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07/29/09 11:08 PM ET

Phils players ecstatic with acquisition

Following Lee deal, 'we all feel we're as good as anybody'

PHOENIX -- Ruben Amaro Jr. entered the visitor's clubhouse Wednesday at Chase Field to something he had never heard before as general manager.


A few Phillies players offered polite applause after Amaro had acquired 2008 American League Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee and outfielder Ben Francisco from the Indians for prospects Jason Knapp, Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald and Lou Marson. Amaro smiled sheepishly as he moved through the clubhouse and into manager Charlie Manuel's office.

Amaro seemed uncomfortable with the attention, but he shouldn't have been too surprised. He had just made a major trade to make the Phillies favorites in the National League.

Right, Ruben?

"I don't make predictions," he said.

But his players certainly felt the Phillies improved their chances.

"We think we have a chance to win the World Series again this year," closer Brad Lidge said. "It just goes to show that we're going for it. Watching him last year and this year, it's not like it's far off [Roy] Halladay at all. He's that kind of pitcher.

"I feel like we all feel we're as good as anybody. We've been there before. We have an excellent team this year. And we've been playing like it. The addition makes us feel that way. Obviously, there's a difference between feeling that way and proving it. There are still some great teams in our league. The Cardinals did a lot to get their offense stronger. The Dodgers. But we feel like we can be as good as anybody, and hopefully we are."

The Phillies entered Wednesday's series finale against the D-backs with a seven-game lead in the NL East. The trade seemed to make things only tougher on the Marlins, Braves and Mets.

"You hate to see the team that you're chasing get better," Braves catcher David Ross said. "But if you want to make the playoffs and reach the World Series, you're going to have to beat the Roy Halladays, Cliff Lees and Josh Becketts. In one sense, I wish the Phillies hadn't gotten better. But in another sense, I don't think that he's unbeatable."

Mets manager Jerry Manuel had little reaction. He said the Mets just need to worry about themselves.

Trailing the Phillies by 10 1/2 games, that might not be a bad idea.

But the players inside the Phillies clubhouse not only loved the trade because they got Lee, but because they held on to left-hander J.A. Happ. Happ had been rumored to be part of a trade with the Blue Jays for Halladay.

Teammates had kidded Happ for the past few weeks about a potential trade.

"I'm going to go hug him when I see him," outfielder Jayson Werth said.

Happ got plenty of pats on the back as he arrived. He smiled wide.

He was safe.

And the Phillies are better.

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