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On the Carlos Lee trade

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Tim MacMahon, apparently bored with making asinine comments about Disneyland and the age of the Rangers g.m., has an actual baseball post up on the DMN blog this afternoon, talking about the success of former Rangers Carlos Lee and Francisco Cordero. One of the comments suggests that Lee and Cordero no longer being here supports the claim that Jon Daniels is "in over his head" as the Rangers g.m.

What I don't get, though, is why anyone would be carping about this deal...

The Rangers got the best hitter available at the deadline last year, a guy who filled a big need for the Rangers and who performed while he was here (offensively, anyway).

And what did they give up?

  1. A relatively expensive, no-longer-young failed closer who had been relegated to a setup role, wasn't pitching well at TBIA and was getting booed by the home crowd every time he came in
  2. A struggling outfielder who was starting to get expensive through arbitration
  3. A busted former prospect with no future in the organization
So why, exactly, are people complaining? The complaints appear to fall under a few sub-categories:

The Rangers had no chance of winning anything, so they shouldn't have made the trade

That's false. The Rangers, at the time the deal was made, were at .500 on the season, were 2 games back of Oakland and a game and a half back of Anaheim, and had been the best team in the division in terms of run differential. There were no serious injuries that would result in an expected regression, and Adam Eaton was coming back from injury.

The division was very winnable when the Rangers made this move.

The Rangers should have tried harder to re-sign Carlos Lee

Again, nonsense. The Rangers, by all indications, made this deal knowing it was a rental of Lee. He had rejected a 4 year, $48 million contract extension from the Brewers, which was likely more than the Rangers would have offered him, given that he's a very good, but not great, bat with conditioning issues entering his decline years.

The 6 year, $100 million contract the Astros gave him was ludicrous, and the Rangers should not have matched it.

And don't start with the "He would have been better than Whiffy out there" crap. If we are functioning without a budget, then sure, the amount of the contract is irrelevant. If we are assuming that we are working under a finite budget of under $100 million, there's no way you give $100 million over six years to a guy with Lee's skill set and age.

Lee's off to a great start. He's gone to a weaker league, and is taking advantage of the nice hitting environment at the Juice Box (while posting just a 769 road OPS). But the idea that the Rangers are stupid for letting Lee go is, well, stupid.

The Rangers gave up the National League save leader

Yep. They did. And good for Francisco Cordero...he got his career back on track somewhere else.

But how anyone who has paid attention to the Rangers can carp about them letting Cordero go last year is beyond me.

He was awful early in the season, and lost the closer's job. He did better in a setup role, but continued to struggle when pitching in Texas. He was getting booed every time he came out, and had a 6.56 ERA at TBIA.

So the Rangers cashed him in and got value for him, rather than keep him around and watch his value continue to diminish as he struggled in a setup role in Texas.

Maybe I'm wrong...but watching Cordero pitch in TBIA last year, I got the sense that it had gotten in his head. Much like Brad Lidge needs to start anew somewhere else, Cordero needed to start anew somewhere else.

So the hoo-hawing from certain parts notwithstanding, I don't think you can complain about Cordero being dealt.

If the trade isn't made, the Rangers have Kevin Mench playing lousy baseball in the outfield instead of Nelson Cruz, they've got Francisco Cordero in the bullpen (likely looking more like the Cordero we saw in 2006 than the one the Brewers have right now) instead of Eric Gagne, they've got Laynce Nix sitting on the d.l. for the first month of the season, and they've got two fewer draft picks in June.

Is that really a better situation?

I guess there's a certain low-hanging-fruit aspect of this for someone who seems to specialize in combining condescension with a very little amount of baseball knowledge.

I don't see how, though, one could really look at this deal and condemn what the Rangers did, or regret that the move was made.