The back and forth and almost reporting (ahem… guilty hand raised) is done, Cliff Lee is going to the Texas Rangers in a 6 player swap (USA Today story here). Good for the Rangers, first of all, for stepping in and beating the Yankees out and for finally making a push for that one guy to make them serious contenders. I love parity.
Now on to the meat and potatoes. What in the world does this mean for fantasy? Let’s break it down:
Justin Smoak, 1B
Smoak was a fantasy darling this year and has on more than one occasion been compared to former Ranger Mark Teixeira, another switch hitter (who also had trouble with lefties when he came up…). He came out of the gate big, but has cooled off considerably. Okay I’m sugar coating, he has struggled a lot recently, but the pedigree is phenomenal. By all accounts, Smoak will be a good-if-not great first baseman and, more importantly for us, a viable fantasy option for years to come. And just to beat those naysayers to the punch, Safeco Field might be good for Smoak. With its large power alleys, Smoak, a great line drive hitter, could be in line to rake in the doubles out in Seattle.
*Beaven was the 17th pick in the 2007 draft (WOW HE’S ONLY 21!) and is supposedly an excellent control pitcher. He’s also 6’7” 250, so he has the build of a monster, or at the very least Jeff Nieman 2.0.
*Lueke, another big fella (6’5” 220), was a 16th round selection in 2007 draft. He’s had biiiiiiiiiig strikeout numbers in the minors and he’s older (25) leading me to believe he is going to be a useful bullpen are along the way, as some scouts have called him a ‘top relief prospect.’ I read that to mean he’s a power arm, plain and simple.
*Lawson is an interesting player, listed as a 2B/OF- always an interesting combo. A 14th round selection in that same 2007 draft (nice haul, Texas). He seems like a solid player, hitting for a nice combo of speed and power with a decent OBP. Who knows how he’ll play out, but he seems to be an athlete at the least. The only issue might be the K’s (127 in 545 Plate appearances in high A last year), but it appears he has corrected that somewhat (64:37 BB:K ratio this year in AA).
The Rangers Get…
This Guy Named Cliff Lee?
He’s just plain good. Even in Texas. I feel like I don’t need to write him up at this point. But I will. Lee goes to a solid rotation in Texas and makes them legitimate contenders. Not that this is set in stone, but I am fascinated by the effect Lee might have on the rising young arms in Texas, especially my favorite C.J. Wilson.
Lowe is a very solid reliever and an established one at that, unlike the young arms the Rangers traded away. This is a smart move by the Rangers, as I always think it is wise to grab established relievers over young potential relievers. He figures to add to an already solid Ranger bullpen and anchor the last few innings with Francisco and Feliz.
And there you have it, blurbs for all, the deed is done and the Lee is gone. Great deal for both teams, I’m excited to see Smoak develop and the Rangers with an actual ace for once…