Cliff Lee Reaction: Disappointment, Resignation, Euphoria

Plenty of reaction from around the Inter-Google this morning on Cliff Lee's decision to spurn the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers in favor of a five-year, $120-million offer from the Philadelphia Phillies.

Here is a smattering of the reaction this morning.

ESPN New York says Lee's decision hurts New York more than losing out on LeBron James.

The Yankees never saw it coming, and if it makes them feel any better, the Texas Rangers never saw it coming, either. The Phillies reacquired Lee and threw him into a rotation that now has its own Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio and Mantle. Doc Halladay. Cliff Lee. Roy Oswalt. Cole Hamels.

People are scrambling all over the Bronx. On the same night Brett Favre surrendered his epic streak of consecutive starts, the Yankees lost their epic streak of free-agent triumphs.

They won the Jeter deal, re-signing him on their terms, but then lost the pitcher who was supposed to help the captain get his first ring for his second hand.

The Yankees thought Cliff Lee was theirs, even if some of their fans had been rude to his wife. So this one hurts. It hurts to the bone.

It hurts more than LeBron.

Andy Martino of the Daily News thinks Lee might regret spurning the Yankees.

The Yankees would have given Lee not just more money, but the security of knowing he would not ever be stuck for long on an irrelevant team. The Phillies might be great next year, and a rotation beginning with Halladay, Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt sounds like one of the best ever. But what if it doesn't immediately click, due to injuries or inconsistency or other human frailty (remember, that group without Lee was supposed to win a World Series this year)?

This Phils team has a one-year window before it sees sweeping change. Oswalt, Jimmy Rollins, Raul Ibanez, Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson have potentially expiring deals, and could follow Werth out of town in 11 months. Halladay, Hamels and Victorino might follow in the ensuing years. And Cliff Lee might be stuck chasing the ghosts of an elusive memory, and wishing he had just taken the money.

Will Leitch at New York Magazine tries to make the argument that the Yankees will be glad they did not win the Lee sweepstakes.

Long term, this is probably going to end up being a blessing for the Yankees. (In fact, team officials are actually pretending they're happy this happened). In the madness of free agency bidding and Securing the Player, the Yankees were just about to give a 32-year-old pitcher with a history of back problems $150 million over the next seven years. When you take a step back from that and take a breath, that looks kind of crazy, doesn't it? Particularly when you remember that Lee has really only been an elite pitcher for three years.

But let's get serious: The Yankees didn't get their man. And the Yankees always get their man. (As HardballTalk's Craig Calcaterra pointed out last night, this is the first big free agent to reject the Yankees' advances since Greg Maddux in the early '90s.) The Yankees also still have a rather gaping hole in their rotation, one that they don't believe Kansas City's Zach Greinke — a fragile sort whom neither side thinks will work in The Bronx — can fill. Brian Cashman and company have watched Boston bring in Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez for megabucks this off-season, and they've seen Cliff Lee reject their money, their team and their franchise. We'll talk more a little later today on what their next move should/will be, but right now, their immediate move is to sulk. They needed Cliff Lee next year. They don't have him. There's a ton of work to be done.

And that's just on the field. More to the point, the Phillies have three pitchers in their rotation — Halladay, Lee, Oswalt — that the Yankees have attempted to acquire at some point in the last three years. Baseball observers have recently taken to asking if the Phillies are the Yankees of the National League. The way this Cliff Lee trade has gone, though, it might be better to ask whether the Yankees can get back to being the Phillies of the American League. Because the Yankees did not get their man. Again.

Rangers fans are, of course, bumming just as much as Yankees fans today. Some are waxing poetic. Others are not hiding their disappointment.

No way around it Rangers fans, this one's a loss. A stinging defeat. New owner Chuck Greenberg rolled out the red carpet, investors Ray Davis and Bob Simpson produced the green cash and even general manager Jon Daniels and president Nolan Ryan grudgingly expanded their comfort zones to offer Lee a seventh year.

But in a bottom-line, results-oriented business, the Rangers just swung and missed at the meatiest fastball they've seen in a long time.

By the way, folks over at SB Nation's Phillies site, The Good Phight, seem a little stunned this today.

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