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On July 27, 2007, the Indians sent Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco to Triple-A Buffalo. Two years and two days later, Lee and Francisco once again found themselves leaving one of our most miserable cities for another (we kid because Philadelphians are renowned for their self-effacing sense of humor; we're sure the Liberty Bell is well worth the trip, really).

When he woke up Wednesday morning, Lee could probably have walked down the streets of any major American city that didn't border Lake Erie and gone unrecognized. All right, Lee could probably still do that this morning, but overnight, the lefty became the powerbroker of record in the National League, and possibly the entire sport. Not bad for a guy who was barely still a prospect himself, let alone worth a bunch of them, when the Indians sent him down two years ago after a 5-8. 6.38 ERA start to the season.

As we recounted yesterday, less than a quarter of SportsNation thought the Phillies could win the National League if they didn't add either Lee or Roy Halladay. Now that they added the pitcher voters ranked No. 8 in the game (seven spots behind Halladay but one spot ahead of new teammate Cole Hamels), more than quarter of voters think the Phillies are the best team in baseball.

So what about the National League race?


Lee Isnt The Only Good Thing.. They Got Ben Fransisco. Who Can Play All Outfield And Is Speed On The Bases. All He Needs Is Some Work On Discipline And The Phillies Will Have A Great Bench. With All This Talent, The Phillies Are Proned To At Least Make The NLCS. I Wouldn't Put Them Back In The World Series. Just Yet, Until They Get Another Strikeout Reliever.

-- KidSox1

This was a horrible move for Cleveland. I'm upset that they didn't get one major league prospect worth anything. Carrasco with an ERA over 5.00 and a WHIP of 1.36 in AAA? Are you kidding? Marson, who is also underwhelming and completely useless with Santana waiting in the wings? Donald, who won't even sniff the bigs with LaPorta and Brantley coming up? Horrible trade on all accounts with Knapp still at least 2 years away from the bigs.

-- thirdsaint

poor Cliff Lee. He is going in with the highest of expectations in a bad ballpart for his style of pitching. He will get eaten alive.

-- pandanwh

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Well, that was fast.

Barring any horrid findings from the ever-present physical exams (such as Lou Marson developing a sudden case of club feet or Ben Francisco's adamantium skeleton), Cliff Lee will be heading to the defending champion Philadelphia Phillies. The reported trade sends Lee and Francisco to the Phillies in exchange for minor leaguers Marson, Carlos Carrasco, Jason Knapp and Jason Donald, a somewhat lesser haul than, say, Roy Halladay would have brought.

Lee is an interesting case study in how one good year can change your fate. Long considered "just OK," Lee seemed consigned to a role as a lefty starter who hangs around for years and years by virtue of his handedness and durability. Of course, if a guy goes 22-3 while posting a 2.54 ERA, opinions of him will shift drastically. Lee's 2009 isn't quite up to his 2008, but teams who have seen what he can do aren't scared off by his 7-9 record ... or at least, the Phillies aren't.

The Phillies could definitely use the pitching help. Ace Cole Hamels has been underwhelming, and Jamie Moyer is showing his age. Joe Blanton has had a decent season, but Philadelphia has relied overmuch on J.A. Happ as of late. Now, the team has both Lee and Happ, as opposed to Halladay and no Happ. The prospects they gave up were good, but did the Indians get enough in return for their ace?

This is a smart move by the Phillies. They find themselves searching for another arm to improve their rotation and solidify themselves as a NL powerhouse, and with Lee they accomplish both. It is true, Lee is not Doc Holliday, but as a supplemental talent, Lee will provide the shot in the arm necessary. In getting Cliff Lee, they gave up less and get a year and a half of upper-tier talent.

-- staticfish

The problem is not Shapiro or Wedge. It's Larry Dolan who isn't willing to be a buyer in the market. At least Dan Gilbert gets it that you have to spend money to get a winner. Until we get an owner that realizes that, the Indians will still look to recapture the "lightning in a bottle" method of getting guys before they turn into stars and locking them into longer term deals.

-- jwindle1975

This will make the Phillies extremely dangerous, but you have to question having that many finesse pitchers in your rotation. They almost completely rely on the umpire's strike zone. If the ump isn't giving them the corner strikes, they lose almost all effectiveness.

-- tybae40

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