Commentary

An open letter to Cliff Lee

The Rangers have money to spend, but coming to New York would be the best decision

Updated: December 12, 2010, 3:34 AM ET
By Rob Parker | ESPNNewYork.com

To: Cliff Lee

From: Rob Parker

Re: Signing a free-agent contract with the Texas Rangers

Don't do it.

It will be a huge mistake.

You could wind up like Alex Rodriguez, who eventually regretted signing that history-making $252 million contract with the Rangers in 2000.

Set the New York Yankees and what they have to offer -- including gobs of money, tradition and winning -- aside for a minute and focus on the Rangers.

Yes, we know the Rangers beat the Yankees in the American League Championship Series and went to the World Series against the San Francisco Giants this fall.

We also know many believe if you stay in Arlington that the Rangers will have a shot at making it to the postseason again.

And that's all good and well.

The problem, however, is money.

It isn't whether the Rangers will have enough money for you. It certainly appears as if they are willing to empty the vault for you, just as they did for A-Rod.

The real problem is whether the Rangers will have enough money to keep the other players around to help you win a World Series. After all, isn't that your goal?

You don't need to be reminded that the Rangers were in bankruptcy before they were sold just recently. Yes, the money disappeared down there quickly. It certainly can happen again.

The last thing you want to do is to commit to a franchise with a champagne taste, but a beer pocketbook.

[+] EnlargeCliff Lee
Scott Rovak/US PresswireThe Rangers could sign Cliff Lee to a huge contract, but will they have money to surround him with talent?
Pick up your cell phone, call A-Rod and ask him what it's like to make all that big paper and not be able to win anything because there's no help. The A-Rod-led Rangers finished in last place all three years he was there.

It was no fault of his own, though. There just wasn't enough money left to get quality starters to go with all those big bats.

Eventually, the Rangers had to trade A-Rod because they could no longer afford him after three great seasons. Easily, you could see that happen with you and that team. You, too, could wind up with the Yankees after all.

For sure, they have big dreams and high hopes. The Rangers, however, aren't there yet. One season isn't enough of a body of work to commit to the next seven years.

History tells you the Rangers (90-72 in 2010) will be on the outside looking in more often the next few seasons than the other way around.

The warning signs are already there. Vladimir Guerrero had an unbelievable season with the Rangers, was a big reason they came out of nowhere and won the AL West.

Instead of rewarding Guerrero for his season, the Rangers didn't pick up his option for 2011 and parted ways. They only wanted him back at less money. Imagine him not back in that lineup. That's trouble with a capital 'T.'

Indeed, the Rangers were a nice story this past baseball season. And it looks as if they might be able to keep this going for a minute and make a postseason run for years to come. Still, it's a big if.

Enter the Yankees.

There is no guesswork when it comes to pinstripes. The Yankees, year in and year out, will do everything they can to win every season. It's the dream situation.

Not only will you be sure that the Yankees will be able to pay you three years from now, they will also give you the best chance to get that championship ring that has eluded you the last two postseasons.

Without question, many will be disappointed and mad that you decided to go to the biggest stage in sports. They will cry that the rich continue to get richer.

None of that stuff matters. You should make this decision based on common sense and your career long term.

You've been on four teams the last two seasons for a reason. No one wanted to pay you. They knew they couldn't pay you and enough other players to be competitive.

The Rangers are in the same boat, even though aren't acting like it.

Texas is a nice place to visit, but not a place to immortalize a career. It's in Da Bronx, baby.

Pick up that celly again and call Yankees' GM Brian Cashman. Now.

Rob Parker is a columnist for ESPNNewYork.com.

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