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Archive for November, 2010

While the Yankees continue to bicker with their legendary shortstop, the Colorado Rockies have taken a dramatic step to lock up a player who they think will become one.

Tulowitzki wears #2 in honor of Derek Jeter, his boyhood idol.

Yankees’ fans probably first took notice of Troy Tulowitzki back in June 2007, when he went 5-12 in the Rockies’ three game sweep of the Bronx Bombers.  Even as all eyes in that series were taking notice of Tulowitzki, the young shortstop was still fixated on his counterpart in pinstripes. According to Tulowitzki, who wears number two to honor Derek Jeter and used to hang a pitcher of the future Hall of Famer in his locker, the specter of playing the Yankees was a key motivation for making the ballclub out of spring training that season. Before the series, the Rockies’ rookie even bought bottles of Jeter’s cologne, Driven, for all of his teammates, and went so far as to ask for an autograph from the Yankees’ shortstop.

He’s a winner, you know what I mean? Growing up, I always saw the Yankees in the World Series. He was always the guy coming up with the clutch hit. He just seemed like a good leader out there, and a very good player at that.” – Troy Tulowitzki, The New York Times, June 21, 2007

Since he was selected seventh overall in the 2005 draft, Tulowitzki has inspired expectations of greatness. After an impressive rookie campaign in 2007, which was capped by a very strong final two months amid a furious pennant race, it seemed as if all of those predictions were coming to fruition. As a result, the Rockies decided to lock Tulowitzki up to a six year/$31 million deal after the season. Unfortunately, an injury in 2008 set the promising young star back in his development, but by the second half of 2009 (.344/.421/.622), he was back on track to the stardom everyone had been expecting.

In case anyone had forgotten his promise, Tulowitzki put on another second half show in 2010, including a historic September in which he hit 16 HRs and knocked in 40 runs as the Rockies tried in vain to catch the Giants and Padres. Once again, the Rockies responded to their shortstop’s continued emergence with another large contract extension. According to published reports, the new deal will pay Tulowitzki an additional $134 million from 2014 to 2020. When combined with the years remaining on his previous deal, the annual value will end up a shade below $16 million.

Incredibly, some have already characterized the deal as bad for both sides, and even questioned Tulowitzki’s fortitude for not trying to break the bank in free agency after the 2014 season. Although it is true that the 25-year old shortstop likely would have earned a significant amount more by waiting for free agency, it seems absurd to question his decision to not only ensure his family’s financial security for generations to come, but also make it possible to remain in a city that he seemingly enjoys.

From the Rockies standpoint, they are betting that Tulowitzki’s 2009 and 2010 performances are only the beginning of his path toward stardom. It isn’t a stretch to imagine the shortstop as being among the best players in the game by 2014, so preemptively signing him to a new deal could wind up saving the team millions of dollar per season over what they would have had to bid in free agency.

It’s only natural to compare the value of Tulowitzki’s new contract to the amount being sought by Jeter, but the comparison really isn’t fair. For starters, the Rockies’ shortstop was not a free agent, and therefore lacked the leverage that Jeter has now. Secondly, Jeter’s stature in the organization has led his agent to argue that the Yankee legend contributes equity to the team’s brand, something that doesn’t quite exist in Colorado. So, although Tulowitzki’s value on the field should far surpass Jeter’s going forward, it is much too simple to compare each player’s salary on that basis alone.

Tulowitzki’s connection with Jeter makes the juxtaposition of each player’s current situation all the more interesting. With all of the reports about the Yankees looking to hold the line on three additional years for Jeter, don’t doubt for a second that the Rockies desire for an extension wasn’t at least in part due to the expectation that the pinstripers would be a major player for Tulowitzki in free agency. And, even if the thought never occurred to the Rockies, you can bet it has crossed the minds of many Yankees fans who envisioned the talented Tulowitzki as an heir apparent to Jeter. With the signing of this extension, however, that dream has been dashed.

When his10-year deal expires in 2020, Tulowitzki will be a ripe old 36, just as his idol is right now. It remains to be seen how he will measure up to Jeter over the course of his career, but come that time, we could have another dicey negotiation on our hands. Perhaps, if Jeter has time in between crafting his Hall of Fame acceptance speech, he’ll be able to provide Tulowitzki with some advice on how to handle the situation. In the meantime, Jeter is the one who could probably use some words of wisdom. Does anyone have Cal Ripken’s phone number?

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(In addition to appearing at The Captain’s Blog, this post is also being syndicated at TheYankeeU.)

The Yankee family has lost yet another member in 2010 with the passing of Gil McDougald at the age of 82.  McDougald, whose 10-year Yankee career included five world championships and eight pennants, was best know for his versatility, a quality that made him a favorite of Casey Stengel, who once called him “the best second baseman, the best third baseman, and best shortstop in the American League”.  

McDougald's unorthodox batting stance didn’t make a good first impression with manager Casey Stengel.

McDougald broke into the majors alongside two other notable New York rookies: Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays. Although that centerfield duo would reach legendary status, in 1951, the Yankees’ understated swing man was the toast of the town. Not only did he have a better season than both Mantle and Mays, but he also won the American League Rookie of the Year award and became the first freshman to belt a grand slam in the World Series.

The irony of McDougald’s immediate superiority over his Hall of Fame counterparts was just as evident in 1951 as it is now. While Mantle and Mays both inspired predictions of greatness, the only thing McDougald elicited was laughter…literally. His unique batting style, which now would be called an open stance, was often referred to as a “school girl swing”, leading Stengel and several Yankee coaches to doubt his ability to hit major league pitching. After hitting .306 with 14 home runs, however, it was McDougald who had the last laugh. In fact, after hitting the grand slam against the Giants in game five of the World Series, Stengel proudly told AP, “He’s the lousiest looking ball player in the world, but he’s splendid”.

Everything he does looks wrong but it comes out right. He bats funny but he hits like heck. He’s got a peculiar way of throwing but his arm is strong and accurate. He runs like a pacer but he is fast and knows how to run the bases. He’s only a rookie but he’s done as much for me as any of the veterans”. – Yankees manager Casey Stengel, quoted by Joe Reichler of AP, October 10, 1951

Unfortunately, McDougald’s career was also notable for two infamous beanings. On August 3, 1955, he was hit in the left hear by a batting practice line drive off the bat of Bob Cerv. Although the ball caused significant swelling and a severe laceration, the early diagnosis from team doctors was that the injuries weren’t serious. So, after a visit to the hospital for x-rays, McDougald was back on the field only three days later. Eventually, however, the injuries he sustained would lead to a gradual loss of hearing in not only his left ear, but the right as well. By the mid-1970s, McDougald, who was then a coach for the Fordham University baseball team, was almost completely deaf, and remained so until receiving a cochlear implant in 1994. After having his hearing restored, McDougald once again proved his versatility by becoming a tireless advocate for both the hearing-impaired and the cochlear technology capable of helping them.

In the second incident, which took place on May 7, 1957, Indians’ pitcher Herb Score was the victim of a screaming line drive off the bat of McDougald. Only 12 pitches into the game, the Yankees’ short stop sent a rope back to the mound that ricocheted off Score’s right eye toward third base for a 1-5-3 groundout. The young left hander immediately began to bleed profusely from his eye and was eventually carried off the field on a stretcher. McDougald, who along with teammates Yogi Berra and Hank Bauer went to Lakeside Hospital in Cleveland immediately after the game to check on Score’s condition, was so shaken by the incident that he told reporters he would quit baseball if the pitcher went blind. Although Score’s vision was completely restored, he didn’t get back on the mound until the following season and was never effective again. After the 1962 season, Score retired at the age 29.

It’s amazing how many things can go through your mind when a thing like that happens. Before I hit the ground, I thought about being blinded for life, that my teeth were knocked out, that my nose was broken and that something had happened to my tongue”. – Indians left hander Herb Score after being hit in the eye by a line drive, quoted by AP, May 8, 1957

Spending more time with his family was a driving force behind McDougald’s early retirement (Photo: Life).

McDougald’s career also came to a premature end after the 1960 season. His early retirement at age 32 was partly due to his gradual hearing loss, but mostly borne of the desire to spend more time with his family and manage his building maintenance business in New Jersey. After ruminating on the decision since the end of the 1960 World Series, McDougald finally made his announcement upon learning that he would be left unprotected in the upcoming expansion draft. According to the Yankees’ infielder, he didn’t want one of the new teams to waste a selection on him in case he decided to hang it up. It was a typical display of class from a man who had become well known for exhibiting that quality.

McDougald brought more than physical skills to the Yankees. He brought them an extra touch of class, honesty, decency and integrity. He announced his retirement when he did because ‘it was the honorable thing to do’. It was typical of him”. – New York Times columnist Arthur Dailey, December 16, 1960

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To many baseball fans, Leslie Nielsen, who died yesterday at the age of 84, is better known as “Enrico Palazzo”, the dysfunctional national anthem singer turned home plate umpire that he portrayed in a scene from The Naked Gun. Nielsen’s outrageous parody yielded one most memorable comedic depictions of the game in movie history. However, the former dramatic actor, whose career turned toward parody-based comedy after being cast in Airplane, was also a big baseball fan. In addition, during the 1960s, Nielsen also regularly played in a weekend baseball league along with numerous other Hollywood actors. According to a February 10, 1966 article appearing in the Toledo Blade, the actors involved in the league took it so seriously that they were regularly scouting their studio sets for new talent as well as soliciting tips and advice from L.A.-based major leaguers. Perhaps that’s how former major league infielder John Beradino (or Johnny Berardino, as he was known during his playing days) earned his role opposite Nielsen in the short-lived crime series The New Breed?

Click the following links for Cincinnati Reds’ Opening Day promos recorded by Nielsen for radio station 700 WLWpromo 1, promo 2 and promo 3.

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Black Friday has become synonymous with deals and discounts, so what better time to take a look at the Yankees’ best bargains and biggest busts from 2010.

Player Value Versus Salary, Offense

Name WAR Value ($mn) Salary Difference Premium/ Discount
Brett Gardner 5.4 21.5 $452,500 $21,047,500 4751%
Francisco Cervelli 1.1 4.4 $410,800 $3,989,200 1071%
Austin Kearns* 0.3 1.2 $249,975 $950,025 480%
Robinson Cano 6.4 25.5 $9,000,000 $16,500,000 283%
Curtis Granderson 3.6 14.3 $5,500,000 $8,800,000 260%
Marcus Thames 0.6 2.3 $900,000 $1,400,000 256%
Nick Swisher 4.1 16.4 $6,850,000 $9,550,000 239%
Jorge Posada 2.4 9.7 $13,100,000 -$3,400,000 74%
Mark Teixeira 3.5 14 $20,625,000 -$6,625,000 68%
Alex Rodriguez 3.9 15.4 $33,000,000 -$17,600,000 47%
Derek Jeter 2.5 9.8 $22,600,000 -$12,800,000 43%
Juan Miranda 0 0.1 $400,000 -$300,000 25%
Nick Johnson 0.1 0.3 $6,850,000 -$6,550,000 4%
Lance Berkman* 0 -0.2 $4,828,500 -$5,028,500 NA
Randy Winn -0.3 -1 $1,100,000 -$2,100,000 NA
Ramiro Pena -0.2 -0.8 $412,100 -$1,212,100 NA

*Based on pro-rated salary.
Source: fangraphs.com, Cots Contracts and Baseball-reference.com

On offense, Brett Gardner gave the Yankees the biggest bang for their buck by providing over $21 million in value, according to fangraphs.com, while only being paid a shade above the minimum. Interestingly, the Yankees four highest paid offensive players underperformed their salaries by at least 25%. Even if you take into account the flaws in UZR that make up a portion of fangraph’s player values, the upside down nature of the chart above is still rather striking. Aside from Gardner’s extraordinary outperformance, the biggest surprise on the list is Cervelli, who provided value at over 10x his salary. However, that assessment seems to be one that is out of whack with both Cervelli’s real performance and the market value for players of his ilk.

Player Value Versus Salary, Pitchers

Name WAR Value ($mn) Salary Difference Premium/ Discount
Phil Hughes 2.4 9.5 $447,000 $9,053,000 2125%
Ivan Nova* 0.5 1.8 $98,765 $1,701,235 1823%
Joba Chamberlain 1.4 5.5 $487,975 $5,012,025 1127%
David Robertson 0.7 2.9 $426,650 $2,473,350 680%
Boone Logan 0.4 1.5 $590,000 $910,000 254%
CC Sabathia 5.1 20.4 $24,285,714 -$3,885,714 84%
Andy Pettitte 2.3 9.2 $11,750,000 -$2,550,000 78%
Mariano Rivera 1.7 6.7 $15,000,000 -$8,300,000 45%
Kerry Wood* 0.4 1.5 $3,499,965 -$1,999,965 43%
A.J. Burnett 1.3 5.2 $16,500,000 -$11,300,000 32%
Sergio Mitre 0 0.1 $850,000 -$750,000 12%
Javier Vazquez -0.2 -0.8 $11,500,000 -$12,300,000 NA
Damaso Marte -0.1 -0.6 $4,000,000 -$4,600,000 NA
Chad Gaudin -0.7 -3 $737,500 -$3,737,500 NA
Dustin Moseley* -0.4 -1.7 $217,500 -$1,917,500 NA
Chan Ho Park -0.2 -0.7 $1,200,000 -$1,900,000 NA

*Based on pro-rated salary.
Source: fangraphs.com, Cots Contracts and Baseball-reference.com

Not surprisingly, Phil Hughes provided the most value in excess of his salary. The premium contributions of the next four pitchers on the list, however, are eyebrow raising. Otherwise, every other member of the staff underperformed their paycheck. It should be noted, however, that both C.C. Sabathia and Andy Pettitte provided immense value, while closers like Mariano Rivera tend to be undervalued using WAR. By far, the Yankees biggest bust was Javier Vazquez, who actually provided negative value despite earning a hefty $11.5 million. Salary aside, Chad Gaudin proved to be the biggest drain on the team by posting a negative contribution of $3 million, or $1 million more than the salaries of the Hughes, Nova, Chamberlain, Robertson and Logan…combined.

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From the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s, Thanksgiving in Yankeeland usually meant waiting around to see if George Steinbrenner was going to make a managerial change. Like a conflicted hunter standing over the neck of his Thanksgiving Turkey with an axe, the Yankees’ owner would often take all winter to make a final decision. Perhaps the Boss enjoyed serving up a little humble pie over the holiday?

World Champs all bundled up for the 1996 Thanksgiving Day Parade.

More recently, however, a Yankee Thanksgiving has meant having a float in the Macy’s parade down Fifth Avenue. Although Bucky Dent rode on a parade float the November after winning the 1978 World Series MVP, the first reported instance of several players appearing under a team banner occurred after the Yankees’ return to glory in 1996. That year, Joe Torre and most of the team’s players, including Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter, Paul O’Neill, Wade Boggs and Tino Martinez, waved to the holiday crowd from atop the Daily News’ float. Unfortunately, that Thanksgiving also happened to be one of the coldest in recent history. How cold was it? It was so cold that O’Neill was reduced to a childlike figure, constantly asking Michael Kay, who along with John Sterling accompanied the team, if the end of the parade route was near (as relayed by Kay on his radio show).

Joe Torre and Mayor Giuliani accompany the World Series trophy on Thanksgiving 1999.

In 1998, only Joe Torre, El Duque and David Cone made the trip to Herald Square. Perhaps the memories of the cold two years earlier kept the rest of the team away? Then, in 1999, the Yankees presence in the parade was reduced to Torre riding along with New York City major Rudolph Giuliani. Torre eventually became a semi-regular at the event, appearing even in years when the Yankees didn’t win, but the team would be represented again in 2000 and 2009 as well.

Sadly, there is no championship for which to give thanks this season. Maybe, to help fill the void, the Yankees can find it in their hearts to reach a quick settlement with both Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera (just like the George Steinbrenner did with Bernie Williams on the eve of Thanksgiving in 1998)? On a day of thanks, re-signing the team’s two legendary free agents would make for a perfect celebration. 

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Last night was the deadline for major league teams to offer salary arbitration to their ranked (type-A and type-B) free agents, and a surprising 35 of the 64 eligible players were extended the invitation. The most active teams were the Rays and Blue Jays, who respectively offered seven and four players arbitration. With draft picks at stake for those free agents who sign elsewhere, and inflated annual salaries awaiting those who remain, you can bet that most teams will be sitting on pins and needles over the next week as the players decide whether to accept or reject the offer. The Yankees won’t have to endure any suspense, however, because their lone offer was made to Javier Vazquez, who has already agreed to decline the invitation.

The Yankees have been involved in 21 cases since the first arbitration hearings were held after the 1973 season. Over the last decade, however, the team has been much more reticent to engage in the process. Since beating Mariano Rivera in 2000, the Yankees have gone to a hearing with only one other player: Chien Ming Wang in 2008.

All-Time Arbitration History, By Team

Team Won Lost Total Win %
Rays 5 0 5 100%
Phillies 7 1 8 88%
Orioles 11 3 14 79%
Red Sox 12 5 17 71%
Dodgers 14 6 20 70%
Nats/Expos 22 10 32 69%
Cubs 4 2 6 67%
Rockies 2 1 3 67%
White Sox 14 8 22 64%
Braves 15 9 24 63%
Blue Jays 5 3 8 63%
Angels 15 10 25 60%
Cardinals 9 6 15 60%
Reds 18 13 31 58%
Yankees 12 9 21 57%
Astros 8 6 14 57%
Mets 11 9 20 55%
Twins 15 13 28 54%
Indians 7 6 13 54%
Padres 10 9 19 53%
Mariners 10 9 19 53%
Rangers 10 9 19 53%
Pirates 9 9 18 50%
Brewers 2 2 4 50%
Diamondbacks 1 1 2 50%
Athletics 17 18 35 49%
Royals 9 10 19 47%
Marlins 3 5 8 38%
Giants 2 4 6 33%
Tigers 6 14 20 30%

Source: bizofbaseball.com

The Yankees rank in the middle of the pack in terms of both the number of cases heard as well as winning arguments made. However, the team has had several high profile cases that were particularly noteworthy, particularly for the reaction they elicited from owner George M. Steinbrenner III.

In 1980, Rick Cerone had a breakthrough season in his first year with the Yankees. After finishing seventh in the MVP voting, the veteran catcher asked for a raise that would more than quadruple his salary to $440,000. The Yankees countered with a more modest increase to $350,000, but the arbitrator sided with Cerone. Following the decision, Steinbrenner lambasted Cerone for being disloyal, but the embattled catcher defended his victory by saying he was more than willing to compromise at the midpoint. At the time, Cerone’s award was the second highest in the process’ history, trailing only the $700,000 salary won by Bruce Sutter in his 1980 hearing with the Cubs.

I don’t enjoy a young guy off one good year who was plucked out of Toronto showing so little regard for me. It’s not what I am looking for in my kind of guy. I don’t think Tommy John would do that, or Reggie Jackson or Lou Piniella.” – George M. Steinbrenner III, quoted by the New York Times News Service, February 16, 1981

In 1987, Don Mattingly, who was coming off one the best seasons of his career, asked for a record salary of $1,975,000, which not only turned out to be the largest arbitration award to that point, but also the highest salary ever paid by the Yankees. Once again, the Boss was not happy about making history.

The monkey is clearly on his back…I’ll expect him to carry us to a World Series championship…He’s like all the rest of them now. He can’t play little Jack Armstrong of Evansville, Indiana. He goes into the category of modern-player-with-agent looking for the bucks. Money means everything to him”. – George M. Steinbrenner III, quoted by the New York Times News Service, February 18, 1987

The organization wasn’t the only side to come away from the arbitration process with a sour taste. Before throwing a pitch for the Yankees, Jim Abbott, who was acquired before the 1993 season, first had to do battle with his future employer in the hearing room. Despite having a 2.77 ERA with the Angels in 1992, Abbott was coming off a 7-15 record, which in a less enlightened time probably made his request to double his salary seem a little obscene. After Abbott lost his hearing, Murray Chass of the New York Times wrote that the left hander “wasn’t pleased about the decision”, which only compounded his less than enthusiastic reaction to being traded to the Yankees in the first place.

In 1996, the displeasure was back on the Yankees side when Bernie Williams won a whopping 650% raise from the team. The Yankees had been hoping to negotiate a long-term deal instead, but with Williams and his agent Scott Boras already looking ahead to free agency, the team had little choice but to take things one year at a time.

Continuing a trend, the Yankees also had difficultly inking their other young core players to long-term deals. In 1999, the team lost arbitration hearings to both Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, and then the following season took their closer to the table once again. The Yankees prevailed over Rivera the second time, but still wound up handing out the largest arbitration-derived salary in team history.

The most interesting element of the 2000 hearing with Rivera was the arguments made on both sides. Rivera’s camp suggested that the closer was at least as valuable as Jeter, who had signed a $10 million deal earlier in the winter. The Yankees, however, countered by suggesting that Rivera added less to the bottom line, citing the fewer number of internet hits and derivative revenue that he generated compared to Jeter.

The Yankees offered a compelling argument to support that claim, noting that from 1997-99, Jeter merchandise sales at Yankee Stadium totaled $2,280,000, compared with $57,000 for Rivera. Over the same three-year period, Jeter received 727,196 hits on the team’s Web site, compared with 68,974 for Rivera.” – Anthony McCarron, New York Daily News Sportswriter, February 19, 2000

I wonder what Casey Close (Jeter’s agent) thinks about that argument now?

Complete History of Yankees’ Arbitration Cases, 1974-Present

Year Player Ask Offer $ Increase % Increase
1974 Wayne Granger* $46,000 $42,000 -$1,500 -3.2%
1974 Gene Michael $65,500 $55,000 $0 0.0%
1974 Duke Sims $56,000 $50,000 $0 0.0%
1974 Bill Sudakis* $30,000 $25,000 $10,000 50.0%
1981 Rick Cerone* $440,000 $350,000 $340,000 340.0%
1982 Bobby Brown $175,000 $90,000 $10,000 12.5%
1982 Ron Davis $575,000 $300,000 $100,000 50.0%
1982 Dave Revering $325,000 $250,000 NA  NA
1987 Don Mattingly* $1,975,000 $1,700,000 $600,000 43.6%
1988 Mike Pagliarulo $625,000 $500,000 $450,000 257.1%
1993 Jim Abbott $3,500,000 $2,350,000 $500,000 27.0%
1993 John Habyan $830,000 $600,000 $100,000 20.0%
1993 Randy Velarde* $1,050,000 $600,000 $690,000 191.7%
1994 Pat Kelly* $810,000 $575,000 $650,000 406.3%
1994 Kevin Maas $490,000 $425,000 $170,000 66.7%
1994 Terry Mulholland $4,050,000 $3,350,000 $700,000 26.4%
1996 Bernie Williams* $3,000,000 $2,555,000 $2,600,000 650.0%
1999 Derek Jeter* $5,000,000 $3,200,000 $4,250,000 566.7%
1999 Mariano Rivera* $4,250,000 $3,000,000 $3,500,000 466.7%
2000 Mariano Rivera $9,250,000 $7,250,000 $3,000,000 70.6%
2008 Chien Ming Wang $4,600,000 $4,000,000 $3,510,500 717.2%

*Denotes player won the arbitration hearing.
Source: bizofbaseball.com and baseball-reference.com

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Correction: In an earlier version of this post, a quote attributed to Marc Carig of The Star-Ledger was inaccurately transcribed by that source. Carig provided Cashman’s corrected quote (“He should be nothing but a New York Yankee, if he chooses to be”) via his twitter feed.

The Yankees’ negotiations with Derek Jeter have finally turned a little ugly, and all of the blame falls on the ill tempered tongue of Brian Cashman.

Speaking to reporters today, Cashman lobbed several verbal grenades in Jeter’s directions, despite earlier vows by the Yankees that the contract would not be negotiated in the press. At ESPNNewYork.com, Wallace Matthews quoted Cashman almost antagonistically daring Jeter to test the open market, while questioning his shortstop’s age and “recent performance of the last few years.”  Even if Jeter didn’t have one of his best seasons in 2009, it would be bad form to so openly question the future ability of a player with whom you are supposedly negotiating with in good faith.

Meanwhile, several sources quoted Cashman as saying that while the Yankees have made several offers to Jeter, only one proposal, for more money and years, has been sent in reply. So much for not negotiating in public?

Even if everything he has said is correct, Cashman’s comments this afternoon were way out of line. After all, over the last 15 years, Jeter has not only provided Yankees fans with countless thrills, but also been the epitome of what the organization is all about. Does that mean he should be given a blank check? Of course not. But, it does demand that he be treated with the utmost respect, even if it seems as if his side is being unreasonable in its demands. Comments that either denigrate Jeter or have the potential to antagonize him are not only counterproductive, but blasphemous. If the Yankees make a fair offer and Jeter refuses it, then they’ll have no need to defend their actions. However, if they continue to conduct the negotiations with a tone similar to the one taken by Cashman today, they’ll be no defense.

Whether or not you believe Jeter deserves a “life time achievement award” or compensation for “intangible value” built into his contract extension, I’d like to think every Yankee fan agrees the Captain deserves to have the negotiations handled in a respectful manner. More importantly, I’d like to think Cashman, Randy Levine, Hal Steinbrenner and the rest of the Yankees’ brass are also on board with that sentiment.  Up until this point, they haven’t seemed to be, but here’s hoping they return to a more dignified posture going forward. Otherwise, a failure to do so could wind up being the only thing that prevents a deal from getting done.

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(In addition to appearing at The Captain’s Blog, this post is also being syndicated at TheYankeeU.)

Derek Jeter’s contract negotiations have easily been the most widely discussed topic in Yankeeland, despite there really not being much news to report. For some reason, several media types have used the off-season lull to repeatedly denigrate Jeter to the point of portraying him as a charity case (e.g., Joel Sherman’s “I am Derek Jeter, pay me” scoff in today’s New York Post). One hopes this sentiment is merely an example of the human condition’s disposition toward kicking a man when he is down, and not evidence of the Yankees’ brass negotiating through the media. In any event, the contract talks with Jeter have proceeded slowly, which really shouldn’t be a surprise considering that it’s in the best interest of both parties to make a deal (i.e., there isn’t a third-party threat for either side that might push the negotiations along).

Since inking a deal with Jeter after the draft in 1992, it hasn't been easy for the Yankees to get his signature on a contract.

Instead of beating the same drum by looking at Jeter’s negotiations in the present day, perhaps it might be more constructive to take a look back at how the two sides have dealt with each other when talking contract in the past? So, without further ado, following is a summary of the financial path that Jeter and the Yankees have taken to reach the current situation.

In 1991, the Yankees engaged in a protracted and expensive contract negotiation with first round draft pick Brien Taylor, so it was somewhat of a surprise when the team came to a quick resolution with Jeter, who was drafted with the sixth overall pick in 1992. Only a few weeks after being selected, the young shortstop from Kalamazoo agreed to an $800,000 signing bonus just one day after his 18th birthday. The award was almost half of what was paid to Taylor.

We reached a number and didn’t feel we needed to go any higher. I hope Derek understands the significant effort this organization made to recognize his fine rookie year. But he and his agents went higher than we wanted to go and we couldn’t get it done.” – General Manager Bob Watson, New York Daily News, March 6, 1997

 In his 1996 rookie campaign, Jeter earned the minimum salary of $130,00, which turned out to be a relative bargain when the young shortstop not only won the rookie of the year award, but also helped lead the team to its first World Series championship in 18 years. Not surprisingly, the Jeter camp was in search of a sizeable raise the next season, but the Yankees initial offer of $450,000 was rejected. After gradually inching up the offer during the negotiation process, the Yankees abruptly decided to renew Jeter at the $150,000 minimum when he and agent Casey Close refused to budge from their demands. Cooler heads prevailed, however, and after a personal meeting between the shortstop and owner George Steinbrenner, an amicable deal was reached. Jeter was given a base salary of $540,000 (just $10,000 below what he was reportedly seeking) with $25,000 in combined performance bonuses ($10,000 of which was obtained).

If you get renewed, only one side agrees. I think it was big that we both agreed on it. I appreciate it.” – Derek Jeter, New York Times, March 11, 1997

In 1997, Derek Jeter had a nearly identical season to his rookie campaign, but the Yankees weren’t feeling as flexible with their young stars that offseason. While GM Brian Cashman, who took over for Bob Watson in the winter, was busy trading for All Star second baseman Chuck Knoblauch and signing international pitching star Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez, there apparently wasn’t enough time to work out a contract with Jeter, who along with Mariano Rivera was renewed at a salary of $750,000.

I think we’re being generous. The last two years, we’ve gone above what was required. I think the world of [Jeter and Rivera]. I value them, and they’re family. We negotiated with the union. They have to live with it.” – George Steinbrenner, New York Times, March 6, 1998

After a historic 125 win season in 1998, the Yankees still couldn’t get on the same page with their core group of homegrown stars.  Once again, the team and Jeter were far apart on the terms of a new deal: the Yankees were offering $3.2 million, while Jeter asked for $5 million. This time, however, Jeter was eligible for arbitration, so the hammer was removed from the organization’s hand. Still, Cashman refused to accept agent Casey Close’s offer for a midpoint settlement and the dispute landed on the desk of a third-party, who sided with Jeter’s $5 million figure. The team also lost its arbitration hearing with Mariano Rivera (the following year, the Yankees settled the score by beating Rivera in a second hearing that turned out to be the Yankees’ last to this day).

I wouldn’t really say it was ugly, but no one wants to sit there and listen to a team tell you how bad you are. You think you’re doing a pretty good job and they tell you how bad you are.” – Derek Jeter, speaking about the arbitration process, New York Daily News, February 16, 1999

Just after Nomar Garciaparra signed a 4-year/$22.25 million deal in the spring of 1998, whispers about a long-term contract for Jeter began to filter into the news. In reality, as each successive contract negotiation proved, no progress toward that end had been made. In fact, despite the persistent rumors, Jeter emphatically told the New York Daily, “You read in the papers that there have been offers or we’re trying to talk, but there’s been no discussions about a long-term deal.”  

After the arbitration hearing in 1999, the media started to dwell on Jeter’s contract status. Unlike the current environment, however, the shoe was on the other foot. This time, the pundits criticized the Yankees for being short-sighted, arguing that every year that passed would only cost the team more in the long run. On November 29, 1998, the same Joel Sherman mentioned above wrote about all the reasons Jeter was worth the money he was reportedly demanding. Basically, Sherman’s argument was “ He’s Derek Jeter, pay him”.

Before the start of the 2000 season, it seemed as if the Yankees were finally going to heed the advice of those beseeching them to sign Jeter to a long-term deal. The two sides had gone so far as to establish the parameters of a seven-year, $118.5 million agreement, but late in the process Steinbrenner became reticent about topping Kevin Brown’s record $15 million salary  by paying Jeter nearly $17 million per season. As a result, the Yankees instead inked their star shortstop to a one-year deal worth $10 million. Once again, the drum beat from the press corps was the same: the Yankees would pay more in future because of their refusal to tip the scales in the present.

If [George Steinbrenner] is using the [Ken Griffey Jr.] pact as a ruler, he should remember this: If Jeter gets to free agency, Griffey’s deal is going to be obsolete. Plus Jeter, who is coming off a career year in 1999, could have a pair of MVP awards and two more World Series rings by the time 30 clubs can bid on him.” – George King, New York Post, March 26, 2000

When Jeter signed a 10-year/$189 million deal on February 10, 2001, it looked like all of the pundits were right: the Yankees’ penny wise strategy had proven to be pound foolish. Not only did the team wind up paying $2 million more in annual salary, but they also had to throw in three more years and an extra $70 million in guaranteed money. Of course, the Yankees probably couldn’t be blamed for not foreseeing the mega deal that Alex Rodriguez signed two months earlier, but nonetheless, the length and terms of the deal left many believing the team would seriously regret its decision to back away from the smaller deal that was all but in place the previous spring.

When you do a deal this important with a player as important as Derek Jeter, it’s better to get it right than rush to judgment. People would have liked it done sooner, but it’s better to be done right.” – Yankees’ President Randy Levine, New York Daily News, February 10, 2001

“I wanted to play here. I never wanted to see if the grass was greener somewhere else. I couldn’t picture myself doing it, and even if I played out the year and became a free agent, I wouldn’t have.” – Derek Jeter, New York Daily News, February 10, 2001

The two comments above were in reference to Jeter’s recently expired contract, but they could both easily apply to the current round of negotiations taking place today. Interestingly, however, had the Yankees signed that initial 7-year/$118.5 million deal, no such conversation would be taking place. Instead, Jeter’s deal would have expired after the 2006 season, which also just so happened to be one of the best of his career. A 32-year old Jeter, coming off a season in which he finished second in the MVP voting (.343/.417/.483), could have easily commanded another big money deal. After all, the 2006 season off season, which occurred before the recent market correction, featured the following overpriced deals: 8 years/$136 million for Alfonso Soriano; 7 years/$126 million for Barry Zito; and 6 years/$100 million for Carlos Lee. Based on that context, it isn’t far fetched to think Jeter could have signed another 7-year deal worth around $154 million.

Based on the previous assumption, it seems as if the Yankees decision to hold off on signing a contract extension in 2000 actually paid off in the long run. So much for the wisdom of all those pundits? Of course, the final verdict on that decision won’t come until an agreement is reached this offseason. If Jeter acquiesces to the Yankees’ current 3-year, $45 million proposal (Scenario A), the Yankees will wind up coming out ahead by almost $40 million (without factoring in inflation as well as time value). However, if the terms of the new deal are closer to 4 years at $80 million (Scenario B), the difference would be a virtual wash. In that case, the Yankees would have probably been better off giving Jeter his new deal back in 2006, when there would likely have been less acrimony, especially with George Steinbrenner still involved in the process.

 Scenario A Amount Years Annual Salary
2000 Reported Proposal $118,500,000 7 $16,928,571
2007 Estimated Contract $154,000,000 7 $22,000,000
Total $272,500,000 14 $19,464,286
       
Actual 2001 Contract $189,000,000 10 $18,900,000
2011 Reported Proposal $45,000,000 3 $15,000,000
Total $234,000,000 13 $18,000,000

 

Scenario B Amount Years Annual Salary
2000 Reported Proposal $118,500,000 7 $16,928,571
2007 Estimated Contract $154,000,000 7 $22,000,000
Total $272,500,000 14 $19,464,286
       
Actual 2001 Contract $189,000,000 10 $18,900,000
2011 Reported Demand $80,000,000 4 $20,000,000
Total $269,000,000 14 $19,214,286

Although Derek Jeter and the New York Yankees have enjoyed a strong relationship through the years, the facts show that they haven’t always been on the same page when discussing money. If that was the case when Jeter was still in his prime, should we be surprised that they are still disagreeing on “value” at the end of his career? As both sides have repeated numerous times throughout the years, baseball is a business. So, instead of getting all hot and bothered over an ongoing negotiation that is likely to culminate in an agreement, it makes much more sense to simply let business takes its course. If the two sides do eventually decide to part ways, they’ll still be plenty of time to assign blame.

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Joey Votto was named the 2010 NL MVP with a commanding 31 of 32 first place votes. Finishing a distant second was Albert Pujols, who in addition to winning three MVPs has also been the runner up four times.

Votto’s selection over Pujols is perfectly justifiable, but it is interesting to note that it was actually Pujols who was recently awarded the silver slugger for first base in the National League. Coincidentally, Votto became the first player to win the MVP, but not the silver slugger, since Pujols in 2005. In total, there are only five instances of an MVP failing to win the silver slugger (excluding American League pitchers voted as MVP) since the latter award was first given out in 1980. Listed below is a comparison of the MVP and silver slugger for each instance.

Based on offensive WAR, in three of the five seasons, the silver slugger actually had a better year with the bat than the MVP. Not surprisingly, in all of them, the MVP’s team made the playoffs, while the silver slugger’s team did not. In 2000 and 2005, however, Giambi and Pujols rated as the better hitter by a significant margin, leaving one to scratch their head as to why they were overlooked for the silver slugger.

MVPs Who Didn’t Win a Silver Slugger

2010 Player PA R HR RBI BA OBP SLG oWAR
NL MVP Joey Votto* 648 106 37 113 0.324 0.424 0.600 6.9
1B SS Albert Pujols 700 115 42 118 0.312 0.414 0.596 7.4
                   
2005 Player PA R HR RBI BA OBP SLG oWAR
NL MVP Albert Pujols* 700 129 41 117 0.330 0.430 0.609 7.2
1B SS Derek Lee 691 120 46 107 0.335 0.418 0.662 6.0
                   
2002 Player PA R HR RBI BA OBP SLG oWAR
AL MVP Miguel Tejada* 715 108 34 131 0.308 0.354 0.508 5.8
3B SS Alex Rodriguez 725 125 57 142 0.300 0.392 0.623 8.2
                   
2000 Player PA R HR RBI BA OBP SLG oWAR
AL MVP Jason Giambi* 664 108 43 137 0.333 0.476 0.647 9.4
1B SS Carlos Delgado 711 115 41 137 0.344 0.470 0.664 7.6
                   
1991 Player PA R HR RBI BA OBP SLG oWAR
NL MVP Terry Pendelton* 644 94 22 86 0.319 0.363 0.517 5.5
3B SS Howard Johnson 658 108 38 117 0.259 0.342 0.535 5.7

 *Team made the post season.
Note: Excluded Dennis Eckersley, Roger Clemens, Willie Hernandez and Rollie Fingers, who each won the MVP as pitchers in the American League.
Source: Baseball-reference.com

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After a nearly two-month search, the Mets are poised to name Terry Collins as their next manager, according to several media reports.

Collins first managerial job was with the Astros in 1994, but could have been as a Yankee several years earlier.

The hiring of Collins, who served as Mets’ minor league coordinator in 2010,  really shouldn’t come as a surprise considering his recent connection to both the organization and new vice president of player development and scouting Paul DePodesta.  In 2004, Collins was one of three finalists for the Mets’ managerial position before losing out to Willie Randolph. Then, one year later when DePodesta was General Manager of the Dodgers, Collins was believed to be the front runner to replace Jim Tracy as skipper. However, midway through his search for a new manager, DePodesta was unexpectedly fired by Los Angeles, and the team’s new GM Ned Colletti eventually settled on Grady Little.

It’s been 11 years since Collins managed in the big leagues. His last game as a major league field general was a 6-5 loss to the Cleveland Indians on September 2, 1999, after which he resigned the position. With the Yankees in town to begin a four-game series, Collins held an emotional press conference to announce his decision, which then Angels’ GM Bill Bavasi insisted was completely voluntary.

Collins second stint as manager with the Angels ended with a teary resignation.

Before serving as manager of the Angels from 1997 to the end of the 1999 season, and after several successful seasons leading the triple-A Alburquerque Dukes (Dodgers) and Buffalo Bisons (Pirates), Collins got his first shot at managing in the majors in Houston, where he led the Astros to a 224-197 record from 1994 to 1996. However, his first breakthrough almost came with the Yankees several seasons earlier.

Even before Dallas Green was fired during the 1989 season, the Yankees were rumored to have had an interest in both Collins and the Buffalo Bisons’ triple-A affiliate that he managed. Leading up to Green’s dismissal on August 18, 1989, the Yankees reportedly had expressed increasing interest in moving their triple-A operations from Columbus to Buffalo as well as adding Collins to the organization as a coach. Sure enough, the day after firing Green, two Yankees’ executives, including George Bradley, then vice president of player development, traveled to Buffalo, sparking rumors that Collins was either ticketed for the Bronx or Columbus, which was in need of a new manager after Bucky Dent was named interim manager.

Once again, however, fate played an unfortunate hand for Collins when Yankees GM Syd Thrift, who was hired only five months prior, resigned a little over one week after Green was fired. Thrift, whose four-year tenure as Pirates GM came to an end when he was fired after the 1988 season, was thought to be the driving force behind the Yankees’ interest in relocating their triple-A club to Buffalo as well as one of Collins’ biggest advocates in the organization. With Thrift gone from the picture, talk about Collins and Buffalo subsided, and the Yankees eventually decided to appoint Dent as full-time manager.

After two close calls, Terry Collins has finally made it to the top of the heap as a manager in New York. Some have expressed concerns about his high strung personality, particularly with regard to handling the pressure that comes with managing in the big city, but the Mets’ have clearly settled on a manager with extensive baseball experience. Even more importantly, their selection represents a complete break from the more laid back culture that the team has fostered since firing Bobby Valentine after the 2002 season. Although the Mets probably couldn’t turn back the clock and rehire Valentine, opting for Collins seems to be the next best thing. Ultimately, success on the field will be determined by the players that new GM Sandy Alderson is able to obtain, but in Collins, the Mets have definitely taken another step in a new direction.

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