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Friday, July 09, 2010

Rangers Acquire Cliff Lee From Mariners

Texas acquired LHP Cliff Lee from the Mariners, along with Mark Lowe and $2.5M, for 1B Justin Smoak, and minor league right-handed pitchers Blake Beavan, Josh Lueke; and UT Matthew Lawson. Smoak, whose minor-league pedigree is well-regarded, was probably a win by itself, but Beavan was no slouch, a first-round pick in 2007. Lueke has done nothing besides strike guys out at the minor league level; you'd have to go all the way back to 2007 to find a year in which his K/9 was even in single digits before the decimal, and he does all this with excellent control (4.5 or better K/BB rates throughout his career, with a career average of 4.97). Lawson looks to be a nice utility player who does a little bit of everything defensively to make up for his lack of a bat, though he does have nice OBP numbers for a guy without a lot of average in some years.

I like this more for the M's than the Rangers, because the M's weren't going anywhere and needed to restock their farm system anyway, and the Rangers had prospects to spare. The Rangers, on the other hand, only get this year with Lee and there's no indication (as I write this) that Lee will accept or negotiate an extension with Texas before he becomes a free agent. It solves the M's first base problem (no, Casey Kotchman was never going to be the guy to fix it), gives them some pitching, and a nice little throw-in, too.

Update: Lueke was apparently involved in a date rape in Bakersfield. Cringe. Maybe that's why the Rangers were pleased to let him go.

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I think this misses the point a bit. Thinking about long-term value when it comes to the Rangers -- who came into this season with the #1 rated farm system in baseball, and only lost a fraction of their talent in this deal, while gaining two more first round picks in next year's draft when they lose Lee -- seems off.

Rangers want a ring. They've never come close. This gets them nearer that goal.
Yeah, that's a good point. It's not like they're losing that much, in that light; they get the first round pick, albeit quite a bit lower overall in the draft than they might otherwise have picked. At the same time, I don't see Texas advancing if they do make the postseason. Either of their likely opponents will be in the AL East, most likely whichever of the Red Sox or Rays that comes in second there. Texas is 3-7 against all possible AL East contenders (Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox), not that it's a reliable predictor.
They did win their series against Tampa Bay, and the rest of the games happened in mid-April. A lot has happened since then.

I don't think that sample is all that predictive. They now have a starting four of Lee, Lewis, Wilson and Hunter. The lowest ERA+ in that group is 131+. A couple may be pitching well above their talent, but I'm not going to bet on their failure.

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