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What the heck was that? Rangers conference call edition

Dec 9, 2010, 10:08 PM EDT

San Francisco Giants v Texas Rangers, Game 5 Getty Images

The ears of the baseball world perked up around 8:45 p.m. ET this evening when Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News — and other Rangers beat writers — announced that majority owner Chuck Greenberg was going to be hosting a conference call at 9 p.m. ET.  A Lee announcement?  Something big?

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Anthony Andro was passing along notes as Greenberg spoke.  Unfortunately, there weren’t many notes to pass along.

The call started a couple minutes late and Greenberg revealed next to nothing.  The Rangers have made a couple of different offers to Cliff Lee, but they’re not going to talk about details with the media.

Greenberg called the proposal a “substantial commitment in years and dollars” and said that Lee is now “weighing his options.”  That’s something called front office-speak.

All of this seems a little fishy.  Greenberg and Co. flew down to the left-hander’s Arkansas home this afternoon with a “we want an answer” attitude, but now they’re playing coy.

Nick Nelson, Twins blogger and Rotoworld contributor, opined on Twitter that the conference call was meant as a smoke screen.  Nelson might be right.   The Rangers can now tell their fans “hey, we tried” when Lee is cracking a grin and buttoning up a pinstriped uniform in a couple of days.  It’ll be Lee’s fault, or the Yankees’ fault, not the fault of a limited payroll.

The Yankees have made a seven-year offer worth about $23 million annually and the Rangers were hoping to keep him at five years when this all began.  Even if the conference call wasn’t a front, the Red Sox created a YES Network-fueled monster when they signed Carl Crawford to that seven-year, $142 million contract yesterday.  The Yanks are pissed off and ready to spend.

  1. Glenn - Dec 9, 2010 at 10:18 PM

    The Rangers will be glad that they lost out in about four years.

  2. iamthedoublestandard - Dec 9, 2010 at 10:32 PM

    Four years Glenn? The fans in Texas don’t care for that kind of answer.

  3. gt929 - Dec 9, 2010 at 10:53 PM

    Wholly unscientific, but a DMN poll that asks: “If it takes a 7-year contract to get him, do you still want the Rangers to sign Cliff Lee?” is running more than 3 to 1 against it. I voted yes, but it’s not my money.

    • iamthedoublestandard - Dec 9, 2010 at 11:22 PM

      It’s rigged. There’s no way a Rangers fan DOESN’T want Lee. Like u said, it’s not their money.

      • gt929 - Dec 9, 2010 at 11:44 PM

        Well, most of the comments seem to be running against it as well, but I don’t believe at that ratio. I’m too lazy to count them.

  4. Reflex - Dec 9, 2010 at 11:23 PM

    They’ll be glad they lost out in less than four years. Lee’s track record is not one for durability.

    • spindervish - Dec 10, 2010 at 12:02 AM

      Or particularly sustained excellence.

      But he does seem to be a different pitcher than he used to be.

      I really have no idea what the next 5 years will look like from this guy.

  5. bigharold - Dec 10, 2010 at 12:34 AM

    It seems like the Rangers knew they were never going to sign Lee and on some level didn’t want to anyway. All they wanted to do was run a really strong second. The economics are just not there for the Rangers to invest that much in one player, especially a 32 year old player.

    I’m aware that they just got a great big cable contract and they seem flush. They sure talked that way. But, they also have to pay for that team too. Suspend reality for a moment and say they signed Lee for 5yrs/100mil, 20 mil a year. Last season the Ranger’s payroll was about 65 million dollars. If they increased it by 50%, to around 100 mil, would they really want to give about 60% of that increase to one guy? What about Hamilton? Kinsler? Elvis? They coming down the FA highway and they’re going to want big increases too. Giving Lee a 5 or 6 year deal for 110-125 mil just doesn’t make sense for the Rangers. On some level it just doesn’t make sense to any team but that not the type of thing that would stop the Yankees.

    Sure, everyone would want Lee on their team but at what cost? Essentially, Greenburg and Ryan ended up with the Rangers because Hicks didn’t understand the basic economics of baseball. I’m sure that lesson wasn’t lost on either of them. Of course they had to put up the good fight for the fans but some times you win the war by forfeiting the battle.

    • iamthedoublestandard - Dec 10, 2010 at 1:52 AM

      Everything you said may be true but at some point the Rangers have to draw a line in the sand. I’m not saying that the line should be with Lee but they should never look weak to their playing staff or their fans.

      • bigharold - Dec 10, 2010 at 9:10 AM

        Agreed. My point is that as much as the Rangers would have like to have Lee, I think they really didn’t want to pay the “reasonable” price for him. No way they wanted to pay the exorbitant price the Yankees look like they are about to pay. And, for get about the years. But, you need to show an aggressive and active face to the face to keep them engaged. I think the Rangers always knew that Lee wasn’t going to stay and that they weren’t going to try that hard either. All that talk about going after Lee aggressively during the playoffs was a kind of preemptive damage control. Had they fessed up during the playoffs and said no way we can afford Lee if the Yankees or LAA are going for him it would have looked terrible.

        They just needed to put up the good fight and they did. Now that the RS have forced the Yankees to go to the 7th year the fans will not hold it against the Rangers. Ryan should send Epstein a great bif Thank You card.

  6. texasdawg - Dec 10, 2010 at 2:25 AM

    The Ryan-less trip and Greenberg conference call were damage control after Ryan made a mess of things yesterday saying Lee needed to just tell them what he wants.

    Ryan is a disaster.

    • iamthedoublestandard - Dec 10, 2010 at 2:50 AM

      I have to agree that’s pretty pathetic. If Lee wants to be led that way, then he knows where to sign. ‘We don’t want to work for your services. Just tell us what you want so we can tell you that we can’t give it to you.’ Not good.

  7. BC - Dec 10, 2010 at 10:20 AM

    EPIC RANGERS FAIL.

  8. macjacmccoy - Dec 15, 2010 at 11:54 PM

    “The Rangers can now tell their fans “hey, we tried” when Lee is cracking a grin and buttoning up a pinstriped uniform in a couple of days”

    Close he’ll be wearing pin stripes just not blue ones. They’ll red.

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