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Why The A's Need The Angels To Sign Cliff Lee

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Musical chairs. The Rangers, Yankees, Angels, and A's -- three teams for one pitcher and two teams for one 3Bman. And the A's come out best if Cliff Lee signs with their division rivals, the Angels.

The off-season began with the Rangers a cut above the Angels and A's, who were tied for "a cut below." Let's look at the likely outcomes of each possible landing spot for Lee:

If Lee re-signs with Texas, the Angels, with the money they have, likely sign Beltre. In this scenario, the Rangers stay the same, the Angels get better, and the A's don't, and the Angels are poised to challenge the Rangers while the A's watch from 3rd place.

If Lee signs with New York, the Angels, with the money they have, likely sign Beltre. In this scenario, the Rangers get worse, the Angels get better, and the A's don't, and once again the Angels are poised to challenge the Rangers while the A's watch from 3rd place.

But if Lee signs with the Angels, the A's are a heck of a lot more likely to be able to sign Beltre. In this scenario, the Rangers get worse, the Angels get better, the A's get better -- and you might have a legitimate 3-team race in which the A's are equally likely to compete for 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place depending on how things roll.

Do you want your division rival to land the most coveted starting pitcher on the free agent market? Not usually. But this time, maybe so.

{Note: For reasons unknown to me, California Golden Blogs has decided to interview me for a 3-part series on my days as a broadcaster for Cal baseball and women's basketball, as well as for Oakland A's spring training baseball and the Southern Oregon A's. Part I of this series can be found here.}