Second-guessing: Have Cliff Lee regrets?
|Should the Rangers regret not guaranteeing a seventh year to lock up Cliff Lee? Ben and Skin weigh in.
The Rangers knew all of this when they didn't commit to the long-term contract Lee wanted in the offseason. It was never a question of how well Lee would pitch in 2011 or even 2012 or 2013, as long as he stayed healthy. The question was what might happen after that. Lee turns 33 in August. To come to Texas, it would have required a guaranteed seventh year, making him a starter in his late 30s.
That's just way too risky. And nothing Lee does in 2011 will change that. He liked his time in Texas, but wanted two more guaranteed years to pitch here than he did in Philadelphia. It's one thing to sign up a guy like Lee to five years guaranteed with a vesting option for the sixth year. The Rangers gladly would have done that. It's another thing to take up a large percentage of your payroll in the sixth and seventh year of a deal for a pitcher in his late 30s. There aren't many examples of that working out well.
That said, I know some of you believe you take that risk just to have Lee during the next few seasons when the Rangers' window might be its largest. And I can see that. But if you do that, you also risk shutting that window early too if Lee gets hurt and that money remains on the books, preventing you from signing other players. The Rangers have a bunch of key members of the core that will need new contracts in the next few years and they'll need financial flexibility to sign them. Not having money tied up long-term to Lee will help in that department.
Lee sure is fun to watch. He looks like a guy ready to help lead a strong Philadelphia team through the postseason, too. He would also make the Rangers a lot better right now. But that isn't the question that GM Jon Daniels and his staff had to ask themselves. What would Lee do in the fifth, sixth and seventh year of the deal? How would it impact assembling a team around him? The answer: It was too risky to sign that deal and find out.
Tune in to 103.3 FM ESPN for the Ben & Skin Show as they discuss Lee this morning starting at 10 a.m.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.