Phillies, Mariners make big deals
July 30, 2009
ROB MAADDI AP Sports Writer PHILADELPHIA
Cliff Lee is more than just a consolation prize. The Philadelphia Phillies didn't get Roy Halladay, instead acquiring the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner from Cleveland on Wednesday. Looking to bolster their so-so rotation, the NL East leaders sent four minor- league prospects to the Indians for Lee and outfielder Ben Francisco. The Phillies strongly pursued Halladay, but quickly struck a deal to land Lee once they deemed Toronto's asking price for the six-time All-Star was too high. "One of our goals was to acquire a top-of-the-rotation guy, somebody who we felt was going to make a difference. And we think that Cliff can certainly do that," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. Said. The left-handed Lee is 7-9 with a 3.14 ERA in 22 starts this season after going 22-3 with a 2.54 ERA in 2008. The Indians dealt CC Sabathia, then the reigning Cy Young winner and in the fi- nal year of his contract, to the Milwaukee Brewers last summer. "I'm going to miss all these guys here, but it's an opportunity for me to help a team that's in first place," Lee said after the Indians lost to the Los Angeles Angels 9-3 in Anaheim, Calif. "They're the defending world champions. So as far as that goes, I'm excited." The Phillies sent Triple-A pitcher Carlos Carrasco, infielder Jason Donald and catcher Lou Marson along with Single-A pitcher Jason Knapp to Cleveland. "The value was compelling," Indians general manager Mark Shapiro said. "It had to be compelling." Lee turns 31 next month and his contract includes a $9 million club option for next season. Amaro acquired Lee without giving up top pitching prospect Kyle Drabek, rookie left-hander J.A. Happ, who is 7-2, or highly touted minor league out- fielders Michael Taylor and Dominic Brown. "Watching him go through last year and this year, it's not like it's far off of Halladay at all," Phillies closer Brad Lidge said of Lee. "He's that kind of pitcher. And not having to give up Happ to get him, that's pretty impressive." Lee gives the Phillies another top starter to join Cole Hamels. The MVP of the World Series and NLCS last fall has been inconsistent this season Hamels was 7-5 with a 4.42 ERA, though he pitched well in a victory at Arizona on Tuesday. The Phillies have a comfortable lead in the division six games ahead of second-place Florida. They've sought pitching help since No. 2 starter Brett Myers had hip surgery in June. Jamie Moyer leads the staff with 10 wins, but he is 46 and has a 5.32 ERA. The addition of Lee means Philadelphia has to drop someone possibly Rodrigo Lopez from its starting rotation. Lopez, though, is 3-0 with a 3.09 ERA in four starts. The Phillies also have Pedro Martinez rehabbing in the minors. The three-time Cy Young Award winner signed a $1 million, one-year contract during the All-Star break. "I'd rather have a surplus than have needs," Amaro said. "It'll work itself out." Manager Charlie Manuel said he'll probably make a decision about the rotation on the team's plane ride to San Francisco on Wednesday night. Francisco, batting .250 with 10 homers and 33 RBIs, upgrades Philadelphia's bench, which has lacked a solid right-handed hitter. The Indians have been a disappointment this season and their decision to deal Lee for prospects is another blow for Cleveland fans, who have seen stars such as Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome and Sabathia leave via free agency or trade. "We've been through this before with much less talent in our cabinet," Shapiro said. "If we hadn't made tough decisions and trades before like this in the past, we wouldn't have had guys like Cliff." Lee came to Cleveland, along with center fielder Grady Sizemore, from the Montreal Expos in a 2002 deal for Bartolo Colon. The club had hoped to sign Lee to an extension but talks broke off during spring training. A succession of injuries and dismal relief pitching dropped the Indians out of contention and forced Shapiro to begin rebuilding. The Indians traded infielder/out- fielder Mark DeRosa to St. Louis last month, sent reliever Rafael Betancourt to Colorado last week and dealt first baseman Ryan Garko to San Francisco on Monday. Seattle and Pittsburgh GREGG BELL AP Sports Writer SEATTLE While they wait on a possible trade of top starter Jarrod Washburn, the busy Seattle Mariners acquired shortstop Jack Wilson and pitcher Ian Snell from the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday. The Pirates got shortstop Ronny Cedeno, Triple-A catcher-first baseman Jeff Clement and three minor league pitchers in return. The 31-year-old Wilson, the most senior Pirates player and an All-Star in 2004, becomes Seattle's third everyday shortstop this season. He's so embedded in Pittsburgh, his wife flew home on the Pirates' charter from San Francisco on Wednesday as he flew north to his new team. "I would call it a relatively major trade. We got a 27-year-old pitcher with three years' experience in the major leagues and arguably one of the better defensive shortstops in the league for guys who are yet to be proven," Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said. Seattle also traded failed left fielder Wladimir Balentien to Cincinnati for right-hander Robert Manuel, who has 40 games of experience above Double- A. A more major deal, of the coveted Washburn, could happen before Friday's non-waiver trading deadline. The Yankees, Brewers and Tigers are among the teams rumored to be interested. "I'm all ears at this point," Zduriencik said. "I can't say anything's imminent. I don't think I have a framework yet. ... There are discussions." Wilson arrived in the Mariners' dugout from Pittsburgh's road trip in San Francisco just as Ken Griffey Jr. Was hitting the decisive double in the seventh inning of Seattle's 3-2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays, then joined in the hugs with Griffey and his new teammates. "Pretty good first impression," Wilson said. "I was like, 'All right, I'm a Mariner." Wilson and second baseman Freddy Sanchez, a fellow Southern Californian who was traded to the Giants hours later, are the latest to flee a Pittsburgh franchise that is shedding veterans to restock its farm system. Both were recently offered contract extensions. Neither player negotiated because each felt the offer was too low. "I think seeing him go made this move a lot less emotional for me to come over here because he was gone," Sanchez said of Wilson. The Bucs are careening toward what would be a major league-record 17th consecutive losing season. They've now traded seven starting players since last July: outfielders Jason Bay, Nate McLouth, Xavier Nady and Nyjer Morgan, first baseman Adam LaRoche, plus Wilson and Sanchez. "People now might wonder what we're doing, but if you keep looking at all the names we're getting and all the premier talent we're getting, it's going to equate to a very solid, very good ballclub in Pittsburgh," manager John Russell said. Seattle had acquired Cedeno in the offseason from the Chicago Cubs. He struggled after the Mariners gave him their shortstop job this month by trading Yuniesky Betancourt to Kansas City. Cedeno is hitless in his last 26 atbats and is hitting .167 in 59 games. The 26-year-old's contract ends after the season, though Pittsburgh could retain him through arbitration. "I'm really surprised, because I feel comfortable here," Cedeno said. "Great teammates, great coaches, everything. ... I'm really sad." In Clement, the Pirates are getting the third overall draft pick in 2005 who has shown impressive power but has been unable to play catcher consistently. He has primarily been a DH at Triple-A, though general manager Neal Huntington said Clement will mainly be a first baseman. Clement, who turns 26 next month, batted .237 with seven homers in 75 games for Seattle in 2007-08. He was batting .288 with 14 home runs and 68 RBIs in 92 games for Tacoma this season. "Our scouts have consistently projected Clement to be an everyday major league contributor with the power to hit 20-plus home runs," Huntington said. The Pirates also get minor league right-handers Nathan Adcock, Brett Lorin and Aaron Pribanic. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported the Pirates are paying Seattle just over $3.3 million in Wednesday's deal. The newspaper said the trade leaves Seattle responsible for all 2010 payments, including Snell's $4.25 million salary, and the option buyouts for Wilson and Snell. The Mariners inherit a club option on Wilson worth $8.4 million in 2010, with a $600,000 buyout. Zduriencik said his team will "entertain" picking up the option or signing Wilson to a long-term extension. "I've known his agent, Page Odle, since he was a player in college," Seattle's GM said. "We have a guy that's a good player, and he'll be here for a while." The Mariners think they can restart Snell's stalled career. The 27-yearold had a 0.96 ERA in six starts with Triple-A Indianapolis, after starting the season 2-8 with a 5.36 ERA in 15 starts for Pittsburgh. He is likely to begin his Seattle tenure with Triple-A Tacoma. Snell was sent to Triple-A at his own request on June 25. He struck out 13 in a row in his first start there, but Pirates have been reluctant to recall him. Pirates and Giants JANIE McCAULEY AP Sports Writer SAN FRANCISCO Freddy Sanchez offered handshakes and hugs and bid farewell to the Pittsburgh Pirates before walking some 100 yards down the hallway to his new team. San Francisco swept the Pirates on Wednesday, then plucked one of their top players. The Giants acquired Sanchez and made it a convenient switch for the three-time All-Star hours after doubleplay partner and shortstop Jack Wilson was traded to Seattle. The teams announced the swap following the Giants' 1-0, 10-innings victory so Sanchez merely had to change clubhouses to join his new organization, which is in the thick of the NL wild-card race. "It's crazy," said Sanchez, who's unsure when he'll make his Giants debut because of a knee injury. "I'd be lying if I didn't say it's a little crazy, a little hectic. I'm here for a reason." Once it was official, Sanchez left the visitor's side and headed to San Francisco's locker room to pull on his new No. 28 jersey and a black Giants cap before being formally introduced. Indeed. The Giants haven't reached the playoffs since 2003 and have endured four straight losing seasons. San Francisco sent minor league pitcher Tim Alderson to the Pirates for the 31-year-old Sanchez, the 2006 NL batting champion. "Simply put, our long-awaited next move has finally been consummated," Giants general manager Brian Sabean said. "A kid that has distinguished himself as an All-Star three out of the last four years and a batting champ within that time frame. The timing's great." The Giants' medical staff twice examined Sanchez this week to make sure his inflamed left knee was fine. Sanchez was a late scratch Monday night and didn't play at all during the Pirates' three-game series in the Bay Area, giving San Francisco's medical staff ample time to evaluate him. He also sat out Friday night's game at Arizona. "It's tough coming to a new team not knowing if you can play or not," Sanchez said. "That's the last thing you want to do is come to a new team and be in the trainer's room. I want to get there as soon as I can but I also want to be smart about it." Sanchez is hitting .296 with six home runs and 34 RBIs, and did not play in this week's series against the Giants because of the knee. He was an All-Star in 2006, 2007 and this year. He will move into the No. 2 hole in the batting order and be the regular second baseman. Sanchez is 3 for 34 over his last eight games, but hopes to be back on track soon. It was the second trade of the day for the last-place Pirates, and second swap of the week for the Giants after acquiring infielder-outfielder Ryan Garko from Cleveland on Monday. Friday is the deadline for teams to make deals without waivers. "We're relieved this has come to fruition," Sabean said. So is Sanchez, who had been dealing with the trade rumors since the All- Star break. "I'm human," he said. "You try to put things in the back of your head and be professional about it but we're all human. It just feels good that it's over with. There was a little uncertainty. Now I can just concentrate and go play and help these guys win." "It's just part of the game. It happens," third baseman Andy LaRoche said. "I don't know if this is normal but it's just the way that our brass sees it and our front office feels we need to get us going in the right direction. It's obviously a tough loss losing guys you've become close with and you've played with and the guys you have fun being around and you've gone into battle with. You can't let it really affect you." With Garko and Sanchez, it gives the club a completely new look on the right side of the infield. "It's just exciting to be a part of this," Garko said upon learning about Sanchez. "The pitching's so good and we've got real good players. I think we can make a run at it. Coming from Cleveland, where kind of the opposite is going on, as a player, when ownership and the general manager are going out there and getting you help, it's a great thing."