Lee trade signals harsh reality to Tribe

Lee trade signals harsh reality to Tribe

ANAHEIM -- If nothing else, the Indians had practice in this area.

It's a dubious distinction, but the Tribe has now seen two Cy Young Award winners sent packing midseason in two seasons. And after hours of speculation about Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco heading to the Phillies before, during and after the Indians' 9-3 loss to the Angels, by the time the deal was official, some of the sting had worn off.

Still, this one, just like the CC Sabathia trade a year earlier, hurt.

"It's tough," said catcher Victor Martinez, who might be next on the trading block. "It's always tough when you see good players and good teammates leave the team. Everybody knows Benny is getting more comfortable in the league. And Cliff, you don't find that kind of pitcher like him every day. I wish them the very best."

General manager Mark Shapiro, who sent Lee and Francisco to the Phils for prospects Carlos Carrasco, Lou Marson, Jason Donald and Jason Knapp, said the Indians made this trade knowing their hopes for contention in 2010 are slim. That's a tough pill to swallow for players who signed to play with Cleveland for the long term with expectations that the club would be in a position to compete year after year.

What did Wednesday's trade say about the direction of this club?

"I don't know yet," said designated hitter Travis Hafner, who is signed through 2012. "I haven't heard much about the trade. But it is what it is. [Lee] is one of the best pitchers in baseball, but the guys who are still here have to continue to play hard and win as many games as they can."

Manager Eric Wedge delivered the news to Lee and Francisco, just as he did to Mark DeRosa in June and Rafael Betancourt and Ryan Garko earlier on this road trip.

"I understand everything involved with this game," Wedge said. "We play this game because we love the sport and there's nothing better than being on the field. But there's a business side, too. We're going to always work hard to be as competitive as we can be and move forward, and sometimes that involves tough decisions."

Chris Gimenez, who has only been in the big leagues two months, was able to shed some upside on the deal.

"I know Marson and Donald and Carrasco," Gimenez said. "They're all good players. Carrasco is a good young arm. He definitely has a live arm. He'll be great for this organization."

And it was evident on Wednesday that this is an organization very much in transition.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.