Take one listen to the Colin Cowherd radio program — “The Herd,” I believe it’s called — and it’s not hard to conceive why people don’t take the guy seriously.
Cowherd is loud and far from level-headed, and on Monday he made a few ridiculous comments regarding Rangers ace Cliff Lee.
Lee was shelled for eight earned runs on 10 hits against the light-hitting Orioles this weekend. Instead of chalking it up as a rare bad outing — the type of which every great pitcher has experienced — Cowherd asserted that the left-handed Lee was not trying, and that he “mailed it in” against Baltimore because he “doesn’t care about Texas.”
Cowherd went on to say that sources have told him Lee “will not re-sign with Texas” because he wants to be a Yankee.
That drew a response from Lee on Monday night, via ESPNDallas.com:
“It’s a lie,” Lee said. “Write that. Are you writing? Write that it’s a
lie. I did not say that and nobody close to me would say that. Either
say who the source is or shut up because I am saying it is not true.”
We’re going to side with Lee on this one. He’s been lights-out, for the most part, since the Rangers acquired him in July and a few bumps in the road don’t necessitate the creation of conspiracy theories.
A better assumption, if assumptions are even needed, is that the left-hander is focused on reaching the playoffs with his current first-place club and not worried about his impending free agency. At least not yet.
Francisco Liriano was slated to pitch tonight, but instead his start has been pushed back to Thursday because of what manager Ron Gardenhire called “a tired arm.”
Liriano has struggled in two of his last three outings after throwing shutout ball for three straight starts, so the Twins will hope that a little extra rest can get him back on track.
And if nothing else it sets up an amazing pitching matchup Thursday, with Liriano facing off against Cliff Lee in the final game of a four-game series between first-place teams.
Nick Blackburn is filling in for Liriano tonight while rejoining the rotation in place of the injured Kevin Slowey following a month-long demotion to Triple-A. Blackburn fared well in four starts at Rochester, posting a 2.49 ERA and .229 opponents’ batting average in 22 innings while inducing 65 percent ground balls, but his 13/6 K/BB ratio was significantly less confidence-inspiring.
Blackburn also rejoins the rotation with a very difficult matchup against the Rangers, in Texas. In terms of offense at home, the Yankees are the only team in the league with a higher OPS or more runs than the Rangers, so it’s hardly an ideal way to ease someone back into the rotation.
New Rangers CEO and minority owner Chuck Greenberg has made it known that his club will do all it can to lock up left-hander Cliff Lee in the offseason. This according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth-Star Telegram.
Of course, even if the Rangers don’t think they have a shot at pulling it off, Greenberg might as well preach the idea all summer and into the fall. The Yankees are known to have their eyes on Lee and tend to outbid the competition when they truly find a guy that they want. Then there are the other 28 teams that would love to add an ace left-hander.
Lee, 31, has posted a 10-5 record, a 2.44 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP in 19 starts this season between Seattle and Texas. He has racked up 126 strikeouts and walked only nine batters. And two of those were intentional walks. The guy is going to be this offseason’s big winner.
“Let’s see what happens,” Lee told the Star-Telegram on Saturday. “There’s a lot can happen between now and then,
but, yeah, it’s nice to be wanted. I’ve got to take care of what I
need to take care of between now and then. I have to help this team get
to the postseason and the World Series. That’s the ultimate goal. I’m
not too worried about the other stuff.”
The Rangers have a healthy nine-game first-place lead in the American League West thanks to a 64-46 record. They’re headed for their first playoff appearance since 1999.
You know, just in case you had any doubts.
Cliff Lee earned the 100th victory of his career Friday night, tossing eight innings of one-run ball in a 5-1 win over the Athletics. The left-hander is 2-2 with a 2.63 ERA over his first six starts since joining Texas.
While that’s pretty impressive on its own, consider that Lee has now worked eight innings or more in 10 consecutive starts. Nobody has done that since Pat Hentgen of the Blue Jays went 12 straight in 1996.
Lee also struck out eight and didn’t walk a batter Friday, improving his strikeout-to-walk ratio to a ridiculous 126-to-9. As you’ll see here at Baseball Reference, Lee is currently on pace to shatter Bret Saberhagen’s single-season record from 1994.
Oh, and the Rangers now lead the American League West by 9 1/2 games, their largest margin of the season. They are sittin’ pretty.
I mentioned this earlier this morning but it kind of got buried so I’ll mention it again: last night, amidst the euphoria of winning the auction for the Texas Rangers, soon-to-be new Rangers owner Chuck Greeberg said some big stuff about the guy most considered to be a half-season rental:
ESPNDallas.com: Now that you’re about to become the owner officially, how hard will you work to re-sign Cliff Lee?
Greenberg: We’re going to work really, really hard.
Cliff is not only a great pitcher; he’s an exemplary professional,
teammate and role model. We are going to do everything we can to keep
him. We’ve got a period of time where we’ve got a chance to demonstrate
to him how special it’s going to be to be a part of the Rangers family,
and that’s what we’re going to be, a family. We’ve got a great group of
guys on the team, a committed ownership and a great front office. We’re
going to do the best we can to show him he’s found a home and that this
is a place where he wants to be.
I guess that will be the first true test of whether the $85 million in extra cash and $68 million in overall sale price occasioned by the bankruptcy gambit and auction will impact the Rangers on the field.
I’d say that he has no chance if the Yankees get involved but, hell, this is the guy who just out-bid Mark Cuban so doubt him at your peril.