With the NFL, NHL and NBA in full swing here in December, not many people are talking about Major League Baseball. That’s not to say, however, that there’s nothing of note going on in America’s Pastime.
For one thing, free agency has really heated up. Players have signed some huge contracts ($100 million-plus for Jayson Werth?) and teams have made blockbuster deals that will alter the landscape of division races (Boston’s lookin’ pretty good right now).
Pitcher Cliff Lee was recently on the market, and he was courted by a handful of teams that promised money, location, competitiveness, and more.
How should Lee have decided where to go? He probably picked the team that put on the best sales pitch.
As has been proven so far, it’s not all about the money. If that were the case, Lee would be wearing Yankee pinstripes by now.
He has to care about more. Maybe the location is really important to him, or maybe he wants to go to a place with a young, talented core of players.
Jeff Neuman is a columnist for RealClearSports.com, and he recently examined the outlook for each of the teams going after Lee (before his recent signing).
Those teams, according to Neuman, were the Yankees, Angels, Nationals and Rangers. For each team, Neuman looked at the positives and negatives associated with going there.
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are the team that he said is the best fit for Lee, for these reasons:
“The Angels are a serious team in a serious market. The weather is great. The owner spends. The team contends year after year. The crowds are enthusiastic, but not intensely demanding. There’s always something else to do, so sports are never life and death to the fans. It’s a Lakers town first, Dodgers second, USC and UCLA third. You can be as anonymous as you want to be.”
But Neuman didn’t turn out to be right, not by a long shot. In a stunning move, Lee signed with the Philadelphia Phillies, a team that nobody expected to be in the race.
With the move, the Phillies find themselves armed with Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels, four extremely talented pitchers. Already the staff has been called the best in baseball’s history.
It’s a good thing Neuman is a sportswriter and not a salesman.