In Seattle, that mid-season trade of Cliff Lee, Mark Lowe and cash for Justin Smoak and three minor leauguers is a deal Mariners fans have yet embrace with enthusiasm.
How the Texas Rangers and their fans see it may well depend upon Tuesday night, when Lee starts for the Ranagers against the Tampa Bay Rays in Game Five of the American League Division Series. Lose and Texas is eliminated - again - from post-season competition. Win and Lee will have taken the Rangers one step deeper into October.
October is what the Lee trade was all about for the Rangers, who knew from the outset they could lose the veteran lefty to free agency. In 15 regular season starts, Lee was 4-6 with a 3.98 earned run average with Texas. In the ALDS, he's 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA and one start left - and while Lee has said all the right things publicly, he's going to test free agency.
It's a bit like the trade that sent Randy Johnson to Houston for Freddy Garcia, Carlos Guillen and John Halama. Mariners fans hadn't heard of those three, and the Astros wantede Johnson for the post-season. Johnson went 10-1 for Houston, got them to the post-season, then went 0-2 as they lost.
Bottom line: Disastrous deal for the Astros. Great trade for Seattle.
Whether Smoak becomes the impact hitter the Mariners hope he is - or pitcher Josh Lueke develops as a big-league power reliever - won't be determined quickly. For the Rangers, however, the deal's success may hinge on tonight's start. If Lee wins, the Rangers trade looks better - and Lee might get the opportunity to pitch them into a World Series.
If Texas loses tonight, the gave up young talent for four regular season and one post-season win.