In 2009, Ruben Amaro pulled off one of the most unexpected and lopsided trades in the history of the team, when he acquired Cliff Lee from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for four minor league players: RHP Carlos Carassco, RHP Jason Knapp, C Lou Marson and IF Jason Donald.
Amaro received much praise for pulling off that trade, as he was getting an Ace starting pitcher with a year-and-a-half of contract left (plus OF Ben Francisco) in exchange for a quartet of players that, as a whole, weren't that impressive.
And now it appears that one of the players – Jason Knapp – is no longer with the team, as he was released from the Indians on Wednesday. This little tidbit comes courtesy of Paul Hoynes of The Plains Dealer out of Cleveland.
While most folks tend to remember what Lee did as a member of the Phillies that season, and not the four saps traded for him, I found myself keeping an eye on them as they progressed with their career. I was especially fond of Knapp.
He was a reliever with a ceiling as high as the Sistine Chapel and a guy who was built to be a closing pitcher. Through three seasons, he has struck out double digit batters every season like clockwork, with his career high coming in 2010, when he set down 14.9 per nine innings via the punchout. Despite some control issues, his raw stuff was good enough that you tended not to notice the fact that he would walk every third batter.
But all was not well with the right-hander, who hit the bricks almost as soon as he was traded. Since his move to Cleveland, he's dealt with persistent issues, and has had two surgeries. He hasn't pitched since 2010.
Of all the Phillies sent to Cleveland in that trade, Knapp was the one that I always thought I would miss the most. It's not that the other players weren't good or anything, it's just that they didn't have much of a career outside of being backups or mid-tier guys. And so far, history has proven me correct. Carlos Carassco, once one of the top pitchers in the Phillies organization, is currently rehabbing from Tommy John surgery after three so-so seasons in the Cleveland rotation.
Both Marson and Donald haven't fared too much better, either. Marson has been little more than a backup for Cleveland, and at age 26, doesn't appear to be doing much to change that, while Donald is currently playing his trade in the minor leagues, one year removed from hitting .318 in limited playing time.
It's an unfortunate turn of events for Knapp, who appeared to be well on his way to a big league career. But all is not lost, as he is all of 21-years-old, and could still make his way back to the bigs. Even though the success rate for young pitchers with multiple shoulder surgeries under their belt is probably very low, I, for one, would take great pleasure in seeing him back in the Phillies organization.