News came out yesterday that the Rangers brass met with Cliff Lee, his family, and his agent on Monday in Arkansas. According to team pres Nolan Ryan, the meeting was to let Lee know that "we [the Rangers] are interested." My only reaction after hearing the news last night? Why the fuck did Texas even bother?
Let's set the stage again in case you've forgotten. The Yankees can offer Lee more money for more years and can offer the chance to play in New York, the biggest sports market in the US, where he can earn more in endorsements. They can offer a more temperate climate for Lee, who is said to not be a fan of the Texas heat. They can offer the chance to pitch beside his former teammate and very good friend, CC Sabathia, to form the top 1 and 1A pitching duo in baseball. And with the revenue they generate and the TV deal they have in place with their own freaking network, the Yankees are better equipped to spend money both in free agency and in building up their farm system to continue to position themselves as a top contender for a World Series title every single year while Texas is waiting for a few years for their new TV deal money to really kick in.
Add to that the fact that the Yankees were down in Arkansas a week ago meeting with Lee and his family almost as soon as the free agency period started and before any talks between them and their own 2 premiere free agents and team icons, Jeter and Mo, even began. The Yankees made the first strike on Lee, showing not only that they were "interested" in signing him but that signing him was their top priority. As soon as that meeting was done, the Rangers were in trouble in the negotiations because they had nothing they could try to sell Lee on other than the premise that he was a bigger deal to them than to the Yankees.
By finally getting their asses down to talk to Lee on Monday, the Rangers not only reinforced the thought that Lee is the number one priority for the Yankees, they also gave off the impression that he ISN'T the number one priority for the Rangers. I mean, what the hell have they been doing for the past week while the Yankees were moving in on their ace? Helping Ron Washington rebuild his stupid house in New Orleans? The best move the Rangers could have made was fly down to Arkansas as soon as they got word that Cash was there talking to Lee. Instead, they let 4 days go by for Lee to think about his discussion with Cash and wonder when Nolan and the crew were going to come talk to him. Not exactly a good impression to make if you're really serious about bringing back the guy who would anchor your rotation next season.
Round 1 in the Lee Sweepstakes clearly went to the Yankees, who made the preemptive strike and got in front of Lee as soon as they could. With as long as the Rangers waited to respond and have their meeting with Lee, I think you have to chalk up Round 2 to the Yanks as well.
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