Tuesday, November 30, 2010

To Be Born A Lefty

  • Products of their environment...and luck:

I've often half-kidded that if I was left-handed, I'd have made it to the big leagues. What my career would've been like is an open question but presumably, now, I'd be a lefty specialist out of the bullpen; bouncing from team-to-team; always having a job simply due to the happenstance of being born lefty.

What's even more aggravating is that both of my parents were born lefty. Back when my father was a kid, there was a bias against left-handed people to the point where they were forced to become righties; my mother's lefty as is a large chunk of her side of the family.

Presumably, I could've done what Billy Wagner and Tom Underwood did and decide to start throwing left-handed as a conscious choice, but I didn't have the foresight.

Instead of being a lefty specialist with a wild reputation as he desperately hangs on in the big leagues, I'm an agent of chaos writer with a wild reputation as he desperately hangs on to the fringes of society as a whole.

Be that as it may, this is no stream-of-consciousness lament as to the contextual misfortune of being right-handed; I'm pleased with the gifts I was bestowed (such as they are).

No, this is stemming from the duality of the contract the Rockies have reached in principle to retain free agent lefty Jorge de la Rosa.

According to Troy Renck----Denver Post Story----this guarantees De La Rosa $32 million (based on a third year player option); but he'll get at least $21.5 million over two years.

I'm torn about this.

On the one hand, De La Rosa has pitched well for the Rockies since a 2-7 start in 2009; he ended that season by going 14-2; the Rockies have known what they were going to get from De La Rosa since he was acquired from the Royals for Ramon Ramirez in March of 2008. He'd either pitch well or get blasted----for the most part, he's been serviceable.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, De La Rosa was awful for the Royals----to the point where it was entirely understandable that they traded him for Ramirez----he's been a journeyman who bounced from the Diamondbacks to the Brewers to the Royals to the Rockies.

This is a lot of money for a pitcher like De La Rosa. While I don't see this contract having the potential to be an Oliver Perez-level catastrophe, it's in the ballpark.

From the vantage point of examining the history of their GM, Dan O'Dowd, there are two ways to judge this (and the Troy Tulowitzki extension): One, O'Dowd jumped feet first into a cesspool that had no possibility of working out. Eerily similar to the insane and disastrous contracts with the free agents Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle after the 2000 season, these contracts could explode in his and the Rockies' faces; two, they could turn out to be along the lines of the highly astute judgment of signing the heretofore mediocre Aaron Cook to a long term contract after a shaky 2007. Cook went 16-9 and was an All Star in 2008.

O'Dowd is a hard GM for me to pigeonhole as good or bad. He did a mostly poor job from 2000-2007 in continually flinging strategies against the wall only to fail time-and-time again. Then the blazing and inexplicable hot streak that propelled the Rockies to the World Series in 2007 bought him some time; it was the firing of manager Clint Hurdle in early 2009 and his replacement, Jim Tracy, that saved O'Dowd's job again.

Much like my "lucky" rant on being a lefty, O'Dowd's been notoriously lucky.

For the second time this off-season, an extreme contract was doled out to a lefty who has major questions hovering over him. First was the Dodgers signing of Ted Lilly for 3-years and $33 million despite his injury history and non-existent velocity; now it's De La Rosa.

It's risky.

All I can say is it would've been nice to be born lefty; or to have learned the throw lefty.

Or righty for that matter. Or to have learned how to hit.

20/20 hindsight is a losing road upon which to walk. Even for me.

  • Now, the Tulowitzki deal:

The details regarding Tulowitzki are available in the same linked story about De La Rosa.

Wasn't the long-term contract Tulowitzki signed after his Rookie of the Year campaign (which I, ironically, mentioned yesterday) designed to preclude the need to sign him to such a mega-deal?

Tulowitzki was locked up through 2014; what was the point of doing this now?

A star player who's only getting better, Tulowitzki would've gotten a similar contract had he been a free agent.

And that's the point.

He's not a free agent, nor is he anywhere close to being a free agent. He was a Rockie and would've been a Rockie through the 2014 season.

Why do this now?

The contract is borderline insane. 7-years and $134 million through 2020? For what? That's a looong time and a lot of money; plus, they're not getting a discount. Who knows what Tulowitzki's going to do in the next two years? Never mind the next TEN!!

There are trends in baseball that looked questionable when they were first attempted. It was John Hart with the Indians who chose to sign his young Indians stars to long-term deals to avert expensive arbitration awards and free agency; some of them worked out (Albert Belle, Carlos Baerga); some didn't (Jack Armstrong).

Other teams followed suit.

Now, after the deranged and unnecessary extension the Phillies gave to Ryan Howard, the market is blown up again by the Rockies and Tulowitzki. Albert Pujols was licking his lips after seeing Howard's paycheck; it must be the same circumstances with big time middle-infielders. Is Hanley Ramirez going to throw a tantrum and demand a comparable payout from the Marlins? How about Chase Utley?

Ramirez is signed through 2014 at a guaranteed $57.5 million; Utley at $45 million through 2013.

Ramirez and Utley have legitimate gripes that they're underpaid in relation to what a similar player is getting and it's all because of these panicky and unnecessary contract extensions. If they were saving money, it'd be one thing, but they're not.

Had Howard and Tulowitzki gone free agent, would they have come close to these guaranteed contracts? And if so, it made no sense to jump the gun before zero hour.

If the team's not saving money, they why do it in the first place? Was it to avoid a potentially messy negotiation with their centerpiece players as the Yankees are currently experiencing with Derek Jeter?

If that's the reasoning behind it, it's pretty flimsy.

Really flimsy.

I was on with Sal at SportsFan Buzz last Wednesday talking about the Hot Stove; the Mets; Derek Jeter; post-season award winners; and other stuff. You can click on the link here directly or here for Sal's site to listen on I-Tunes.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The JeterCa$h Monster

  • Hard lines:

The multiple entendre in the title was intentional.

It's hard for crafted creatures fulfill their objective. Their creation---rife with a declared and reasonable intent----rarely achieves the goal. Stitched together with bodyparts from the nearby cemetery, a Frankenstein monster has the potential to spiral out of control; the creator may not know how to stop it once it's unleashed.

The Derek Jeter-Yankees negotiation is a growing monster with potential for endless destruction.

Had the Yankees not been so intent on refusing to negotiate contract extensions before zero hour, this mess might not have happened.

It's one thing to have an organizational philosophy that precludes any and all talk of new deals for veterans until it's absolutely necessary, but there are times when exceptions must be made even if it sends the rest of the troops into a fit of whining.

Derek Jeter was one of those cases.

What would've happened had the Yankees approached Jeter----quietly in late 2008----and suggested a 2-3 year contract extension through 2013? The money is essentially irrelevant, as is Jeter's performance. There wouldn't have been this press war; nor would there be the back-and-forth accusations, lines in the sand, and staring contests that are making both sides look bad.

There are times to be steadfast in a clerical way and there are times to make exceptions based on reality and pragmatism.

When running an organization, there has to be nuance and flexibility based on aspects that may not show up in the bottom line stats, finances and public response; there has to be an overall understanding with everyone when the statement "Jeter is a special case" is made.

In a sense, what the Yankees have done with Jeter is in the same ballpark as George Steinbrenner's costly refusal to follow the new trend in baseball of signing young players to long-term extensions in an attempt to preclude expensive arbitration awards, contentious hearings and the first few years of free agency.

Understandable, but stupid.

While I've been critical of teams making preemptive signings before the proper time, there are times to follow through on an aggressive betrayal of "organizational philosophy".

I was against the long-term contracts to which the Rays signed Evan Longoria and the Rockies signed Troy Tulowitzki. Longoria's contract was signed before he'd been in the big leagues a month; Tulowitzki's after his Rookie of the Year season in 2007 (in which he, ironically, drew comparisons to Jeter in young leadership and quiet cool).

In retrospect, they were astute maneuvers. In fact, the Longoria contract has been called----in stat zombie circles----the most value-laden contract in baseball history.

That's not my department, but if I were a GM, I'd take such numbers crunching seriously and think long and hard about making such a move before a Jeter-type situation occurs.

Josh Hamilton is another interesting case study as he comes off his MVP season for the pennant-winning Rangers. Call me unforgiving and disbelieving, but I'm reluctant to dole $100 million on a former hard-core drug addict. Great player or not, there's always going to be that spectre hovering over him and I'd be remiss in my duties as an executive if I didn't take that into account before committing that amount of money to him.

In short, as much as teams try to stick each and every player into the same box of neutrality, it can't happen. There are special cases like Jeter who have earned a pass from these "rules" that aren't really rules, but are conscious decisions to make the lives of the front office easier. Had the Yankees understood and adhered to that flexibility and comprehended what could happen----what is happening----they could've avoided this escalating war of words that is not only ruining Jeter's aesthetic, but is making everyone look petty and terrible.

Had reality set in beforehand, they could've dodged it. The Jeter-Yankees deal will get done; he's not going anywhere; but it could've been cleaner for all involved.

Most of the vitriol will be left behind once Jeter's standing in front of the Yankees logo shaking hands with Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner; as Michael Kay is in blissful ecstasy in a corner of the press room; as the flashbulbs pop; as the fans breathe a sigh of relief; as the media writes their lovestruck stories as to the genesis of the positive result. Everyone will be friends again.

Most of it will be forgotten.

But not all.

There will be some residue of the distasteful press war currently occurring.

It will take some time to forgive; and neither side will soon forget.

  • Free agent fliers:

The Marlins have signed Javier Vazquez to a 1-year contract worth $7 million. In addition to that, they gave him a no-trade clause and agreed not to offer him arbitration after next season----MLBTR Story.

As terrible as Vazquez was with the Yankees, this is a worthwhile shot for both the Marlins and Vazquez. Similar to a college course in which the lowest grade on a test is tossed out, there are ancillary factors to Vazquez's awful 2010 season.

Because he was so rancid as a Yankee and his velocity was non-existent by the end of the season, there are pratfalls to signing him; that said, the Marlins have nothing to lose with a veteran who, in 2009, was one of the best pitchers in baseball pitching for the Braves. Vazquez appears to be allergic to Yankee pinstripes; it was a mistake for them to bring him back.

Back in the National League East and with the carrot of getting a long-term deal with a rejuvenating year of 200-innings and 12-15 wins, Vazquez could get a 2-3 year contract after next year; worst case scenario, he'll be in the exact same position a year from now. Another team will be willing to sign him to an incentive-laden contract regardless of how he pitches if he proves himself healthy.

Another free agent pitcher who's been great rather than just durable and good is Brandon Webb.

Webb is a free agent who hasn't pitched in 2-years; he also happens to have been one of the best pitchers in baseball since his debut in 2003. While he's absolutely worth a gamble, what would concern me if I were in the Webb camp are the teams that are pursuing him.

According to MLBTR, the interested teams are: the Rockies, Cubs, Pirates, Twins, Rangers and Nationals.

I don't see any of the usual suspects----the Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies, Dodgers, Cardinals----who would: A) have the money to risk on a pitcher like Webb; and B) have been known to sign pitchers from whom they have no idea what they're getting just to see if he can return to some semblance of form.

Webb has reportedly shown no velocity whatsoever in his bullpen sessions and if teams with the money to spend on a pitcher who was once great are shying away from him, it's a bad sign. It doesn't sound as if he's going to get much in terms of guarantees and if his stuff is gone, there's a chance we could see an Alex Fernandez situation where he can't come back from shoulder surgery.

Right now, it doesn't sound good.

I was on with Sal at SportsFan Buzz Wednesday talking about the Hot Stove; the Mets; Derek Jeter; post-season award winners; and other stuff. You can click on the link here directly or here for Sal's site to listen on I-Tunes.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday Lightning 11.28.2010

  • Overestimated value:

At least the Pirates got something for Zach Duke.

It may not wind up being much of anything (a player to be named later from the Diamondbacks), but it's better than the idiotic maneuver they pulled last season with Matt Capps as they non-tendered him and watched haplessly (or Piratanically) as Capps was in heavy demand from 2/3 of the teams in baseball after he was dumped; re-established his value with the Nationals; and was traded to the Twins for their top catching prospect, Wilson Ramos.

This from an organization that saw fit to dole a 2-year contract on Ramon Vazquez and avidly pursue Akinori Iwamura, only to release both when getting a glimpse as to what they purchased.

Amid all the repeated accolades as to the way the Pirates minor league system has been rebuilt and they're bringing up prospects such as Pedro Alvarez, there's still this overwhelming sense of incompetence that they plainly and simply do not know what they're doing.

The dealings with Duke hammer this point home again.

Zach Duke is not a particularly good pitcher, but he has use. His career has been one of drastic rises and falls; when he arrived in the big leagues in 2005, he dominated; such respected voices as Peter Gammons couldn't contain their enthusiasm for the then-22-year-old lefty as he went 8-2 with a 1.81 ERA in 14 starts over the final two months of the season.

It's so easy to by mystified by a hot streak; this is especially true for a pitcher who'd essentially been ignored in the draft (Duke was 20th round pick of the Pirates in the 2001 draft); and sliced through the league the first time around. It was only in subsequent years that reality hit both Duke and the Pirates.

He's been on some awful teams; shown 200-inning durability and competent performance. There are far more workmanlike players in baseball than is generally discussed and there's nothing wrong with that; not everyone can be Albert Pujols. Carving out a career with status as a cog in the machine, number 4-5 starter isn't such a bad deal for the player or team.

The Pirates didn't get the memo.

In 2009, Duke had a very good year despite a 11-16 record; had the Pirates not been delusional regarding his potential; if they'd looked at their circumstances and said, "we're not good; this guy's never going to be more attractive to trading partners than he is now; he's going to get super-expensive as soon as next year and is a free agent after 2011; let's move him now," they'd have been fine. But they didn't.

Conceivably, they could've gotten a couple of prospects for him from a good team with superior evaluative skills who would've known what Duke is and isn't. For a team like the Yankees, Duke would be a 5th starter; he'd go 12-9 with a 4.80 ERA; give them 175 innings do as he was asked without over-the-top demands he couldn't fulfill. For the Pirates he was a waste of time who they eventually gave away because of finances and stupidity.

It's not the big moves that build and rebuild a team, but the conscious decisions of what to do with a negligible talent and when to cut losses. The Pirates got a player to be named later; they slashed Duke's salary; but they minimized rather than maximized. As long as the Pirates are doing business in this way, what possible chance do they have of rising from the annual catastrophe they've been for most of the past two decades?

None. Unless they're really, really lucky.

I wouldn't expect good fortune to start smiling on the Pirates anytime soon.

  • The Jeter Chronicles:

The Yankees don't want to overplay their strong hand here.

They don't want to embarrass their captain.

And Jeter doesn't want his image sullied any more than it's already been.

Derek Jeter has to jump out front of representatives and, rather than take a hands-off approach, tell them to get something done----fast.

Presumably, with Jeter as smart as he is, this has happened.

What people fail to see when an army of representatives are posturing is that the actual client may be sitting back and trying to stay above the fray. Listening to advisers, lawyers, front-men and flunkies lulls the person at the center of the storm to what's really going on; what's being said and done on his behalf.

I can recall several instances to this effect.

Alex Rodriguez had his Svengali/agent Scott Boras pulling his strings for so long, A-Rod didn't know how to extricate himself from the control of his father figure/hit-man. It was only when a similar amount of vitriol was directed at A-Rod as is being aimed at Jeter now; the frightening realization that the Yankees were legitimately telling him to take a hike with his opt-out and absurd demands, that he took steps to straighten the mess out.

Daisuke Matsuzaka, also repped by Boras, saw the potential for a deal to join the Red Sox in serious jeopardy as he wanted to make the jump from Japan to North America; the Red Sox, like the Yankees with A-Rod, had all the cards; Matsuzaka was also facing the cultural reaction back home in Japan had he let money stand in the way of pride in performance and challenging himself against greater competition.

In another venue, Mike Tyson----in 1988 at the top of the world as the undefeated and unstoppable force as heavyweight champion of the world----had one fight that everyone wanted to see. Tyson vs Michael Spinks was supposed to establish, once and for all, who held the status as best heavyweight in the world. Because they were represented by different managerial camps, a deal was slow in coming. Tyson was accused of being afraid to fight Spinks; Spinks sat by silently as the wheels spun. Tyson, having had enough of the bickering managers, told his manager Bill Cayton to get the deal done for the fight.

The fight was billed as "Tyson vs Spinks---Once And For All". It lived up to the billing; Tyson hit Spinks once and that was all.

In all three cases, there was nowhere for the participants to go. A-Rod had no other comparable offers on the table; Matsuzaka was faced with the one option of going back to Japan; and Tyson wanted to prove his superiority over his closest competitor.

Derek Jeter is sitting in a similar position.

He has nowhere to go.

The public is turning on him.

The Yankees are holding a united front (and muzzling Hank Steinbrenner) in refusing to be blackmailed by Jeter.

He has to step forward and tell his people to shut their mouths and get this straight before it spirals completely out of control.

He's smart enough to do that. Jeter didn't get into his current circumstances by being totally blind to reality. It's probably happening as we speak. It better be.

  • A contending rotation:

For all the ridicule directed at the McCourts, their embarrassing divorce and "Beverly Hillbillies" antics that have come to light in the court proceedings, one thing that's always lost in the muck is that they allow their baseball people to make the moves they feel are necessary to win.

Such has been the case as they've assembled a starting rotation that will allow them to contend in 2011.

Jon Garland signed a 1-year, $5 million contract with $3 million in incentives and a vesting $8 million option if he pitches 190 innings----ESPN Story.

Garland is not a great pitcher; he's someone from whom you know what to expect. He'll give up a lot of hits; a lot of homers; throw strikes; gobble innings; and hand the game over to the bullpen with a chance to win most of the time. There will be a few games in which he gets blasted; a few games in which he pitches masterfully.

He is what he is.

This is another case of the Dodgers taking advantage of a pitcher who wants to play close to home (Garland is from Southern California); and is interested in playing for a manager----Don Mattingly----who's not going to be a pest.

In addition to the retentions of Ted Lilly and Hiroki Kuroda and the acquisition of Garland, the Dodgers have a rotation that isn't comparable to that of the Red Sox or Phillies in terms of absolute depth or dominance, but is good enough to be in contention.

There is the potential for top-of-the-rotation terror throughout the league if Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley pitch up to their potential; but even if they repeat their 2010 performances, this is a good team with the potential to be top tier.

Questions abound about new manager Don Mattingly, but I don't see his lack of managerial experience to be a hindrance to winning. Mattingly's smart enough to lean on his coaches for advice. Because he's so affable and the players revere him so much, they won't want to let Donnie Baseball down. This is not the case with every club and manager.

With a veteran club, that's very, very important and should overcome any strategic gaffes Mattingly's going to make.

Make jokes at the expense of the McCourts all you want, but they've consistently put a good product on the field and haven't let outside distractions stop the baseball people from doing what needs to be done.

There are far worse owners in baseball in both theory and practice.

  • Viewer Mail 11.28.2010:

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE Derek Jeter:

Anybody who calls Jeter Captain DP should be stripped of their right to comment about anything! Bah, that gets me so mad. I agree with you that he's not going anywhere. The only - and I repeat ONLY - place he might have gone is to the Dodgers if Torre had still be the manager and the McCourts hadn't run the team into the ground.

Oh, I took members of your fan base to the woodshed about the "Captain DP" stuff during the season.

I speculated on the Joe Torre-Dodgers possibility when the Jeter contract concerns began in the spring. Los Angeles with Torre would've been a viable option because of the manager and that Hollywood would be a suitable atmosphere on and off the field for Jeter's interests and perception.

Now, he'd play for Mattingly, but it's not the same as it would've been with Torre----the championship Yankees connection is gone from LA; and the Dodgers won't pay him.

Gabriel (Capo) writes RE reporters and Derek Jeter:

For the average reporter, anything is good for a story. Columns in the tone of "Where Could Jeter Go?" are going to be read because people like gossip, people like to make opinions on what should anyone do. I could bet that every baseball reporter knows Jeter is staying with the Yankees, but writing anything that questions that truth brings traffic to the website. Reporters would write about their mom joining the Pirates on a slow news day.

On a separate note, what do you think about the Jays' bullpen? The top three relievers were offered arbitration but it's highly unlikely they'll accept it, so we'll see new bullpen faces...

I've become less stringent in my assessment of certain reporters after communicating with them regarding editorial demands as to what they include in their stories. That said, I don't have much patience for the falseness of a "source close to the situation"; it could be anyone saying anything; or it might not even exist at all.

The Pirates could use my mother; she's dealt with me; she'd frighten them into line.

Regarding the Blue Jays, they have so much pitching that they'll be able to shift some of the excess to the bullpen; I'd try Casey Janssen as the closer.

Mike Fierman writes RE the Yankees dynasty:

good point jane- if Mr. Torre was still at the helm in LA that would at least have given Jeter an illusory bargaining chip.
I agree that even if jeter had a great 2009 Cashman would not have tendered a larger contract than the overly lavish 3/45, but Cash now has the vox populi on his side thanks to .270 and all the accompanying side dishes of bad numbers.

thank you for filling out the Showalter discussion, but i think i might stick with the conventional, if dull, party line that it was Stick Michael who built that team and set up the dynasty, not showalter.

Michael and Showalter worked in concert to put together a team that was a cohesive and interchangeable unit on the field and didn't tolerate such bad actors as Mel Hall off the field. One thing that we can agree on is that the George Steinbrenner suspension removed a meddling and impatient wild card who'd blow up all they'd built in the aftermath of one destructive explosion.

Joe writes RE the Yankees dynasty:

Michael Kay would have won 4 rings at the helm of those Yankees teams :)

Joe's half-kidding and half-right (unintentionally I presume).

The Yankees teams of 1998-1999 could've won without a manager; but the 1996 and 2000 teams would've had a hard time without Torre.

In 1996, they would probably not have won with anyone other than Torre. I believed that then and will maintain that belief forever.

The 2000 team lost 15 of their final 18 games and the first game of the ALDS to the Athletics; it would've been easy at any time during that collapse for a manager to flip the food table and start screaming like a maniac to send the team into a greater funk; further tightening them with a contagious bout of hysterics. If that had happened, they could've been bounced by a younger A's team that was ready to take out the champions.

Torre remained calm; they righted the ship and won that ALDS; then they steamrolled through the Mariners and Mets to win the World Series. With another manager, I can't imagine that happening.

I was on with Sal at SportsFan Buzz Wednesday talking about the Hot Stove; the Mets; Derek Jeter; post-season award winners; and other stuff. You can click on the link here directly or here for Sal's site to listen on I-Tunes.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Stupid Is Forever

  • Derek....Jeter....is....not....leaving....the....Yankees!!!

Cloaked by the overused and abused press credo of "protecting sources" a reporter looking to stir up a stinking cesspool of vitriol can cite a source that may not be as close to a situation as he proclaims; he may not even exist at all.

The whole Derek Jeter story of "Jeter wants $150 million" was somewhat ridiculous from the start and led to an explosion of scrutiny on the increasingly negatively perceived "Captain Clutch". The blogosphere and social media platforms turned into a mill for snide comments and angry retorts to the idea that Jeter would go so over-the-top in his demands.

But you have to look at logic; at reality; at propriety.

Would Jeter be that stupid?

History has proven that as calculating and cautious as Jeter has been with his image, he's never, ever, ever been stupid. Did the Jeter camp ask for a 6-year, $150 million contract? Who knows? It never hurts to ask. As ridiculous as the sheer concept is, anyone can ask anything. Jon Heyman or Joel Sherman can ask for a date with Heidi Klum and then block her on Twitter when they realize she's neither blind nor deaf as she politely declines.

It never hurts to ask.

If you don't ask, you don't get.

That said, even had Jeter repeated his near-MVP 2009, he wasn't getting $150 million.

Getting beyond that story----a story that looks like a clumsy plant from someone----we're getting the postulations wondering if Jeter "could possibly" leave the Yankees. Might it happen? What then? Would the world stop spinning on its axis? How would we function?

Know this: Derek Jeter IS NOT LEAVING THE YANKEES!!!


We've gone over this before. He has nowhere to go. Even if the negotiations get more contentious, no other team is going to approach the amount of money the Yankees will; no team is going to pursue Jeter with any serious aspirations of getting him because they know he's not leaving the Yankees----if it leaked out that there was the hint of a chance of him bolting, the Yankees would make sure it didn't happen; and Jeter is not going to sully his Yankee legacy and aesthetic by ending his career as Babe Ruth did wearing a Boston Braves uniform.

It's not happening.

The sheep needs a herder.

Leaping into the chasm of reckless assumption, the Yankee fans and observers alike reverted to their "Captain DP" appellation of disrespect to the team leader by angrily suggesting he leave the club if he's so interested in emotionally blackmailing the Yankees into squeezing every single penny out of them in the interests of comparable compensation----especially in relation to Alex Rodriguez.

Both ends of this equation know a protracted negotiation and escalating war of words in the media is unnecessary. They're going to get this done before long----with an amount of money and face-saving concessions that are palatable to both sides----simply because they have no other choice.

Speaking of "choice", you can read the fools who speculate that Jeter could leave as if it's based in reality; of course, as my earlier comparison suggests, it's a theoretical possibility that Jeter could bolt; but think about it. Really think about it.

He's going nowhere.


  • Viewer Mail 11.27.2010:

The Brooklyn Trolley Blogger (Brooklyn Capo) writes RE Terry Francona/Terry Collins:

I'd only say Terry Francona was plugged into a ready made situation in Boston. That team was on the precipice. Collins is coming to a team in flux. But I can feel what you're saying.

That's exactly the point. Had Francona been hired to oversee a rebuild, it's possible he wouldn't have been the right man for the job.

The Red Sox were ready to win and needed someone to come in and create competence and stability; not someone to flip the place upside down; they didn't need someone to prototypically "teach" them to play the game correctly. The Mets are under a different mandate.

After the way they sat around pontificating about altering the way they slide into second base following Chase Utley's upending of Ruben Tejada late in the season, it was clear the Mets needed a Terry Collins to come in and declaratively say, "THIS is how the Mets are gonna play from now on!!!"

It's about what's required in the now. In 2004, Francona fit for the Red Sox; now, Collins fits for the Mets.

Mike Fierman writes RE Buck Showalter, the Yankees and me:

"Would the Yankees dynasty have happened without Buck Showalter? Highly unlikely."

if you are going to make such a ludicrous and outrageous statement you should at least back it up with a fact or two--even an opinion to support it. but no, you just say it and move on...
i demand a retraction or an explanation.

For the uninitiated, Mike is not attacking me. It's his subtle, deadpan sense of humor to start me off on a rant.

It's similar to the scene in Return of the Jedi when the bounty hunter demands an excessive payment for his quarry from Jabba the Hut (no relation to Joba the Chamberlain) and hammers home the point by activating a thermal detonator in case his conditions are not met.

Naturally, everyone started scrambling for cover in pure panic. Jabba pauses....then starts laughing. Impressed by the fearlessness and inventiveness of the bounty hunter, Jabba raises his offer, which was accepted.

This is how Mike and I communicate.

With that out of the way, he brings up a useful point.

How important was Showalter's contribution to the Yankees dynasty?

Aside from his anal retentive, stifling, somewhat paranoid style of trying to control everything in his world, Showalter's attention to detail and weeding out of players who were part of the problem and not the solution set the tone for the Joe Torre years and subsequent championships.

It's often been debated whether the Yankees would have had a similar run under Showalter. There's no easy answer; I'd say no. I'd say that Showalter had taken that team as far as he could and the remaining players had grown to feel claustrophobic under his rule and Torre was----in retrospect----the perfect replacement for them to take the next step. Torre was an old-school, veteran manager who wasn't going to tolerate nonsense, but wouldn't be in their faces all the time either.

It wasn't an isolated incident with Showalter; it happened with the Diamondbacks in that they grew stale dealing with all his rules of how they should wear their uniforms, among other things. Both the Yankees and Diamondbacks won World Series titles the year after Showalter was gone. It didn't happen with the Rangers, although they had success under Showalter. It could be that he's going to be allowed to see the rebuilding effort of the Orioles all the way through and will finally get his World Series chance rather than be the transitional manager who's going to raise them and let them fly for a different and more relaxed voice.

It's what Pat Riley has called "the innocent climb"; because he didn't get a ring in either case doesn't diminish Showalter's contribution to the cause.

This is what could happen with Terry Collins and the Mets. Getting the house in order for the next guy is nothing to be ashamed of; someone who has that ability will always have a job, if not the glory of the championship ring.

I was on with Sal at SportsFan Buzz on Wednesday talking about the Hot Stove; the Mets; Derek Jeter; post-season award winners; and other stuff. You can click on the link here directly or here for Sal's site to listen on I-Tunes.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Two Terrys

  • The Francona-Collins parallel:

On the surface, you'd never think there was any common denominators between Red Sox manager Terry Francona and new Mets manager Terry Collins.

Francona----calm, cool, collected; a player's manager; well-liked and personable----is the epitome of a man for whom players want to play.

Collins----intense and in-your-face; enthusiastic; carting heavy baggage from his prior jobs----is a wild card.

In retrospect, given Francona's success as Red Sox manager, you'd never remember that after 2003, he was as questionable a hire then as Collins is now for the Mets.

Let's take a look.

Resume failures and the truth.

Francona was portrayed as a puppet who: A) was happy to get the opportunity and was willing to work cheaply and follow organizational edicts regarding strategy; B) had been hired as a conciliatory gesture to lure Curt Schilling to agree to a trade to the club; and C) had a poor track record as a manager in his prior opportunity.

Collins's penchant for yelling and screaming had caused certain players to tune him out with the Astros and Angels; he had been interviewed for jobs since being fired by the Angels in 1999 but the reputation persisted; perceived as a retread who hadn't worked out and wasn't a difference-maker, his attributes were glossed over and his past followed him, sabotaging any attempt to get back into the manager's office.

In reality, were there aspects of these beliefs that were accurate? Yes. But what's accurate isn't always the full story, nor is it fair.

Francona had a rotten team with the Phillies; no one could've done much better than the 285-363 record he accumulated in 4 years at the helm. Following his dismissal (they did him a favor), he moved into various baseball capacities and increased the breadth of his experience. First he was a special assistant to Indians GM John Hart; then he spent a year each as the Rangers and A's bench coach.

The Indians were considered one of the most intelligent and well-run clubs in baseball with a simultaneously analytic and aggressive approach; in addition to that, there were smart people like Mark Shapiro in the front office. Managers who have a view of the clerical and off-field machinations and are out of their customary realm will be well-versed in why a GM might make a call that seems confusing at the time. A manager wants to have a player to help him win now in the selfish interests of keeping his job; a front office person has to take everything into account----Francona's time with the Indians had to help him with the hands-on Red Sox front office.

The Rangers were an aging wreck by 2002, but Francona expanded his coping skills in witnessing a circus as Alex Rodriguez was in year 2 of his disastrous run in Texas. Francona had managed the Birmingham Barons during Michael Jordan's foray into minor league baseball. Having managed in Philadelphia----where booing is the template----anything else would be a Carl Pavano-day at the beach. It all prepared him for the crisis-a-day and reactionary atmosphere of Boston.

The Athletics were run in a similar way to the Red Sox. At the height of the Moneyball phenomenon, the manager was a conduit to the front office. Such was going to be the case with the Red Sox when he got the job. After Grady Little's tenure was over, the Red Sox wanted someone who was going to take a moderate (if not low) paycheck and follow the guidelines that Little ignored.

There's a difference between following said guidelines and doing what he's told. Francona adheres to the Red Sox reluctance to "give away" outs with bunts and capricious stolen bases; that, as much as the team being good on an annual basis has helped him survive.

Because he's so affable; that he has a thorough comprehension of the way things are under the new age in baseball, Francona has lasted; been credited as the "best" manager in baseball (he's not); and will have a managerial job as long as he wants whether in Boston or elsewhere.

Collins's rejuvenation is similar.

After being fired by the Angels, Collins was director of player development for the Dodgers; managed China in the World Baseball Classic; managed in Japan; and was the Mets minor league field coordinator. To imply that Collins's past as a manager in the 1990s is going to be a detriment to the work he does now is insulting to the man's intelligence; to the power of learning from mistakes and evolving.

Only a fool would repeat the errors of the past; Collins is too smart to let this opportunity get away from him by making the same errors he did with the Angels and Astros. Strategically, he's always been very good; it was the fiery demeanor that turned off youngsters who grew tired of hearing him scream; and veterans who weren't accustomed to not being in charge. That won't happen with the Mets and their hand-in-hand front office-manager relationship.

Does it fit?

Some have called Francona the "best" manager in baseball.

He's not.

That's an honorific I'd give to Tony La Russa or Jim Tracy; but for what the Red Sox needed at the time, he was a perfect fit.

The title of "best" should be bestowed on someone from whom you can expect a drastic turnaround based on his overall skills. La Russa, if he's given the players he needs to compete and has Dave Duncan by his side, will win----it's a guarantee.

Tracy can be considered the best because he's a terrific strategic manager who's beloved by the players.

Francona is solid all around as he navigates the media, the players, the fans and maintains order. His style would not work everywhere. He's the same man as he was with the Phillies----albeit with a more thorough understanding of all aspects of the game----but his functioning and success is based on player talent and steering the ship.

After the Little era ended, the Red Sox were ready to win with Francona as part of the puzzle; the Mets are transitioning from the Omar Minaya/Willie Randolph/Jerry Manuel era to Sandy Alderson/Collins.

It fit then in Boston; it fits now in New York.

Fitting is sometimes more important than strategic skills. Collins is the right fit for the Mets. Francona was the right fit for the Red Sox.

The press-trumpeting of Wally Backman for the Mets job was driven by agendas. Agendas to see a former Mets player from the glory days of the 1980s in the managerial office; to have someone who was just as likely to crash and burn as he was to light up the sky.

Know this: Backman would've slipped up with the media had he been given the job and it probably would've happened in the introductory press conference. Collins was the better all-around choice for that reason alone----he'll deal better with the press.

Does he have warts? Of course. Francona had them; Joe Torre had them; La Russa has them. The only true judgment is in retrospect and it's not only wins and losses that are the determining factor. Would the Yankees dynasty have happened without Buck Showalter? Highly unlikely.

Would the Red Sox have become the machine they currently are without Little having made his gaffe and the conscious decision for the front office taking charge, leading directly to the trade for Schilling and Francona hiring? No.

We won't know until we know, but Collins and Francona are very comparable despite personality differences. Francona is more of a subtle, player friendly type; Collins is edgier. These are side aspects to the overall view.

The future.

Collins may not be the man who's managing the Mets when they're truly ready to compete for a championship. As he was with the Astros, he might be the man to teach the players to play the game and comport themselves correctly only to hand the reins over to someone who'll take his foot off the gas and let the players evolve into a championship unit in a more relaxed atmosphere. It's too soon to tell; but he's the right man for the job at the moment.

If you asked Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio whether they'd have done things slightly differently in their complaints about Collins while he was their manager, I'm sure age (and the resulting wisdom) would lead them to say, yes, we became better players because of Terry Collins. They didn't know it at the time, but it's the truth. I can see this happening between Troy Tulowitzki and Clint Hurdle----the relationship had run its course, but 10-15 years from now, they'll acknowledge how much they needed one another to achieve their destinies.

Functional managers rather than difference-makers are more prevalent and successful than is generally reported. It's easy to look at La Russa and say, "Well, he's Tony La Russa; he's the best". But it takes a full accounting of the work of managers like Francona and Collins to appreciate what they've done or will do. The in-game skill and resume are secondary to their suitability to what the employer wants and needs.

The ideal for the new look Mets is the Red Sox.

Built through both stats and scouting and backed up by money, that's the logical plot for the Mets to emulate.

The managerial decisions reflect that.

You won't see people compare them as people, but as far as doing their jobs and how they got to their current positions, it's an easy parallel even as they take different turns in temperament and style----they're mirror images of one another.

We'll see if the Mets get the results with Collins as the Red Sox did with Francona.

Whether or not it works in the transitory bottom-line of wins and losses, it's the right move and in the same vein as what the Red Sox did when they hired Francona.

I was on with Sal at SportsFan Buzz on Wednesday talking about the Hot Stove; the Mets; Derek Jeter; post-season award winners; and other stuff. You can click on the link here directly or here for Sal's site to listen on I-Tunes.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Containment Of Damage

  • An underlying atmosphere of grumping:

The reaction to yesterday's posting regarding Derek Jeter vs the Yankees elicited a reaction that runs the gamut from a displ....well, never mind; let's just go straight to the mail.

Viewer Mail 11.25.2010 (gobble, gobble):

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE Derek Jeter:

Jeter's not the one who's been talking. His agent made one comment about the "baffling" negotiations strategy, which felt to Close like an arbitration hearing. And I agree. While it's true that $45 million isn't peanuts, for the Yankees to look at this strictly in terms of numbers (STATS) is just silly. Jeter doesn't want to play forever. Give him another year and some company stock and everyone will be happy.

I think you're a little too close to this to look at it objectively, Jane.

Do you really believe that Jeter is sitting behind the scenes quietly with his hands folded in his lap like a good little boy at church?

He's in complete command of what's going on; what his people say and don't say; how the propaganda is presented. If they were looking at it in terms of stats, the offer would be about half what it is. To me, they're accounting for his meaning to the team and services rendered to a remarkably expensive degree; for the Jeter camp to act offended by an offer that Jeter wouldn't approach anywhere else; and is more than fair, is out of line from an objective outsider's point-of-view.

This is an important factor in terms of my analysis of the negotiations. As a baseball fan, I've always had the greatest respect for Jeter while knowing that he's not the neat package he's supposed to be; I don't want to see him go through a muddy and damaging (to both sides) series of contretemps with the club; nor do I want to see Derek Jeter wearing another uniform.

It's not good for his aesthetic to be have this; that's why I think a deal will be quietly struck in the next week; a deal that's agreeable to everyone.

Jeff (Street Boss) at Red State Blue State writes RE Derek Jeter and me:

I think you could write a book -- a deep, psychological profile -- about Derek Jeter.

Then you should call it:

"Grayness in the Jeter Vacuum"


Some factions would dismiss me as a deranged crank; others would take it seriously; Jeter's people would try to muzzle me; we'd have a war on our hands.

There are times when the words control me, not the other way 'round; and sometimes it works.

Sometimes it works.

RRothfeldt writes RE Derek Jeter and me:

You can try to make Jeter out to be the bad guy here, but...

As much as the Yankees made Jeter, Jeter made the Yankees for the past 15 years. No Jeter, no House that George Built, No YES, no Adidas contract. With Jeter the Yankees are a billion dollar franchise. Without him, they're still worth a ton...but not that magical 10 digit kingdom.

Time for the Steinbrenners to stop being greedy and admit that for all of their machinations, Jeter puts fannies in the seats more than any Yankee since Mantle. Pay him for that, as well as his performance.

There's a major difference between making him out to be the "bad guy" and refusing to partake in his myth. I have no horse in this race. As I said to Jane, I'd be disappointed if Jeter were in any uniform other than Yankee pinstripes.

You're taking some liberties with Jeter's contributions to the Yankees success since 1996. Much like the Joe Torre factor; the luck they had with keeping Bernie Williams rather than signing Albert Belle; the Scott Brosius trade; having Mariano Rivera seamlessly slide into the closing duties----there are dozens, if not hundreds of factors that led to the Yankees dynasty.

Doling all the credit to Jeter----as valuable as he was----is a bit much. I don't think the Steinbrenners are being greedy here; they're being very reasonable as they overpay for a player who, quite frankly is a byproduct of a circular entity feeding on itself; they'll be paying for the carcass by the end of the contract.

When does it become self-defeating to pay for intangibles as the star player's skills decline.

Another way to look at it, as Jeter and his reps appear to be doing, is in the Alex Rodriguez context. Because A-Rod received an overtly stupid, panicky and reactionary contract and will be getting an absurd sum of money long after his usefulness has been rung out like a smelly sponge, are they supposed to compound this mistake to placate Jeter?

The Jeter camp would like to subtly connect the two as if to imply because Jeter was with the club throughout the late 90s and is an iconic Yankee player, he should be compensated similarly to A-Rod; but it was Hank Steinbrenner who overruled Cashman to make that deal; had Cashman been allowed to do as he wanted, A-Rod would no longer be a Yankee; they're not and shouldn't be connected much more than a tiny portion of the decision.

The days of fans going to ballpark specifically to see Jeter are dwindling. Yes, they'll go to see him approach 3000 hits, but after that?

I'm not buying it. They're not being greedy; if anything, Jeter's people are being greedy and somewhat petty.

Matt writes RE Brian Cashman:

I like how you describe Cashman's quote as a shrug. Both parties know this is nothing more than a game of chicken, only this time Cashman's driving a freight-train.


I'm getting the legit frustration vibe from Cashman. The Yankees know Jeter's not going to approach the amount of money and outside sources of income he'll get with the Yankees; what's worse for Jeter is that no other team is going to waste their time/energy courting him knowing that his return to the Yankees is an Ivory Soap purity percentage (99 44/100%). Nobody wants to be used.

He's not leaving the Yankees.

The Yankees have not disrespected him; they're going above-and-beyond with the money they've offered; Cashman's proven he doesn't care what people think about him and the tide is turning slightly in the Yankees favor.

Jeter's very conscious of his perception; I'm sure he's assembled his inner-circle and told them to get this thing done by next week. It's probably being discussed with the Yankees now.

The Brooklyn Trolley Blogger (Brooklyn Capo) writes RE Brian Cashman:

Cashman Corleone (as Wally Matthews referred to him in a Tweet to me); He's turned into a stone cold GM. I don't see where either side did anything wrong yet.
And today on Michael Kay's show it was said the parties are $50 to $100 million apart in the negotiations. If that is true, that's an astonishing number to be off by. And if it is true, then Jeter and his camp are out of their minds. I don't fault them for trying. In a way you can place blame on the Yankees' history on wantonly spending on other team's players and stepping on the tail of their own. It's an interesting dynamic and an odd time and person to draw lines in the sand with. I do think Jeter's camp needs to be more sensible though. The ARod contract is as viable a chip for Jeter as any he might think he has.

If Jeter's asking for $140 million in this economy, as far as I'm concerned, he's a combination of a C.H.U.D., Quasimodo and Frankenstein and should be run out of town by angry crowds carrying torches and truncheons.

I don't think they're drawing any lines in the sand; it sounds like they've got a number they're not going past and are making concessions to Jeter being Jeter. The A-Rod contract is folded into that.

NapLajoieonSteroids writes RE me:

You are playing up the melodrama as if you were writing a soap opera [As the Bronx Burns?] Like any top athlete, Jeter wouldn't be Jeter if he didn't think he was worth an infinite amount. That's why these guys usually have to be forced to leave because they never acknowledge that their time is up. Jeter wants his money and years because Jeter still thinks he's worth the money and years. The Yankees (and us normal people) don't; it is just going to take time to work something out.

As for his sainthood- anyone with half a brain has always seen that Jeter isn't a saint but a man who holds grudges real well. That A-Rod contract is probably what is holding up negotiations, because Jeter will always resent A-Rod for saying anything.

But I say, "Big Deal!" these are minor issues that are getting blown out of proportion because of the players involved. Every time Cashman sneezes, the NY press has another Jeter article to sell papers. In the end, no one is going to look foolish on this; Jeter will be back with a nice paycheck and the Steinbrenners will gladly be ready to sell "Mr.November/Mr.3000" t-shirts...I'm sure they even have his plaque ready.

None of this is a big deal and this article is Joel Sherman-esque filler.

Come'on Mr.Prince! Write something daring, like how the Pirates will turn around their operation or if the Cardinals will be able to keep Albert Pujols. Better yet, stick to beating baseball mathematics with a baseball bat and keep up the good work.

The "Jeter as saint" assertion might have been more dismissible had there not been the ridiculous reaction to the hit-by-pitch controversy vs the Rays. Many, many people are holding Jeter up as a bastion for honor and fair play.

Because we know that it's a farce doesn't mean that everyone knows it.

With Jeter and A-Rod, their relationship seems okay now. Bygones are bygones and business is business. A-Rod would applaud Jeter using the contract he got to spur any extra penny Jeter could get.

Now, as to the last bit...

I was about to make a, "hmmm, debatable" statement of agreeing to disagree about my "King Lear is a bunch of English words put in order" display of metaphors/storytelling skill.

Then I read the words, "Joel Sherman-esque filler".

No, no, no, no, no....

A regular reader of mine comparing me to Joel Sherman?


Sherman is weak and arrogant---blocking people on Twitter and providing absurd self-justifications.

His convictions are based on convenience and the need for a fresh column; they're presented without my principles and steadfastness; nor does he have my poetic deftness with the language.

His is forced; mine is flow.

Bottom line and regardless of how this sounds, he's a far inferior writer. Period.

His feeble skills are no match for the power of the Dark Side...

Saying the Pirates are going to turn things around would be more delusional than daring, I'm afraid.

  • Plan of attack for tomorrow:

I've yet to get into the Mets hiring of Terry Collins and will do so tomorrow with an interesting take and comparison. Plus I'm hoping there will be some responses to the Jeter stuff; and there's Victor Martinez; Zach Duke and other important occurrences.

One thing to keep an eye on is the Angels penchant for making powerful statements with a big maneuver around Thanksgiving time. It's happened again and again.

I was on with Sal at SportsFan Buzz yesterday talking about the Hot Stove; the Mets; Derek Jeter; post-season award winners; and other stuff. You can click on the link here directly or here for Sal's site to listen on I-Tunes.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I'm On The Outside, I'm Lookin' In

  • I can see through you; see your true colors...

...inside you're ugly. Ugly like me....

This implication that Derek Jeter is "above" a gauche and self-serving money-grab in his negotiations with the Yankees is coming apart before our very eyes.

Are you surprised?


Well, you shouldn't be.

As much as we try to craft these characterizations of an above-reproach entity for worship; to believe the press releases and personalities designed to portray that which is convenient and salable for all involved, it never approaches reality.


Not by a longshot.

So Derek Jeter's facade of a ruthless warrior on the field and classy, mom-loving, respectable American hero is being torn to shreds by the growing chasm between his contract demands and the Yankees offer; an offer that----when taking everything into account----is more than fair.

The whole Jeter mythology has a basis in truth, but he was never this Sesame Street character who drank milk and fought for truth and justice as a role model for parents to hold up as a totem for their children's admiration. As a latter-day Frank Sinatra who men wanted to be and women wanted to be with, Jeter fit neatly into the mold the Yankees, Jeter, MLB and advertising agencies wanted to present.

Like most myths that have a foundation of accuracy, Jeter's image took on a life of its own and the participants were more than willing to partake for their own ends. One of the reasons that Alex Rodriguez and Jeter had their falling out was the knowledge that A-Rod had of the "real" Jeter; the cagey self-promoter who shielded himself like a publicly respectable and benevolent businessman who, behind-the-scenes, didn't hesitate to manipulate in the interest of achieving his own ends.

A-Rod was lambasted for his comments that precipitated their estrangement, but was he wrong? Jeter was on a great team; he wasn't one of the players about whom teams had to fret; and Jeter's image was something of a falsehood. A-Rod's the better player and always was----A-Rod's PED use or not.

George Steinbrenner was reluctant to give Jeter the long-term contract (and save a lot of money) before it was absolutely necessary because he too knew of the reality----a reality that if it started to leak to the masses----would severely compromise that which took so long to build and, in the process, made everyone a lot of money.

There's a dichotomy between "Derek Jeter" the Yankee legend; and Derek Jeter the human being.

This is not to imply that Jeter is a hypocrite, but as was proven in-season as he was hammered for not standing up for "honesty" and "fair play" when he faked having been hit by a pitch vs the Rays, it's not a nice, neat story with Jeter. Like anything else, there's an ambiguity; a grayness in the Jeter vacuum.

The schoolyard, "cool kid" freezing out of A-Rod until he was sufficiently chastised was borderline cruel. Jeter's eventual nod to the fans that it was okay to accept the epitome of what was "wrong" with the Yankees teams----the collection of A-Rod-level stars who'd never won----was tantamount to bullying; but the bullying had no face; no fingerprints; it was in the wind, but everyone knew. They knew what Jeter was up to; that he was tacitly telling A-Rod, "I'm the boss around here; and you'd better accept it sooner rather than later."

What of Chad Curtis? Curtis had the sheer audacity to question Jeter as Jeter stood around joking with A-Rod during a legitimate fistfight between the Yankees and Mariners. It's one thing if it's a typical "bench clearing brawl" in which a more apropos description would be a milling around session in which most everyone joins the fray to keep up appearances, but when people (led by Joe Girardi) are trading punches; when Don Zimmer is collapsing on the field, where does Jeter get off standing on the sidelines joking with someone in an opposing uniform, then ostracizing and eventually sowing the seeds for the jettisoning of Curtis? Curtis was 100% right and courageous in his critique knowing that as soon as he opened his mouth, he signed his pinstripe death warrant.

Now, in some circles, the Yankees are being cast as doing Jeter wrong by refusing to be emotionally extorted and overpaying for services rendered. At what point is Jeter going to have his actions questioned? He's done a great job of hiding in the cocoon; Jorge Posada enacts the Jeter clubhouse edicts with brutal efficiency; Jeter's refrained from comment in the current negotiations as agent Casey Close referred to the Yankees position as "baffling".

Precisely what's "baffling"?

The Yankees aren't lowballing Jeter. They have the money to pay him for the aforementioned services rendered; for his past; for what he's done off the field as well as on. I happen to think Jeter will have a good year next year and return to a highly productive player. But the Yankees are under no obligation to pay him forever. How long do they have to compensate him for the past when he's no longer worth what he once was----leadership and intangibles aside?

When Brian Cashman suggests Jeter test the market to see if there's anything comparable out there, it's not a threat; it's not a frustrated, "go ahead, leave"; it's a shrug that says Jeter's not going to come anywhere close to a 3-year, $45 million deal elsewhere; nor would he have the cachet inherent in being the leader of the most famous team in sports; of wearing that same uniform for his whole career; of being above mercenary tactics.

The reality is that Jeter would get half that amount of money from the Cardinals, Giants or any other shortstop hungry team.

Where's he going?

Does Jeter want to go down this road and sully that image as his career enters its twilight?

The Yankees are not scrimping to save a few dollars here; they're paying Jeter above-and-beyond what he's going to be worth; what he'd get on the open market.

And if Jeter is so offended by this; if he wants to compare a stupid contract Hank Steinbrenner doled out on A-Rod without okay from his GM; if he thinks he's being "insulted" by the Yankees generous offer, then he should leave.

We all know he won't, but if this progresses much further, that Teflon Derek aura of protection from any and all negativity will wear thin; and it's not the Yankees who are going to be cast as the villains. It's not simply that Jeter will look like a "bad" guy; it could be worse. It could be that the Derek Jeter whose image has been masterfully built and maintained for so long will disappear.

It's enough already with this. Does Jeter want to jeopardize his aesthetic on and off the field?

Jeter's poker face is cracking.

He's starting to look bad and neither side can withstand that. Now or ever.

They'd better get this straightened out.


  • Reality check:

It's becoming clear that the Hot Stove Previews are becoming more of an obstacle than a boon to my work here; it's time to bag it. I'll discuss teams and their off-season planning and scheming as the Fall/Winter moves along.

Part of leadership is knowing when to change tactics.

I was on with Sal at SportsFan Buzz today. You can click on the links and listen on I-Tunes or directly. Dig it!!!