Cliff Lee to Texas for Justin Smoak, Finalized

Everybody thought earlier today that Cliff Lee would be on his way out of Seattle. They were right. Instead of heading to the visitor’s clubhouse in Seattle to join the New York Yankees, however, he joins the division rival Texas Rangers, along with RP Mark Lowe. Coming back to Seattle will be Justin Smoak and three others according to this Joel Sherman tweet. This deal has also been confirmed by Ken Rosenthal, who adds that the Mariners will be sending cash to the Rangers to help cover the $4M that Lee is owed over the rest of the season.

Earlier today, some thought that Jesus Montero was a solid haul for Lee, along with the rest of the package. In that case, the return of Justin Smoak has to be seen as an absolute steal. Smoak had an .885 OPS between three different leagues in 2009. Smoak then posted a 1.010 OPS in 15 games with AAA Oklahoma City before receiving a call-up to the big leagues. His power hasn’t really materialized at the big league level (.145 ISO), but a 13.8% walk rate in 275 PAs is incredibly encouraging, and his .238 BABIP is bound to see a boost.

Smoak was the #13 prospect by Baseball America entering the season, ranking below Montero’s rank as #4. However, Smoak is obviously closer to the big leagues and his position is clear; I feel that Montero’s #4 rank may be influenced by an unrealistic projection of him as a catcher. Smoak is probably better than Matt LaPorta was at the time of the Brewers acquisition of CC Sabathia in 2008, the gold standard of pitcher rental deals. Given that Smoak is already in the big leagues and carries tons of promise with him, the Mariners have to be exceptionally happy with this deal. The deal also includes RHP Blake Beavan, RHP Josh Lueke, and 2B Matt Lawson going to Seattle.

For the Rangers, they pick up the man who has obviously been the best pitcher in the American League. It’s a large boost for a rotation with a meager 4.54 FIP and 4.66 xFIP. Cliff Lee gives them the legitimate ace that just isn’t there with Rich Harden, Scott Feldman, Colby Lewis, C.J. Wilson, Tommy Hunter, Derek Holland, and the others that have inhabited the Rangers rotation this 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.

This trade also has the interesting dynamic of being an intradivisional trade. 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.




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155 Responses to “Cliff Lee to Texas for Justin Smoak, Finalized”

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  1. Renegade says:

    Overpay by Texas.

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    • DonCoburleone says:

      Definately, but if it gets them a World Series its more than worth it.

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      • DonCoburleone says:

        And this is really great news for the Braves, the NL East crown is theirs now that the Mets are stuck with what they have (Lilly is not close to Cliff Lee…)

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      • Andy says:

        What exactly does it mean for one side of a transaction to be both “overpaid” and “more than worth it”?

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      • Yoloslim says:

        It’s just in what currency you value: long term success or championship opportunity now. Frankly, I like the Rangers decision when you are almost assured of making the playoffs already. That one staff ace to dominate the playoffs will boost their championship odds considerably.

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  2. DonCoburleone says:

    Smoak seems like the real deal, but what about those other 3 prospects? Where did they rank organizationally coming into 2010?

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  3. Justin says:

    This is just an awful trade………There is no justification, besides a World Series (but even so, 6 years of 3-5 Win seasons of Smoak is a lot to replace). You cannot trade Smoak. 6 years of team control of a player with his caliber is too much for 3 months of Lee. I would rather go after someone like Lilly where you wouldnt have to deal nearly as much.

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    • Gary says:

      6 years of 3-5 wins from Smoak is wildly optimistic.

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      • zoned says:

        I agree. If Smoak was drafted in the 11th round instead of #11 overall people wouldn’t be as up in arms about this. It’s still a lot for a rental but honestly the Rangers don’t get many chances and Smoak wasn’t really bringing much to the table this year anyway. This is comparable to giving up LaPorta for Sabathia…just with a lot more thrown in.

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      • Renegade says:

        Smoaks a much better prospect than LaPorta though.

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      • baty says:

        If he was drafted in the 11th round, he wouldn’t have been Justin Smoak. Lets not forget that Smoak had barely a season and a quarter in the minors and he’s barely had a half season in the majors…

        And the deal is not comparable to giving up Laporta for Sabathia. Smoak is a MUCH better prospect than Laporta in so many ways starting with defense… The Rangers have to go for it this year, and Cliff Lee is awesome, but a price like that for a guy who you’re maybe buying for about 30 games of service is massively risky. If they don’t win The Series… yikes!

        The Montero deal was just as crazy if not more.

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      • Jon says:

        3 Wins is not wildly optimistic at all.

        Once you get to the 4 range-that is wildly optimistic.

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  4. Alex says:

    DO you think this trade will give Chris Davis another opportunity to prove his worth? If so, do you think it’s worth grabbing him from the FA?

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    • DonCoburleone says:

      Definately, i’m picking up Davis wherever I can use him right now.

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    • Joe R says:

      I give him 2 weeks.
      If he still stinks, the Rangers should go shopping again for someone like Adam LaRoche, or even Lance Berkman.

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    • baty says:

      Chris Davis is the only guy they have as a replacement. I imagine he’s on a plane right now.

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    • joser says:

      The Rangers should’ve asked for Russel Branyan as part of the deal. Of course maybe they did and the M’s asked for Salty in return, or something.

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  5. Bobby Mueller says:

    It’s interesting in watching MLB Network that none of their guys have any clue about the prospects involved in this deal. There are plenty of good analysts out there who focus on prospects, you’d think MLB Network would have one on speed-dial for such an occasion so they could provide more information. Basically, they’re just admitting, “We don’t know anything about the minor league guys.” They should have someone on who is an “expert” in that area.

    Mitch Williams (I’m paraphrasing): “This signals that the Mariners are officially out of the race.” Ya think? They’ve been out of the race for months, Mitch.

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    • DonCoburleone says:

      Don’t get me started on Mitch Williams. I’m sure he’d be a fun guy to hang out at a bar and have a beer with, but he really shouldn’t be allowed to analyze baseball. The best example was back in May when he said he had a revelation that batting average is an overrated stat. His reason? Because Mark Teixiera had just as many HR’s and RBI’s as Ryan Howard (Tex was hitting .200 and Howard was at .280)…

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    • Will says:

      If only former players followed the minors closely. MLBN would be SET

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      • pounded clown says:

        So in addition to following 162 games of every MLB team they have to follow all teams of AAA for 140 games, plus all the AA and single A teams. Sounds likes my cable bill just went up if I were to keep this new MLBN.

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      • Yoloslim says:

        Well ESPN already covers the Majors, so you bet I’d expect MLBN to not repeat the same overplayed cover stories and contribute some more in depth analysis.

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  6. Justin says:

    Jon Daniels is 1-5 in trades:

    The one victory was the Teixeira trade which was a steal, but he has four awful big trades besides that.

    1) The Soriano deal which he got nothing back in return
    2) Young and AGon for Eaton, which is so very funny now
    3) Bengie for Ray and Maine which is laughable
    4) And now this one

    As young and bright as he is, he has weakend his team through trades

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    • Josh Hamilton says:

      HEY GUYS!!

      +14 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • fry says:

      ok i guess the Josh Hamilton trade and the trade that landed Nelson Cruz from the Brewers don’t get counted.

      +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • joser says:

      He can’t take on payroll. He may have to jettison it. Heck, he may have to show up at bankruptcy court to just to make sure his paycheck doesn’t bounce. He has to give up talent to get guys whose salaries are carried by their former teams. That explains the Bengie trade, anyway; this one, well… I’m sure Nolan Ryan loves Lee. And at least this way they don’t have to face him in pinstripes in the ALCS

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    • GhettoBear04 says:

      Half a season of Eric Gagne for David Murphy, Kason Gabbard and soon to be Top100 prospect Engel Beltre

      Dumping Millwood’s contract for Chris Ray and cash

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    • Dag Gummit says:

      Holy crap, I had long forgotten about that the Soriano and Eaton offseason.

      I remember back when it happened that I was so floored at how horrible it both trades were — but even moreso how ESPN touted the Eaton trade as such a fantastic move for the Rangers because he was the only name they recognized.

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  7. jon says:

    how can you even talk about this deal without discussing chris davis? he’s still young and has been tearing it up in AAA. if lee gets the rangers to the alcs it will be worth it.

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    • Joe R says:

      While he is crushing AAA pitching (again), he still has that bad BB/K ratio which looks to be his achilles heel in MLB. Running w/ Davis at 1B down the stretch is rather risky.

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    • baty says:

      ALCS? the Rangers have to win the World Series for this deal to be worth it. It’s rarely smart to get caught up in a bidding war that involves major Yankee prospects. If you’re the team that wants to win the Cliff Lee types, the Yankees can always force their competition to overpay, which Texas did. Chris Davis is fine for this year maybe, but his value is not comparable to Smoak’s value.

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  8. Brett says:

    I kinda feel like Jack Z played the media like a fiddle today. The hype just kept on building all day. It was more fun watching this than the actual Marines product on the field!

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  9. Justin says:

    Look Davis might be an average regular for the Rangers offensively, but he doesnt have nearly the upside Smoak has. Davis is not a quality 1B defensively, like Smoak is, and there plate discipline is not even in the same league.

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    • Adam D says:

      are you sure about that? they only stuck with Davis so long in the first place because of his plus defense. it’s Smoak that they had to work with on his defense.

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    • algionfriddo says:

      Davis is solid defensively according to Texas bloggers and some like him better than what Smoak offers now. Smoak should be better defensively long term though I feel. Still, Davis is regarded as a tick above average defensively by Texas sources. UZR and +/- don’t bare that out (albeit small sample size) and I haven’t watched Davis enough to have an opinion. Seattle will see that Smoak, as of now… is no Casey Kotchman with the glove. I doubt the Mariners are willing to put up with fan displeasure and let Smoak get some more time in AAA until Kotchman cools down or Smoak heats up, but they should. Give Smoak some time to get his feet under him. Kotchman has been very good recently and maybe the M’s can trade CK for some young bullpen future arm. I just hope that with Smoak in the lineup full time and Russ Branyan at DH don’t make for less playing time for Michael Saunders, just so M. Bradley can get in the lineup. Saunders still can’t hit LHP’s for crap and swings at sliders low and away too frequently, but he does look like he may be a solid regular if given a full shot.

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  10. Justin says:

    Jack Z is a genious. The entire world thought Montero was going to Seattle, and he went back to each team to see if they would up there offer, because not many people have the offensive upside that Montero has. Smoak will be a better all around player, is only 2 years older than Montero, but is big league ready. Steal for Jack Z. Brilliant move today.

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    • Tom says:

      Isn’t Smoak hugely overrated? Outside of 15 games this season in Triple A he’s never put up really great stats in the minors or majors. Not only is Montero 3 years younger but he’s always put up better stats at the same level than Smoak. Everyone is saying that Montero is struggling this year in Triple A but he’s still better than Smoak was at the same level last season.

      Smoak: http://bit.ly/smoak
      Montero: http://bit.ly/jemontero

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      • GrouchoM says:

        Shhh. Everybody in Seattle knows Jack is a genious (sic). He probably even knows the correct spelling of it too. Jack is all powerful and omnipotent. All the other GMs bow before his brilliance.

        Well, except for Hendry who completely pantsed him in the Bradley – Silva trade. Thanks for all that money too. $$$$

        -13 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Steve says:

        MOntero is a better prospect than Smoak. Sorry.

        The fact that he might not be a catcher is only a problem for the YANKEES who have 1B locked up.

        THere is no reason he can’t play 1B for Seattle.

        He’s a better hitter than Smoak,

        Jack Z turned Jesus Montero into Justin Smoak and everyone is falling over themselves to slap him on the back? Kindof funny.

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      • Fugate says:

        Definitely overrated. The M’s now have two Casey Kotchmans.

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      • philosofool says:

        Smoak was injured and played through it much of last season.

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      • Dirty Water says:

        As much as I respect the scouts opinion of his offensive upside, let’s for once be realistic here. Montero is a 260 lb 20 year old DH. He was also suspended earlier this year for walking to first base. Personally, I think the following three issues: 1) 20 years old 2) 260 lbs 3) lazy, portends major trouble down the road, so anyone who puts him in the same category as Justin Smoak is a moron. And that’s not to say that Justin will become gods gift to SEA fans, either, but at least he’s a ballplayer.

        Jack Z did right. Cashman continues his attempt to unload Montero.

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      • Jim in Bingo says:

        Yes. This.

        I mean let’s get real here — compare the slugging %, it’s not even close. The only advantage Smoak has is a better eye and the fact that he’s already playing where Montero will possibly end up, at 1st.

        And no one has even talked about the fact that Montero has also played in pitcher’s leagues/ballparks (the Fla St league is pitcher’s heaven and Trenton’s ballpark is likewise a dream for them) while Smoak has played in hitter’s leagues in the minors (Texas League? Pacific Coast League?) and in a hitter’s park in the majors.

        And as for the idea that Smoak is 1 or 2 years ahead of Montero — get real. If Montero was in the Ranger system he’d be exactly where Smoak is.

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    • This makes me think that the leak to Joel Sherman came from the Mariners.

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  11. Justin says:

    Smoak is 3 years older** excuse me….37 months to be exact

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  12. Sean says:

    I think everyone knows who Smoak is, so I’ll break down the other three:

    Beavan: Definitely the 2nd best piece. When drafted, Beavan was seen as a guy with a high 90s fastball and a developing slider…basically, he was projected to be a big power strikeout pitcher. Instead, his velocity dipped and now sits in the low 90s with his 4 seamer, and high 80s/low 90s with his 2 seamer. Nonetheless, Beavan has developed nicely as he has fantastic control and keeps the ball on the ground, while still notching a decent number of strikeouts. His changeup has reportedly made strides this year, so earlier fears that he may end up in the bullpen have been largely allayed. Beavan is a superior prospect to any of the guys the Mariners initially gave up for Lee, and could be ready some time in 2011.

    Lueke: Lueke is most well known for being charged with rape and taking a plea deal. Lueke has the potential to develop into a high level reliever with his mid 90s fastball and inconsistent but potentially plus slider. Across 38.1 IP so far this year in High A/AA, Lueke has 62 Ks and only 10 walks allowed, while also keeping the ball on the ground at a strong rate. Like Beaven, Lueke projects to be ready some time in 2011, assuming the Mariners let him finish this year in AA, and start him in AAA in 2011.

    Lawson: Lawson’s a hard guy to figure, as while his offensive numbers are good, he is old for his level and has played in some very friendly environments. Nonetheless, Lawson has taken a major step forward in 2010 as he’s shown a much improved plate approach, with a career high in BB% and a career low in K%. He’s also posting his highest IsoP as a pro. That said, his H/R splits are telling, as Lawson has a stellar .232 IsoP in the Frisco launching pad, but an anemic .098 away. Lawson probably projects to be a utility player at the MLB level.

    Overall, this is a stellar package. Smoak has struggled this year, sure, but he’s still got great component ratios, great tools, and is a great defensive 1B to boot. Beaven could be a #2 starter if his changeup continues to develop, and Lueke could be a good 8th inning guy within a year. Lawson’s not much of anything, but could still be a decent (and cheap) utility infielder.

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    • hank says:

      So compared to the other deal:
      Montero – probably not as good allaround as Smoak if he goes to first, but a better bat? (and if he does stick as catcher, which is unlikely, he would clearly have more overall upside)
      Adams – also a marginal infield prospect but perhaps better than Lawson? (reports of a sprained ankle notwithstanding!)
      McCallister – potential #3 starter upside? Maybe not as high a ceiling as Beaven, but closer to the majors.

      So when you factor in the 2.5Mil and an injured reliever (Lowe), is the additional relief prospect and maybe the higher upside of Beaven make this a better deal than what the Yankees offered?

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      • Sean says:

        Montero-Potentially better offense, but far worse defensively. Almost definitely won’t stick at catcher (even analysts who were optimistic last year are now saying its inevitable that he doesn’t end up behind the plate). Montero probably figures to end up at DH, whereas Smoak is a plus defender at 1B. Basically, its close to a wash between the two, with Smoak maybe having a slight edge as he’s MLB ready now.

        Adams: Basically a slightly superior version of Lawson. The ankle sprain looked bad, but I can’t imagine its really that huge an issue.

        McAllister: I really like Zach, but he’s clearly a notch or two lower than Beavan. Beavan’s got superior stuff, slightly superior command, a LOT more projectability (he’s 6’7″), and has the makings of being a real, durable, innings eater.

        Overall, its definitely a superior package. Smoak is about equal, and possibly preferable to the Mariners, to Montero, Beavan is superior to McAllister, and Lueke also has the potential to be a useful piece. Neither Lawson nor Adams has that much value, so when you figure in the extra money and extra reliever(s)…the Rangers’ offer was clearly superior.

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      • dancariaz says:

        McAllister isn’t a #3 starter. He’s a typical back-of-the-rotation starter. Stuff is average, he won’t strike out too many guys. Has quiet good command though. The Yanks would like to move him as long as he’s got some value. Wouldn’t be too surprised if he’s traded this month.

        Adams is projected as an average major league 2B, so not too bad. I don’t know too much about him but his minor league numbers are pretty good. Don’t know if he’s better than Lawson, have never heard of Lawson before. But Lawson’s strikeout numbers are a bit concerning imo.

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      • hank says:

        Thanks for the inputs – I haven’t seen Beaven pitch, but looking at his K/9IP ratio does he really that much higher upside? It was low in A ball and has dropped even more in limited AA action – is this just an anomaly?

        I think the Rangers offer is better, but I’m not sure how folks are characterizing it as clearly superior (I’m also factoring in that Lowe and 2.5mil were not part of the NY deal).

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    • Smallball Tony says:

      I often wonder about people plagiarizing and pretending it’s their own…Why do people do this?
      Thanks for someone else’s observations Sean.

      -9 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Sean says:

        If you’re referring to the post from SoSH, I am Scoops Bolling.

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      • Sean says:

        Replying to Hank above:
        Beavan definitely has a higher upside. Its still within the realm of possibility that he regains some of the velocity that he used to have, and is overall stuff is just plain better than McAllister’s. While people are largely ignoring him, I think Lueke is a not entirely inconsequential inclusion. Even if he’s just a guy like say, Manny Delcarmen, he would still provide value as a decent reliever on a rookie scale contract.

        Of course, if the Mariners truly preferred Smoak to Montero, than the fact the backend of the deal is also superior to the Yankees’ offer is just an added bonus for them.

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  13. Tom says:

    “The Mariners traded Ps Cliff Lee and Mark Lowe to the Rangers for 1B Justin Smoak and minor leaguers 2B-OF Matt Lawson and Ps Blake Beavan and Josh Lueke.”

    Beavan is a good prospect, 21 years old in Double A with good numbers but he doesn’t strike anyone out. Lawson and Lueke are just fillers.

    Considering that Montero is 3 years younger than Smoak I think I’d rather have him at 1B than Smoak.

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    • arbeck says:

      What if Montero can’t play 1B though? I think he’s already proven he can’t catch. If he becomes a DH only, that hurts his value a lot.

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      • Steve says:

        Why couldn’t he play 1B??

        Montero was the best prospect in the two deals. I think Seattle blew it.

        Also, who cares if Smoak is ready now. Montero should be ready by 2011. Are the Mariners going somewhere this year? Or next year, probably?

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      • arbeck says:

        He might not be able to play 1B because he’s never done it before. Chances are good he can do it. But what if the best he ever is, is a defensive butcher. We already know that Smoak is a plus defensive 1B.

        Montero probably isn’t ready until mid 2011 if you have to convert him to 1B. As far as I can see, he hasn’t played an inning there yet.

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      • Steve says:

        How are the Mariners minus Cliff Lee looking for next year? Again, they passed on Montero’s ceiling for what, an extra win in 2011? That’s great, that’ll get them to 78.

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  14. Boots says:

    Any word (or ideas) who will get the demotion in the Rangers rotation? Hoping it’s not Wilson…

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    • Adam D says:

      no, it definitely won’t be CJ! The rotation will look like
      1. Cliff Lee
      2. Colby Lewis
      3. CJ Wilson
      4. Tommy Hunter
      5. Scott Feldman / Rich Harden

      the odd men out here look to be Rich Harden and Matt Harrison

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      • baty says:

        Except CJ hasn’t pitched more than 80 innings a season in over half a decade… The Rangers need everyone of those arms the rest of the way, including Holland. They have a really weak back of the rotation for a playoff contender.

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  15. Randy says:

    As a Tigers fan, I’m just glad he isn’t going to the Twins.

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    • Michael Lorri Scioscia says:

      Well at least you can say that. Not trying to say that my team is hopeless but Lee is obviously going to be annoying to see help Mr. Washington. Well, I could start with telling my bullpen to actually help win Weav more games instead of blowing them.

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  16. Mark says:

    All of the “Jack Z is a genius!!!” people are hysterical. It gets applied to every obvious thing the guy does, as if you have to be an Oxford grad toshopp offers and find the best deal. There was nothing amazing about what he did today, he got one very promising young player, a decent low-upside prospect, and two filler players. Excuse me, but I’ll hold off on the”OMG OMG BEST GM EVERZZZ!!!!” for trades that aren’t basically even (like the first Teixeira deal).

    If anyone wants to now why people constantly mock the insane preseason organizational ranking the Mariners were given, it’s because of the constant lavishing praise given to any of Jack Z’s moves simply because of his sabermetric background without any sort of rational thought. Go look back at Dave’s post for the Bradley-Silva swap, that was a “genius move” too. You just lose all credibility when you can’t look at a team’s moves rationally, this is a slight overpay, nothing more. Because you had to live with Bill Bavasi forever so you expect to get ripped off on every trade does not make this move better. /rant

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    • Brett says:

      He turned Aumont, Gillies, Ramirez into 2 months of Lee and Smoak plus filler. That is a damn good move no matter who the GM is.

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      • Steve says:

        Sure, but he could have turned them into Jesus MOntero and David Adams.

        WHo, by the way, everyone loved 2 hours ago.

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      • hank says:

        Well as good as that tradeoff looks… is that because of a good GM in Jack Z, or a really poor trade by Amaro? It was definitely a good haul, but matching it up to the Phils trade mixes in the “Amaro” factor.

        Or to put it another way: If Amaro offered Aumont, Gillies, and Ramirez right now how fast would Jack Z, or any other GM, hang up the phone in laughter?

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      • BIP says:

        There’s still skills involved in being in the position to make that deal with Amaro, though. It’s been speculated that Amaro approached Z because of the Mariners’ reputation for confidentiality.

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      • Tom says:

        Well in fairness most of the “robbery” is because he dealt with Ruben Amaro Jr. However it was great that he was the one to take advantage of Amaro’s stupidity while other teams sat on their hands. I think most of the criticism comes from the fact that he appears to value Smoak higher than Montero when I think most would see it the other way.

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    • DonCoburleone says:

      Nicely said, I couldn’t agree more. Its just like when he acquired Jack Wilson and Franklin Gutierrez and Casey Kotchman and he was praised for focusing on “Run Prevention”. Wait, so do you mean to tell me that playing good defense actually counts in baseball??? NO WAY! I guess that means Jack Z came up with the term “Pitching and Defense wins championships” huh? Let this guy actually WIN SOMETHING before we praise his greatness. And in the meantime lets heap all that praise on the GM who actually deserves it – Andrew Friedman of the Rays.

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      • BX says:

        It’s humorous that you compare Jack Z to Friedman and come to the immediate conclusion that Friedman is that much better than Z.

        Friedman’s team was HORRIBLE the first two years he inherited it after the 2005 season. The 2006-07 Rays were horrid, as we all know. Then the team got good in 2008.

        If you’re crowning Friedman, at least give Z the benefit of the doubt and more than 1.5 years of work.

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    • BIP says:

      Let me know when your team’s GM gets Cliff Lee for peanuts and turns him into a premium prospect haul.

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      • Tom says:

        The genius part wasn’t this trade (of course we can debate all day about the haul) but the fact that he was the one GM that took advantage of Ruben Amaro’s stupidity. Smoak may or may not be an above average 1B but he probably didn’t give away any players that will even make the majors to get Lee from the Phillies.

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      • Mark says:

        Whether he got Lee for peanuts or not is irrelevant to this deal, and has absolutely nothing to do with the analysis of it. You cannot say this move is brilliant because Jack Z ripped off Ruben Amaro 6 months ago. This kind of reaction is exactly my point. This was a decent trade for the M’s, but there’s certainly nothing special or “genius” about it.

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      • Dwight S. says:

        I’ll let you know as soon as my team’s GM increase payroll drastically only to finish dead last.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • MIke says:

        The Mariners cut over 10 million in salary this season.

        +14 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • redsfandan says:

      I have to agree.

      When you get a chance to do something in the playoffs what would you do? With this one move Texas has shown everyone that they’re serious about competing in the playoffs THIS year.

      People need to keep in mind that Lee will eventually turn into a 1st round pick and a supplemental pick in what is expected to be a fairly strong draft next year for the Rangers.

      Yes, losing Smoak hurts. But, losing the others doesn’t. They’re decent prospects but not THAT good. And, if you want a player like Lee, even though he’s a rental, you’ve gotta be willing to give up something. With the offensive depth they have the Rangers can get away with using Davis at 1st and then reevaluating the position after the season. There probably won’t be a BIG difference between Davis at the bottom of the lineup for the rest of the season and Smoak in the same spot. And there’s always free agent 1st basemen out there if Davis decides to continue to tease instead of deliver.

      To me, this looks like a win-win for both teams.

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      • Steve says:

        He will turn into the Yankees’ first round pick. Which will be somewhere between #30-35 depending on how many teams sign their picks this year.

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      • vivalapiazza says:

        and in the event that the yankees sign Lee and Crawford, he might turn into the yankees second round pick rather than their first. Even in a deep draft, that’s not an enormous value.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • philosofool says:

      I’m extremely confused: This was obviously a very good trade for the Mariners. You might say it’s only very good, you might say it’s outstanding. Obviously there’s room for debate over the quality of prospects the M’s received. But no one in their right mind can deny that this was a very good trade. But you seem to think it is evidence that Zduriencik isn’t good. So either you think that this was a bad trade or that good trades are something bad GMs do. Does that makes sense to you?

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      • Mark says:

        “This was obviously a very good trade for the Mariners.”

        That’s just not true. They got one very promising player (although I’d prefer Montero), but otherwise I don’t see much coming from the other three guys. Is this return better than what you think they could have gotten from other teams or what they deserved to get? Is it better than what lots of other GM’s could have gotten if they were in Jack Z’s place? I don’t think so in either case, so I don’t see it as a “very good” move nor do I see how it makes Jack Z some sort of brilliant genius.

        -7 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • vivalapiazza says:

        “Is this return better than what you think they could have gotten from other teams or what they deserved to get?”

        To you, and everybody else here, what they could have gotten from other teams is pure speculation. We don’t know what was offered. To the Mariners, they know exactly what was offered and they took what they consider to be the best deal. We can compare this to the yankees’ offer because we know exactly what it was, but it’s a reach to say that other teams would have offered more. Every team in the league knew they were trying to trade him. If they had a better offer, they would have offered it.

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    • Batman's Cowl says:

      No rational person could have predicted Silva’s miraculous turnaround. He was a toxic asset to the Mariners and that wasn’t going to change.

      Silva was a sunk cost to the M’s either way. If you want to criticize Z for a silly deal, Hall and cash for Kotchman or League for Morrow are solid sticking points. Especially the latter, that one looks to take a turn for the horrifically regrettable.

      +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

  17. DonCoburleone says:

    PER KEN ROSENTHAL: Adams’ ankle injury was excuse for M’s to back out. “You just don’t do business that way,” one Yankee official said.

    LOL – Guess what Yankees, nobody wants to hear your crying! Like it matters to you A-Holes anyway, he’ll be a Yankee within 6 months and it won’t cost you Montero…

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    • Michael Lorri Scioscia says:

      I hate to be a whiner, especially when my team is in 2nd place right now but Darn Yankees! What can they not do with a roster?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Eric says:

      Especially since this is exactly what Teixiera did when he signed with the Yankees, I don’t see how they have any reason to complain

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Steve says:

        explain to me how this is a parallel.

        Teixeira, the PLAYER, may be at fault for something, but certainly the Yankees did nothing wrong.

        in fact, the parallel to the Yankees in the Teixeira situation would be the Rangers. and no one here is mad at the Rangers.

        apples and oranges.

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  18. Jake says:

    I don’t know how you can say Lee has obviously been the best pitcher in the AL. Liriano’s FIP, xFIP, HR rate, K Rate, and groundball rate have all been superior.

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  19. Jeff K says:

    Minor league splits rates Lawson’s defense as amazing. Any scouting reports to back that up?

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    • Sean says:

      I saw a note that he’d had some time in the outfield, so I was thinking he was a true utility guy. That said, doing a little digging I found that he won the Cal League’s “Best Defensive 2B” last year, so he’s clearly got some skill there.

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  20. Michael Lorri Scioscia says:

    I know that you readers, and writers at Fangraphs are very knowledgeable about baseball but I just wonder, will Smoak just seriously underperform the next few years? I know that he should be performing better than his basic stats and that he doesn’t have soft hits along with a good discipline show but weird things happen in baseball. As long as he provides league average first base production, that is all you want as a Mariner fan but things happen all the time especially with the Pat “The Bat” Burrell with the Rays.

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    • BIP says:

      Sure, anything’s possible and nothing is certain, but that’s why good teams make decisions based on probable outcomes. Having all these prospects under team control for so long really mitigates any risk, especially since there’s always a chance one of the filler guys overperforms, too.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Michael Lorri Scioscia says:

        Yeah that’s true. Fillers can sometimes come out of nowhere. I hope that one of my of my guys, Wood (I know that he did not come via trade but I’m just depressed over him right now), can produce under team control.

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  21. Nick says:

    Thoughts on Smoak being a lefty hitter (switch) and Montero a righty? With the dimensions at Safeco, it is much more conducive to lefthanded power than right as far as I know. Smoak may be a better fit for the M’s just based on the park… but this could be overthinking things.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • philosofool says:

      Safeco has field dimensions and a wind that favor LHB. So, yes, Smoak is a better fit for the field than Montero.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  22. Xeifrank says:

    Angels are 7-1/2 games out? I think you are jumping ahead of yourself. 5-1/2 games out! :)

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  23. CircleChange11 says:

    The Rangers didn’t trade for Lee for July, August, and September. They trades for Lee for the ALDS and anything after.

    They also just went from facing Lee in the playoffs (NYY, MIN) to having him pitch for them.

    It’s a bold move and anything can happen, but he definately helps their chances in the playoffs, especially if they get 3+ playoff starts out of him. Now, if they go 0-3 in the ALDS, it won’t look so good, but in a 5 game series, winning game 1 gives you a big edge, and he deinately increases their chance of that. He also likely pitches game 4 or 5.

    Everything is a gamble, but it looks like they took a good risk on this one.

    Count me as one who thinks prospects, in general, are over-rated since we always dwell on who they will become instead of who they are. A good amount of prospects never pan out, yet we sometimes act like they’re all going to be the next .

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  24. CircleChange11 says:

    Jack Z is as much of a genius as his options allow. Figgins, Bradley, and Lee would make him look very smart if they resulted in a competitive team.

    Figs and Psycho are underperforming, and he had to trade Lee because the team is terrible.

    Not surprisingly, teams offered really good prospect for Lee. I don’t see where the genius part is showing yet. That’s not to say that it won’t, but they it has not as of yet.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  25. good result, bad process says:

    Sure, its possible that Cliff Lee is the main reason that Texas wins the World Series and that Smoak and the other prospects never amount to anything.

    However, that good result will have occurred in spite of the odds. (bad process)

    If you take gambles that have a 30% chance of winning, you are bound to lose over the long haul. I think that this trade is one of those cases in which it could turn out well for Texas, but the odds are heavily stacked against them doing well in the trade.

    However, Lee does increase their odds ever so slightly and there’s something to be said about that marginal help that he offers.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  26. formerstarQb16 says:

    I wonder if the overvaluing of future contracts for players of Montero’s ilk goes into the overall valuation comparison of Montero to Smoak at all. It seems to me that it would be preferable to build a team of solid-to-great offensive & defensive players than it would to build a team with amazing offensive ability only, considering the market favors offense so much. What is good short-term should also be good long-term… right?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Steve says:

      yes, Jack Z is SO smart, he’s figured out that great hitters are bad for your team! especially at 1B where defense is incredibly important.

      -7 Vote -1 Vote +1

  27. Justin says:

    No, Smoak has always been considered an above average defender, while Davis has not been……

    I also said Smoak will be a better all-around player. A run saved is just as important as a run scored.

    Smoak may not put up 30+ HR a year (especially in Seattle), but he will be a .300/.400/.500 guy in his prime.

    Yes, he may not be a 3-5 win gu throughout the next six years, but I wouldnt be suprised if years 3-6 are 4-5 Win seasons…..

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Michael Lorri Scioscia says:

      Right on. Now you, I, among others could look wrong in a couple of years but I guess you can say that about anything. Both players, Davis and Smoak have potential, personally I’d like both of them to just make it as solid or above average contributors, that’s all.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • CaR says:

      You simply can’t ‘save’ runs at any kind of measurable rate at first base compared with runs earned with your bat. Slogans and made up defensive stats don’t equate to analytical ability. Despite what some in here have been promoting for years.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Nathaniel Dawson says:

        Well, yes you can measure it. There are stats such as UZR, DRS, Dewan’s +/-, that do that very thing.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • CaR says:

        Subjective run, win and dollar values derived either proprietary or suspect ‘metrics’…. Y’all haven’t invented much but to recycle roster management over its first 100 years.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Nick says:

        So because defense is hard to measure compared to offense, it is not important and doesn’t help anyone?

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Ryan says:

      I get that Smoak is a well regarded prospect, but to assume that anyone will put up a .300/.400/.500 line seems a little optimistic.

      I mean the entire list of players doing that right now are:
      Justin Morneau
      Miguel Cabrera
      Joey Votto
      Albert Pujols

      They’re all 1st basemen so I guess you’ve got that going for you, but for all the “sure fire” prospects, there’s just not that many players capable of doing that.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  28. Jeff W says:

    So who;s going to lose his starting job in Seattle now, Branyan or Bradley, or someone else?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Voxx says:

      Someone else? I dunno.

      Smoak – 1B
      Branyan – DH
      Bradley – LF

      is my guess. Bradley probably loses some plate appearances, and it’s entirely possibly they cut ties with him as a sunk cost.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • algionfriddo says:

      I hope Saunders still gets a full shot in LF.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • BX says:

      I think Branyan is traded to a team craving 1B or LF help.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Nathaniel Dawson says:

      Kotchman seems the most likely to go. He’s rendered totally superfluous now that they have Smoak. At this point, I’d imagine they’d listen to just about anybody that comes knocking on their door. When Bradley gets back and if nobody else is injured, they might have to make a decision between him, Branyan, Smoak or Saunders. You could send either Smoak or Saunders to AAA, or trade Branyan. Trading or releasing Bradley is probably out of the question. Saunders to AAA would be my choice, as putting him there for another month would save a year of his service time, and you could effectively platoon Bradley with Smoak, Branyan, and Langerhans.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  29. CircleChange11 says:

    Any AL team NOT named the Yankees that starts a season thinking “World Series” is crazy.

    But. When your team is having a good season combined with your division being down and having injuries, I don’t see what’s wring with trying to maximize on a season that may not happen again.

    Whether it be TEX or MIN, I’m glad that teams just aren’t conceding Lee and the WS to the NYY. Granted if NYY wants Lee in 2011, they’ll have him and there’s little anyone can say about it. But if you can get him this year for a prospect that’s not a key to THIS season, go for it.

    Certainly, this gives TEX a much better chance vs. BOS, TBR, MIN, DET, or CWS to advance to the ALCS, and then give em hell.

    Smoak may very well turn out to be a good, or even great, player. But the MORE important question to me is “Will TEX ever have a chance like this in the upcoming years?”. My thought is “No”, so why not go for it?

    Isn’t the team up for sale or bankruptcy or something? That cast a lot of doubt on the team’s future. I don’t see what is wring for TEX to go for it like this given the specific situation they’re in.

    +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Michael Lorri Scioscia says:

      As a manager, I can see your point of view. When you have the chance to potentially go for the kill on your opponents, you take it. Obviously, you don’t want to part with your future, but this is Major League Baseball, this is sports, and if you take the right steps, things end up balancing in the end.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Joe says:

      Uh, the Boston Red Sox? They had a superior team coming into 2010. I believe they can and do come into each year thinking World Series, as they should. They have a huge budget and an intelligent front office as well as a fan base that now expects to reach the world series.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  30. SF 55 for life says:

    I feel bad for Derek Holland. This trade pretty much means he’s lost his spot in the rotation after pitching well before an injury. Holland was supposed to come back from the DL a week after the ASG, now he’s probably going to be sent to AAA. Damn shame.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Thomas says:

      Wrong – Harden or Feldman will be the casualty.

      Harden will get one or two more chances but clearly his loss in velocity makes him an ineffective pitcher.

      If Feldman doesn’t start getting more outs he’s going to be a highly paid longman.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  31. CircleChange11 says:

    It’s one thing to go “all in” in the offseason and spend a bunch of money trying to make the WS, since so many things can go wrong during the season and you can’t control how other teams play.

    But when the M’s are out of it, OAK is injured and LAA is trailing by a good margin, picking up the described “best pitcher in the AL” for a player that is not a big cog in your machine, it’s obvious to me.

    Everyone in the ALW is likely to be better next year, and some of the TEX players are likely not going to have as good of seasons in 2011. What choice do you realistically have, when you’re not likely going to have a chance/season like this again? We’re talking about the Rangers, who are often an irrelevant franchise.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  32. Thomas says:

    Re: Davis v Smoak defensively.

    A couple things:

    1. Smoak has the worst arm of any first baseman in the majors. Davis has a ++ arm. Doesn’t mean a ton, but can end up saving you a run or two once a month and in a game situation that might be the difference between winning and losing.

    2. Davis is the superior defender. The ONLY reason they kept Smoak in the minors for so long is that his defense is passable at best and Davis is a good enough defender that he can play a little third base (like he’s been doing at OKC for a few weeks) if you need to shift people around due to injury. Davis saves outs with his glove on bad throws. Mike Young is the king of the dirtball.

    -7 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Jud says:

      Passable at best? That would contradict every scouting report out there.

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      • Thomas says:

        I’ve watched at least an inning of every game he’s played this year, and all of at least 70% of them.

        He is not a good defensive player. He’s cost us some runs.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • James says:

        Thomas’ post is why fans shouldn’t try to be scouts.

        +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Kevin says:

        Thomas is right. When Smoak first came up he was horrible at digging throws out of the dirt. He’s improved since coming up but he’s still not as good as Chris Davis.

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  33. Michael Lorri Scioscia says:

    All I know is that this is obviously not the move our club wanted to see. Well, our club has to take care of business against Oakland tonight and the next couple of days. I’ll be in the dugout.

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  34. Brandon Wood says:

    Will I be involved in a big trade anytime soon?

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  35. DT says:

    Glad the Texans came in and got lee. As a yankees fan i hated the idea of gutting the farm for a 3 month rental. The yanks can now pursue him in FA

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  36. susan says:

    When Lee first appeared Friday, the Yankees opened prospects for catching Montero Jesus and others, then it was traded for first baseman Justin Smoak Texas and others, what has long been clear, was finally official: The Mets – because Ike Davis and Jon Niese are no more chances, but key employees could not – match other clubs’ minor leaguers. Justin Smoak http://usspost.com/justin-smoak-12232/

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  37. maqman says:

    If nothing else this trade has reduced the Texas farm system and improved the Mariner’s potential fodder, a not inconsequential consideration going forward. Montero’s dinger prospects would have been reduced 10-25% at Safeco Field, as per Adrian Beltre. GMZ has never claimed to be a genius and clearly isn’t, he is a pretty good GM who I wouldn’t trade for any other.

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  38. Wobatus says:

    Some have mentioned but many have overlooked that Texas gets a first rounder and supplemental if lee walks. They get the possible playoff ace and then 2 picks to replace smoak, with a decent young 1b Prospect already in Davis. Smoak has a great eye and should improve and has been unlucky, but the power has thus far been a little shy, and he has struggled vs. lefties. Folks made a big deal about Ike Davis struggling against lefties but Alonso and smoak, albeit the latter is a switchhitter, were as bad or worse in the minors.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Sean says:

      The picks are a good point. The 2011 draft is supposed be pretty good, so you gotta figure they should be able to get something close to Beavan+Lueke (value-wise) out of that draft even if they don’t draft well.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • vivalapiazza says:

        But as I wrote earlier, if the yankees sign Crawford and Lee then Tampa would get the first round pick and texas would be stuck with a late 2nd round pick.

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      • TonyC says:

        If the Yankees sign both, which isn’t necessarily likely given how well Gardner has played, Texas would get the first round pick and Tampa would get the second.

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      • vivalapiazza says:

        Tony, what is that based on? Doesn’t elias come out with rankings at the end of the year? Also, if he signs with a team that has a top 15 pick, I think they would only get the 2nd round pick because top 15 picks are protected. Point being, Texas should not take for granted that they’re getting a definite first round pick.

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      • TonyC says:

        http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2010/07/elias-rankings-update.html

        These aren’t the official rankings, but they currently grade Crawford as an 83 and Lee as a 90, so it’s a safe bet that Lee will finish higher.

        You are correct about the top 15 pick though. They first round pick is never a guarantee, but Lee’s about as close as you can get.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  39. bookbook says:

    Don’t switch bitters generally have larger platoon splits than one-handers? I bet 80% of switchers would have been better off focusing from childhood on their better side.

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  40. Chris in Dallas says:

    Why has no one mentioned that slugging 1B are not a rare breed? Smoak will probably be good, but is far from irreplacable. Lee increases the Rangers odds of going places the franchise has never been. Strike while the iron is hot, or something.

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  41. Antonio says:

    Anybody think I should drop Smoak and pick up Lind in a H2H league that counts BA, R, H, HR, RBI, SB and OPS as the seven offensive stats categories?

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  42. Antonio says:

    It’s for my UTIL slot, of course.

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  43. Antonio says:

    Or maybe Chris Davis over both of them?

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  44. Yoloslim says:

    If we are just talking playoff success, this trade is not just a Rangers gain but a Yankees relative loss making this trade all the more astute.

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  45. Davor says:

    The problem with Z is the same as with Jeter: many loud people try to anoint him as best ever, which provokes adverse reaction. His moves sofar were nice, good, very good, but not clearly great or world-beaters. He may get there eventually, but for now, he is quite good GM with at least solid future prospects. Most of his moves were good, even those he lost (Morrow, Silva), but even Lee deal is more of competent move made by very good manager who used the situation to his full advantage than exceptional brilliance.
    If the events unfolded as journalists wrote, that is potential problem for Z. Baseball GM has to deal on a daily basis with the same group of people (29 other GMs and other execs). If someone is perceived as untrustworthy, it could cause trouble down the road.

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  46. Steve says:

    How did the team president of the 6th best FO in baseball know know that they traded Cliff Lee for a rapist??

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/mariners/2012334567_lueke12.html?syndication=rss

    Vote -1 Vote +1

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