Phillies hoping Hamels deal rivals Cliff Lee acquisition in 2009
The debate is already underway: Did the Philadelphia Phillies receive enough in return for trading star left-hander Cole Hamels to the Texas Rangers?
With the Phillies receiving five minor-league prospects along with left-handed starter Matt Harrison, it may takes years to decide the winner in the Hamels sweepstakes.
That being said, the trade evokes memories of the trade deadline six years ago, when Philadelphia was in buyer mode and pursuing a premier lefty starter. The Phillies landed Cliff Lee, who had won the AL Cy Young Award with the Cleveland Indians the previous season, along with outfielder Ben Francisco for four minor-leaguers.
Ironically, the impetus for the Lee deal was to provide another elite starter behind Hamels, who led the Phillies to a world championship in 2008 and was the reigning World Series MVP at the time.
Lee did his part, helping Philadelphia return to the World Series and beating the New York Yankees twice in a series that the Phillies would lose in six games.
The Phillies promptly traded Lee in the offseason before bringing him back one year later with a $120 million free-agent deal. Lee went 41-30 over the next four seasons, while Francisco played for four other teams after spending 2 1/2 seasons in Philly.
Right-hander Carlos Carrasco has been the most serviceable player for the Indians, coming back from Tommy John surgery to win a career-high 10 games this season. None of the other players in that deal panned out for Cleveland.
Catcher Lou Marson and shortstop Jason Donald were considered top prospects but wound up as journeymen at best and highly regarded right-hander Jason Knapp suffered an injury and never pitched above Class A.
If nothing else, the trade serves as a stark reminder for the Phillies and their fans that pinning their hopes on minor-league prospects can be a dicey proposition.