From all corners of the internet.
First is the always-awesome Matt Klaassen's cost/benefit analysis of the trade for Beyond the Boxscore. He applies some nifty valuation models instead of just going with his gut feel, which is nice.
On the most neutral projection, I think the Rangers gave up far too much. Flags fly forever, of course, and if the Rangers go to the World Series and win it (with substantial help from Cliff Lee), the positive impact on the franchise will last for years. But they are taking a big chance -- if they don't win a playoff series this season, their chances of doing so in the future are likely to be significantly diminished without Smoak.
With Lee, Rangers go from good to great
That will be easy for the rest of the country to believe when they stop blowing four run leads against the Orioles.
The above results in a three-year-peripheral-based 2010 second half ERA projection of 3.51.
This figure is more than a full run above the 2.34 ERA he's sported in Seattle thus far, but it is still a plus-quality over/under ERA and worth quite a bit. Personally, I think Justin Smoak's projected future career is a bit overblown (I've compared him to Derrek Lee a la 2007 countless times), so I do not particularly think the Rangers "overpaid" to rent Lee, who will also net Texas compensation picks if offered arbitration (Lee will likely reject an arbitration offer in favor of a lucrative multi-year contract). Still, even Lee's three year peripheral data does not satisfactorily capture his 2010 performance. This data pegs Lee with a low-7 K/9, despite the fact that his swinging strike rate is up over a full point (a 13.75% change) compared to 2008 and 2009, and a 43.2% GB%, which is 2% points higher than it is now or was last season.
Lee could ostensibly be a three win gain for this team down the stretch – likely unnecessary for making the playoffs, as I don’t think the Angels would’ve been able to make up 7.5 games, but this is another nail in the Angels’ coffin. Still, Lee has to increase the Rangers’ chances of making a deep run in the postseason, as he showed he can put his mark on a series last season.
Picking up Lee means certainly avoiding him in the remaining games that Texas has against Seattle. At the same time, though, the Rangers traded an exceptional hitting talent to a team that they play 20 times a season for the next six years. My initial reaction is that this trade is a dangerous proposition for the Rangers. With Lee only on their team for the next three months, the Rangers have to hope for instant gratification, in the sense of a World Series victory, as this trade has the potential to bite them for years to come.
Smoak, meanwhile, is a great defender, a switch-hitter, draws walks, and loses maybe five points off both hit tools, which isn’t that much in the overall scale of things. As an added bonus, if you were like me and horribly upset on missing out the once-in-a-generation first baseman draft of aught-eight only to select a reliever, we just got in it two years late! It’s a bad day to be Dennis Raben or Rich Poythress because there’s a good chance Smoak not only holds the position down, but becomes an all-star player in the Mark Texeira mold for the next five+ years. Haha, I just thought of the Yankees.
Even given his injury, it was never a challenge. There were never any hurdles. Watching Cliff Lee was paradise. In that regard, as baseball players go, Lee kind of felt like my soul mate. Everything about him was perfect. Everything about his skillset, his performance, and his personality was exactly how I would design my perfect pitcher.
don't see a winner and a loser in this deal. Both sides face risk -- if the Rangers miss the playoffs or exit in the first round, it'll be hard to argue that the deal worked out, while the Mariners assume some development risk on Smoak, who's got almost a half-season in the majors of unexpectedly poor offensive performance -- and both have significant upsides. However, I tip my cap to both GMs for ignoring the nose-cutting, face-spiting axiom that says you never trade within your division.
This trade stings, but there was no rational reason to believe that it wouldn't. That none of the three players accompanying Smoak were integral in the Rangers' plans is very good; that Texas managed to acquire the best left-handed pitcher in baseball without relinquishing any of its top pitching prospects, however, is laudable to the highest degree. There are several more lenses through which we can evaluate this trade, and I may dig into those in the next few days, but right now, I think we can feel really good about not only the Rangers' chances of completing a deep post-season push, but also the front office's ability to take the proverbial final step. And what a hell of a final step it is.
I'm excited that we are getting Cliff Lee. He's the best pitcher the Rangers have had since...well, probably since the 70s. He's a dominant starter who has walked 6 batters and given up 5 homers all year.