To me, this boils down to Smoak and Beavan for Lee. Lueke is a weird story, a guy who was arrested last year in Bakersfield, looked like his career was over, ended up getting the charges dropped, and established himself this year as a potential power relief arm. But the Rangers are pretty well loaded with power relief arms...he's a guy who is still a fringe prospect. Matt Lawson is a 24 year old second baseman having a decent season in AA, but is basically organizational depth.
Blake Beavan, you can argue, the Rangers sold for the $2.5 million the M's are kicking into this deal towards Cliff Lee's salary. 2007 first rounder, a big righthanded strike thrower who doesn't miss a ton of bats, but who also gets a lot of ground balls and doesn't walk guys. He improved his stock this year, and is arguably one of the Rangers' top-5 prospects (pre-trade). He's a guy who profiles as someone who is a future contributor, but who is not anticipated to be a potential TORP (I do not believe he was included in Jason Parks' highest ceilings series).
Justin Smoak is the big prize in this deal. I like Justin Smoak. I am more confident that Smoak will be a quality major league first baseman than that Chris Davis will be. Some people think Justin Smoak can be another Justin Morneau. Some think that he will be another Lyle Overbay. I suspect that Smoak's struggles with lefties is part of their willingness to part with him. I suspect that the Rangers' willingness to include him in this deal is not because they don't think he's going to be a player, but because they don't think he's going to be a dominant first baseman. Of course, that's why they were willing to part with Adrian Gonzalez, and we know how that went.
As for Cliff Lee...a while back, I talked about the Doctor Zhivago scene in True Romance in reference to Eric Gagne, and compared Gagne to Doctor Zhivago. That was...well, wrong, clearly.
But Cliff Lee, I feel a lot more confident in. Cliff Lee is Doctor Zhivago. Cliff Lee is, if not the best pitcher in the American League right now, one of the 3 or 4 best. Cliff Lee makes the Rangers much better the rest of the way, and much more of a threat in the playoffs.
And that makes this a deal that I can live with. I'm excited that we are getting Cliff Lee. He's the best pitcher the Rangers have had since...well, probably since the 70s. He's a dominant starter who has walked 6 batters and given up 5 homers all year.
The price is steep. We've said all along that the price for a true TORP would hurt. It was going to be painful. There is no question about that.
And this price is painful. It hurts to give up Smoak and Beavan.
But right now, my gut feeling is...that it is worth it.