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.


” 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.

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2010 MLB Preview: AL East

In order to help get you ready for the MLB season, we’re doing division-by-division rankings with quick overviews on how each club could fair in 2010. Next to each team, you’ll also find a corresponding number written in parenthesis, which indicates where we believe that club falls in a league-wide power ranking. Be sure to check back throughout the next two weeks leading up to the season, as we will be updating our content daily. Enjoy.

All 2010 MLB Preview Content | AL East Preview | AL Central Preview | AL West Preview | NL East | NL Central | NL West

First up is the AL East.

1. New York Yankees (1)
If you think I would get cute in these rankings and suggest that some upstart team would derail the Yankees this season, then you sir, are sadly mistaken. I just don’t have the conjones to bet against them, especially after they added Curtis Granderson, Javier Vazquez and Nick Johnson to their already stacked roster. Sure they lost World Series MVP Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon, the latter of which loved to work the count and provided the Yanks with some pop over the last couple of seasons. But thanks to Granderson, Johnson, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Texeira, Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada, the lineup is still stacked from top to bottom. Vazquez, CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett and Mariano Rivera will once again highlight a strong pitching staff and assuming they don’t suffer any major injuries, there’s nothing to suggest that the Bombers won’t make another championship run. That said, let’s not be oblivious to the potential problems that could arise for the Yanks this season. Age is a factor, as is the fact that Granderson can’t hit lefties and will be under the spotlight as the club’s biggest offseason acquisition. Plus, for as good as Vazquez was over the past couple of years, he was a disaster the last time he wore pinstripes (Boston fans remember this well.) Should the Yankees win another World Series? Yeah – especially considering they have the best-purchased roster in baseball. But just like last year, they still have to prove it between the lines and they’re not immune to hurdles getting in their way.

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2010 Fantasy Baseball Preview: Outfielders

All 2010 Fantasy Articles | 2010 Position Rankings

What’s great about the outfield position in fantasy baseball is that it’s like Wal Mart: you can get whatever you need and you’ll always be greeted with a friendly smile and a hello.

All right, so you won’t be greeted with a smile when you select outfielders in your draft. In fact, that doesn’t even make any sense so just forget we wrote it. The point we’re trying to make is that whatever you wind up needing for your team on draft day, you can usually find it in the outfield section. Need speed? The outfield has you covered. Need power? It has that too.

Below are a group of players that fit into certain categories based on need. You know that a guy like Ryan Braun is going to get you production across the board, same with Matt Kemp, Matt Holliday, Grady Sizemore and Carl Crawford. But the guys we’ve outlined below are players you can target in the middle to late rounds that will give you a boost in certain areas. You’re not going to get production in every category if you draft these players, but hopefully you’ll be satisfied in the specific categories we’ve highlighted.

Power Boosters:

Adam Lind, Blue Jays
Perhaps the most encouraging thing for fantasy owners about Lind’s breakout 2009 campaign, was that he was consistent throughout the entire season and hit right-handed pitching as well as he hit lefties. After hitting 35 home runs and driving in 114 RBI last season, we think Lind will be more apt to match those numbers (or even improve on them) this season than he will be to crash and burn.

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MLB Power Rankings—Top 5 and Bottom 5

It’s getting down to pennant race times and there are some incredibly tight races and a lot of teams that are at least in contention. Here we’ll take a look at who we think the Top 5 teams are right now and who the Bottom 5 are as well.

Top 5

1. New York Yankees (73-43)—Not only did the Yankees sweep the rival Red Sox last weekend and make quite a statement, they’ve won 10 of 11 and are 22-6 (.786) since the all-star break. That is just scorching.

2. Los Angeles Angels (68-45)—You have to feel for the surging Rangers and even the Mariners, because neither one is going to catch this fundamentally sound team. If Mike Scioscia isn’t the best manager in baseball, he’s surely the most underrated.

3. St. Louis Cardinals (65-52)—The Cards grabbed Matt Holliday before anyone else could and he’s batting .493 with a slugging percentage of .813 in his first 75 at-bats with St. Louis. Pujols/Holliday has got to be the most fearsome 3-4 tandem in baseball.

4. Los Angeles Dodgers (69-47)—The Dodgers hung on without Manny for a few months, and then cooled off when he returned. They’ve lost 7 of 11 but still lead their division by 5 games and are 32-14 against NL West opponents.

5. Philadelphia Phillies (65-48)—Suddenly with Cliff Lee and Pedro Martinez, and Jimmy Rollins finally finding his stroke, the defending champs are poised to make another run deep into October and possibly November.

Bottom 5

1. Washington Nationals (41-75)—They recently won eight in a row but still trail the Phillies by 25.5 games and the fourth place Mets by 13.5. So yeah, they’re still the worst team in baseball.

2. Pittsburgh Pirates (46-69)—The Pirates actually looked half decent early in the season, but they did what they always do in July—made a whole bunch of trades and pretty much surrendered the season as well as the next three seasons, as they’ve lost 11 of their last 13 games.

3. Kansas City Royals (45-70)—Remember the Royals were 14-12 and everyone started talking about this team being decent for the first time in two-plus decades? We remember, but then they remembered that they were the Royals.

4. Baltimore Orioles (48-67)—This team has some great young players like Adam Jones and Matt Wieters and Nick Markakis, but playing in that division is almost unfair.

5. Cleveland Indians (49-66)—Once again, the Indians have disappointed and started selling off players. Cliff Lee, like CC Sabathia last year, is the reigning AL Cy Young winner, and the Tribe also dumped popular catcher Victor Martinez and infielder Ryan Garko. Next year sure has a familiar ring on Lake Erie.

MLB All-25 and Younger Team

There’s a different feel to baseball again – a good feeling.

Yeah, I know – there are probably still plenty of players who are cheating. But at least the league is (finally) making somewhat of an effort to clean up its image and for that, we as fans have hope that maybe someday the game will be juice-free again.

Those who have watched their fair share of baseball this season should be reveling in how the game is getting younger again. Instead of teams waiting for dingers in order to score runs, clubs are bunting, stealing and manufacturing scoring opportunities – the way the game is supposed to be played.

After watching how the Rays won last season, more and more teams are building their rosters by developing home grown talent rather than signing big-name free agents (save for the Yankees, of course) and it’s making the game exciting again. An onus has been made on youth and speed and for the first time in quite a while, baseball is once again a young man’s game.

That said, I’ve decided to have a little fun by constructing an entire 25-man baseball roster (I’ve named the team “Team Youthful Exuberance”) by using only players who are 25 years of age and younger. Rules and guidelines for the roster are below so enjoy and as always, feel free to make an argument for any players that I might have missed.

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