October 18, 2009 | 9:13pm
On July 29, the defending world champion Phillies acquired AL Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee and outfielder Ben Francisco from the Cleveland Indians for pitchers Carlos Carrasco and Jason Knapp, infielder Jason Donald, and catcher Lou Marson.
Just two days prior to the trade the rumor mill had Lee and catcher/1st baseman Victor Martinez coming to the Dodgers for James Loney, either Clayton Kershaw or Chad Billingsley, and prospects.
Who knows why the Dodger trade didn't happen, but here's my theory:
If the Dodgers had traded Billingsley, that would have given them three lefty starters: Lee, Kershaw and Randy Wolf. Teams generally don't like to have more than two leftys in the rotation because most line-ups lean toward having more right-handed batters. And the Dodgers probably just couldn't stand to part with Kershaw. Who can blame them?
As for the other part of the trade, Martinez is 30 years old, Loney is only 25, so the Dodgers probably didn't want to lose more of their youth. But the trade must have been tempting because Martinez could also have spelled Russell Martin, who never got out of his season-long slump.
In the end, the Indians split the deal, with Martinez going to the Red Sox and Lee going to the Phillies for no one you've heard of. So the Dodgers didn't get Lee, but he got them Sunday night, giving up only three singles over eight innings in that demoralizing loss. Hiroki Kuroda was awful, giving up six runs in 1.1 innings, and Billingsley came out of the bullpen later to give up two more.
That's the bad news. Here's the worse news: because the Dodgers and Phillies have a day off between games 4 and 5 in Philly (thank you TV execs), Lee would pitch game 6 in Dodger Stadium. That is if the Dodgers get that far. They have to win Monday (with Wolf pitching) or Wednesday (Kershaw) to prolong the series. It's as simple as that.