Friday, July 9, 2010

Auf wiedersehen, Cliff Lee

Back in December when the Seattle Mariners landed Cliff Lee, about all Weisenheimer could say was, "Damn!" Now that Lee has been shipped off to the Texas Rangers for four prospects my reaction is pretty much the same, except it doesn't have the exclamation point.

I was excited about Lee, and the prospect of him teaming with Felix Hernandez as a potent 1-2 punch in the rotation. But even in that December post I rang some warning bells:

There's still the small matter of the offense. Right now we have really no idea who is going to play LF or 1B, and if you go into the season with Jose Lopez penciled in as your cleanup hitter, then that's not a happy recipe for success. Opening day, however, is still nearly four months away. I have a feeling Jack Zduriencik may know what he's doing.
Ex-Mariner Cliff Lee. AP photo.
Well, maybe not. Z did not go out and get any bats, starting the season with ancient Mariners Griffey and Sweeney on the roster. My Sweetie, the official scorer, will back me up on this: At the start of the season I predicted the M's would be 10 games back of first by the first of May. I admit I was wrong. It took nearly until the first of June for them to be 10 games back, and now, with the All-Star game (it counts, you know) at hand. They're about to drop to 17 games back.

Trading Lee makes some sense on a couple of levels. It's a reasonable presumption that, at this point, it's not likely that the M's would have been able to lock up Lee on a long-term contract. (We'll ignore, for today, the differing versions of how hard they tried to do so this spring when the notion was much more plausible.) We won't know for sure for at least three or four years, but the package of prospects they received for Lee today seems much better than the package they gave up to get him seven months ago.

Here's the thing: I am sick and tired of the Mariners always being a seller.

Who have been the marquee acquisitions for the M's over the years?  Richie Zisk? Kevin Mitchell? Pete O'Brien? Willie Horton? Gaylord Perry? Sheesh, in the magical year of 2001, when it was clear they would make some noise, who was the big help they brought in to help in July? Doug Creek.

The thing about Smoak, for those of you who have been bemoaning Casey Kotchman all season long, is that Smoak is about the same guy. Numbers this year for Kotchman: .212 BA, 6 HR, 28 RBI, .648 OPS. For Smoak: .208-8-34-.670. Smoak is 23 years old, Kotch 27, which is not a trivial difference. And even though he's a switch hitter, Smoak hasn't had much luck against left-handed pitching so far. And you know what? If Smoak turns out to be the real deal, round about 2014 they'll trade him to the Yankees rather than lose him to free agency, because we can't afford good players, even with a taxpayer-funded stadium full of poutine.

Well. I'm hoping I get to see some games in Great Falls and Helena this year.

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