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Posts Tagged ‘Justin Smoak’

So, it looks as though the Texas Rangers are the winners of this year’s perennial Cliff Lee sweepstakes. Does this mean the Yankees can expect to meet them in the playoffs?

Texas is currently 50-35 and in first place in the AL West. Adding Lee will undoubtedly help their starting rotation, which currently consists of Scott Feldman, CJ Wilson, Colby Lewis, Tommy Hunter and Dustin Nippert.  Rich Harden is also in the mix, but the oft-injured righty is, well, injured yet again. Lee is better than any of these guys and will only improve on the group’s combined 4.27 ERA, which is currently the 8th best mark in the AL. By comparison, the Yankees rotation has posted a 3.79 ERA, 3rd in the league.

However, Texas sent their starting 1st baseman, Justin Smoak, to Seattle in the Lee deal. It’s not that Smoak was hitting at the level expected of him – but he was the only 1st baseman on the 25 man roster. The Rangers could return to using Chris Davis at first, or try putting one of their outfielders there. I doubt either move is particularly palatable to them, but the rules say you can’t play without a 1st baseman (or with 5 outfielders).

Texas is in a weak division, where one of their rivals just got a lot weaker. FanGraphs projected the Rangers to win 93 games before the Lee trade, so you have to figure adding Lee’s 4.0 WAR should pencil them in for 96-97 wins. That will be enough to get them into the playoffs, likely as the #2 seed behind the Yankees – which means they won’t face each other in the divisional round. Right now, that figures to be Yankees/Tigers and Rangers/Rays. The question for Texas will be, has adding Lee done enough to get them past the top two teams in the AL and into the Fall Classic?

I wouldn’t bet on it.

As for those of us in the Evil Empire, we can be content to watch the Rangers empty their farm system in an attempt to get a ring. After all, we know where Lee is headed this upcoming offseason. :)

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