2010 MLB PLAYOFFS;ALCS BEAT;Lee to Yankees scary thought
ARLINGTON, Texas – The most feared player in the AL Championship
Series isn’t MVP candidate Josh Hamilton. It isn’t future Hall of
Famer and certified Yankees icon Derek Jeter. It isn’t Greatest
Closer of All Time Mariano Rivera. Nor is it Alex Rodriguez,
Robinson Cano or CC Sabathia. It’s Cliff Lee.
The indomitable left-hander is really the only reason anyone’s
giving the Rangers a chance in the ALCS. Just get to Game 7, and
let Lee do his thing.
Whatever happens, now probably would be a good time for Red
Sox fans to frown. Because this
probably isn’t the last Yankees series Lee will impact.
The impending free agent will be the highest sought commodity on
the market this offseason, and there’s little debate where he’ll
It’s pretty much the way of the world that when the Yankees want
a big-name free agent, they get him.
There’s no reason to think Lee will be any different, probably
for a contract of at least $100 million. And that will make things
very difficult on the Red
Last winter, the
Sox realized they wouldn’t sign
outfielders Jason Bay or Matt Holliday, so they pounced on
right-hander John Lackey for five years and $82.5 million.
The team preferred shorter-term contracts, but at least Lackey
had the track record to justify such an expenditure. The Red
Sox also liked the idea of adding
one of the two marquee starters that projected to be on the market
in 2010 or ’11.
The other, of course, was Lee. One now must wonder if the
Sox would have been better served
earmarking the money they spent on Lackey toward a big offer to
Lee, the former Cy Young Award-winning left-hander who has proven
fearless in big games.
Maybe it wouldn’t have mattered, since they always knew the
Yankees would be lurking.
Lee understandably wasn’t keen on discussing his future
”I don’t really get caught up in that, to be honest with you,”
he said. ”I’m a Texas Ranger right now, and we’re in a good
position and we’re going to try to win a World Series ring. That’s
where my focus is. I’m not worried at all about what’s going to
happen in the offseason or any of that. That’s not consuming any of
It will be shortly, particularly if the Yankees end the series
before Game 7. Then they’ll be able to employ the fullcourt press,
and once the Yanks are seriously involved, it’s hard to say no.
Sox fans need no reminder of Mark
Teixeira’s free agent experience. The
Sox thought they had him in December
2008, only to watch the Yankees descend with an eight-year, $180
”It was the chance to win every year. Simple as that,”
Teixeira said yesterday. ”Greatest franchise in sports history. I
hate losing. I absolutely hate it, with a passion. So when you’re
with the Yankees, you have a chance to win every single year.”
Teixeira wasn’t done gushing.
”It has everything,” he said of New York. ”It’s the center of
the earth. It’s the center of the baseball world, the greatest
stadium in baseball, the greatest fans, New York City . . . you
can’t say enough about it. As long as the contract is acceptable,
it’s really hard to turn them down.
”It was a very tough decision for me, but putting on those
pinstripes every day is special. I wish every major leaguer had
just one day to put on the pinstripes to see what it feels like. To
hear that roll call in the starting lineup at Yankee Stadium is
Cliff Lee may soon find out just how special. And the separation
between the Yankees and Red
Sox may get a bit wider.