October 21, 2010
Saying that Cliff Lee is a phenomenal postseason pitcher is an insult to Cliff Lee. So, that's why America's least favorite team, the New York Yankees, will probably buy him this winter for the foreseeable future.
In 24 innings pitched Lee has a 0.75 ERA with 34 strikeouts and one walk. His regular season stats back up his postseason stats. In 2010 Lee pitched 212.1 innings with a 2.18 ERA, a 10.28 SO/BB ratio, a 1.003 WHIP and a 12-9 record.
Lee looked unhittable vs. New York on Monday. Yankee hitters looked dazed, confused, and baffled as Lee led the Rangers to a 2 games to 1 lead over the Yankees in the ALCS. So because of his dominance, and the Yankees pocketbook, everyone assumes Cliff Lee will simply be bought by the Yankees for the 2011 season. However, I'm not so sure he will leave for New York just yet. That's why I put together a list of my top three reasons why Cliff Lee will pitch for the Texas Rangers in 2011.
1. New Rangers' TV Contract- On September 26, the Rangers signed a 20 year, $3 billion, contract with Fox Sports Southwest. The is the highest TV package for a team that doesn't own it's own TV network. The contract is valued at $150 million per year. Maybe this winter the Rangers will learn a lesson from the New York Yankees: money talks. The Rangers might just need to commit one year of that contract to Lee; if so they might just land him.
2. Dallas a baseball city? - It sounds crazy to most people, but the fans of Dallas have caught "Rangers Fever". Even with "America's Team", the Dallas Cowboys, playing not too far away in "Jerry's World" the Rangers seem to be dominating the Dallas sports landscape. While the Rangers seem to be on a freight train to the World Series, the Cowboys are mired in a 1-4 start to their season. Fans may also be happy a major Dallas team is finally winning. Not only have the Rangers won their first playoff series, they may win another. In recent years the Dallas area has been severely disappointed by the playoff performances of the Cowboys and Mavericks; who both have been eliminated early in the playoffs despite some strong regular seasons.
Lee Might want to capitalize on the Rangers success. If Lee went to New York he would be just another great player on a great team. He would blend in with all of the greats who have played for, and will play for, the Yankees. On the other hand Texas has not had many great players. (The two greatest players for the Rangers/Senators franchise might be Ted Williams and Nolan Ryan; however Williams played when the franchise was still the Washington Senators. Ryan also played in Texas at the end of his career.) In Texas Lee could easily become the greatest Ranger of all time. While the Rangers may seem like a small market team, Dallas is actually a very big city. If Lee stood out as a Ranger he may get marketing opportunities that may not be possible in New York.
3. Nolan Ryan- On the field he was one greatest pitchers of all time. Nolan Ryan already showed that he is also a pretty good President and CEO. Now at age 63 Ryan ,and partner Chuck Greenberg, bought the team in late July and brought the Rangers out of bankruptcy. Both of them stated multiple times that the Rangers will compete among bigger market teams. Unlike the Rangers of Old, the Rangers now play a game based around pitching and defense; in a pitcher's park. This is a mentality that Ryan helped generate in his tenure as President of the team.
So will Cliff Lee stay in Texas when he hits the free agent market? Honestly, I don't know. However, I do hope that he stays in Texas and does not become the latest player to bow to the almighty dollar.
Phil Joens is a contributing columnist to myGameBalls.com and also maintains a Blog.