Three years ago today was a special day in LSB history.
Three years ago today, the Rangers traded Justin Smoak, Blake Beavan, Josh Lueke, and Matt Lawson to the Seattle Mariners for Mark Lowe.
And Cliff Lee.
Its been three years since he was acquired, two and a half years since he signed with the Phillies, and we still pine for him. D/FW columnists still write that the Rangers should bring him back, regardless of his backloaded contract that will pay him $75 million through the end of 2015, or $87.5 million through the end of 2016, depending on what happens with his options.
It was a glorious day, the day when the Rangers really stamped themselves on national consciousness as a franchise to be taken seriously. Lee is on the short list of the greatest pitchers ever to play for the Rangers, and it was a joy as a fan to watch him perform for my team.
Because the Rangers went to the World Series that year, because Cilff Lee was a huge part of them getting that far, and because Smoak and Beavan -- the two key components of that deal that the Rangers gave up -- have disappointed so far, this deal looks like a home run for the Rangers. At the time, though, there was some controversy about the deal, and the fear that the Rangers had given up too much in parting for Smoak. Remember, the Rangers tried to get Seattle to take a package centered around Derek Holland and Chris Davis, having declared Smoak and Martin Perez off-limits. It was only at the last minute, when the M's were about to consummate a deal with the Yankees that would have sent Jesus Montero to the M's, that the Rangers caved and agreed to part with Smoak.