While Cliff Lee has been clearly the best pitcher in the post season in the American League, the biggest story regarding the ace lefty is revolving around the off season. As a Red Sox fan I know first hand how when the Yankees desire a player there is no price they won't pay to have him in pinstripes. The most recent being Mark Teixeira and C.C. Sabathia. For those with a poor memory Teixeira signed with the Yankees after waiting to see what the highest offer was and then at the last second swooping in and offering more (in this case $180 million) and outbidding a $120 million offer for Sabathia with $160 million. Ironically the $120 million was put up by the Yankees as well. So in reality the only way Cliff Lee does not go to the Yankees is if he simply does not want to pitch there. However, there are plenty of reasons Lee should look to stay with the Texas Rangers.
First, many people will say in New York you are always a contender. This is true but the Yankees constantly have to battle with the Red Sox and Rays for a playoff spot. Playing in the A.L. West seems to give Lee a much better chance at the post season year in and year out. The Angels seem to be in at least a minor rebuilding mode, the A's have been doomed to mediocrity for several seasons now and the Mariners just boasted, historically, one of the worst offenses of the modern era. The Rangers are built to win now as well as in the future with solid young players and battle tested veterans sprinkled throughout the lineup and pitching staff.
Second, he would be almost viewed as a breath of fresh air throughout the league. Staying with a team who does not offer the most money, even though I'm sure the Rangers will throw all they can on the table, and picking the team he seems to have enjoyed playing for. Going to the Yankees would make everyone look at him as the typical money chasing free agent. Plus it is too typical to go to New York. Those fans see great players come in every year and become complacent with the players' success. Staying in Texas would allow Lee to become the face of a franchise and a legend amongst fans.
Finally, it would be great for baseball. Many people say it is great for leagues to have the one or two teams with all the stars that everyone tries to knock off. In my opinion that is crap. All fan bases crave to have teams that are consistent contenders, or at least relevant. Lee staying with the Rangers would allow for a new franchise to step into the light as a power year in and year out. Even as a Red Sox fan it would be nice to see the main competition for the World Series leave the east and move out west for awhile.