Saturday, December 11, 2010

Five reasons why Cliff Lee will not be a Yankee

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!


Unknown said...

Um, not really.
Texas does not have the resources to consistently compete. Hamilton, Cruz, Wilson are all being paid peanuts right now because they have yet to hit free agency. If they are gonna pay Lee $23 million, how much is the reigning league MVP worth? And those other young stars?
The taxes thing is a red herring. Major leaguers pay taxes in every state ion which they work; the bulk is owed to the state in which they live - and Lee lives in Arkansas, which has a similar tax rate as NY. Besides, the players know how to avoid big taxes (see Jeter's residence in Tampa)
Friends? Isn't Lee's closet friend CC Sabathia?
The rest of that is silly. With the money he makes, he can hunt anywhere he wants - and I doubt he will have much time to shoot deer during the season. He can do that in the offseason - In Arkansas.
And he was a Philly for a while.

Unknown said...

Meant to say - he was in Philly, so I am sure his wife knows all about "classy" fans.
Lee will sign with whatever team offers the most money. Period.

Larry Koestler said...

Hey Lisa,

Interesting take. I actually feel very much the other way around, but you make a strong case nevertheless.

Mark the Spark said...

The tax advantage for the Rangers is overblown. There are ways to get around this. The fact that the majority of the millionaires in the United States live in the NY/NJ/CT proves that they've figured out ways to get around the excessive taxation problem. Not to mention the increase in endorsement dollars available to a player playing in the media/advertisement capital of the world.

Unknown said...

Look Yankee fans Lee LOVES Texas.... Understand that is why he is taking his time choosing.. There is no way Texas offered what new York did for him and he is very much considering the Texas offer.... Yes sabathia is his closest friend but the only one he has in New York vs an entire team of close friends in Texas... Hamilton Wilson and Cruz have all stated they will take less money to stay in Texas and the rangers are backed by two billionaire oil tycoons they have money... I'm not telling you he will sign with Texas but Texas is where he wants to be don't get your dreams crushed here like you did in the ALCS because you once again underestimate the rangers

Lisa Swan said...

Mark and Peter, I contend the taxes are an issue, as shown by the fact the Rangers are using it as a selling point with Lee.

Even Derek Jeter had New York on his trail when he avoided paying his state and local taxes. You still have to pay them even if you only live in the state for part of the year, and even if you're Derek Jeter. Don't mess with taxes!

Peter, don't quite get your logic. The Rangers are going to pass on having Lee now, because of future free agents (Wilson: 2012, Hamilton: 2013,and Cruz: 2014) that they may or may not sign? If that were the case, they would have passed on Lee all along. At any rate, Texas has a brand-new TV contract, and brand-new ownership, and they're willing to spend.

Larry, thanks for your note. I'll check out your argument.

James, thanks for commenting. I used to live in Texas, so I can actually see why Lee might want to live there.

Stephen Kennamer said...

You are right, and Lee will sign with the Rangers. The Yankees have only one chance: that Lee is an idiot, and the only thing he is looking at is the size of the paycheck before taxes because he thinks somehow that's the true measure of his worth, his standing in the game, and how "respected" he is. Put another way, is he as shallow as many of his peers? Or smart enough to see how your five reasons outweigh one non-reason?

myjah said...

But wait Lisa--is Cliff Lee hunting deer with a gun? Joe Mauer only uses a bow and arrow. His Mom won't let him use a gun. This could mean something.

Anyway, if the Yankees don't get Lee, there's other free agent options out there. Like Carl Pavano!

No? Okay.


Uncle Mike said...

Cliff Lee clearly does not want to be a Yankee. So let him and his 26-22 over the last 2 regular seasons stay "close to home," 300 miles from Benton, Arkansas.

I've often said a pitcher with control issues "can't find the plate with a map," but Cliff Lee is obviously too stupid to know how to READ a map!

And... he's a hunter? Red Ruffing and Jim "Catfish" Hunter both lost toes in hunting accidents, then recovered, and became great pitchers -- Catfish well before coming to the Yankees, Ruffing BY becomin a Yankee. But both had recovered well before putting on Pinstripes. Suppose Lee blows a toe off AFTER signing a Yankee contract? Suddenly, he stops being Sandy Koufax and starts being Carl Pavano -- or Kevin Brown.

Not to mention his wife sounds like the second coming of Brenda Warner, who would've lasted about 20 minutes in New York.

This guy is a nightmare waiting to happen. If Brian Cashman signs him, he's even dumber than Lee.

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