- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 30, 2009

From combined dispatches

Looking for an ace to bolster their so-so rotation, the Philadelphia Phillies acquired Cliff Lee on Wednesday from Cleveland, marking the second straight year the Indians traded the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner.

The defending World Series champion Phillies gave Cleveland four minor league prospects for Lee and outfielder Ben Francisco.

“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 Angels on Wednesday. “They’re the defending world champions. So as far as that goes, I’m excited. But right now I’ve got to figure out how to get there and meet up with them and get acclimated to their team.”

The NL East-leading Phillies are sending Class AAA pitcher Carlos Carrasco, infielder Jason Donald and catcher Lou Marson along with Class A pitcher Jason Knapp to Cleveland.

Last year, Cleveland dealt CC Sabathia, then the reigning Cy Young winner and in the final year of his contract, to Milwaukee. Sabathia helped the Brewers into the postseason before signing a seven-year, $161 million contract with the New York Yankees.

“Losing one Cy Young winner one year and another one the very next year is probably hard for a fan to swallow. But it’s the nature of the game,” Lee said.

Philadelphia pursued Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay but shifted its attention to Lee because Toronto’s asking price for the six-time All-Star is high. The Phillies balked at trading top pitching prospect Kyle Drabek, who was the 18th overall pick in the 2006 amateur draft.

The Seattle Mariners were busy, making two trades in one day. First, they acquired shortstop Jack Wilson and pitcher Ian Snell from Pittsburgh for shortstop Ronny Cedeno, Class AAA catcher Jeff Clement and three minor league pitchers.

The 31-year-old Wilson, an All-Star in 2004, becomes Seattle’s third everyday shortstop this season.

Later, the Mariners dealt with Cincinnati to get right-handed reliever Robert Manuel for outfielder Wladimir Balentien.

Pittsburgh kept dealing as well, trading infielder Freddy Sanchez to San Francisco just minutes after losing a 1-0 to the Giants in 10 innings.

San Francisco sent minor league pitcher Tim Alderson to the Pirates for the 31-year-old Sanchez, the 2006 NL batting champion.

Asked in Seattle whether he felt the Blue Jays were fortunate by the Phillies acquiring Lee instead of Halladay, Toronto manager Cito Gaston said with a chuckle, “Yeah, I guess. Who knows? They may come back and get [Halladay], too. That’d be a pretty good staff there, wouldn’t it?”

Lee gives the Phillies another top starter to join Cole Hamels. The left-hander is 7-9 with a 3.14 ERA in 22 starts this season after going 22-3 with a 2.54 ERA last year. Hamels, the MVP of the World Series and NLCS last fall, has been inconsistent this season. He’s 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 - seven games ahead of second-place Florida going into Wednesday’s games. 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 - likely 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.

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