Wow, didn’t expect to be writing that kind of a headline this year. I honestly didn’t think the Rangers would put up the prospects and risk needed to do it. BUT, J.D. did just that and now the Rangers have a bona fide ace for the first time since…Nolan Ryan? I mean, they’ve had Kenny Rogers, John Burkett, Aaron Sele and Rick Helling, but they were all No. 2 starters at best.
So it’s no wonder Texas fans don’t know how to react to this. Just read the up-in-arms comments over at Lone Star Ball. You’d think we traded away Elvis for Brian Moehler and some pine tar.
True, it does hurt to see Justin Smoak and Blake Beaven go (the other guys are more middling prospects). Smoak was perceived to be the next Teixeira, except with a higher on-base percentage. But, the fact is, he’s not there yet. The Rangers, though, could be. They’ll be at least a few games up in the division at the All-Star Break with the most realistic shot at the playoffs and beyond since 1999. This move means one thing: The Rangers want to win. Now. Not five years down the road. Now. After all, the stupid team slogan is “It’s Time.” They’re putting their money where their mouths are.
Could it be because Nolan Ryan and Jon Daniels know they may not be back after this season due to the incredible screwed up ownership situation? Could be. Whatever the case, for this team to have a shot, this needed to be done. A rotation that relies on Scott Feldman and some mixture of Dustin Nippert/Matt Harrison/Rich Harden/Omar Beltre two times a week is not a pennant-winning-caliber team. Sticking Lee at the top of that heap, taking more pressure off Colby Lewis, C.J. Wilson and Tommy Hunter and relegating Feldman to being the fifth starter he is, is exactly what this team needs.
Again, losing Smoak hurts. But the offense is good enough to manage without him. It’s not like he was critical to the Rangers’ success. All the good things he has done (patience at the plate, flashes of gap power) can be considered bonuses. Chris Davis could put up comparable numbers this year (remember how awesome he was after his Triple-A trip last season?) Smoak’s true value lies in the years ahead.
And that’s what makes this trade so hard to be 100 percent behind. The Rangers are no strangers to bad deals. We’ve seen Adrian Gonzalez and John Danks develop into stars with other teams and with nothing to show for it. But this is different. Danks plays in a different division and Gonzalez is in the NL. The Rangers will be faced with this trade (regardless of whether they can resign Lee after this year, which is doubtful) for years to come. It could end up hurting a lot. Imagine how much worse Atlanta would feel had it dealt Elvis and co. to the Mets for a half year of Teixeira?
Either way, it’s pretty clear what the Rangers’ team motto should be changed to: World Series of Bust.