Take a minute to read or listen to my interview with Justin Smoak back in 2006 when he was a sophomore at the University of South Carolina. On the Rangers' blog readers are 70-20 on whether the bankrupt organization gave up too much or too little trading first baseman and former Cape Leaguer Justin Smoak for Cy Young winner Cliff Lee. Seventy percent believe the Rangers made a good or great trade. Over at the USS Mariner there is understanding but little appreciation of the trade of Lee for Smoak et al.
For those of us who got to know Justin Smoak in his college days at South Carolina, and witnessed his meteoric rise to the Big Leagues after Cape Cod, the Mariners deal makes sense.
Earlier today, before the Lee trade, I told several friends that Lee should go to the Twins for another Justin -- Justin Morneau (and Morneau knows it). The Mariners lack a power-hitting first baseman, and the Twins lack a lights-out pitcher in order to contend. But when I heard the news of Smoak it made more sense -- Smoak is the future Morneau.
In 2006, after his all-star performance on the Cape for Cotuit, Smoak did an interview with me for one of our first CodBall Conversations. I won't forget it because I had to get up super early in the morning Seattle time in order to catch Justin by phone during his sophomore year on campus at South Carolina. He was punctual, chipper and insightful when talked.
By the way, he did disclose in his interview that he is more of a Braves fan.
Smoak had just come of off an All-Star season in hte CCBL. Baseball America had just rated Smoak the No. 1 top prospect on the Cape, where he led the league in home runs (11) and collected 27 RBI. He was 10th in the league in batting with a .286 average.
Lee will help Texas win the AL West in my opinion. Smoak will help the Mariners return to their 1995-2001 greatness. All things considered, I think this is win-win.
Smoak is not some unknown. He is of the Longoria (TB), Lincecum (SF), Beckham (Chicago), Gordon (KC), Wieters (Baltimore), Storen (DC) generation.
What do you think of the trade?