Did Cliff Lee take a shot at Rangers/Mariners fans?

Texas Rangers' ace Cliff Lee talks to the media as the Rangers prepare to take on the New York Yankees in the ALCS at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas on October 14, 2010.  Game one of the best of seven series will be on October 15, 2010 in Arlington.  UPI/Ian Halperin Photo via Newscom

During his introductory press conference with the Phillies on Wednesday, Cliff Lee was asked about Philly fans and he couldn’t stop gushing about the energy they bring to the ballpark every night. (That’s because they get sauced up before the walk into the stadium but that’s neither here nor there.)

One interesting comment he made during the presser was about how Phillie fans “don’t need a teleprompter to tell them to get up and cheer.” You can read the full quote (excerpted from the Philadelphia Inquirer) below.

“They get excited. They’re passionate fans. They understand what’s going on. They don’t need a teleprompter to tell them to get up and cheer, to do that. No, it’s exciting. It’s an historic town. I didn’t realize until I got here how interesting the city is. My family really liked it. I mean, that played a big part in it.

Granted, Lee might have just meant fans in general and wasn’t talking about anyone specifically when he made the comment. He seems like a humble, good-natured guy and it’s not his style to take pot shots at anyone. (After all, fans at Yankee Stadium harassed his wife and never once has he said anything bad about the Yankees organization, even though he may have been justified.)

Still, I’m a little ticked off if I’m a Ranger or Mariner fan. No teleprompter was necessary when the Giants were lighting him up in the World Series and Seattle only won about 12 games last year so it’s not like they had anything to cheer about. So if he were taking a small dig at those two fan bases, he’d be out of line.

But again, I’m sure Lee didn’t mean any harm by it. He enjoyed his time in Texas and has nothing to gain by pissing off fans that embraced him last year.

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Cliff Lee should stay a Ranger in 2011

Texas Rangers starting pitcher Cliff Lee delivers to the San Francisco Giants in the first inning during Game 5 of Major League Baseball's World Series in Arlington, Texas, November 1, 2010.     REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

Following another heartbreaking loss to the Giants in Game 5 of the World Series, Cliff Lee said that he would love to return to the Rangers in 2011.

“I don’t know if I’m going to be a part of it,” Lee admitted. “I’d love to be a part of it, but so many things can happen.”

Lee used a lot of “we” when talking about the Rangers after the game. It appears that Texas has stolen a piece of his heart and he truly enjoys being a part of the Rangers organization.

That said, money talks. This guy has been traded three times and has been a part of four different teams in the past two years and I’m sure he’d love to finally settle down with his family in one spot. The Rangers may be the frontrunners for his services, but they’re going to have come up with a decent offer. They’re not going to outbid the Yankees – nobody does. But they need to at least be in the same ballpark so Lee can feel appreciated. The Giants tuned him up twice, but he’s one of the best pitchers in the game and should be paid as such.

If the Rangers can keep Lee, they immediately become the favorites to win the American League next year. The Yankees showed their age in the postseason and while the Rays are young and powerful, they’re about to lose one of their most productive players in Carl Crawford (who is sure to leave via free agency this winter). Texas has a great offensive core in Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus, Michael Young and even though he looked horrendous in the World Series, Vladimir Guerrero.

Their pitching staff thanks to C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis, Tommy Hunter and relievers Neftali Feliz and Alexi Ogando is solid as well, but it’ll look rather ordinary without Cliff Lee. Nolan Ryan needs to do everything he can to bring Lee back so the Rangers can take another run at things next year.

Break out your checkbook, Rangers.

Yankees miss out on Cliff Lee…for now.

Texas Rangers starting pitcher Cliff Lee pitches against the Baltimore Orioles in the first inning of their MLB American League baseball game in Arlington, Texas July 10, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Stone (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

When the news sprawled across my computer screen last Friday, I couldn’t help but say aloud, “Right on time, Yankees.” (And yes, I like to talk to myself.)

By the middle of last week, the Rangers had emerged as the favorites to acquire left-hander Cliff Lee from the Mariners. The sticking point in the deal appeared to be whether or not Texas would part with top prospect Justin Smoak, whom Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik coveted.

Either way, it seemed as though the Rangers were way out in front in the race for Lee. That was, of course, until the Yankees got involved.

Reports surfaced early Friday morning that Brian Cashman and the Yanks were on the verge of acquiring Lee. They were prepared to give up their top prospect, Jesus Montero, but the two sides couldn’t agree on whom the second player in the deal would be and the Rangers wound up getting Lee anyway.

But if history is any indication, Lee won’t be in Texas for very long. His contract is up at the end of the year and we all know Cashman does his best work at the negotiating table. (Not that throwing millions of dollars at a player with reckless abandon in attempts to sign him is difficult.)

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Cliff Lee gets his first taste of Texas

Texas Rangers starting pitcher Cliff Lee pitches against the Baltimore Orioles in the fifth inning of their MLB American League baseball game in Arlington, Texas July 10, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Stone (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

Despite going the distance and throwing only 95 pitches, Cliff Lee took the loss in his Rangers’ debut on Saturday, dropping a 6-1 decision to the Orioles. Nick Markakis, Cesar Izturis and Adam Jones all took him deep in his first experience playing in Arlington.

From SI.com:

” It was an electric atmosphere. They got a lead early and never lost it. That kind of kills that a little bit,” Lee said. ” They came out swinging. You have to tip your hat to them for their approach.”

Lee, the 2008 AL Cy Young winner the Rangers got from Seattle in a six-player deal Friday, still threw his AL-best sixth complete game.

” It was just one of those weird games, every swing they took turned into a run somehow,” said Ian Kinsler , the Rangers’ All-Star second baseman.

” Cliff showed exactly what he’s capable of doing,” Michael Young said. ” He had to be tired from all the travel and all that’s been going on for the last couple of days, but he showed exactly what he’s capable of giving us. … We’re all excited about what we have.”

If this game were in Seattle, I highly doubt Lee would have given up six runs, but them are the breaks pitching in Texas. While the score suggests otherwise, he was highly efficient, striking out two and walking none. The complete game was his fourth in his last five starts.

Depending on how manager Ron Washington sets his rotation after the All-Star break, Lee will face either the Red Sox or Tigers in his next outing.

Rangers, not Yankees acquire Lee from M’s

July 04, 2010 - Detroit, MI, UNITED STATES - epa02237007 Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Cliff Lee (R) talks with Felix Hernandez after the left the game after the eighth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan, USA on 04 July 2010. The Mariners beat the Tigers 8-1. Lee was the winning pitcher.

Even though Brian Cashman and the Yankees tried to run interference earlier in the day, the Rangers still got the piece that could make them a legitimate World Series contender in the end.

On Friday, Texas acquired left-hander Cliff Lee, right-hander Mark Lowe and cash from the Mariners in exchange for first baseman Justin Smoak, right-hander Blake Beavan, left-hander Josh Lueke and second baseman Matt Lawson. The Rangers were believed to be the front-runners for Lee all along, but reports surfaced yesterday morning that the Yankees were on the verge of acquiring him. In the end, New York couldn’t come up with the second player to appease Seattle and Lee wound up in Texas by the early evening.

Lee gives the Rangers the excellent presence at the front of their rotation that they’ve desperately needed. Considering he’s switching to the best pitcher’s park in the AL to one of the worst that his numbers will drop, but Texas had to make this move. They’re on the verge of finally ending their 11-year playoff drought and needed to acquire that final piece to help push them over the edge. Assuming he pitches as well for them as he did for the Indians, Phillies and Mariners, Lee is going to be an outstanding edition to the Rangers and someone who has already proven he can get it done in the postseason.

For the Mariners, they had no choice but to make this move as well, although Smoak was the key. On the high side, he projects to be a Mark Teixeira-type, in that he can hit for average, has pop and plays excellent defense. For fans that were disappointed that their team didn’t trade for Lee, Smoak is the type of frontline prospect that it would have cost in order to acquire the left-hander. A lot of teams don’t even have a Justin Smoak in their farm system.

Both teams did well here and give Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik credit for getting the Yankees involved. That may have put a scare into the Rangers (who know doubt didn’t want to see Lee land in New York) and got them to finally part with Smoak.

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