A Jeter By Any Other Team

    Sunday, November 7, 2010, 4:48 AM [General]

    It’s only the first hours of free agency and already there are the almost comical hypothetical assertions about Derek Jeter signing anywhere but with the New York Yankees.  Yes Jeter is a free agent for the first time and yes he will ultimately end up with the Yankees but just for fun I’ll entertain the tabloids with some scenarios of my own.

    Where in the AL East could Jeter go?  He could go to Boston and play the curse in reverse, not that it really worked out for Mike Stanley or any other Yankee aside from Ramiro Mendoza.  Tampa and Toronto could use his leadership, but how does a 36 year old Shortstop hold up on turf for 81 home games a year?  Actually an ideal landing spot might be with the Baltimore Orioles.

    On the O’s last trip to New York, Derek’s first big league skipper Buck Showalter said he’d still take Jeter in a heartbeat to play short for his club.  With a few more pieces, Jeter could show this improving young team how to win.  He’d also have the cache of playing the same position as Cal Ripken Jr. in Baltimore and would be revered with iconic status by O’s fans just for that linkage.  It’s close enough where Jeter could be a thorn in the Yankees side, but far enough removed where he wouldn’t quite draw the ire of New York fans if that were his AL East destination.

    As far as other AL teams go, one might guess the Detroit Tigers as a destination.  Jeter grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan and his father Charles was a Tigers fan himself.  If anybody could teach the Tigers how to topple the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central, it would be Jeter.

    Jumping over to the NL, the obvious spot is the New York Mets.  Jeter makes the back page splash and gets to stay in New York.  Then everything old is new again and the Mets hire Mr. Torre and given the whole K-Rod debacle perhaps Jeter and Torre convince Mariano Rivera to bring his services to flushing.  Of course that would bring way too much stability to the Mets to ever happen.

    Or maybe Jeter goes to a classy organization with the second most championships in the sport, the St. Louis Cardinals.  There he could also possibly reunite with Torre depending on Tony LaRussa’s status and then claim he always wanted to play with the best player in the sport, Albert Pujols, an obvious dig at A-Rod.  There’s always the Cincinnati Reds with their history and helping a young contending team get over the hump as well.

    One could also make the case for Jeter joining the World Champion San Francisco Giants.  Brian Sabean knows Jeter from his days in the Yankees organization and they have been known to overpay aging superstars from time to time.  But why stop there when one good captain deserves another in Los Angeles?  Jeter and Don Mattingly could be reunited along with Larry Bowa and Mariano Duncan and heck for good measure hire Bernie Williams as the new hitting coach.

    Of course none of this will happen and Derek Jeter will return to the New York Yankees.  It will likely be a three to four year deal and anything beyond that will likely be performance based on a year to year basis in addition to what the Yankees needs are.  That is much like the case of the other three in the core four.  The Yankees needed and still need help at closer, catcher and starting pitcher and those four are still more of a sure thing at their advanced stages of their careers than most of what’s on the open market.

    The Yankees found it easier in regard to supply and demand at the positions where they had to replace iconic guys like Mattingly and Williams, but there really isn’t a shortstop in the system (Eduardo Nunez, Ramiro Pena) or on the open market where the Yankees would have significant leverage.

    In the end perhaps Derek could always go to a team where his last name Jeter could be seen and shown to everyone including the Yankees.  But with Derek Sanderson Jeter, its always been about the front of the uniform and the num-buh two on the back.

    3.7 (1 Ratings)

    Yankees Blueprint For 2011

    Friday, November 5, 2010, 6:54 PM [General]

    For the 2011 edition of the New York Yankees to be successful, the focus will be centered around adding pitching and trying to get younger and more versatile.  Really though, isn’t that always the theory surrounding the Yankees as they enter each free agency period that doesn’t come off a championship season?

    They’ve already taken care of the first order of business, locking up Manager Joe Girardi for another three years.  While Girardi’s first three years as skipper have been more like Joe Mccarthy’s than Joe Torre’s, his first three years have been better on a whole than Torre’s final three in pinstripes.

    While I don’t know how much of the decisions made down the stretch were Girardi’s as opposed to the organization as a whole, one can’t really argue much with the majors third best record by two games.  As far as the coaching staff goes, I do believe the Yankees issues in developing pitching go way beyond the time Dave Eiland took over and this off-season Kevin Long may want to take the entire lineup down to the Dominican Republican like he did with Robinson Cano.

    Looking at the roster for the 2011 Yankees, here’s what they must do.

    Getting Younger Means A Revolving Door At DH:

    Unlike last season where the Yankees claimed to want to keep the DH spot open to rest players and instead blew their money on Nick Johnson, they’ll need to use it this year to keep Jorge Posada, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter fresh down the stretch.  Last year they may not have had the bench necessary to afford keeping those three out of the lineup, but with Jesus Montero and Eduardo Nunez emerging, there’s no excuses this season.

    After seeing what Buster Posey did as a rookie catcher, handling that dynamic pitching staff while batting cleanup for the San Francisco Giants and considering the players the Yankees have refused to deal Montero for, if he earns a spot on this team then he should be groomed for that role starting in 2011.  I know Jorge Posada is a proud player and I believe he can still pop 20 homers and knock in 80 if healthy, but just like Yogi Berra took over for Bill Dickey and Elston Howard took over for Yogi Berra, Posada has to know that on a team built for October, his value is greatest if he’s able to make it there in one piece.

    This plan also allows the Yankees to stay within their budget, assuming their outfield remains intact.  Though if one wanted to make an argument for some bench depth, a one-year deal at a reduced price for Johnny Damon might not be a bad thing.  Damon hits lefties well and when he’s not at DH, against lefties he could be put out in left and the Yanks could shift Gardner to center.  But how likely is Damon willing to swallow his pride at this stage of his career?

    Upgrade The Pitching Staff:

    Cliff Lee is the obvious target.  Despite looking mortal against the Giants in the World Series, having some injury issues crop up this season and being 32, Lee is the best on the open market.  Allow me to make a bad analogy for a moment, but this is almost akin to A.J. Burnett and I’ll explain why.

    While Lee is far more consistent than Burnett, with some of those same underlying issues the Yankees have to weigh whether or not the opportunity to grab a championship or two early in the deal warrants the potential ugliness at the back end of a five-six year deal.  However looking at the rest of the rotation short term, this really is a no brainer.

    I also believe signing Lee convinces Andy Pettitte to come back for one more run.  Pettitte will see this as a signal as the Yankees seriousness in loading up for next season.

    Besides, the best options other than Lee would likely come though seeing what that vaunted farm system could get the Yanks either in a trade or at the back end of their rotation.

    Boost The Bullpen:

    What has been a strength of Joe Girardi’s managing style, became a weakness due to personnel issues.  Girardi, never one to rely on overuse of his bullpen, didn’t have either the talent or trust of his middle relief corps and pushed his starters to the brink (see A.J. Burnett Game Four ALCS).  Bullpens are fickle anyhow, most of the heroes from 2009 were either traded (Phil Coke) injured (Damaso Marte, Alfredo Aceves) inconsistent (Joba Chamberlain, Chad Gaudin, Sergio Mitre) or slightly overtaxed (David Robertson).

    They’ll need to pick up another lefty such as Scott Downs. Additionally, as solid as Kerry Wood was down the stretch, if you’re going to pay a guy closer money to setup, why not go after Rafael Soriano.  This may sound like a typical Yankee fan playing fantasy baseball with monopoly money, but hear me out.  Mariano Rivera while still the best in the game is no spring chicken.  The Yankees increased reluctance to use Mo for multiple inning saves and on back to back days, why not have a solid contingency plan to share save duties in Soriano?

    If they weren’t actively thinking this way, then why target pitchers like Joakim Soria?  Would Soriano be insulted to setup for the greatest closer ever at top closer money?

    Massage The Egos Of The Core Four:

    In what has become a recurring theme of this post, the Yankees and Joe Girardi must do with Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte, what Doc Rivers has done with his “Big Three” and the Boston Celtics.  Remind them that they are important faces of the franchise, are well taken care of monetarily and if they want to go out champions in October, they need to make it there in one piece.  These guys for the last 15 years have been all about winning, all about team and by making small sacrifices from April to September, the Yankees can be at their best in October.

    If that means Posada and Jeter need to DH more or Pettitte skips a start here and there or Rivera is limited to one inning ever other day to keep them all healthy, then so be it.  It’ll help them break some of their younger players in and help them ward off nagging injuries.  They have to know their legacies and stats are set and solid at this point.  Sure there are still some milestones out there, but the only thing that drastically enhances that at this point is a sixth championship.

    3.7 (1 Ratings)

    For Boss and Bob: Buckeye Bomber Boosts Yanks!

    Saturday, July 17, 2010, 3:16 AM [General]

    On a night that was both somber and celebratory at Yankee Stadium, one constant remained for the New York Yankees.  Winning.

    One almost couldn't have scripted it any better unless Derek Jeter, friend of The Boss and the man who honors Bob Sheppard every time he is announced stepping up to the plate, ended up coming through with two on in the ninth.  But sports aren't scripted.  For every Bobby Murcer knocking in the winning run for his friend and teammate Thurman Munson, there's a team that valiantly comes up short for its tragically befallen city off a bloop by Luis Gonzalez.

    But how fitting was it that Nick Swisher, a guy from The Ohio State playing the same position as another Ohio guy whom George Steinbrenner bestowed upon the title of "The Warrior" in Paul O'Neill, would come through for a Buckeye fan such as Mr. Steinbrenner with those late inning heroics.

    And apparently the Yankees are batting .1000 when it comes to whose swing they felt would or would not be wrecked by participating in the home run derby on Monday night, as both All-Stars Robinson Cano and Swisher went deep along with Jorge Posada.

    It had the feel of a 2009 Yankees game where the Yankees just kept grinding and taking advantage of every Tampa mistake as they saw fit.  It was also a statement game to start the second half.  And before you say how could there be such a thing in the middle of July, just realize that if both squads continue to play near .700 ball the rest of the way barnstorming around the American League, that these games only stand to take on a much more monumental importance with all things being even the rest of the way. 

    The Yankees did it once again with power hitting and pitching.  While CC Sabathia may not have looked completely sharp, he never once let the game slip away.

    Cano and Posada tied things at 3-3 in the sixth with homers and Swisher launched a bomb in the eighth to square it up at 4-4.

    David Robertson and Mariano Rivera put it on lockdown in the last two frames and Swisher came through again with his third RBI in the bottom half of the ninth with a knock to right, scoring Curtis Granderson for the 5-4 Yankees win.

    That 5-4 score by the way is the same score the Yankees won by on August 6, 1979, the game after Thurman Munson's death in Ohio.  No sports are not scripted but there is another word from a certain lake in Ohio to describe it, Erie.

    3.7 (1 Ratings)

    A-Rod and Braden, A Question To The Masses

    Monday, May 10, 2010, 4:08 AM [General]

    OK so here's the first and last of what I have to say on the whole A-Rod and Dallas Braden situation.  We all know what happened by now and all the back and forth but there's just one more thing I have to ask.  If it were Derek Jeter or Jorge Posada who had just happened to brush past or run back over the mound, would there be this huge uproar?

    Now I know what you're thinking, "but Mike, Jeet and Sado would've never done that in the first place, because they're so much classier than A-Rod, and on and on and on..."  But really if it was one of those guys or another Yankees vet like happy-go-lucky Nick Swisher or Curtis Granderson, does Braden even dare barking anything back at those guys? 

    In other words, does Braden have the stones to go after one of those guys who have built up major stature and credibility as popular players and public figures in the game?  Would there be this much publicity if A-Rod hadn't been involved?  Of course not.  But once again it evolves from an on-field spat to another, "A-Rod story." 

    In my opinion it's getting kind of old.  Sure there's something newsworthy in the back and forth quotes between A-Rod and Braden, but what does the guy have to do honestly to get a fair shake?  A-Rod dominates in the playoffs last year and carries the Yankees on his back and still there are those who are probably bitter that this is nowhere close to the Bronx Zoo years and they unfortunately missed out.

    So give props to Braden for backing up all of his talk with a perfect game, but please let's stop with the silly A-Rod bashing stories OK?

    4.1 (2 Ratings)

    Does Obama Owe Reggie?

    Monday, April 26, 2010, 12:27 PM [General]

    As the New York Yankees visit the Whitehouse today for the first time as defending champions since 2001.   It got me to thinking, since every President is usually presented their number (i.e. Bush 43, Clinton 42 etc.) and Barack Obama is President number 44, will the Yankees give him number 44 upon their visit?

    Of course Yankees fans know number 44 has been retired to monument park since 1993 in honor of World Series MVP and Hall of Fame Rightfielder Reginald Martinez Jackson.  Aka, Mr. October for short.

    In that case if Joe Girardi presents President Obama with number 44, does that mean Reggie gets a gold watch or something from the Prez? 

     

    (Update): Joe Girardi presented President Obama with a # 27 jersey autographed by the entire team, pretty cool stuff even if you're an avowed Chicago White Sox fan.

    3.7 (1 Ratings)

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  • It’s only the first hours of free agency and already there are the almost comical hypothetical assertions about Derek Jeter ... more
  • For the 2011 edition of the New York Yankees to be successful, the focus will be centered around adding pitching and trying to get ... more

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