If Cliff Lee’s wife is calling the shots, he’s staying in Texas

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Good story from USA Today’s Bob Nightengale this morning about Cliff Lee. After the familiar “holy crap, this guy is good” stuff, Nightengale talks to Lee’s wife Kristen.

Now, every marriage is different and I don’t deign to suggest that Lee’s marriage is like mine, but I will say this much: if my wife and I were in the Lees’ position, and if she was exercised enough to say this kind of stuff to a reporter, it would be because, privately, we’d already made up our minds to stay in Texas:

“That’s the greatest thing, being so close to home . . . Cliff can fit in anywhere, but it makes my life a lot easier. We’ve never had a short commute before. Having a direct flight from Little Rock is great . . .”

. . . Perhaps the Rangers’ greatest sales pitch simply was having Kristen sit in the visiting family section at Yankee Stadium during the playoffs. She says there were ugly taunts. Obscenities. Cups of beer thrown. Even fans spitting from the section above.

“The fans did not do good things in my heart,” Kristen says.

“When people are staring at you, and saying horrible things, it’s hard not to take it personal.”

Which isn’t to say that a substantial difference in money wouldn’t make Lee pick New York anyway. It’s just that if things are even close to equal, you have figure that lifestyle would win out.  And remember: “close to equal” doesn’t require that the Rangers come terribly close to what the Yankees offer. Why? Because there’s no income tax in Texas. So discount whatever the Yankees offer by Lee’s effective tax rate before you compare offers.  And, given that proximity to Little Rock is so appealing to the Lees, if the Rangers are willing to throw in a no-trade clause, the cash part of the deal could likely be even less.

Mets invite Tim Tebow to big league spring training camp

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The Mets announced that a handful of minor leaguers have been invited to big league spring training camp. Among them is former football star and current outfielder Tim Tebow.

Tebow, 31, spent last season with Double-A Binghamton. His season ended in July due to a broken hamate bone. Overall, he hit .273/.336/.399 with six home runs and 36 RBI in 298 plate appearances. While the numbers aren’t anything earth-shattering, they are certainly better than what many skeptics thought he could put up in the minors, especially at Double-A.

Tebow will likely begin the season with Triple-A Syracuse. If he performs well, he could get a call up to the big leagues in the event of an injury, or in September when rosters expand.