The date was July 29th, 2009, and that morning everyone in Philadelphia was debating whether or not Roy Halladay would be a Phillie by the end of the 31st. By the end of the 29th, Cliff Lee and OF Ben Francisco were dealt to Philadelphia in exchange for four prospects: C Lou Marson, P Jason Knapp, P Carlos Carrasco & IF Jason Donald, keeping their ‘big trio’ of prospects.
Ben Francisco surely left his mark. Big Ben played in 37 games for the Phils, mainly as a pinch hitter, hit .278 with 5 HR and 13 RBI for the club. But the big story was the true ace that the Phillies were looking for (especially since Cole Hamels was slumping). In 12 regular season games, Lee went 7-4 with a 3.39 ERA. But the true magic was in the postseason where Lee went 4-0 and a 1.56 ERA, as the Phillies went to the World Series.
Phillies GM Ruben Amaro said:
Obviously, we’re pretty pleased. One of our goals was to acquire a top-of-the-rotation guy, somebody who we felt like was going to make a difference. And we think that Cliff can certainly do that. We’ve talked a thousand times about the right-handed bat. We’ve given ourselves some versatility.
Closer Brad Lidge added:
It’s huge. I don’t know how they did it. But they were able to pull that off and not give away [left-hander J.A.] Happ. Wow. Getting a guy like Cliff Lee and getting a great outfielder, too, is pretty amazing considering we didn’t have to give away anybody on our team to do it.
Now we all know that Cliff Lee’s time here was short, but here’s to say it wasn’t sweet. The day we acquired Lee, everyone was disappointed that we didn’t acquire Roy Halladay (just wait 6 months, fans), but pumped that we got an ace, regardless.
Real Deal’s personal story: I was actually in Williamsburg, Virginia that week, and was at Busch Gardens that day. I didn’t bring my phone with me, but my cousin brought his, so at lunch I asked to borrow it for a second and saw that we were close to dealing for Lee. Fortunately, we finished all the rides and attractions before we were forced to go home around 3:00 (rain, we could have stayed but we’ve been there so many times, and we did everything we wanted to that day). The rest of the day I spent catching up on texts about Lee, and watching ESPN about the deal.