<
>

With Lee, Rangers go from good to great

Here's BBTIA on the trade that's sending Cliff Lee to Texas, and Justin Smoak, prospect Blake Beavan, and two other minor leaguers to Seattle. The guts:

    Some people turning up here probably want to read my snapshot reaction. Losing Smoak hurts (and I was actually intending to write a post regarding my position on whether the Rangers should deal Smoak or Chris Davis, and what sort of implications that choice could have on both involved organization), but there's a certain camp out there -- and they have a point, to some extent -- that argues that Smoak will never be all that decent against southpaws, thereby rendering him a platoon player. I'm not sure I wholeheartedly buy into that sentiment, but it's out there, and if you're part of that camp then it softens the blow of losing Smoak.

    Beavan, per BBTiA scouting guru Jason Parks, had mid-to-back-rotation upside for the most part, writing this previously: "53 current OFP (overall future potential), 54 future [OFP]. Great control, solid-average to plus FB, but his secondary pitches aren’t major league plus pitches. I still think he becomes a long-man/5th type. Without a major league out pitch, Beavan’s ceiling is very limited." Lueke and Lawson are both of some interest to varying degrees, but aren't key components of this deal. All in all, I can get behind this trade despite the heavy front-end price being paid...

Obviously, from the Mariners' perspective this deal is almost completely about Justin Smoak, and I feel obligated to inject a passing note of skepticism ...

Smoak turns 24 in December, and in 70 games with the Rangers he's got a .209/.316/.353 line. It's far too early to give up on him, of course; Adrian Gonzalez, another erstwhile Ranger, struggled in the majors at 23 before breaking through (with the Padres) at 24. There's a pretty good chance that Smoak will do the same thing. There is a chance that he won't.

Meanwhile, the Rangers presumably will promote Chris Davis yet again. Considering his struggles in the majors, they can't count on him for much. But they've been winning with Smoak, and Davis can hardly give them less down the stretch. As for what happens next year ... Well, it's just too bad that Mitch Moreland, like Davis, bats lefty. But that's a question for another day.

One question for today: With Smoak aboard, how will Don Wakamatsu find enough plate appearances for him, Casey Kotchman, and Russell Branyan? Come to think of it, that probably won't be a problem for much longer, as the M's figure to either release Kotchman (who's been awful) or trade Branyan (who hasn't).

Oh, and one more thing: This is a dark day for Angels fans, as the Texas Rangers have now become prohibitive favorites to reach the playoffs for the first time in this century.