On Wednesday, August 8 the Cleveland Indians announced parting ways with minor league pitcher Jason Knapp, the key acquisition for the Tribe in 2009 when they traded away 2008 Cy Young winner Cliff Lee to the Philadelphia Phillies. Knapp's release naturally raises the question, how did the Indians make out from the 2009 trade deadline blockbuster?
The exact transaction saw the Cleveland Indians trade away Lee and outfielder Ben Francisco to the Philadelphia Phillies for four prospects, shortstop Jason Donald, catcher Lou Marson, plus pitchers Carlos Carrasco and Jason Knapp. Given Knapp's status as the deal's centerpiece, frustrated Clevelanders publicly vented via Twitter.
For example, fan Tommy Dee tweeted "The main prospect the Indians got in the Cliff Lee trade was released today, Jason Knapp. Good trade Shaponetti." A Twitter search for "Jason Knapp" will reveal similar sarcastic sentiments from multiple Clevelanders.
Personally, I'm not ready to call the Cliff Lee trade a bust. Just because the projected key prospect didn't live up to his billing doesn't mean the other three won't. Mainly I'm referring to Carlos Carrasco. After all, Lou Marson and Jason Donald will likely never surpass bench roles on the Indians team.
Marson, a strong defensive catcher, doesn't maintain the offensive skill needed to become first-string. Meanwhile second baseman Jason Kipnis, shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, and third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall assumingly hold locks for years to come on the positions Jason Donald can field.
Carlos Carrasco on the other hand could eventually become an essential arm in the Cleveland Indians starting rotation. A flashback to my Yahoo! Voices piece "The 2011 Cleveland Indians: June Recap" recalls Carrasco displayed glimpses of brilliance last season. Unfortunately he also showed inconsistency, ultimately going 8-9 with a 4.62 ERA in 21 starts. Carrasco's 2011 season came to a halt after undergoing Tommy John surgery in September.
The Tommy John surgery turns forecasting Carlos Carrasco's future into a crapshoot. If he successfully recovers from the operation and proves he can pitch well consistently, I will deem the 2009 Cliff Lee deal worthwhile. Yet if Carrasco fails to recapture his potential, then any Clevelander becomes hard pressed to provide a supportive argument for the trade beyond "Well, Lou Marson is better than nothing."
Zachary Fenell fell in love with the Cleveland Indians during the 1995 season when the Tribe powered their way to the organization's first World Series appearance since 1954. While the Indians lost some allure since the 1990s you will still find Zachary watching the games on TV, listening to them on the radio, or best yet taking in a game from the stands at Progressive Field.
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