Lee, Francisco Dealt To Phils For Four

Lou Marson ... Indians catcher of future?

The Cleveland Indians continued to add prospects while cutting salary by trading Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee to the Philadelphia Phillies in a six-player deal Wednesday. General manager Mark Shapiro said adding right-handers Carlos Carrasco and Jason Knapp, catcher Lou Marson and infielder Jason Donald for Lee and outfielder Ben Francisco gives Cleveland a better chance to contend in 2010.

Fans, already upset with a team that is 18 games under .500, are calling local talks shows to express their displeasure with Shapiro's latest trade.

In recent weeks, the Indians have dealt veteran infielder Mark DeRosa to St. Louis for right-handers Chris Perez and Jess Todd; reliever Rafael Betancourt to Colorado for young right-hander Connor Graham; and first baseman Ryan Garko to San Francisco for lefty Scott Barnes.

"At the root of this deal was balancing the conviction of our ability to compete in 2010 with the opportunity to impact the team's construction for years to come," Shapiro said. "Without the sense of confidence in the team's ultimate competitiveness, we acted aggressively to add players that will impact the organization in 2010 and beyond."

It is the second year in a row that Shapiro has dealt the reigning AL Cy Young winner for four prospects before the trading deadline. In 2008, he sent CC Sabathia to the Milwaukee Brewers for slugger Matt LaPorta, outfielder Michael Brantley, left-hander Zach Jackson and right-hander Rob Bryson.

That was because the Indians knew they could not compete for Sabathia's services after the season on the free agent market. With Lee, they held a $9 million option on the lefty for 2010, but in weighing all variables, figured that dealing him now for this particular set of players was best for the organization in the long run.

Shapiro insisted that ownership did not mandate that salaries be moved.

"With the economy, they have had huge losses this year and were willing to incur losses again next year," he said. "But with the roster we had, we would have had zero chance to add any players.

"Any time you trade away a player you have developed and has become as successful as Cliff, it is a painful procedure. We were perfectly willing not to trade Cliff -- if the return had not been so compelling."

Shapiro believes that the three players who are going to be assigned to Triple-A Columbus -- Carrasco, Donald and Marson -- all can contribute to the Indians next season. He added that Knapp, the youngest, "probably has the highest upside of anybody in the deal."

Carrasco, 22, entered the season as the No. 1 ranked prospect in the Phillies organization by PhillyBaseball News,, a member of the Scout.com Network. That publication also had Marson ranked No. 2, Donald at No. 5 and Knapp at No. 16.

Carrasco currently leads the Triple-A International League in strikeouts with 112. He has a 6-9 record with a 5.18 ERA in 20 starts and has walked 38 in 114 2-3 innings.

"He has a fastball that has hit 95 mph, but usually sits in the 92-93 range," Shapiro said. "He has an above average changeup and a developing cutter and slider. We feel he can become a member of our starting rotation in a short period of time.

The native of Venezuela has a career minor league record of 45-44 with a 4.14 ERA in 128 games including 123 starts.

Shapiro said that Donald, 24, will be in the mix with Asdrubal Cabrera and Luis Valbuena to start at either shortstop or second base next season.

"We had no depth in the middle infield and now we have three players there," Shapiro said, adding that he anticipates a spirited battle for the two starting jobs next spring training.

Donald is hitting only .236 with 15 doubles, one triple, one homer and 16 RBI in 51 games at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He recently missed six weeks after having surgery on his left knee to repair a torn meniscus.

"We scouted him extensively after his return and gave him a thorough physical," Shapiro said.

Donald had a fine season in 2008 at the Double-A level, hitting .307 (111-for-362) with 19 doubles, 14 homers, 54 RBI and 11 stolen bases. He was a teammate of Tribe farmhand Matt LaPorta on the U.S. Olympic Team, an Eastern League All-Star, started the Future's Game at shortstop and was named the Arizona Fall League's top prospect after batting .407 with five homers and 17 RBI in 25 games.

He was drafted in the third round in 2006 out of the University of Arizona.

Marson, 23, has hit .294 (62-for-211) with 32 runs, 13 doubles, one homer and 24 RBI in 63 games at Triple-A this year. He also appeared in seven games with the Phillies, batting .235 (4-for-17) with three runs.

"We think he can be an average every day catcher in the major leagues," Shapiro said. "He has a contact bat, but may develop some power down the line. He is an accomplished leader and field general. We like the way he calls a game."

The 6-1, 198-pounder hit safely in 19 of his last 23 games at Lehigh Valley, batting .373 (28-for-75).

A fourth-round pick in 2004, Marson batted .314 (101-for-322) with 55 runs, 18 doubles, five homers and 46 RBI in 94 games in 2008 at AA Reading. He led the Eastern League in on-base percentage (.433) and ranked second in batting while being named to both the midseason and postseason All-Star teams. He was the starting catcher for the Team USA in the 2008 Futures Game and also played for Team USA in the Summer Olympics, where he hit .308.

Shapiro said that Marson is more advanced than Carlos Santana, the Double-A All-Star who has been hyped as the Tribe's catcher of the future.

"Carlos has outstanding offensive skills, but needs work on defense," Shapiro said. "He's still at Double-A and needs a full season at Triple-A. Marson is near big-league ready."

Knapp, 18, has spent the entire 2009 season with the Lakewood Blue Claws in the Class A South Atlantic League. In his second pro season, he has a 2-7 record with a 4.01 ERA and recently spent some time on the disabled list with biceps tendinitis.

His secondary numbers are outstanding. In 85 1-3 innings, he has given up only 63 hits and struck out 111 while walking 39.

A 6-5, 235-pounder, he was picked in the second round out of high school a year ago, then wetn 3-1 with a 2.61 ERA in seven games including six starts in the Gulf Coast League.

When healthy, Knapp will report to the Class A Lake County Captains.

"He has a fastball that has hit 96 and he has made significant strides in development," said Shapiro, who envisions Knapp as being a starter at the big-league level.

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