Author Archive

Cliff Lee Rental Was Worth the Gamble for Texas Rangers

When you go to the casino to play the slots, do you expect to win? Do you go to a casino expecting to win when you put all your money on double zero?

The odds aren’t terrible, but they aren’t in your favour either.

In professional sports, general managers constantly flirt with the odds when they decide to pick up rental players.

Rental players are generally players who are picked up by a team for the last portion of the season in hopes of helping the team win its respective league championship in exchange for that player’s market value. Obviously, the better the player, the steeper the price.

It’s a big risk to take for one shot at glory, if you ask me. The chances of a rental player being worth the value given up to get him are very low, and past situations have demonstrated this fact many times.

However, for the Texas Rangers, “renting” Cliff Lee from the Seattle Mariners has already proven to be worth it.

The Texas Rangers earned their shot at taking on the New York Yankees in the ALCS by knocking off the Tampa Bay Rays on the backs of another stellar Cliff Lee postseason performance. Lee went the distance, giving up six hits and an earned run while fanning 11 in the 5-1 victory.

Wait, so why does one playoff round make the Cliff Lee rental a worthwhile endeavour?

Under most circumstances I would say it doesn’t, but with the Texas Rangers you have to look at where they would be without their ace and where they are now.

In general, I am not an advocate for the acquisition of rental players. Teams are forced to give up their potential future—prospects and draft picks—for a player that can hardly guarantee even a real shot at a title. There are too many examples of teams falling short of the mark after acquiring a soon-to-be marquee free agent.

In the NHL, you look to an example like Nashville and Peter Forsberg, where the Predators gave up a first and third-round pick along with Scottie Upshall and Ryan Parent, only to be knocked out in the first round of the playoffs

How about just reminiscing about last year’s World Series, where the Phillies fell short of a title despite the acquisition of, wouldn’t ya know it, Cliff Lee?

The difference here is that the Texas Rangers franchise is currently navigating through uncharted waters all thanks to one Mr. Lee. The Texas Rangers had never won a playoff series prior this year’s ALDS victory, and for a franchise that had never reached the second round of the postseason it seems like it is already a success to have overcome a team that was considered by some to be Major League Baseball’s elite.

I don’t think that anyone can logically argue that without Cliff Lee the Rangers would have beaten the Rays.

There is almost no doubt that the Rangers would have still taken NFC West-like AL West, but they got Lee for one thing only, and that thing is the playoffs. Lee did not have the best win-loss record, nor did he pitch his best ball with the Rangers during the regular season. He went a mediocre 4-6 with a 3.98 ERA, but seriously, it didn’t matter.

Lee pitched two marvellous games against the Rays. As I mentioned earlier, he pitched a complete game tonight in the biggest game of the season and pitched seven great innings in Game 1. Oh yeah, in 16 playoff innings he didn’t walk a batter.

The Rangers did go on to win Game 2, but then at home they lost Games 3 and 4. Now imagine them having C.J. Wilson instead of Cliff Lee at the front end of their rotation. Everyone moves one spot up, and who knows what happens in the series? My best guess is that they lose, but that’s just me.

Think about it: What if the Mariners had decided to keep Cliff Lee? What if the Rangers decided they didn’t want to give away their future in first baseman Justin Smoak to seal the deal?

Well, that didn’t happen. The Mariners decided to get something back for their key offseason purchase, and the Rangers felt that Lee was worth Smoak, Blake Beavan, Josh Lueke and Matt Lawson.

It will be a few years before we can truly decide who got the better end of the deal, but right now it looks like a win-win situation with the only possible losers being the Seattle Mariners.

Justin Smoak, the key piece in the deal, disappointed in his time with the Mariners. He hit a brutal .209 with eight homers and 34 runs batted in. However, don’t be too quick to judge. Smoak isn’t even 24 years of age yet, so there is lots of time for him to develop.

In the end, what does it all mean?

The franchise’s first playoff series victory, a legitimate chance at playing for the World Series, and a team that might not be in the place where they are right now without a certain someone—I’d say that Cliff Lee is already well worth the price.

More from Chris can be found on Painting the Black, his personal multi-sport blog.

Read more MLB news on

Yankees’ Bottom Three of the Starting Rotation Is Problematic for Postseason

In the immortal words of American Idol host Ryan Seacrest, “America, this is your bottom three.” For the New York Yankees, the bottom three of their starting rotation this season has been about as stable as Lindsay Lohan in a rehab centre. This is no doubt going to leave the Yanks with some serious problems this coming postseason.

The Yankees have one of the most potent offenses in the league, and possibly their most dangerous, top to bottom, in the past decade. The averages may not be the sexiest you have ever seen, but don’t let that fool you. Go down the lineup and there are no weak spots, well, unless you’ve got Granderson facing a lefty. When you have Lance Berkman batting eigth in your order, you have something good going for you.

For teams with weaker starting pitching, it’s fine to rely on your offense to consistently outscore the opposing team during the regular season. I understand that the name of the game is to outscore your opponent, but you know what I mean, right?

However, when playoff time rolls around, trying to outscore teams 8-6 and 9-7 on a consistent basis isn’t going to fly. Most likely, night in and night out you are going to be facing higher-level pitching than in the regular season. No more seeing the abysmal rotations of the Baltimore Orioles and as the old adage goes, good pitching beats good hitting. Generally, for a team to go deep into October the pitching has to be strong. Imagine trying to outscore the Phillies in a series when you have to face Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, or Cole Hamels on any given night.


When you flip it around, despite the Yankees’ massive payroll, the best they can roll out is legit ace C.C. Sabathia, 38-year-old Andy Pettite, who has been solid this year but has just come back from injury, and wild cards Phil Hughes, A.J. Burnett, and Javier Vazquez.


Phil Hughes was very good in April and May but since then he has had his fair share of problems. Since the All-Star break he has posted a 4.96 earned run average, while going just 6-6. It will be a tough decision for manager Joe Giradi to decide on how much he is going to use the inexperienced, 24-year-old Hughes, if at all

A.J. Burnett is supposed to be Robin to Sabathia’s Batman but that obviously hasn’t worked out the way the Yankees’ front office envisioned it would since he signed that lucrative five-year $82.5 million contract a couple of years ago. Burnett has been atrocious this year and if not for the Yankees’ weak starting rotation, there is no way that he would even be considered to start in October. Burnett is 10-15, with a 5.33 ERA (6.19 post All-Star), a .286 opponent batting average, and his lowest strikeout total in the past four seasons (140 to date).

I guess when you consider Burnett and Hughes, the third slot in the Yankees’ rotation must go by default to Vazquez. Vazquez is now 34 years old and it looks like last season’s “rejuvenation” was no fluke. Vazquez has been great, especially post All-Star break, amassing a 6.64 ERA, while holding opponents to a marvelous .301 batting average. Okay, I hope you can tell that I’m being sarcastic, but seriously, sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures and there is a possibility that Vazquez could be called on to start for the Yankees. I’m just not sure how bad that actually is compared to their other options because Vazquez has shown that he can still pitch at times this season.

There is also an issue that has not been an issue in the past decade for the Yankees, which is Mariano Rivera’s abnormal inability to lock down games recently. Mariano Rivera is now four decades old and talks of him slowing down have been swirling around for the past few years. The difference is that those talks are finally coming to fruition, which is just another pin potentially bursting the Yankees’ World Series bubble in 2010.

Derek Jeter, Nick Swisher, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Jorge Posada, Lance Berkman, Brett Gardner, and Marcus Thames. Are these guys going to be able to overcome the expected Yankee pitching troubles and sustain a deep postseason run?

Despite declining numbers from A-Rod and Jeter, it could very well be enough to overcome a Twins or Rangers matchup in the first round, as those teams are also strapped for quality depth in their rotation. However, when it comes time to face a team with real pitching, I don’t think you will see the Yankees reeling off enough victories to take a seven-game series.

Even though it may be an early October exit for the Bronx Bombers, have no fear Yankee fans. The offseason will fly by like an elementary school kid’s summer after you overpay…err… acquire Cliff Lee.

You can find the original article at Also, follow me on twitter at

Read more MLB news on

Copyright © 1996-2010 Kuzul. All rights reserved.
iDream theme by Templates Next | Powered by WordPress