As I have written before, I have been very skeptical that the Yankees would sign Cliff Lee. Squawker Jon and I have been arguing about this offline for the last two months. He figures the Yankees always get what they want. I contend that if anybody might turn down the Yankees' money, it's Lee.
Here's why I think Lee will stay with the Texas Rangers:
* Just as good a chance to win there as with the Yankees: Heresy, I know. I've heard a lot of Yankee fans say that Lee would have a better chance of winning with the Yanks as opposed to the Rangers. Never mind that those Rangers beat the Yankees like a rented mule in the ALCS. Sure, Texas faltered in the World Series, but that won't be their last time at the rodeo.
Because of this, Squawker Jon points out that Lee can't even use the standard line most free agents give when coming to the Yankees -- that they've got a better chance to win in the Bronx. It's not really true in Lee's case. Not only did he help get the Rangers to the World Series, but he helped the Phillies get to the World Series as well the year before. He does bring his own star, like Reggie Jackson once did.
* The Rangers don't have to pay as much as the Yankees: No, Texas doesn't have to go higher than the Yankees' reported seven-year, gazillion dollar offer. They just have to be in the ballpark (no pun intended.) Remember, there is no state income tax in Texas, and no city tax, either. The cost of living, especially housing, is a lot lower there, too. Former Ranger Kenny Rogers offer made the mistake of signing with the Yankees for more money, without figuring that the offer the Rangers gave him was actually better when you factored in taxes and cost of living. The Rangers could offer Lee 20-25% less more money, and still be able to be competitive.
* Lee's a deer hunter: Hear me out on this: Myjah, a Minnesota Twins fan reader, told me last year that Joe Mauer would never be a Yankee because he liked to hunt deer. Myjah's point was that a guy who spent his fall in a deer stand would prefer to stay out of the big city. Myjah wrote, "The Twins will offer him the biggest contract in Twins history. With their new stadium, they can afford Joe. He'll stay in Minnesota by his grandparents (who come to every Twins game) and his deer stand. That's just the type of guy he is."
I pooh-poohed this comment, but Myjah turned out to be correct, when Mauer signed a 10-year extension with the Twins instead of taking his rightful place as the new Yankee catcher!
So what's Lee been doing in his offseason? Deer hunting! Bad omen.
* Kristen Lee: Remember the whole controversy over her saying how terrible the Yankee fans were to her at the ALCS? I don't know what happened during the playoffs, but I do know this -- she will be under a spotlight most new Yankee wives have never had to face if she comes to New York. There will be reporters and paparazzi following her around everywhere to see how she reacts. Is she really going to want to go through that?
Besides, in that same USA Today article where she complained about spitting and spilled beer, she also said that it was great to only be a 40-minute flight away from their Arkansas home. By all accounts, Mrs. Lee is an important factor in Cliff's decision. I would be surprised if she opts for the big city.
* His teammates: Lee has been on four teams in two years. Does he really want to make it five, when he seems to be well-liked in Texas? His teammates, like Ian Kinsler, have been encouraging him to stay. And fellow pitcher C.J. Wilson directed this comment in the Dallas Morning News to Lee: "I'll be your sidekick." If he had only said "I'm your huckleberry," I'll bet Lee would have signed with the Rangers already!
What do you think? Tell us about it!