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It's Been Three Years Since Lee

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It's Been Three Years Since Lee

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Cliff Lee #33 of the Philadelphia Phillies puts on his jacket after finishing the eighth inning against the Atlanta Braves during a MLB baseball game on September 23, 2012 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Braves defeated the Phillies 2-1. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

There are a couple of moves that Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels has made that will always be remembered fondly, and a few others that will be second-guessed for a long time.

Sure, the single greatest trade in Daniels' tenure with the Rangers has to be the Mark Teixeira trade that got back Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. But another trade that only yielded four months of results is possibly the biggest game-changer in Rangers franchise history.

That, of course, was the trade for Seattle Mariners co-ace Cliff Lee on July 9, 2010, when it was all but finalized Lee would be dealt to the New York Yankees that day before an 11th-hour change-of-heart put the Cy Young winner in the Rangers' hands for two top prospects, Justin Smoak and Blake Beavan, among others.

Lee was an average performer over the final two-plus months of the regular season for the Rangers but brought a winning attitude and bulldog mentality to the pitching staff, throwing three complete games in his first four starts with the Rangers.

But his true worth showed up during the postseason. Forget the fact that his wheels fell off a bit in the World Series that year, as the Rangers fell to the San Francisco Giants in five games because the Rangers wouldn't have won the AL pennant that year without Lee's postseason mastery.

In the ALDS and ALCS that year, spanning three starts, including a series-clinching Game 5 complete-game victory at Tampa Bay that gave the Rangers their first-ever postseason series victory, Lee tossed 24 innings and allowed just two runs on 13 hits.

Forget the fact that Lee chose to sign with Philadelphia that winter instead of coming back to Texas for a longer deal with more money. Forget the fact that he questioned the Rangers' direction in 2012 from afar as a member of the Phillies.

Forget everything you might not like about one of the greatest cult figures in Rangers history because for that four months, and particularly that October, the lefty, who might once again be available for the Rangers this month, changed the face of the Rangers franchise forever and turned them into a perpetual winner and contender and no longer a joke.

That should never be forgotten.

Related Topics Cliff Lee, Texas Rangers, 2010
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