February 2010

Why letting Jeter walk is an option too…

So Derek Jeter is potentially a free agent after the world shook a dozen times in the past few days.  Now, after that constant shaking, and open discussion, everyone knows outside of Yankee land, that Jeter is a free agent after the upcoming season (as of now).

And I am sure that each and every Yankee fan is on board with giving him whatever he wants to keep him town.  Whether that be four years, six years…Even the most logical Yankee fan might initially frown upon six years and tell Derek to take a hike.  But would they really?  Would they really rather him walk than pony up for six years, if that is in fact what Jeter required to stick around?

So, I get it.  Not entirely, for I am not a Yankee fan.  But I get why they want their captain to stay until he washes his uniform for the last time.  Well, not him necessarily, as I expect people making as much money as Jeter does, don’t actually do laundry.  But hypothetically, Jeter, when he “hangs up his cleats” (again not literally, as someone else will probably do it for him),  he might be imagining his laundry being attacked by detergent one last time, ridding of the remnants of base-paths past.

But there is a serious, logical, and rather important question to be asked: How much is too much?  Even for the Yankees, there must be boundaries on the amount of money they pay a single player, especially when a player is clearing their mid-thirties for most of the potential contract, right?

Put in a position of power, everyone within 20 feet of Derek Jeter for the past decade will probably give him everything he desires.

I wouldn’t.  But maybe that is because my subjective hasn’t been tainted.  However, in this case, that is probably a good thing.  You throw this guy on the free agent market, and no one comes close to entertaining a six year offer.  And anyone who reaches a four-year offer, outside of the Yankees, would most likely be hindering their club with the amount of money they would be dishing out.

Simply put, Jeter means a lot more than to the Yankees than he does to anyone else.  He probably wouldn’t be worth more wins,, no matter where he plays, but there is more to this situation than that.

He is close to 3,000 hits, something that wouldn’t be the same in another uniform (something that wouldn’t be forgiven by Yankee fans either, if they had to watch it happen somewhere else).  He was the biggest reason they won five World Series,’ at least from an individual standpoint.  And he still has a distant — very distant — chance of reaching 4,000 hits.  Oh, team leader, Mr. intangible, clubhouse god, all that good stuff.

Not to mention, Jeter will most likely throw a few good years our way, possibly great ones.  And any fan that lives in the Bronx, or bleeds pinstripes, will be furiously saddened by watching anything he does well, in another uniform.

Speaking of ‘Bleeding Pinstripes.’  We need to sign a petition to get Geoff blogging again for the upcoming 2010 season.  Sure, his opinion pissed me off a ton, and he lacked the statistical understanding that I believe in so much.  But there was not a more entertaining blog, in my opinion.  His writing was great, and although his opinion was partial to the Yankees, maybe too much for my sake.  His blog was the best around.

So, this current situation being taken into account (Jeter) is more unique than any other in the game.  Seriously, as Paul Lebowitz writes, there is no one that means more to an organization than Jeter.

Mauer is very important, but lacks the “history” that Jeter has accrued in his time in the big leagues.  And of course, moving forward, Mauer will accumulate many more wins than Jeter.  But just from a standpoint that losing Mauer is more understandable than losing Jeter, given respect to the teams being discussed.  Money matters more in Minnesota.

Pujols is vital to the Cardinals.  But he still falls a notch below Jeter, as far as what it would mean to lose him.  Again, when money means more, there is more of an excuse.

Dustin Pedroia means a lot to the city, the fans and the organization.  but come on, he has been a Major League player for three full seasons.  Not to mention, we are fairly sure he finishes his career elsewhere, for that is just the way the Red Sox do business.  And I am fine with that, although it is disappointing watching star players leave.  It seems to be the best for business however.  And winning exceeds any individual player.

With a payroll like the Yankees, it won’t really hinder their ability to win.  But even with that, how much does one want to pay a player once they reach age 40?

From where I am sitting, no way I go over four years for The Captain.  And even that, I seriously dwell on.  But there is no pressure from where I am sitting.  I am a fan of another team…and I write a blog.  I don’t have to deal with the pressure coming from the ticket-holders.  I don’t have to suffer the backlash watching “The franchise” walk away.  And I definitely don’t have to deal with the New York media ripping me apart day in and day out, which I am sure takes its toll.

And after all that, I don’t have to watch the guy that has been the most important to his team for 13 years, and a guy, that by all accounts is a near-saint in between the lines.  I wouldn’t have to watch him play elsewhere, as Cashman would have to.

So it really is a moot point.  No one else will offer for even four years, for the amount the Yankees will.  So of course, Jeter will be staying put, in the Bronx, where he belongs.

But that doesn’t mean that the other side of the spectrum should not be explored.  After all, this is A LOT of money we are talking about…

The JD Drew Hall of Fame discussion continues.

Look, I know that I beat the “subject” of JD Drew into the ground, but I believe it is of baseball importance to do so.

But I just can’t get past the thought of some, and by some, I mean Rob Neyer and crew, advocating that JD Drew may become enshrined into Cooperstown, beside Willie Mays and Hank Aaron, among others.

Seriously, this debate has crossed my mind numerous times ever since I discovered the career ‘WAR’ numbers.

And those numbers suggest that Drew has an outside chance at gaining A LOT of support by the Sabermetric crew.  And that crew is generally very smart, in that they tend to rely on evidence and what they believe in, the numbers.

However, if JD Drew accumulates, say, 3.0 ‘WAR’ a season, on average, for the next six years.  Then he will end up with about 62 total wins.  And that, my friends, is McGwire and Raines territory.

Now, with much evidence against Drew’s body actually holding up as he ages, we of course do not know if he will be able to average 3.0 ‘WAR’.  Or for that matter, even be able to play another six seasons of 120-130 games a season.

And even if he plays, it is far from certain that he can average a 3.0 ‘WAR,’ although it is far from out of the question too.

But the fact is, Drew has 44 ‘Wins above replacement’ at this point in his career.  That is a fact.

Now, less factual of course, is what that actually means.  Many, including myself, feel it does mean a heck of a lot.  And that number suggests that Drew has probably been underrated by many throughout his actual career, rather than his theoretical career.  And by “theoretical,” I am referring to the one that many envisioned him as having.  You know, 40 bombs a year, .3oo average, plate discipline that rivals the best to ever play, good defense, sufficient arm, etc, etc, etc.

But Drew didn’t turn out like that.  He turned out to be a guy that does have some of the best plate discipline in the game, however probably not historically great — although that is not a fact by any means.  He hits 20-25 homers, and doesn’t bat .300.  Of course, his defense is well above-average at a corner spot in the outfield.

Many stat-guys might actually think more of him than I though.  Because, well, the subjective is not present.  Even from an expert standpoint, one cannot expect too many games to be seen for each team.  It is is just too difficult to do.  So my subjective nature will inherit somewhat different of an opinion.  I see the guy day in and day out.  I see that, although he is good, he simply is not great.  In my opinion anyway.

But of course, saying “I see him every day” amongst the statistical community is merely unlocking a door to mockery.  Because as I fully understand, seeing a player every day doesn’t really matter much when comparing all players.  And for that reason, my preference would be to adhere to the statistics.

But I JUST CAN”T do it in this particular case, not if those statistics are going to tell me the Hall of Fame should be calling.  No way.

And is it really so wrong, to let my subjective do some of the arguing?  Is it wrong?  No, because that is what makes this game so much fun. The game outside the game.  Some use the “game within the game,” as being what makes baseball so intriguing and complex.  And that too is important to the sport’s greatness.  But the game outside of the game has meaning to me.  And to me that means what goes on outside the lines.  The debating at the “water cooler,” or in my case the beverage station.  And even more so, much more so actually, the debating that happens in between my web cam and my mouse.  If that makes any sense…

So I don’t think Drew is a great player.  Maybe a few years of greatness, but nothing of historical sense.  And nothing even close to being Cooperstown quality.

And know this, I am not using this as an argument for Drew based on Andre Dawson and Jim Rice.  Because they are in, so be it.  If Drew were compared to only the lowest, his case becomes more compelling.  But my standards have nothing to do with Rice.  He shouldn’t be in, not in my opinion anyway.

This however, has everything to do with what kind of Hall of Fame I believe in.  And it should consist of only great players.  I guess it is unrealistic to completely stray away from comparing candidates to those that are enshrined.  But, and there should be a large period at the end of this next statement:  A player must be great to be inducted, PERIOD.

So excuse me if I don’t believe in Drew’s greatness.

Anyhow, we know he won’t gain votes from the Jayson Stark’s of the world.  We know Buster Olney doesn’t think much of JD.  And in this sense, the RF is underrated.  But,  but, there will be guys checking the box next to the name of this fragile outfielder.

And that I cannot say I agree with.

Not at all.

But two “pieces” on this subject have probably exhausted the “subject” already :)

An extended extension: The V-Mart saga.

So I guess since I am a Red Sox fan I should address the Victor Martinez situation…

Look, signing players beyond 30 is always questionable. Luckily, the earlier they are in their 30′s, the less questionable it becomes.

But for example, giving Derek Jeter a 6 year, $100 million contract, would be stupid.  He is turning 36 during this upcoming season.  Never would I ever give a 6 year contract to a 36 year old player.  And frankly, I do not care who the player in question is.  From Albert Pujols to Alex Rodriguez.

But some have, rather seriously if I recall, entertained the idea that Jeter receives a contract of that nature.

But how about if the player we are speaking of is only 31?

Well, the scenario changes drastically.  And because this player, Martinez, is a catcher, his body is less likely to hold up over time.

Regardless, the contract should not even sniff six seasons, nor should it.  Theo will make sure it doesn’t.  Trust me on this.  But that was never considered as it is.

But three years?  Sure, that sounds like a very realistic accusation.  But even so, why should they even worry about it right now?  Martinez, a very solid player, and a very good hitting catcher, isn’t going anywhere until the end of the year.

Maybe the idea of an extension should be entertained, but it should definitely not be “worried” about.

According to ‘WAR,’ which probably knows less about a catchers defense than the average fan :)  According to IT, Martinez has been worth an average of $15 million a season for the past three years.

We know that V-Mart was injured in 2008, and that obviously gave his overall value a huge, huge hit.  So that really shouldn’t be held against him.  However, maybe it should be accounted for.  At such a stressful position, one must account for the injury aspect for a player in his thirties (and definitely the decline).

Would it be wise to extend Martinez for say three years, $45 million?  That would be close to the definition of “paying for past performance.”  But with no real catching option in sight, and the payroll of a bonafide large market team, there may not be a better route.

Victor Martinez is a proven commodity.  No one else in there system is.  Well, except for Jason Varitek.  And aside from the absolute fact that Varitek is worth 5 wins because of his game-calling alone (joking), all he has proven late in his career is that he is finished as an everyday catcher.

Now, like the beginning of last season, they could consider trading away a few prospects for their catcher of the future.  But if they do that, they again would receive somewhat of an unknown.  Not to mention, something would have to be surrendered.

So the way I see it, Martinez could be a very solid guy to sign for the next three years (Although I would prefer only two).  However, I must reiterate, why not wait?  Give the pitchers a full season to work with him behind the plate, and see how they like him.  I have heard mixed reviews about the way Martinez works with pitchers.  Although have heard nothing bad about his character (Which is always a good thing).

But the Red Sox, being able to see if Martinez and his pitchers coexist 60 feet apart for a season, may not be all that bad of an idea.  They can subjectively consider whether or not they do in fact want to guarantee $45 mill in salary to all that is known as Victor Martinez.

And I say “all that is known” because we know he can hit.  He is one of the best hitting catchers in all of baseball.  And five of the past six seasons we know that Martinez has been an extremely good ballplayer.  Not great, but very good.

But anywhere else on the diamond, a veteran player is pretty close to what his statistics will tell you.  But the one exception, is behind the dish.

So would it be smart for the Red Sox to see what they have for at least a few more months before they sign their star catcher?

Seems wise to me…

But what do I know, I am just a blogger…  :)

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