The 2010 Texas Rangers needed Clifton Phifer Lee badly.
They lacked a true ace. They needed the veteran’s guidance for their own left-handers to learn from.
The Rays might just have swept them. Yes, Cliff Lee was that important.
Anyone would covet a pitcher like Cliff Lee. However, I feel that this year’s Texas Rangers, and the Rangers’ teams for years to come, are better off without Cliff Lee.
Here are my top five reasons that Cliff Lee in Philadelphia and not Arlington is not only okay with me, but actually makes the Texas Rangers better. Enjoy.
The Texas Rangers’ current rotation—a very good one—wouldn't be as sharp with Cliff Lee as the ace.
Derek Holland, who unlike in years past is showing more signs of future potential and then flashes of inconsistency, would most likely be shipped off to the bullpen.
Now, this might be a move that would strengthen the Rangers’ bullpen earlier in the year, but long-term it would have impeded the development of Holland as a starter.
Holland is on the verge of becoming a front-of-the-rotation-type starter. He probably would have been trade bait this year if Lee was still in the mix.
You just have to think that Holland might have learned a trick or two from Cliff Lee last season. There were quite a few instances when Derek Holland was featured right at Lee's side, as if learning through osmosis.
As insignificant as this might seem, it may explain Holland's turnaround this season. Pitching is not just about possessing the ability to get batters out; it's about how to use those talents at the best possible moments.
Ogando would have been lost in the bullpen's shadows, had Lee remained in Texas.
With Cliff Lee as the Rangers’ No. 1 starter, do you think that the Rangers would have tried to put Ogando into the rotation?
Heck no, they wouldn’t have.
They really didn't want to this season, but when Neftali Feliz finally admitted that he'd rather close games than start them, the Rangers scrambled for a fifth spot.
It's funny to think now that the "Alexi Ogando Experiment" was most likely on a game-to-game basis over his first several starts.
Derek Holland may have ace potential, but Ogando, in my mind, is already there.
If you take Ogando's 11 wins out of the rotation, the Rangers' rotation goes from very solid to average-to-pedestrian. It also puts too much pressure on C.J. Wilson—the Rangers' first-year ace.
Alexi Ogando, essentially, is this year's Cliff Lee. He's unproven, of course, as a postseason starter, but he's a key reason why the Texas Rangers are no long shot to repeat as AL Champions.
Cliff Lee as the Rangers' ace would most likely mean that Derek Holland or Alexi Ogando—possibly both—would be in the bullpen.
This hampers the Rangers in multiple ways. First of all, it puts Tommy Hunter in the rotation—that is, if he doesn't get injured and miss multiple months as he did this season.
It also means no Mike Adams, and no Koji Uehara.
It doesn't matter how great Holland or Ogando would have been in the 'pen. Adams and Uehara are better.
The Rangers' have taken their key weakness, a poor bullpen, and made it into one of the finest in the Major Leagues.
And with Cliff Lee in the mix in Arlington, the bullpen would have suffered.
I'm glad you're here too, Beltre.
With the type of money that Cliff Lee was asking for—seven years, in the neighborhood of $160 million—there is no way the Rangers would have signed free agent Adrian Beltre.
Granted, Adrian Beltre is on the disabled list as we speak, but when he comes back to the big league team, he'll provide an unbelievable boost both offensively, and defensively.
It doesn’t matter what your take is on the importance of defense; when Beltre patrols the hot corner, the Texas Rangers are just a better team, plain and simple.
With Beltre and the rest of the Rangers healthy, the 2011 Rangers' offense is even more potent than last year's, and that means trouble for the opposition come playoff time.
One of the few photographs in existence of Chan Ho Park, a. Not injured, and b. Not in a Rough Riders uniform.
Clearly, only a fool would compare Cliff Lee to Chan Ho Park.
Yet, the aforementioned contract that Lee requested in order to stay pat in the Lone Star State might have had the same crippling effect as Park's—or maybe even A-Rod's.
Cliff Lee would undoubtedly bolster the Rangers rotation right now. But what about next year as he turns 34? Or the last year of that seven-year deal, when he'll turn 39?
Perhaps the Chan Ho Park analogy wasn't so foolish after all.
Realistically, a seven-year deal would yield three, or maybe four dominant seasons from Lee.
Remember, with Lee in the rotation, that means Michael Young is still at third base. The Rangers don't have the cash to sign Beltre, too.
No Beltre makes the defense a problem. Plus, Beltre's other possibility to sign was the Anaheim Angels. Thus, this improves the Rangers' chief competitor in the AL West.
Lee as a Ranger also means that C.J. Wilson is definitely gone after this season. Colby Lewis too. Remember, the Rangers are only one season removed from being in bankruptcy.
No Wilson and no Lewis would make a 2012 Rangers rotation pretty suspect. It might be Cliff Lee, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland, Alexi Ogando (in all likelihood his first year as a starter), and Scott Feldman?
That probably isn't a playoff-bound rotation. Not with the other quality rotations in the AL West.
You see what I’m getting at here.
The Texas Rangers are much better off without Cliff Lee. He broke our hearts by fleeing to Philly, yet now that hindsight has reared its pleasant head, we in Rangers Nation now know that we're better off without him.