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Heard This: Cliff Lee has concerns about Texas

Nov 11, 2010, 2:17 PM EDT


Over the past few weeks we’ve heard all manner of things about what may or may not motivate Cliff Lee.  His wife hates New York. He’s a country boy who wants to stay near Arkansas. Yankee fans are rude, rude rude!

I think this kind of thing is somewhat meaningless — the contract offers are ultimately going to decide where he goes — but let’s add one more non-monetary consideration to the pile:  a little birdie tells me that Lee was not terribly happy in Texas, and that he is particularly concerned about how his body would hold up pitching an entire season in the North Texas heat.

It’s not clear if his unhappiness in Texas has to do specifically with the heat, if it also involves discombobulation over the fact that he was traded there in mid-season or if he just hates the place. And yeah, that’s second hand info. And yeah, I’m sure Lee and his agent will deny because they have absolutely zero interest in limiting their market right now, but it is what I’m hearing and you can place as much weight on it as you’d like.

But assuming Lee is concerned about the heat: is it a rational concern?  I don’t have all of his box scores sitting in a database now in order to graph them against game time temperature, but just eyeballing it, I see that for his career he’s 6-5 with a 5.07 ERA in Arlington (of course he’s 2-2 with a 5.91 in the Bronx).  He made eight regular season starts there in 2010, seven with the Rangers, one with the Mariners. He was shelled in two of them and was his Cliff Lee-like-self in the other six. On those two bad days the game time temperature was 85 and 91 degrees.  Overall, he doesn’t show a big first half/second half split. His ERA is a bit higher in the second half but he strikes more guys out.  If he’s concerned about wearing down over the course of a long hot season in Texas, there certainly isn’t a ton of empirical evidence to support it. He’s a good pitcher in the heat. He’s a good pitcher in the cold. He’d probably be a good pitcher in a biodome planted on the lunar surface.

But we’re not dealing with empirical evidence here. We’re dealing with the notion — a notion gossiped my way, but which purports to reflects Lee’s feelings on the matter — that he is worried about pitching in the hot Texas weather over the course of a season.  It won’t make a difference if the Yankees do what everyone expects them to do and substantially outbid the Rangers.  But if it’s close?  This may just be something that pushes Lee towards Gotham.

  1. seeingwhatsticks - Nov 11, 2010 at 2:30 PM

    Yes, certainly North Texas heat is much worse than the oppressive heat and humidity of the northeast in July and August.

  2. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Nov 11, 2010 at 2:37 PM

    I thought most players enjoyed playing in the heat. Kept them loose or some such.

  3. crashkobra - Nov 11, 2010 at 2:37 PM

    If thats the case then MN would be perfect – Not a ton of heat, beautiful scenery and the “Minnesota nice” mentality and a chance to screw the skankees

  4. Rosenthals Speling Instrukter - Nov 11, 2010 at 2:38 PM

    I hate cold winters, towns so rural that there is absolutely nothing there, and 10 country stations to choose between on my radio.

    Good thing I moved to Earth City, Missouri,


  5. Jason @ IIATMS - Nov 11, 2010 at 2:56 PM

    If he wants perfect weather, try San Diego. Other than that, weather happens everywhere. Except in domes, but then you have beams and rafters and such.

    BTW, what’s this ERA thing you reference? I thought ERA was bad, bad, bad. xFIP me, baby.

  6. iluvnascar - Nov 11, 2010 at 2:58 PM

    This is kind of funny to us here in Seattle. Seems he hated being here too. I bet when he becomes a Yankee traitor, he will find all kinds of ways to be happy. Good luck dude. After your World Series losses, how much are you really worth?? I’d say not much. Thanks, Tim Lincecum, wish you could come back home to Seattle and pitch for us=).
    BTW, rest in peace, Dave Niehau. You will be missed here.

  7. eyeami - Nov 11, 2010 at 3:02 PM

    Ironic that ‘Minnesota nice’ equates to sore-loser crybaby. Who would have guessed that name-calling was nice?

  8. daveloewe - Nov 11, 2010 at 3:14 PM

    You moved to Earth City, MO? That would be kind of hard to do. Earth City is an industrial park in St. Louis County.

  9. Ari Collins - Nov 11, 2010 at 3:15 PM

    Nice scoop, Craig.

  10. uyf1950 - Nov 11, 2010 at 3:26 PM

    Chalk up all of those rumors to mean like the weather, he bought a pair of boots before leaving Texas, his wife doesn’t like the New York fans, he likes Ryan, he likes CC most of that means very, very little.

    I’m sure the things that will be the deciding factors for him in where he signs are:
    1) Who offers the most money
    2) Length of the contract – which happens to coincide with who offers the most money.
    3) No Trade Clause
    4) Team that has the best chance of winning and getting him a ring
    5) Who meets all 4 but especially the first 3 of the above requirements.

  11. Jonny 5 - Nov 11, 2010 at 3:43 PM

    Awwww, he must still miss Philly….. poor thing….

    • Utley's Hair - Nov 11, 2010 at 4:32 PM

      That’s alright—we’ll take him back.

  12. Jeff Clark - Nov 11, 2010 at 4:01 PM

    If you’ve ever been to North Texas, the heat is not bad at all in April. May is nice all the way until the end. The only hot months are June, July, and August. And like its not hot and humid in New York during the summer? Please. The weather in late September, October, and November in Texas are whole lot better then New York. It’s hard to beat 65 and sunny every day.

    Weather has nothing to do with Lee.

    “This is the most fun I’ve had in my career” That quote sure does mean he wasn’t happy in Texas.

    Worthless article.

    • Jonny 5 - Nov 11, 2010 at 4:37 PM

      He said that about Philly too dude. Get over it.

      • Utley's Hair - Nov 11, 2010 at 4:38 PM

        Key difference is that he was showing the love here while Ruben was showing him the door.

  13. willmose - Nov 11, 2010 at 4:15 PM

    The weather is much better in the Bronx. All that Yankee money in his pocket will insulate Lee from the cold and the heat.

  14. philiplewis1 - Nov 11, 2010 at 4:24 PM

    This whole article is stupid. If you followed Lee at all over the last few months of the season and playoffs, you know he enjoyed his stay, had fun, loved Nolan Ryan, loved the comraderie of his teammates and enjoyed the “not-rude” Texas fans. He played mentor to many of the Ranger young pitchers and made them better. Plus Texas has no state income tax. None of this makes any sense.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Nov 11, 2010 at 4:27 PM

      Makes as much sense as someone in your position presuming to know what Lee “loved” and “enjoyed” and what his views are about comparative taxation rates. I admit this is gossip, but I at least spoke to someone who claims to know Cliff Lee’s mind on this matter. You’re just pulling your stuff out of thin air. What’s stupider?

      • Jonny 5 - Nov 11, 2010 at 4:39 PM

        Actually, the proper term would be “What’s more stupider” ;P

      • krt0049 - Nov 12, 2010 at 9:29 AM

        @Craig I appreciate the fact that you made it clear that you “heard this.” Here’s some things I heard over the last few days though and i’m not publishing them. Brett Favre has a small penis, Conan is back, the movie 2012 sucked, Miley Cyrus is a whore, Barack Obama may or may not be an American, and my ex-wife is on valtrex.

        How much do you really know Craig? I cover the Rangers for a student station and talked to Cliff probably twice a week or so. He enjoyed it in Texas. He’s not the type of guy to show his cards either. Nobody besides Cliff and maybe his wife know how much he really enjoyed Texas, but from actual interaction with Cliff I would say that he loved it.

        I guess my problem here is why would you even report this though? It’s not a story. It’s stupid and it’s honestly morally unethical journalism. Trust me, I realize that’s where the world is going but as a person who has enjoyed your work in the past, I kind of expected better out of you. Take it easy and have a good weekend.


      • Craig Calcaterra - Nov 12, 2010 at 9:35 AM

        Well, if you have a blog I would hope that you’d write what you think, feel and hear. That’s what I do here. Sorry if that bothers you.

        What makes you think Cliff Lee is going to tell a reporter that he has reservations about pitching in Texas? He’d be crazy to do that. He told reporters that he loved Cleveland, Philly and Seattle too. He’s a polite guy, so of course he’s going to say that.

        You may not care for gossip — and I admitted up front that this is gossip — but what he says to others, who then pass it along to others, is likely more reflective of his true feeling on the matter than what he tells reporters on the record. Again, it’s gossip, and I said in the post to put as much value on it as you see fit, but if you think what people say on the record is indicative of their true feelings on a matter, you haven’t been paying attention.

        “Morally unethical?” Tell me: what moral code have I violated? I’m really curious to know.

      • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Nov 12, 2010 at 9:41 AM

        Well said, Craig. I have no idea why people on here get so harsh and angry.

      • krt0049 - Nov 12, 2010 at 10:14 AM

        There’s no anger here. And as I said in my post, i’m well aware that Cliff’s not going to tell a reporter his true feelings.

        I also said that I appreciated the fact that you made it clear that this is just gossip.

        And yes, I know what you’re saying about the blog. The difference is that your site is more than just a blog, whether you think so or not. You are a well-known media person and putting out stuff like this with no depth or substance is different than a nobody like me writing something.

        Now that I think about it you’ve actually done your job well if you are a blogger rather than a reporter. It just sucks that someone like you can write something that has absolutely no truth to it and now it’s going to end up being widely accepted that Cliff Lee hates the heat when the truth is that we don’t know if he likes the heat or not. There is no story here. But I guess when it comes to blogging, the blogger always takes priority over an actual story.

  15. uyf1950 - Nov 11, 2010 at 4:48 PM

    There was an article not that long ago that researched the state tax issue and it was determined to come to about a 10% difference. So for example based on a $125M contract the difference would be estimated at $12 to 13M total. If the Yankees are intent on bidding for Lee which apparently they are you can rest assured the difference between the Yankees offer and any other offer will be more then that. Plus the endorsement opportunities should he sign with the Yankees will dwarf the opportunities he would have in Texas more then negating any tax related benefit Texas has over NY.

  16. ondorelies - Nov 11, 2010 at 5:02 PM

    Let me first start by saying that you need to work on your interviewing skills. You have an anonymous source, and this is fine. However, one can still quote these sources with little more than a pencil and a cocktail napkin. The lack of quotes makes this seem like you were talking into a mirror, or having a conversation with a stranger at a bar. The result of this is that you have written a flamebaiting message board post.

    As for Cliff Lee, I think which team he decides upon depends on who he is as a person. Does he want to be the center of attention and gain sponsorship money, or is he is homebody who would enjoy being only a few hours from home?

  17. barryd900 - Nov 11, 2010 at 6:44 PM

    He could come to SF – it’s always very cool here – oops probably couldn’t break into the starting rotation.

  18. henryd3rd - Nov 11, 2010 at 6:58 PM

    Hank Steinbrenner: What number did you want? # 2? How about #1?

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