Cliff Lee: Looking forward, looking back.

So you know what else this Cliff-Lee-every-fifth-day schedule means?

He's in line to pitch on Monday night, September 20, the opener of what could be a huge three-game set in Anaheim.

And on Thursday night, September 30, the first game of the season-ending, four-game series against the Angels in Rangers Ballpark.

And his next day to pitch would be Tuesday, October 5 . . . which ought to be when the playoffs kick off.

A week and a half ago, when the Yankees were thought to be on the doorstep of landing Lee, it was speculated that the club was also working on a counterpart deal that would send righthander Javier Vazquez elsewhere (Philadelphia for Jayson Werth?) because of New York's rotation depth. The Yankees already had C.C. Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, A.J. Burnett, Phil Hughes, and Vazquez, and someone was going to have to go to make room for Lee.

Think about what would have happened if Jon Daniels had waited another week and a half to close a deal with Seattle - or maybe more to the point, if Jack Zduriencik had been more patient. Pettitte strained a groin muscle today and is now out for more than a month, and Burnett cut his pitching hand slamming a clubhouse door shut yesterday.

Think Brian Cashman would have said no today, as he reportedly did when Cliff Lee was still a Mariner, to Zduriencik's ask of shortstop Eduardo Nunez along with catcher Jesus Montero? If you were a Mariners fan, would you want to know the answer to that question?

As a Rangers fan, of course, I'm glad we'll never know. Texas may have lost both Lee starts since his arrival, but I don't remember the last Rangers starter I had more confidence in.

Another thing: If New York now renews efforts to find a starting pitcher (Ted Lilly?), it could take up resources that might otherwise have been earmarked for a hitter like Ty Wigginton or Wes Helms that the Rangers are also after.

A few days ago I wrote about how crummy the Angels must have felt losing a game in the standings to Texas during a stretch in which the Rangers dropped seven of 10.

How do you think they feel now, getting the sad-sack Mariners at home for four coming out of the Break, while the Rangers were off to Boston, where they've been terrible for two and a half seasons, for four games of their own - and not gaining any ground, as both Los Angeles and Texas won three times, each falling one extra-inning loss short of a sweep?

It's another almost impossible story line for Texas: the Rangers lose the Cliff Lee start in Fenway Park, and still win the series.

When the Angels come here for four on Thursday, they'll do so without Ranger-killer Scott Kazmir, who has landed on the disabled list with shoulder fatigue. But before that, Texas - now listed by Bodog as the third most likely World Series champion in baseball (behind the Yankees and Rays) - visits Detroit for three, a second straight appointment at a house of recent horrors for this club.

But the Rangers keep pointing out in 2010 that history may not be all that instructive this year.

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(c) Jamey Newberg

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title_authors

Jamey Newberg

Dallas attorney Jamey Newberg has been commenting on Rangers from the big club down through the entire farm system since 1998.

Scott Lucas

Scott Lucas was born in Arlington, Texas, to Richard and Becky Lucas. He lived mostly in Arlington before moving to Austin, where he graduated from The University of Texas. Scott works for Austin Valuation Consultants, Ltd., and has published several boring articles about real estate appraisal and environmental contamination. He makes a swell margarita and refuses to run longer than ten kilometres.

Eleanor Czajka

Eleanor grew up watching the AAA Mudhens in Toledo, Ohio. A loyal Ranger fan since 1979, she works "behind the scenes" at the Newberg Report.

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