Are the Rangers targeting Cliff Lee?

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It’s often hard to tell what the question was that led to a given answer in an interview, but this story in today’s Dallas Morning News suggests that the Rangers are targeting Cliff Lee.

I say “suggests” because it’s rare that any GM will say “yeah, we’re interested in such-and-such a guy,” and in fact Jon Daniels does not say in the linked article that he’s going after Cliff Lee.  What he does say — prompted, I’m guessing, by a general question — is that he wouldn’t be averse to trading within the division.  Of course I’m also guessing that the comment came in a general conversation about wanting to get a starter so, yeah, you can put 2 and 2 together and have it equal Cliff Lee, but it could also just be academic musing on Daniels’ part.

Should the Rangers go after Lee? Seems like gamble to me. Despite what the story says, I don’t think the price of admission for Lee will be lower than that for Roy Oswalt. At least not for the Rangers. Sure, Oswalt is under contract for an extra year, but (a) Lee is cheaper and thus more valuable; and (b) the Mariners value prospects a bit more highly than the Astros have in recent years and would likely make noise — possibly disingenuous noise, but still — about needing a premium to send Lee to a division rival.

The upshot: Texas would probably be paying a much higher price in terms of talent to the Mariners than they would the Astros. And for the deal to really be worth it for Texas, the Rangers would have to think about keeping Lee around after he’s a free agent, which gets you back into the money issues that everyone is saying will hold up an Oswalt deal.

So Texas’ choice is this: better prospects and some serious pressure to spend a lot of money after this season for Lee, or a b-grade prospect or two and the certainty of spending a lot of money for Oswalt right now.

I think it’s a lot closer a call than many think.

Battle of the Aces: Max Scherzer takes on Clayton Kershaw tonight

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I hope you don’t have any plans tonight at around 10PM Eastern time, because that’s when we get a pitching matchup for the ages as Max Scherzer will take on Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. When they meet tonight it will be the first time two pitchers with three or more Cy Young Awards have matched up since 2006. That year, and in 2005 and 2000, Roger Clemens faced Greg Maddux. In 2001 Clemens faced Pedro Martinez.

Kershaw won his hardware in 2011, 2013 and 2014, with an MVP award in 2014 to boot. Scherzer collected trophies in 2013, 2016 and 2017. Each has started the 2018 season in Cy Young form. Kershaw is 1-2, but that record is due to poor run support. He has a 1.73 ERA and has struck out 31 batters and has walked only three in 26 innings. Scherzer is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a whopping 38 strikeouts to only 4 walks in 27 innings.

This will be the third time that Kershaw and Scherzer faced each other if you include the playoffs. The first meeting was a decade ago when both were rookies. They most recently faced off in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS, way back when Scherzer only had one Cy Young Award to his credit. Kershaw beat Scherzer in that playoff game and the Dodgers beat Scherzer’s teams in the two regular season matchups, with neither guy setting the world on fire. As so often happens in baseball, the hype hasn’t been matched by reality.

Still, there’s always a chance it will. And even if, in the end, this turns into a slugfest, the first couple of innings should at least give us some hope of something good. I’ll be watching.