Friday, July 09, 2010

Rangers acquire Cliff Lee, Mark Lowe, $2M

For 1B Justin Smoak, AAA Starter Blake Beavan, AA Reliever Josh Leucke, AA 2B Matt Lawson.

I would not have made this trade. Smoak and Beavan are too talented to trade away for 2 1/2 months of Cliff Lee. If Cliff Lee signs here long term (a slim possibility, but a better possibility today than yesterday), then this trade will have been worth it.

That said, the Rangers could have given up more - a lot more. Am immediately intrigued by the secondary considerations.

Mark Lowe is a Francisco Cordero clone who will heavily contribute to this season's pennant race and to any playoff games which occur is recovering from back surgery and is likely out for this season. Lowe pairs a 95 mphish+ 2 seam fastball (which runs in on the hands of RH hitters - just as Cordero's does) with a sharp slider (reminiscent of Cordero's slider). Lowe has touched 98, and not infrequently. This is a World Championship quality reliever - a potential closer - whom the Rangers will control through the end of the 2012 season. Lowe went to high school in Sugarland and college at UTArlington, and therefore offers Texas/local appeal to Rangers fans.

Blake Beavan has a body and a fastball which are reminiscent of Colby Lewis. Also reminiscent of Lewis: Beavan has elite fastball control which he uses to set up all his other pitches. Losing Beavan is painful. He's going to go to Seattle and pitch 200+ innings for 6 consecutive seasons. He's going to make a couple of All Star Teams. He's going to kick the Rangers' derrieres season after season after season. I am going to hate it. Worse: Beavan is a local kid, hailing from Irving, TX. Rangers fans would have appreciated that aspect of Beavan; would have taken him into their hearts. Like Lowe, Beavan is a World Championship caliber pitcher. He's been overlooked and underrated by fans and media who follow the Rangers. He will rectify that - possibly as soon as April, 2011. Beavan will put some hurt on the American League West. Sooner, rather than later, Rangers media who have underrated Beavan will suddenly remember that they always knew he would be very good; they always wrote and said that he would be very good. When they remember that, I will laugh. Bitterly.

I've seen Leucke pitch. He came out of nowhere. He throws mid to upper 90s and has a slider. He's a nice prospect, and he's the type prospect the Rangers needed to package in a trade, as the Rangers are facing future 40 man roster problems.

Matt Lawson is a polished 2B in all aspects. He reminds, a bit, of Cubs 2B Ryan Theirot, insofar as both players are well rounded, can make all the plays, can handle the bat, are smart and gritty winning players, and do not have any one tool which wows you. Lawson, if he has the luck to find the right situation, could be a major league starter for some years. Lawson, also, is the type player the Rangers must trade in order to avoid future 40 man roster problems.

I would not have traded Smoak straight up for Cliff Lee. Smoak's approach at the plate is rare; is elite; is EXACTLY what any team needs in order to win in playoff situations. When it's the 8th inning of a close World Series Game, every single team in baseball needs a Justin Smoak coming to bat with runners on base. By approx. 2012, there won't be a single Ranger whom you would prefer to hit in that situation over Justin Smoak. Kinsler will be the best Rangers hitter in that situation, yet Smoak will be his equal. Nelson Cruz will be the second best Rangers hitter in that situation, yet Cruz will not be superior to Smoak. Elvis will equal Smoak in shrewdness in big situations, except Smoak will pack more power. Michael Young will not equal Smoak, and neither will the Rangers own flawed Achilles: Josh Hamilton. Losing Smoak is painful.

Onward. Cliff Lee is fabulous. Mark Lowe will be exactly what any franchise needs. Chris Davis is a Longview, TX boy whose defense is premium; whose offense is probably ready. The 2010 Rangers are solidly better, now, than they were 2 hours ago. And they were already a raucously talented ballclub.

Cliff Lee is from Benton, Arkansas. NO ONE from Benton, Arkansas is a New York City type of person. NO ONE. Cliff Lee is a natural Texas Ranger. Finish the sale of the club. Sign Cliff Lee long term. Pay the huge price. Get it done. It's worth it.

Rangers Starting Rotation for the pennant race:



Final note

It's not what I would do, but: the Rangers do retain the minor league depth to make another huge trade and still retain a stocked minor league system. I wouldn't do it, but the Rangers could do it, and it's something to keep in mind.

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