Archive for the 'AL East' Category
The Yankees make a move that maybe the Giants should have, or sho
uld I say, the Mariners make a move that maybe the Giants should have, trading an up and coming young pitcher for a hitter I believe has the chance to be an MVP candidate for the next ten years.
…. After trying forever to talk the Mariners into trading Felix Hernandez, (Brian) Cashman instead convinced them to give up Michael Pineda, the 6-foot-7, 98-mph throwing righthander with seemingly unlimited potential, for Jesus Montero.
Watching Montero explode onto the scene last season, it sure seems like a big risk. Pineda faded badly down the stretch last season, after making the All Star game. So far, all the buzz is that Cashman had to make this deal, and he’s getting kudos for doing so. It’s a bigger gamble than that. Montero is as close to sure thing as you’re gonna see. Is Pineda?
UPDATE: SI’s Cliff Corcoran delves deeper into the trade, and thinks it was a real steal for the Yanks:
…. The impact of the Pineda/Montero swap will extend far beyond the coming season, however. The Yankees will have control of Pineda, who will turn 23 on Wednesday, for the next five seasons, while the Mariners will own Montero’s rights for the next six, and these are two of the top young players in the game. Pineda, who was an All-Star as a rookie, is a solid 6-foot-7 stud with mid-90s heat that can spike up to 98 miles per hour and a devastating slider. Both of those pitches are legitimate major league out-pitches, and scouts believe that if he can improve his changeup he could be one of the few legitimate aces in the game. As a rookie last year, he was second in the AL in strikeouts per nine inning at 9.1, besting MVP Justin Verlander in that category, ranked eighth in WHIP at 1.10, and was 14th in strikeout-to-walk ratio with a solid 3.15 ratio. Those peripherals speak louder than his 3.74 ERA and 9-10 record for the lowest-scoring team in baseball.
Well, OK. I still think Montero is gonna solve his position problem, end up a decent first baseman, and win an MVP somewhere down the line.
Here’s an idea my Cardinals buddy and I tossed around a bit yesterday. (My friend has a dog he named Fred, who looks like a miniature bear, hence the name)
With the St. Louis Cardinals losing 20-game winner Adam Wainwright for the season, we were wondering if they should just jettison their chances for this year and retool. A quick glance at the team’s roster is –quite honestly– frightening. Not unlike what the SF Giants did with Bonds during his last six seasons or so, the Cards have put together a roster that is as thin as tissue paper, and pretty old.
Lance Berkman? Sure, Holliday is a stud. But this is a one man team right now, and without superior starting pitching, they are going nowhere. Here’s Jon Heyman wasting his time trying to convince himself that the team still has the pitching:
…. The Cardinals’ rotation, which looked fabulous on paper before Wainwright’s injury, is now down to probably slightly above average with Chris Carpenter, Jake Westbrook, Kyle Lohse, Jaime Garcia. The fifth pitcher, who may be reliever Kyle McClellan, has yet to be determined.
Yeah, right. Westbrook is in his 30′s and his career won loss record is under .500. Garcia has a total of 180 innings pitched in the bigs, and Kyle Lohse –who is 32 years old and also under .500 for his career– ran out a 6.55 ERA last season in an injury-abbreviated season. Carpenter is a very good number two starter, but he’s three seasons from transcendent, 35 years old, and he’s gonna throw his 2,000th inning sometime this April or May. That’s not a rotation, that’s a train wreck.
The answer is simple. Cold, calculating, heartless, even, but simple, nonetheless. Trade Albert Pujols right now. Get the biggest package of prospects, major-league ready or close, and retool. I’d even go so far as to suggest they trade Carpenter as well. His value will never be higher than it is right now, in the pitching-thin environment that is the 2011 off-season. And if you’re talking about Pujols, there’s really only one team to target in this trade scenario, and that team is the New York Yankees.
The Cards should call up Hank Steinbrenner directly, because he is an idiot just like his dad, and offer Pujols and Carpenter for Mark Texeira and a slew of pitchers from the Yankees suddenly stocked farm system.
Pujols appears to be, at the least, too expensive for the team to be able to re-sign after this year. Not discounting the possibility that he may just want to go somewhere else. This team is not going to contend this year with the pitching they feature. In fact, I’ll put it out there right now; they are gonna finish the year with about 75 wins.
Maybe the Yankees trade two of their top pitching prospects and a hitter.
From the Yankees perspective, they are the only team that could possibly afford $30 million a year for a single player. Pujols is what, 25% better than Texeira? For the Cards, Texeira is bit younger than Pujols, and locked into a contract that is pretty much the deal that they are offering Pujols right now. This is a fantasy, for sure, but it makes some sense if you really think about it.
If the Cards conclude that they are losing Pujols at the end of the year, and there’s not much indicating that he’s gonna sign off on a deal that is significantly less than what he’s worth, I’d throw it out there.
What do you think?
UPDATE: My friend texted me to tell me that today on Sportscenter, someone suggested that the Cardinals trade Pujols now to avoid losing him for a couple of draft picks. Gee, I wonder if the boys at ESPN should talk so frivolously about such a serious subject? Especially since we all know that it would be impossible, right?
Although, Chris Carpenter appears to be throwing a monkey wrench in my grand program.
David Pinto, my blogfather, and one of the pre-eminent baseball writers, posed a couple of interesting questions as baseball approaches the new labor agreement:
…. What I’d like to explore this year is, now that the two sides seem to be cooperating, what can they do to make the game better. If a group were to sit down and design a league from scratch, how would you do it?
Teams are competitors, but they are also partners. The labor pool (players) is small and revenues big, so how do you justly compensate players and owners?
Should development of talent be independent of the major league, or should teams develop their own players?
What’s the the optimum number of teams in a divisions, and how much should leagues and divisions interact?
I’m gonna take a quick shot at just one of these. The question of revenue sharing is perhaps the most compelling issue the leagues can consider. The Yankees are in a league by themselves when it comes to revenue. Yes, there are some other teams that have very impressive levels of income, but the Yankees are just so far ahead that it seems like there has to come a point when the issue just has to be confronted. For instance, they just signed Rafeal Soriano to a contract (three years, $35 million) that makes him a top-ten paid reliever, coming off a season in which he had something like 46 saves. In addition to what they are paying him, he also will cost the team something like $17 million over the next three years in revenue sharing and luxury taxes. They did this so he could be a set-up man for Mariano, who also will make something like $15 million per season. There is no question that the Yankees are the only team that could do something like this.
Several years ago Bill James posited that the one way the teams in baseball could make a significant impact into the Yankees massive advantage would be to force the Yankees to share the revenue for every home game equally. In other words, if the Yankees play a game in Kansas City, the amount of money the Royals gain is probably something like 15 or 20% of what the Yankees earn when the teams play in NY. If the teams split the local revenue equally, it would go a long way towards balancing out the revenue discrepancy. I’m paraphrasing, and I’ll look up the piece (I think it’s in the Historical Baseball Abstract), and give you a more complete version, but the idea is that the Yankees have a huge advantage in local revenue, but it doesn’t have to be that way. As it stands, they keep a huge percentage of the money generated in these home games, (just like every team); but since the Yankees local revenue stream is so massive, they could play all of their road games for free and still generate twice as much as any other team.
James’ point is that the other teams in the league have the power to say, you don’t have a game if we’re not there. We are half of the attraction. Share the local revenue equally.
Think about it. Am I missing something?
That’s the headline in Tom Verducci’s piece on the Carl Crawford signing. The Red Sox shocked the baseball world. Really? I mean, yeah, I’m shocked. I’m amazed. I just don’t think I’m shocked and amazed in the way that Verducci is talking about:
…. Boston somehow turned $142 million into stealth money, agreeing to make Carl Crawford the second-highest paid outfielder in baseball history with hardly a moment of preparation by those outside their own suite. It was a rare “wow” moment in a Twitter-mad world.
“Fucking Theo,” one GM said of Boston general manager Theo Epstein. “What a brilliant move.”
Brilliant? Um, people, we’re talking about Carl Crawford, who is now the second-highest paid outfielder in baseball history. I just took a quick look at Crawford’s stats, and let me just note that they don’t jump out at you. Crawford’s career-high in doubles is 30. His career-high in home runs is 19. His career-high in walks is 51. He’s scored 100 runs just three times in nine seasons. Sure he’s been above 90 a couple of times as well, but, you know, since he’s never driven in 100, and he’s stealing 50 bases a year, and hitting all those triples, you would think he’d be scoring 100 runs a season like clockwork. You’d think that, but you’d be wrong. I mean, he’s a terrific ballplayer. He is good at a lot of things. He’s fast, gets a lot of triples, steals a bunch, doesn’t hit into double plays. But he strikes out twice as often as he walks, and, in reality, he just isn’t that great a hitter. He’s led the league in both triples and stolen bases four times, but other than that, what the hell is going on here?
This contract is awful. $20 million a year for a guy who is projected to hit 14 home runs and reach base 240 times? Really? Brilliant? I don’t see it. Both he and Jason Werth absolutely owe their agents a Lear jet.
Just for the hell of it, let’s throw out a little side by side:
Jayson Werth 106 R 164 H 46 2B 2 3B 27 HR 85 RBI 82 BB 147 SO
C. Crawford 110 R 184 H 30 2B 13 3B 19 HR 90 RBI 46 BB 104 S0
Derek Jeter 111 R 179 H 30 2B 3 3B 10 HR 67 RBI 63 BB 106 SO
Now, before you get your panties in a bunch, let me just make my point. I know these numbers don’t encompass all of the value these players bring to the table. I’m just taking a quick and dirty look at these three ballplayers. First, let’s remember that Jeter is a shortstop, and in the beginning of what is supposed to be the end of his career, and was basically offered a take it or leave it three year deal by the Yankees. These two guys are outfielders, they are supposed to be better hitters than a shortstop, and they just went out and signed two of the richest contracts in baseball history. With all that said (and all that has been said), if their numbers don’t blow Derek Jeter’s numbers off the page, and they don’t, then somebody just got their asses handed to them.
Sure they’re younger. But still. Come on. Werth is 31, not 21. Crawford is 29, and wasn’t he the guy who was supposed to be some kind of clubhouse cancer a few years ago. I mean, what the hell are the Cardinals gonna do with Pujols, now?
I’m sorry, but I just can’t help myself.
Eric, one of my backtalkers, pretty much sums up the common thread in all of the internet-wide negativity surrounding Jeter’s negotiations:
“I don’t know that he deserves anything. He has given a lot to the Yankees, yes, but he has received a lot, too. How many other players have had the chance he has? Playing for the Yankees, especially in the last 15-20 years in an era of unprecedented revenue (allowing the Yankees to REALLY shoot off the charts with their payroll) has helped Jeter become the player he is/was. “
My question is this, how can Eric –and pretty much everyone else that is thinking along these lines– miss the single most salient point in this debate by so much?
The reason the Yankees’ revenue has gone up so much in the last 15 years is because they became a dynasty. It is because they won 4 World Series in 5 years (and just missed 4 in a row), and have made the postseason fourteen of the last fifteen seasons, and Derek Jeter is one of the main reasons that has happened. Not to pick on you, Eric, but, did you even read what I wrote? Do you, or for that matter, anybody, have any sense of history whatsoever?
Prior to Jeter’s arrival, the Yankees had won nothing for almost 20 years. NOTHING.
NOTHING! NOTHING! NOTHING! NOTHING!!!!!!
How can you even discuss this, if you have no apparent knowledge about the history of what has happened, unless you’ve already decided that you know everything there is to know about the issue? The Yankees in 1995, went to the postseason for the first time in Don Mattingly’s career. His last season. Prior to that, the Yankees hadn’t made the playoffs since 1981. The only reason people wanted to be a Yankee was for the cash General von Steingrabber was doling out, and even then, the lure of big bucks wasn’t always enough. There was no cache, no pizzaz. The “Aura” of the Yankees was a memory. No ballplayers talked about how much they wished for “the chance to play for the Yankees.” In 1992, Greg Maddux turned the Yankees down when Steinbrenner tried to sign him as a free agent. The “Boss” offered more money than Atlanta, and Maddux said no thanks. Forget about how ballplayers didn’t want to come to the Yankees, neither did the fans. No fans poured into Yankee Stadium to watch the greatest team the game had seen in the last 50 years, because that team didn’t exist!
The Yankees drew 1.7 million fans in 1995, good for 7th out of the fourteen teams in the league. SEVENTH!!!!! They were 7th again in 1996, 5th in 1997. In 1998, when the Yankees went 125-50 throughout the regular season and the playoffs, making a case for being the greatest baseball team in history, they were still only 3rd in the league in attendance. (By the way, you know who was the best player on that team, arguably the best team of all-time? Derek Jeter, with 7.8 WAR) They were 3rd again in 1999, and then again in 2000, as they were winning their third consecutive World Series. It wasn’t until 2003 that the Yankees led the league in attendance, after they had been in the World Series for the 6th time in 8 years.
Over the course of that eight year run, during the regular season, Derek Jeter led the Yankees in almost every meaningful, measurable statistic: hits, times on base, at-bats, plate appearances, runs scored, doubles, games played. He was a Rookie of the Year, an All Star every season. He played in 1,197 of a possible 1,296 games. In the postseason, he was simply a sensation. A quick look at what he did during those first eight years is illuminating.
In ’96, he hit .360. In ’97, he hit .333. 1998 saw him post just a .235 batting average overall, but he hit .353 in the Serious. In 1999, he was on fire, batting .375 to carry the team. In 2000, he posted a .317 batting average. In 2001, after going 8 for 18 while leading the Yankees back from an 0-2 deficit against the A’s, he hurt himself diving into the stands in Game Five and managed just 6 hits the rest of the playoffs. It should be noted that his injury certainly contributed to the Yankees falling to the D’backs and derailing their chances of winning their fourth title in a row. In 2002, against the eventual champions, the Anaheim Angels, Jeter did all he could, going 8 for 16 in the four game loss, with 2 home runs and 6 runs scored. And in 2003, when the Yankees went to the Series again, Jeter batted .314 for the playoffs, and .356 in the World Series. Today he is the all-time leader in virtually every significant statistic. He’s even third all-time in postseason home runs, with 20. Sure, he’s played in a lot of playoff games. He’s one of the reasons why.
And don’t give me that Core Four bullshit. Pettitte left. And, sure, Mariano Rivera is the best closer ever, but he’s responsible for something like 200-250 batters a season. Posada’s been the number one catcher for a while, but let’s not forget, Girardi was the number one catcher in 1996 and 1997, and in 1998 and 1999, he was still getting 75-odd games behind the dish. That’s three of the first four titles. During these fifteen years, the Yankees have had a parade of players at virtually every postion but short, many of them players who were paid more money than Jeter at the time. No matter how you slice it, it’s been Jeter who has been the one constant.
Nothing had changed in the world of the Yankees over the last fifteen years, other than all the winning. Steinbrenner was still going out and signing the best free agents available, as he had been since he took over the team in the 70′s. He was still giving those players –players who hadn’t contributed to any Yankee tradition, championships, or anything– huge sums of money, almost always more than anyone else was offering. Jason Giambi, Mike Mussina, hell, people forget that Tino Martinez was a free agent they brought in to replace Mattingly. Roger Clemens, David Cone, anyone remember Chuck Knoblauch? When they signed Knoblauch after the 1997 season (his fourth All Star season in the previous six), they gave him a four year deal worth $6 million per. You know how much Jeter made in 1998? $750,000. Even Darryl Strawberry ($825,000) made more than Jeter in 1998. Virtually every player on the team did. Practically every everyday player in baseball did. Derek Jeter’s 7.8 WAR was second to A-Rod’s 7.9 in the American League that season. A-Rod made $2.6 million, even though he played for Seattle. That’s a terrific illustration of how much things have changed. The Seattle Mariners were paying their All Star shortstop three times as much as the Yankees were paying theirs.
Over the last 15 years, Derek Jeter has been the Yankee shortstop day after day, at the plate 600 times a season, gets 190-plus hits like clockwork, and has been a team leader of the highest order. He is the face of the franchise, and the franchise’s outrageous financial success is intrinsically tied to what the team has done on the field, which is tied to the one player who has been there the whole time, a decade and a half that has changed the fortunes of the Steinbrenner family, and the Yankee franchise, forever.
The Yankees gave 37-year old Kevin Brown $32 million dollars for 200 innings of 5-plus ERA. Don’t tell me how they can’t overpay Derek Jeter, that this is a business decision, that his worth is set by the market. That is utter nonsense.
If the Yankees can throw $90 million dollars combined on the ground for Carl Pavano and Kei Ishigawa; they can absolutely, without question, and without reservation, give Derek Jeter the same amount of money for his last four years with the team. He is different. He is not just any player, and the Yankees are wrong to pretend like he is.
Wow, I am stunned by the negative reaction. I know that many people feel Jeter is over-rated and all that, but to hear that he’s not a leader, already over-paid, in obvious decline, etc.. Stunning. I’ve always thought that his leadership qualities were overblown, sure. I mean, it was clear to me that when the Yankees landed A-Rod, A-Rod probably should have taken over short, and Jeter should’ve slid to center-field, like Yount did for Milwaukee about a thousand years ago. In terms of what’s best for the team, that move was a no-brainer, A-Rod was clearly the better player, the Yankees at the time needed a center-fielder, and Jeter had always shown excellent instincts on fly ball. Of course, only Jeter could’ve have stopped it, and when he did, he dropped down a notch in my estimation.
That said, he is one of the constants during this historic run of dominance by the Yankees. This is a fact, and it is not in dispute. What is in dispute is what he is going to be paid for the next four years or so. The fact that the Phillies gave Jimmy Rollins a lesser deal, or gave Chase Utley, who is younger and a better hitter, the same deal as the Yankees are offering Jeter doesn’t matter at all. What other team are paying their players has no bearing on this at all. When the market said CC Sabathia was worth $100 million, the Yankees gave him $161 million. The Yankees pay more. They pay more, because they make more.
If you are the top software programmer for Bob’s software company, you’re gonna make a lot less than if you are the top software programmer for Apple. I would’ve thought this is common knowledge, but apparently, it isn’t. If a player comes to the Yankees and helps lead them to the playoffs and beyond, he is making an impact on the Yankees bottom line, and the Yankees bottom line is bigger, much bigger, than just about any other team’s. He is adding value to the franchise. Jeter has added massive value to the franchise over the 15 years he’s been there. You don’t compare his salary to what a player in San Francisco or Philadelphia makes, because there is no comparison.
And one of the main reasons that that is the case just happens to be the current dynastic run that Derek Jeter is an irreplaceable part of. Obviously, people don’t remember, but back in 1996, the Yankees hadn’t won anything in almost 20 years. Don Mattingly played his entire career as a Yankee, and only made the playoffs in the last year. And, Steinbrenner was considered a joke, a buffoon. Lupica called him General von Steingrabber, and he was –rightfully– regularly pilloried in the NY Daily News, the NY Post, and even Sports Illustrated for his antics. Remember Billy Martin? Steinbrenner hired him 5 times. 5 times! He fired Yogi Berra 16 games into the season, a move that prompted Berra to boycott the Yankees for some 15 years. Steinbrenner was a gas bag, a joke, widely ridiculed around the league.
Now, they’re talking about whether Steinbrenner will get in the Hall of Fame within a year of his death. The Yankees were rich, and they spent more than anybody, but they weren’t rich like this. They weren’t a team the rest of the league worried about at all, because they never won anything, even though they spent and spent and spent. During Jeter’s time with the team, they’ve made the playoffs fourteen of the last fifteen years, been to the World Series seven times, and won five championships. The Yankees have represented the American League in almost half of the World Series that have been played while Jeter has been on the team. Read that sentence twice. I mean, how can that be overstated? What team wouldn’t give $100 million dollars right now to have that sentence be written about their team instead of the Yankees? What team’s fans wouldn’t trade the last fifteen years of their franchise with the Yankees?
In the fifteen years prior to Jeter’s arrival, the Yankees had Don Mattingly, by all measures, a much better baseball player than Derek Jeter, a man who also happened to be considered Jeter’s equal in terms of being revered by the fans, being classy, in handling the media, the spotlight of Yankee stardom. He was surrounded by some considerable talent, including Hall of Fame players Rickey Henderson and Dave Winfield, as well as a few almost HoFers like Ron Guidry and Dave Righetti. The Yankees during those 15 years, the Lost Mattingly years, for lack of a better term, lost the 1981 World Series, and lost in the Wild Card round in 1995. That’s it. 15 years of baseball with the highest payroll, just like now, with the best player in the league for something like half the time, just like now, the Yankees won nothing. They weren’t on TV all the time, the series with the Red Sox weren’t considered the best baseball there was. They were an afterthought.
During the last fifteen years, the Atlanta Braves had a run of dominance that neatly coincided with the Yankees run. They’ve been to the Serious five times, and won only once. Why is that? They had plenty of talent. If you guys think it’s so easy to replace Jeter with Adrian Beltre, how come the Braves were only able to parlay all that talent into just a single championship? The Marlins were able to get two titles, for crying out loud.
Derek Jeter is one of the constants of this run. He is one of the Core Four, and they are one of the main reasons the team is where it is now, where the Steinbrenners are now. As a member of the Core Four, he’s been the top ranked player on the team four times during that stretch, a feat only equaled by A-Rod (four of the last six seasons). You want to tell me that it’s just a coincidence that the last fifteen years have seen the Yankees make the Serious half the time, while the previous fifteen it was once? Jeter’s not a leader? He should be paid like a Hanley Ramirez?
I don’t see it that way. He deserves a nice send-off, a thank you, if you will. Not to have his legacy trashed by a group of people who should know better, people who are riding on the coattails of some of his best work.
UPDATE: Still loads of vitriol all over the web about Jeter. Astounded to see how much of it is anti-Derek. Harvey Araton sees my point:
…. let the Yankees, who have thrown countless millions at players who gave back next to nothing, try to tell Jeter to go shop the qualities that have helped put such a classy face on a franchise run by people who would take the last dime from the pocket of a homeless person.
Let them say to Jeter with a straight face that there will be no position for him to play when he makes the inevitable move from shortstop — after winning 1990s championships with the likes of Charlie Hayes at third and a second baseman, Chuck Knoblauch, whose throws to first base were the stuff of tee-ball legend.