to improve, and they have. They’re two different guys. Jason is a power, power arm going through the learning process. Kyle is more of a complete package right now. But both of them are what you’re looking for.”

It’s been speculated that Knapp’s future might be in the back end of a bullpen.

22 years old, 6-foot-3, 215 pounds

The line on Carrasco is that his stock has dropped this season. He went a combined 9-9 with a 3.69 ERA in 26 appearances between Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley last year. This year, he’s 6-9 with a 5.18 ERA at Lehigh Valley. He’s struck out 112 and walked 38 in 114 2/3 innings.

LaMar, for one, disputed the dropped stock notion Monday, though obviously he made the following remarks at a time when the Phillies were shopping the right-hander.

“We like Carlos Carrasco better right now than we did at any time last year,” LaMar said. “He moved up to Triple-A [last year] and pitched well, and this year he got off to a really slow start. But some of that was self-induced by us. There were certain things Carlos needed to do to become a good Major League pitcher. Start to learn to throw more inside. We introduced a slider to him. He’s gone through some growing pains. To be a good Major League pitcher, Carlos is making progress. We’re glad he’s taken to the changes. Carlos gets it. We could have called Carlos Carrasco to the Majors several times this year, but we thought it would impede his development.”


marson.jpg23 years old, 6-foot-1, 200 pounds

All right, here’s where it gets tricky. The Indians have no need for a catcher, at the moment. They have Victor Martinez under contract through 2010, Kelly Shoppach backing him up, and Chris Gimenez as a third catcher. And that’s just the big-league level. The Tribe is also high on Wyatt Toregas, as he’s put together a strong year at Triple-A Columbus, and Double-A Akron’s Carlos Santana is considered one of the top catching prospects in all of baseball.

The only way Marson’s acquisition makes sense – and, again, I’m writing this before the deal is official and before the Indians’ front office has had any chance to explain their rationale behind this trade – is if Martinez or Shoppach are moved. Or maybe Marson gets flipped. At this point, anything is possible, but obviously, if the Indians are trading Lee, they are looking more toward 2011 than 2010, and one would assume they’re open to the possibility of trading V-Mart.

Anyway, about Marson… He got off to a slow start at Lehigh Valley this year. He’s rebounded over the last couple months and is now batting .294 with a .751 OPS. As far as intangibles are concerned, he spent all of September with the Phillies last year and traveled with them during their World Series run. If nothing else, that experience had to be helpful.

24 years old, 6-foot-1, 195 pounds

Again, this one’s going to have to be explained to me. The Indians have what appears to be the makings of a set middle infield in Asdrubal Cabrera and Luis Valbuena, who they are clearly fond of. And Donald doesn’t have the bat to move to third.

Donald is batting .236 with a .629 OPS at Triple-A this year. He just returned to action this week after missing more than a month following knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus.

“He can be an everyday player,” LaMar said. “Like anyone with his skill set, he’s got to prove it at every level. Some young men get the opportunity to be starters just because they run faster, throw harder, bigger, stronger, more power. In this game we have a tendency to give those people all the opportunity. Jason has to prove it at every level. But what Jason has done is prove it at every level. I don’t think there’s anybody I talked to, baseball people from outside our organization, that is betting against him.”



AC, you sure are earning your money this year, trying to make sense of things like this deal. I hope it works out, but to me, it seems like Shapiro must live near Akron, Columbus, or Painesville, because it seems like he is always more interested in stacking those clubs than any other.
If the deal has still not been announced, where are Lee and Francisco? Can anyone see if they are in the dugout? Are they undergoing physicals in the locker room?

Oh, and one other thing. How happy are you if you are Ben Francisco? Chances are he won’t be in the bigs long, but he might make the 40 man for the playoff run. Guess he’ll have to cancel those October plans he had.

The non-pitching components of this deal have “Martinez to Boston” written all over them (be it to sweeten the deal or to replace him).

im so upset about the horrible direction of these trades i can’t even come up with witty insults about how horrible dolan and shapiro are…

LACF, if that happens, I would have a hard time watching baseball for a while. I can’t stand the thought of Victor in that uniform. It actually makes me physically ill.

Lee to the Phils certainly makes the NLCS v. the Dodgers more interesting. I’m not sure I’ll be able to bring myself to root against Cliff.

But then again, it’s not really about me…though it should be.

I posted this earlier, before this AC’s post here went up, so I’ll just copy and paste what I said earlier. I however defend this trade, how can we jump to such ridiculous conclusions like the Indians got nothing? I’ll never know.
Here’s what’s funny to me.
Everyone is glossing over the fact that we got four of the top ten prospects in the Phillies organization.
I understand people would be upset about this trade. We got not one name from the rumored Halladay deal here. But why can’t Carrasco contribute in 2011 exactly LACF? What definitive proof do you have to offer that he will be a complete bust? None. He’s a prospect and he’s unproven. I’m not saying he will be amazing (or even good), that’s hypocrisy, but this is my point. We have to wait and see. We should get ticked off about this trade in two years if all four suck. Not the day of.
Also you have to love a guy that hits 98 on the radar at the age of 18. Sure he might flame out and oh no he’s on the DL! He’s also 18 pitching longer and with more intensity than he ever has. Growing pains. I love the Indians but I can’t stand some of you fans that overreact to something not yet proven. I hope this trade produces two solid pitchers for the next 6-8 years for the Tribe. Not for the sake of the tribe but just to shut all of you up. Remember how awful we felt when we traded Colon for a great prospect named Brandon Philips and some mid level guys named Lee and Sizemore. After that trade I don’t know how we can jump to such ridiculous conclusions like “Fire Shapiro over this trade” or “we got robbed”. We said that when we traded for Colon. Worked out well. Plus by saving the money we would have had to pay Lee next year maybe we can use it towards an extension of Sizemore or Choo.

strummer, as long as you’re here 6-8 years from now to see all of them equal to Marte, Gutierrez, et al. I will be here if they turn out to be Sizemore or Phillips


good point i really hope your right

AC, does this finally mean i can sleep at night knowing that Matt LaPorta will get the regular PT he deserves?

AC, does this finally mean i can sleep at night knowing that Matt LaPorta will get the regular PT he deserves?

AC, does this finally mean i can sleep at night knowing that Matt LaPorta will get the regular PT he deserves?

Without the recent buzz on Roy Halladay, I think Tribe fans would not be so upset about this trade. Fans are quick to dismiss the quality of this prospect haul because none were mentioned in the rumors of a Halladay deal.
Now, I do worry about the starting rotation for this year and next, which is why I actually hope VMart can be shipped to Boston for Buchholz and some other pieces. He’s not an ace now but he will be soon
Bottom line, this team is starting to look more like the Marlins and Pirates and it’s tough to be a Tribe fan now.

It just seems like we’re charlie brown – everyone else get’s gum & candy and we get the rocks

well regarded prospects do not equal rocks dude. sorry they don’t. I agree with cardred, without the Halladay talk this move gets a different reception from Indian fans. We grew accustomed to those names in the Halladay rumors. If those rumors don’t swirl, those prospects get hyped too much, and this trade looks better.

OK, so the Tribe is pointing to 2011. My question is why keep Kerry Wood? Seems like the goal is to get next year’s payroll to around $60 million. Moving Wood and his $10.5 million contract makes more sense than ever. Perhaps no one is interested in paying that much for his services?

Strummer – Here are my thoughts on the prospects.
Carrasco – He seems to be a pitcher who was highly regarded as a top prospect a year or two ago, but hasn’t been able to make the transition. He reminds me of a Jeremy Sowers.
Knapp – This is the true gem in the trade, but one that makes me nervous. This 18 year old kid has a lightning bolt for an arm, but is having fatigue in class A ball. I’m worried he will burn himself out before he gets to the bigs.
Marson – This makes absolutely no sense for me. He is a high contact, not-for-power AAA catcher, that seems to be highly regarded as well. However, this is an organization that is PACKED with catching depth. Even if a Martinez deal is in the works (God help us), it still doesn’t make sense to me. Most writers I’ve read think of him as MLB potential, but not an everyday starter.
Donald – He seems to be a well rounded infielder, but not a guy with much offense. This doesn’t make much sense to me either, since we seem pretty enamored and set with Cabrera (SS) and Valbuena (2B). I see him as a utility infielder, unless he can pick up his offensive game. But, where his future is in this club, I can’t see.
All in all, we may have SOME of the Phillies’ top prospects, but not those that we truly need, or those that are a sure bet.
As Cousineau said in The DiaTribe, we got MUCH more for Sabathia (two significant, high-end prospects, and a few throw-ins), who had only 1/2 a year on his contract. And for Lee (who has basically 1 and 1/2 years on his contract) AND Francisco, we got one high-end prospect (Knapp), a middle grade, ready for MLB prospect (Carrasco), and two average throw-ins that don’t fit our organizational direction (Marson and Donald).
All in all, a poor trade. Sure, Carrasco and Knapp might pan out. I sure hope they do. But, we were supposed to be “blown over” by a deal for Lee, as we had a 2010 option. This wouldn’t have come close to tempting me, nevermind getting blown over. I would have hated to see some of the average offers.

“But why can’t Carrasco contribute in 2011 exactly LACF?”
I’m not saying he can’t. I’m saying we have no idea, when the Phillies were turned off by Toronto because the Blue Jays wanted TWO guys who could, yet we got neither.
But whether or not Carrasco can help us in 2011 is irrelevant. Is he going to help us NEXT YEAR? That is extremely doubtful, and he’s certainly not going to fill the void that Cliff has left.
The Phillies had guys that could help us sooner. For that matter, we at least had some reasonable possibility of competing next year with Cliff as our ace. That appears to be out the window now.
As AM mentioned a while back, our lack of pitching depth is a problem in AAA, not AA. The idea that we’d be short on pitching two years from now isn’t entirely accurate.

For that matter, we keep hearing that Knapp was the key to this deal, and he’s definitely not going to help us in 2011, when he can’t make it through a full season in low A in 2009.

As has been mentioned, because non of these names were mentioned in the Halladay deal… actaully they were, the Phillies counter offer, not so widely thrown around as the Jays wish list…. the Phillies counter included Carrasco and Donald, but instead of Knapp and Marson, the Phillies offered the Jays, Happ and Taylor, who is a AAA outfielder, there really is not much difference in this deal and what the Phillies offered for Halladay, other than Knapp and Happ, no it doesn’t make it any better, but as people have said had the Jays and media not been screaming has to be Drabek and Happ, this deal would look okay in comparison to what the Phillies obviously felt Halladay was worth to them, and the more I look at it the more it seems like an okay deal, not just because I am a Phillies fan either
Outside the Phillies Looking In

Here’s something to consider: what do we do with all of our catchers?
Shoppach’s numbers are no better than Gimenez, even given the smaller sample size for Gimenez. And the main reason Shoppach has gotten into games as of late — his bromance with Lee — is gone. Gimenez has been getting into the outfield more because we keep dealing outfielders (or losing them to illness), but with Grady back and a call-up of some sort coming, will Gimenez start getting time behind the plate?
Then there’s our top AAA guys, in the newly acquired Marson and Toregas. Their numbers are very similar and either could probably due with some chances on a major league team. The theory, of course, is that they’re all just bridges to get us to Santana.
I don’t know. I can’t imagine us dealing both Martinez AND Shoppach, but the idea of Shoppach as our starting catcher concerns me.

I think a lot of the confusion, devilabrit, comes from the fact that the Tribe doesn’t need a middle infielder or a catcher.
Personally, I would have taken Happ over Knapp, as Knapp is still quite a ways off (and that’s assuming he doesn’t get hurt).

I think one of the most upsetting things about this trade is not getting rid of Cliff’s personal catcher as well. Shoppach needs to go to make room for the young guys as well. Sure we have no ace in the future unless we expect Carmona and Westbrook to do that…but common, we got another bunch of no names. If we can keep this up maybe we can have 3-4 of the top 10 prospects from half of the teams in the league. Then maybe we can grow them and give them playing time until they get worth trading themselves!

Crappy rotation next year, we still have Shoppach and Peralta, and Barfield still will never get a chance. All this and Braylan Edwards failed a physical and the Browns are going to stink this year too. Can we start the NBA season early this year?

Any way you cut it, the return on this trade is awful. Even if the Indians do trade Martinez AND Shoppach, they didn’t need another catcher, they could go with Torregas and Giminez, with Santana competing for the job next year. The career path of an A-ball pitching prospect is about the most unpredictable thing in the universe, odds are 50-50 that the guy ever even throws a pitch for the big league club. Where’s the can’t miss prospect, a la Laporta AND Brantley, which they got for a half year of Sabathia? Lee has a super affordable year left on his contract, they should’ve got something better than what they got for Sabathia. What’s next year’s rotation, if Westbrook and Carmona don’t return, which neither is guaranteed? Despite the other problems this year, if they had an average bullpen, they’d be in first place, it makes no sense to start all over,so I disagree with trading Lee at all, but to make the trade for this pathetic return is incomprehensible

strummer, your points make no sense. we got one guy with a 5+ ERA in Triple A, a kid on the DL in Single-A, a catcher we have no need for (remember Carlos Santana, Torregas, and yes, Victor?), and a kid hitting .236 who is certainly not a top prospect.
the failure of the front office to get drabek, happ, or brown…is shocking. and the package we got should have been given for Lee, but Francisco too? Four for two proven players? ….wow. i’m going to be a cubs fan like the rest of my friends, i’m sick of this.

You know who does need an upper level ss as well as a good catching prospect… the Red Sox. Conveniently they need an upgrade at 1b as well.
If they throw a package of Buchholz, Bard, Bowden, + another I’d be interested.

Unrelated to todays trade, but I can’t find where Jason Kipnis is. After he signed, he was supposed to report to Mahoning Valley the following Monday. That was several weeks ago and he’s not on any roster I can find. But the Indians web site is still showing GCL Indians, instead of AZL Indians, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised if its just that they haven’t updated rosters. Any info would be appreciated. Also, any updates on negotiations with Alex White?

meads8: Kipnis is with Mahoning Valley, but hasn’t been activated because he got injured in the CWS and should be activated in about a week. I’ve already talked to him at Mahoning Valley about a week ago. Good kid, looks a bit shorter than the 6′ the list him at though.

As far as White, it’s expected he gets signed closer to the deadline. There’s no rush to sign him because he won’t be pitching much in the minors once he does get signed due to the amount of innings he’s already pitched.

Zaj: Thanks for the quick response

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