The Rangers went out and made a huge move to continue their push towards the American League West title by acquiring Cliff Lee for four players in the Rangers organization. The highlight of the trade is first baseman Justin Smoak who was the Rangers first round pick in 2008. Early reports had Lee going to the Yankees, and basically switching dugouts, since the Mariners open up a three game series against the Yankees and Lee was supposed to start the game.
The opening day starting lineup had Chris Davis pencilled in at first base. He struggled early on and eventually was sent down to Triple-A Oklahoma City Redhawks. The Rangers basically did a swap with Justin Smoak being promoted up from Triple-A taking Chris Davis’s place and Davis took Smoak’s place at Triple-A.
Since being called up over the course of 70 games, Smoak has hit .209 with 8 home runs and 34 RBI”S. In all honestly he probably needed more seasoning at Triple-A, but maybe the Mariners who are obviously in the cellar in the American League West can give him more time at Triple-A.
The Rangers also sent Double A Frisco Rough Riders starter Blake Beaven who has pitched a 110 innings with a 10-5 record with a 2.78 ERA. He was originally selected 17th overall for the Rangers in the 2007 first round. He would also probably be assigned to Double or Triple A. The Rangers also sent Rough Riders reliever Josh Lueke and second baseman/outfielder Matt Lawson to the Mariners in exchange for Lee.
This will be Lee’s fourth team in less than a calender year. He came up through the Cleveland Indians organization and at one time highlighed a rotation along with C.C. Sabathia. In 2008 Sabathia was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers before reaching free agency after the season and signing with the Yankees.
Almost a year ago the Indians sent Lee to the Philadelphia Phillies for prospects. Lee was stellar for the Phillies in the postseason giving the Phillies the only two wins in the World Series last year. During last off season there were talks about Lee signing an extension with the Phillies.
It has been a rough few years for the City of Cleveland dating back to 1995 when the original Cleveland Browns left to become the Baltimore Ravens. Then Sabathia and Lee were traded away. The cherry on the sundae came last night with Ohio’s native Lebron James decided to head to the Miami Heat in search of better weather and a ring.
The only problem with that is the Phillies organization was in love with Roy Halladay and after they realized they couldn’t acquire him last season they went after Lee. Once the Toronto Blue Jays replaced their G.M., he efficiently sent Halladay to the Phil’s which sent a domino effect sending Lee to the Mariners again for prospects.
Lee started the season on the disabled list with an abdominal strain, although once he came back he was ready to go. He just recently had a stretch of three complete games and the fourth start he pitched 7 full innings, so far this season he has won 8 games.
The Rangers just recently traded for Benjie Molina and solidified the Rangers catcher position. Now that the Rangers have Cliff Lee to pitch to Molina, they now have the roster I feel can compete for the postseason. Once the Rangers make it to the American League Division Series which is only a five game series, they can pitch Lee twice and then send fellow starter Colby Lewis to the mound for the third win and the Rangers are headed to the American League Championship.
Ok… so maybe I got a little ahead of myself, but I am overly excited about seeing Lee in a Rangers uniform. I don’t know where the money came from to acquire Lee, but I am sure glad the Rangers dug deep because Lee is the type of prolific pitcher the Rangers need at the top of their rotation.