Posted By Sean S

Getting more for Cliff Lee than the Mariners gave up for him would seem to be an easy task.  Earlier today it looked like the Mariners had done very well for themselves, Landing Jesus Montero from the Yankees.  Montero is not a perfect prospect, his hitting in AAA is not what was expected and defensively, few think he'll stay at catcher.  Still, we're talking about a 20 year old who split time between A+ and AA last year, hitting 337/389/562.  He's a potential Carlos Delgado at the plate.  Baseball America still rates him the #5 prospect in the game. The other two prospects were not as good, but if you can get a guy like Montero for 3 months of Lee, I don't see how you pass that up.

Instead, they take the Rangers offer headed by Justin Smoak.  Smoak is a fine prospect himself despite struggling in the majors so far.  Baseball America rated him #13 preseason.  He's a patient hitter, a big strong guy, and a decent defender at first.  He hasn't shown a lot of power yet.  I don't think you can just assume a big hitter with a good swing and eye will develop power.  Look at Casey Kotchman.  Another comparable prospect who looked great at AA with a lot of walks, but has been only average in the big leagues, is Jeremy Hermida.  There are comparables who turned out better, maybe Joey Votto.  I just think Montero, 3 years younger, has a much better chance of being an impact hitter.

If they got a lessor frontline prospect, did they at least make up for it in quantity?

Doesn't look like it.  Blake Beavis, settle down, I mean Blake Beavan, is a 6'7 250 pounder who doesn't walk anybody, but doesn't strike anyone out either.  He ranked #17 for the Rangers in preseason.  Matt Lawson is a 24 year old AA second baseman.  Looking at his batting average, contact rate, power, and speed I don't see anything he'd be major league average in offensively.  He's not super young either.  His defense is outstanding by TotalZone, +19 last year after +12 in 2008.  Looks like a utility infielder to me.  He did not rank among Texas's top 30.  The final guy, Josh Lueke, is a 25 year old AA reliever with very good strikeout rates.  He also did not rank among the top 30.  That's not all though. Hard to see how any team would accept him in a trade until a rape case against him gets resolved.

Edit:  The link I saw describing the charges against him was a year old.  He took a plea deal and the matter is in the past.  Still wouldn't want him on my team though.

Who won the trade?  I'd say the Yankees.  They get to keep Montero and will have Cliff Lee in 2011 anyway.  

5 Comment(s):
Sean said...
Smoak is really struggling with the Mariners, batting .170 and more worrisome, only 1 walk vs 21 strikeouts in 47 AB. That's Brandon Wood production. At the same age Morneau won a job in the big leagues and slugged .536 in half a season.
July 25, 2010 12:35:26
Ben said...
I've taken a closer look at both batters, Smoak and Montero, and both have excellent pedigrees. Only time will tell which one has the better bat. Montero will probably end up at 1B, if so his positional advantage is negated and we are comparing apples to apples. If he remains a catcher than he might look like a much bigger piece of a winning team than Smoak could -- but catchers are also injury-prone and their careers are hard to project. Baseball Prospectus is pretty high on Smoak, he's described as potentially a "switch-hitting Justin Morneau." One thing Seattle wanted to do with this deal is acquire a player who was ready to play right now, and Smoak is getting at every day at bats in MLB games. They wouldn't have been able to use Jesus Montero right away.
July 23, 2010 01:34:29
Ben said...
The deal also takes Justin Smoak away from Division rival Texas, which could be a great long-term move if Smoak plays to his potential.
July 22, 2010 09:29:37
Sean said...
Kotchman signed out of high school so we don't know what kind of power he would have shown with a metal bat. There are a lot of guys who have hit with good power in college and never saw it translate in the pros. Smoak has a chance to develop power that Kotchman no longer really has - because he's 4 years younger. But the jury is still out on whether he will be more than a 15-20 homer guy.
July 18, 2010 06:49:13
MP said...
"I don't think you can just assume a big hitter with a good swing and eye will develop power. Look at Casey Kotchman." I don't really see any comparison between Kotchman and Smoak. Kotchman is an extreme groundball hitter who never showed any power in the minors. Smoak (at the same age) showed tremendous power at South Carolina. Clearly, Smoak has not shown the same power yet in pro baseball, but the upside is there. It (power upside) never really existed with Kotchman.
July 14, 2010 11:21:03
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Sean S
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