ANAHEIM, Calif. -- ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick rates the deadline deals made by a variety of teams as part of his "starting 9" series and includes the Rangers. He gives the club a "B" for all of its deals, headlined by Cliff Lee, but including other secondary trades. Here's what Crasnick wrote about the Rangers:
The Rangers pulled off a coup when they acquired Lee just as it appeared the Yankees were about to land him. Lee suffered some back problems and posted a 1-4 record and a 6.35 ERA in August. But he's pitched back-to-back gems against the Yankees and Mariners in September, and health permitting, he'll line up against CC Sabathia or David Price in the first game of the Division Series.
If you proceed under the assumption that Lee will leave Texas as a free agent this winter, the ultimate measure of this deal will come in October. If Lee pitches the Rangers to the World Series, it will merit an "A" grade regardless of how Seattle's young prospects fare. If he pitches poorly in the postseason and the Rangers make a quick exit, the deal will be perceived as a bold effort that failed to work.
But the Rangers have said they want to re-sign Lee, and general manager Jon Daniels isn't conceding anything at this point.
"We're not oblivious,'' Daniels said. "The average person who's either directly involved in the industry or just a fan has him wearing pinstripes. But we're not concerned with that. We know we have a lot to offer. At the end of the day, we believe we have a chance to win. I believe that would be a pretty compelling sales pitch if we do.''
Daniels hasn't had much luck with his other additions. Bengie Molina has done a nice job handling the pitching staff, but he's hitting .208 with a .540 OPS as a Ranger. Jorge Cantu has no RBIs in 68 at-bats with Texas, and Cristian Guzman has been equally bad. Jeff Francoeur has made a nice impression since coming over from the Mets, and will push for a spot on the postseason roster.
The Rangers didn't give up any top-tier prospects in their secondary trades, but parted with some talent to acquire Lee. If Smoak turns into a productive everyday player or Josh Lueke overcomes his off-field issues and parlays his mid-90s fastball into big league success, that's the price for acquiring a pitcher the magnitude of Lee.
I think the 'B' grade is fair. The Lee trade is a good one no matter what happens in the postseason, in my opinion. As a GM, Daniels' job is to give his team the best chance to get to the playoffs and then make a run once they get there. He had to give up something to get a guy like Lee, but it was worth the gamble -- no matter what happens. The other deals did not work out as the Rangers had hoped. They haven't gotten much from Guzman and Cantu, as Crasnick describes. I do like the Francoeur deal and think he'll find his way onto that postseason roster.