July 9: What You Missed
Kevin Calabro and the “Go 2 Guy” Jim Moore were broadcasting live from Safeco Field today, and they couldn’t have picked a better day to do so.
Just before the show started, the Mariners announced that they had traded Cliff Lee and Mark Lowe to the Texas Rangers in exchange for 23-year-old first baseman Justin Smoke and three other prospects.
Minutes after the confirming press conference, Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik was kind enough to stop by and answer some more questions from Kevin and Jim.
On what is special about Justin Smoak:
Well I think you’re looking at a pretty stylish, classy first baseman, middle of lineup hitter, switch hitter, which is very difficult to find. â€¦ And as you go through this whole process, we were targeting â€¦ certain players that we really thought would really fit us. And when they finally said we’ll give you Justin Smoak, it was like, ok, let’s move forward, and let’s consummate the deal.
On whether or not Smoak has some ‘pop’:
Oh yeah, no doubtâ€¦ I mean, this guy’s going to be a nice player. He’s got pop, he’s a switch hitter, nice first baseman, [big], rangy body.
On whether Smoak is too young to have such high expectations:
He started the year in AAA, and then because they had some deficiencies â€¦ at that position. They brought him up, and I think he’s shown some power. But I think all of us that have known Justin Smoak for years know that this guy’s got a pretty swingâ€¦ he’s a nice looking hitter. It’s just-he’s in the big leagues maybe a hair sooner than he ought to be.
On trading Lee within the division:
In our estimation, we got the best return for this player. The fact that we took, what we think, are some quality players from a team in our own division isn’t a bad thing. The fact that we took a guy that was their starting first baseman and we’re going to have him for 5 or 6 years, not a bad thing. â€¦ Cliff still has a right to declare free agency, so who knows where he’s going after this season. There are no guarantees where he’s going.
Our own Mariners Insider Shannon Drayer also stopped by to talk to the guys about the trade.
On what the M’s were able to get for Cliff Lee:
I think when the name Justin Smoak first came up and the fans heard about it, I think ‘pipe dream’ is kind of what went through their heads. Listening to Jack Zduriencik in the press conference, that was the name they were asking for all along from Texas. To bring that kind of bat under club control for as long as they will have, I think it’s a huge win for the Mariners.
On how the trade affects the clubhouse:
There’s a personal level to it. Cliff Lee very popular, lessons were learned in that clubhouse. Mark Lowe, extremely popular in that clubhouse, that’s tough. But I’ve had player after player tell me that just because a guy gets traded doesn’t mean a friendship ends. Those are things they feel. Rob Johnson was talking about how there will be hunting trips with Cliff Lee in the offseason.