Monday, May 16, 2011

Yankee front office tactics bring shame to the brand-Mike Lupica

"The Yankees" chose to make a particular move on Posada on the night of a nationally televised game against the Red Sox. The move could have been made anytime, but it wasn't. Then they made a special appearance on national tv about it. "Before Posada gets to give his version, "Yankee officials" go to the media and say that Posada "threw a fit." You wonder what Yankee official said that. Somebody who never played big league baseball is a good way to bet."...That "the Yankees" are "angry" about anything is-to borrow from another of their managerial scandals--"baffling." One has no choice but to assume "the Yankees" are trying to get Posada to leave without his money, something Kei Igawa and others neglected to do. Following are 3 Mike Lupica articles discussing the
  • disconnect of the new Yankee/new stadium mentality.
12/5/2010, "Shame on Yankees for dropping ball and insulting Derek Jeter during heated contract talks,"
  • Mike Lupica, NY Daily News
""They wanted it to look, in the more heated parts of this, as though Jeter was the greedy one. They were twitchy to get out there what they said Jeter wanted,
that Jeter wanted $23 million or $24 million a year, whatever the Yankees said he was asking for.
  • Not just delighted. Thrilled.
They thought it made them look good. But you know who has always made them look good? Jeter has.
It is Jeter, even more than the great Mariano Rivera, even more than Joe Torre did in the old days, before Torre's Yankees stopped winning the World Series,
  • who has been the face of the brand they say they're trying to protect.
Now they think they protect that brand by giving him this kind of hard time, taking this kind of hard line. I talked to one respected baseball guy in the middle of this, watching this all play out, and asked if Jeter will ever forget the way this all played out, being told in public to go find a better offer if he thought he could.There was a pause at the other end of the phone and then the guy said,
  • "Never."
Say it again: Leverage only matters in something like this if you're prepared to use it. And the Yankees did, until they calmed down. The idea that Casey Close, Jeter's agent, is the one who escalated the war of words by calling the Yankees' strategy "baffling" wasn't something that reasonable people ever should have taken seriously. But others did. It was never supposed to matter that
The company in a company town. "This isn't a licensing deal or a commercial rights deal," Yankees president Randy Levine said before Casey Close said a word to me. "(Jeter's) a baseball player." There is this idea that if you even suggested that Jeter shouldn't take a pay cut at this stage of his career, after all he's meant to the Yankees, that somehow he mattered more than Rivera, or other old champions.
  • It is a specious argument. In the whole grand scheme of things, maybe no winning Yankee has ever mattered more than Rivera. But the Yankees didn't ask Rivera to take a pay cut. Jeter, they did.
So he was supposed to want too much, at a time when the Yankees always pay too much, at a time when they charge too much for their high-end seats, at a time when they spent way more on their new stadium than they had to. This all happens, by the way, in the year when George Steinbrenner passed away, and because of the tax laws in this country, saved his family a fortune in estate taxes.
  • But they had to draw the line on Derek Jeter.
You always knew how this was going to end up. Maybe if it were five years ago, even three years ago, it would have been different. Maybe even if his contract had run out after he hit the .334 he did in 2009, with the 212 hits, with the Yankees winning another World Series. But it wasn't 2009, it was 2010, and he only hit .270 in 2010 and the Yankees didn't win the World Series.So here we are, close to what the Yankees wanted to pay. The Yankees acting as if they had some moral high ground on this.
of the team who helped win them five World Series, who was as valuable a player as they had between 1996 and 2000 when they were as great as any Yankee team ever has been.
  • You can't be a better Yankee than Jeter has been. It is the Yankees who will someday wish they had done things better on this."
NY Daily News back cover, 12/5/10 (Jeter was on the front page today as well. ed)
  • -----------------------------------------------------------------
11/24/10, "Only Hal Steinbrenner can fix the disconnect between the Yankees, Brian Cashman, and Derek Jeter,"
  • Mike Lupica, NY Daily News
"This is the way the Yankees want the conversation about Derek Jeter to go: They have arrived at what they think is a fair contract for Jeter and if he doesn't accept it, he's being greedy and unreasonable and unrealistic and should go test the market. That is what Brian Cashman said Tuesday. What he is really saying to Jeter about the Yankees' offer to him - $45 million for three years - is take it or leave it.

So we're already there. I said a few weeks ago that the leverage the Yankees have in this matter and they have most of it, mattered only if they were prepared to swing it like a baseball bat. That is what's happening now, in just about every news cycle.

You wonder how long Hal Steinbrenner - does the front office work for him or is it the other way around? - lets this go on.

As one American League East executive said Tuesday, "Out of all the guys in sports,

  • they're going to take this kind of hard line on Jeter?"

Over the past few days the Yankees seem to have lost their minds because Jeter's agent, Casey Close, told me Saturday night that he finds the Yankees' negotiating strategy

  • "baffling."

Not stupid. Not cheap. Not arrogant. Not insulting. Baffling. But in the thin-skinned world of the Yankees, they acted as if Close were Larry Lucchino of the Red Sox calling them the "Evil Empire" all over again.

The Yankees act as if Close is the one who ramped up the rhetoric and not the other way around. You know when the rhetoric really started on this thing? When Hal Steinbrenner said a few weeks ago that the Jeter negotiation "could get messy" before it ever really began. And you know who's the only one who can fix this now? Hal Steinbrenner.

Could Close and Jeter have come into this looking for too much money, way too many years? I'm sure they have. Just because the Yankees are being the Yankees doesn't mean that the other side is the Vatican. Close and Jeter probably want a lot more than three years. And a lot more than $45 million. If you were Jeter, so would you. Nobody can say he's been stealing money over the last decade.

But how about this as an idea for both sides to look at, before this whole thing becomes more viral than it is? How about you take the average that Jeter just made over the last 10 years - it would work out to $18.9 million a year - and make that the three-year offer. And if Jeter is still hitting .300 at the end of that, a fourth year, for the same money, automatically kicks in.

That way Jeter isn't asked to take a salary cut after everything he has meant to the Yankees and continues to mean. You know what the difference is between $57 million for three years and what the Yankees are offering Jeter? It's just a little more

  • than the Yankees paid Javy Vazquez last season.

The $45 million the Yankees are offering Jeter for three years? It happens to be $1 million less than the $46 million they paid to a scrub pitcher named Kei Igawa. You remember that deal, $20 million for five years and a $26 million posting fee in Japan.

It was no different with Igawa than anybody else: The Yankees are always greedy when they want somebody. Only now Jeter is supposed to be the greedy one if he doesn't take what they're offering. They put out their number and that's it and that's all, take it or leave it.

Test the market, Cashman says.

Come on. Brian Cashman knows better than anyone that the market is always different here. Especially here. Always here. The top market for CC Sabathia a couple of years ago was $100 million. That means the top market outside of the Bronx. Cashman paid him $161 million. Sabathia was an ascendant star at the time, you bet. Now the implication is that Jeter is in decline after his .270 year, even though he hit .334 in 2009 with 212 hits and the Yankees won the World Series.

As one former major-league player said the other day, "What, (Jeter) has one bad year and now it's going to be straight downhill from here?"

Always in this negotiation, of course, the elephant in the room is Alex Rodriguez. He opted out on the Yankees at the end of the 2007 World Series, but it appears that wasn't nearly as offensive to the Yankees as the word "baffling." Not long after that, the Yankees gave him an insane contract extension, justifying it at the time by telling themselves of the marketing possibilities of his growing home run totals. Then A-Rod turned out to be a juicer in an era of juiced home run hitters and the Yankees were shocked.

Now they want to talk about anything except A-Rod's contract. Jeter wants to talk about it, though. He saw what everybody saw last season, that A-Rod hitting his 600th home run didn't exactly set the big town on its ear. Jeter is also smart enough to know it will be a little different this season when he gets near 3,000 hits. There are a few legitimate milestones left in baseball. And legitimate stars. Derek Jeter is one of them, even at his current age. Even after hitting .270 at the worst possible time.

We now know, in great detail and absolute clarity, how much the Yankees think Jeter is worth. You just wonder

--------------------------------------------------------- "But in all the important ways, representing what the Yankees used to represent before they became like some bank of baseball,

It is why I hope he stays at shortstop as long as he wants to and I hope he gets paid again when the time comes.

  • George Steinbrenner is out of the picture now and Joe Torre is in Los Angeles. Maybe that is why the presence of the old Yankees and Jeter in particular seems more meaningful than ever before, as they try to do it one more time.
The main criticism of Jeter, before everybody moved in on his loss of range, is that he never said enough, that he wasn't a vocal enough leader or a fascinating quote. But he never signed on for that. He signed on to win, and after those first five years thought he was going to win as much as Joe DiMaggio did.
  • He is still everything the Yankees want to be. He is old-Yankee class at a time when they open this monument to excess and act as if they have done something as noble as building a library, or a church. If A-Rod is the face of the excess of this decade, Jeter is the face of the last one. The fans liked the last decade better.

Jeter has made his money, you bet. Signed that contract for $191 million right after A-Rod got his $252 million off the Texas Rangers (before Hank Steinbrenner came along to show Tom Hicks, the Rangers' owner, that he could sign Rodriguez to an even dumber contract than that one). But somehow, because of all the winning, he has never been thrown in with the $200-million-a-year All-Stars who haven't won it all since the Subway Series of 2000.

It was the end of what will be the last great time in Yankee history, the four in five and three in a row between 1998 and 2000, the closest thing in the last half-century to the Yankees winning five World Series in a row between '49 and '53. Jeter's Yankees doing that

Jeter's Yankees giving you 1998 and what might have been the best Yankee team of them all.

"We played the way you're supposed to play and won the way you're supposed to win," he said to me once.

It is not just Yankee fans that want things the way they used to be, on the other side of 161st St. It is Jeter, too. The Yankees will win another Series eventually, maybe even this season at McStadium. Jeter may still be at short when they do. But it won't be the way it was. The Yankees of today are the new place. They're A-Rod. Jeter was made for the place

  • across the street."...
-------------------------------------------------------- -----------------------------------------------------------
[<span class=
  • Letterman hosts Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, Derek Jeter, and Hideki Matsui, 11/05/09. photo from nyyfans.com
---------------------------------------------------------- Cashman goes on Fox TV saying Posada was not playing and it was not injury related.
  • ---------------------------------------------------------
5/3/2008, Suzyn today on Yankee radio reminds in the mid 1990's Yankee attendance was lagging in the Bronx. It was said the Yankees "needed a new stadium,
  • because nobody would come to the Bronx."
"The Yankees didn't get to #1 in attendance in the AL until 2003.
  • 1995 1,705,263 Rank 7 of 14 AL teams
  • 1996 2,250,887 Rank 7 of 14 AL teams
  • ---------------------------------------------------
9/28/1998, "To (George) Steinbrenner's annoyance, the Yankees ranked
  • per home game through August (1998)."...
...From Business Week article, "The Yankees: Steinbrenner's Money Machine," 9/28/1998 by Anthony Bianco with Mark Hyman in Baltimore
  • ----------------------------------------------
The fans let Jorge know how they felt on Sunday night. I heard the broadcast on radio. I watched ESPN TV's replay of the game after midnight and Posada's entrance was completely cut out. They picked it up at the point he was in the batters box, looking at the pitcher. I didn't see the original telecast, so don't know when the edit was made--of the biggest sports story in town. In any case, the version I saw would have been Randy Levine's choice. ed.


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