What the heck was that? Rangers conference call edition

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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.

Yankees acquire A.J. Cole from the Nats

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The New York Yankees have acquired reliever A.J. Cole from the Washington Nationals for cash considerations.

Cole was supposed to be the Nats’ fifth starter this year but that didn’t work out too well. He pitched in four games for the Nats, starting two, to the tune of a 13.06 ERA, having given up six home runs in 10.1 innings. That’s . . . something.

Don’t get too used to Cole on the New York roster, as this seems like one of those “give us an arm” for a couple of days deals, after which Cole will be DFA’d and will either accept an assignment to Scranton or be cut loose. Such is life at the fringes for a guy who is out of minor league options.