One Pitch Cost Lee A Lot Of Money
One pitch, an apparent fastball that caught too much of the plate, could cost Cliff Lee millions of dollars in the free agent market.
If that sounds like an exaggeration, it’s really not. When World Series MVP Edgar Renteria pounded that Lee pitch into the left field bleachers in Texas, it not only won the world championship for the pitching-rich Giants, it changed the whole tenor of the Lee bidding this winter.
Coming off an otherwise magnificent postseason performance, if Lee had won Game 5, or even had pitched well enough to leave without a decision, it probably would have had little or no effect on the dollars he could ask for in coming months.
But the fact that he lost, for the second time in two starts in the World Series, and that he gave up that home run, figures to cut deeply into his asking price.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like he still won’t get $100 to $120 million-plus as the best pitcher available. But there was talk of a possible $150 million or $160 million C.C. Sabathia-like offer from the Yankees, if no one else.
Now the guys from the Bronx will still lead the bidding, but the Rangers might hang in a bit longer, along with a few other teams, although I think talk of the Angels as bidders makes little sense. Arte Moreno’s priority has to be hitting, not pitching, but you never know.
This much you do know, however, Lee’s image took a beating as well on Monday night. Going into the Series, he was the talk of baseball, the No. 1 pitcher in the game. But Tim Lincecum, who finished a brilliant postseason by beating Roy Halladay, then outpitching Lee not once, but twice, clearly supplanted him.
Right from the outset, Lincecum seemed more overpowering in Game 5. Lee was sharp, but not as sharp as we’ve seen him in some previous games. His command was far better than in Game 1, but it still wasn’t as crisp as when he’s at his best.
While Lincecum was striking out 10 in a close-out sparkler, Lee was making the one mistake that will haunt him the rest of his career. It wasn’t like Renteria hit a good pitch. He hit a fat pitch that lingered far too long in the middle of the zone.
A pitch that not only will affect his reputation, but one that will hit him directly in his bank account.
The offseason bidding now will start several million dollars lower than it would have if Lee had retired Renteria.
Instead of appearing unbeatable, Cliff Lee suddenly came off as human. And whether he likes it or not, it will prove to be a costly transformation.
THE MOSS SHOCKER — The World Series overwhelms everything else, but I would be remiss if I didn’t comment on the Minnesota Vikings’ reported decision to suddenly waive Randy Moss.
If you go back to my blog of Oct. 7, when I described Moss as the Gary Sheffield of football, you will note that I commented sooner or later the future Hall of Fame receiver will wear out his welcome in Minnesota the same as he’s done everywhere else.
But even I didn’t think it would be this soon. As usual, though, Moss has no one to blame but himself. What did he expect Vikes officials to do when he stood up at a press conference after the game and complimented the Patriots and criticized his own team?
Any franchise in the sport would have taken similar action. You can’t allow someone who does that to continue to get a paycheck.
Moss could have stayed in New England, making his $9 million-a-year, but noooooooo, that wasn’t good enough for him. So he forced his way out with the Patriots, cost Minnesota a third round draft pick and lasted all of four games with the Vikings.
There will be those out there who feel sorry for him today. Please don’t.
More than anyone else in recent memory, Randy Moss is getting exactly what he deserved.
— STEVE BISHEFF