Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Curly Haired Boyfriend has a Crazy Idea

Dan Shaughnessy or Napoleon Dynamite?  You decide...
Dan Shaughnessy has officially lost his mind.  No, seriously.  Earlier today, he suggested that it would be a good idea for the Red Sox to offer Derek Jeter a 3 year $60M contract. 
"Dissing Jeter is not a winning strategy, but the Yankees can get away with it because they know that no team is going to make a serious offer for the iconic shortstop.
Which brings us back to John Henry. Suppose the Red Sox step up and shock the world? There is simply no downside to making Jeter a massive offer. In the worst-case scenario he calls your bluff and you get the Yankees captain.
I don’t care if Jeter is way past his prime or if the Sox would have to wildly overpay a player of his diminished skills.
I say offer him the world. Forget about Jayson Werth. Blow Jeter away with dollars and years. At worst this would just mean the Sox would jack up the final price the Yankees must pay. It could be sort of like Mark Teixeira-in-reverse.
And if Jeter actually signed with Boston, the damage to the Yankees’ psyche would be inestimable.
Jeter finishing his career in a Red Sox uniform would be the 2004 American League Championship Series all over again for the hated New Yorkers. Think of how you’d have felt if the Knicks had signed Larry Bird at the end of his career."
Really?  That's your great idea?  While it might be a little fun poking a stick into the Yankees side, at the end of the day it's not worth it.  What do the Red Sox have to gain by wasting their energy and resources on a player they're never going to sign?  Jeter is a Yankee through and through.  He takes wearing Yankee pin stripes very seriously, and seems to take great joy in being a part of the Yankee mystique.  Honestly, we might have an easier time convincing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Holocaust was real.  Ok, maybe that's a little far.  I'm merely trying to point out that it's a wasted effort.  While it might force the Yankees to increase their offer, it's possible they're going to do that anyway.   Sure, it's nice that they're holding the line, but they're not going to let a few million dollars get in the way of their Captain retiring as a Yankee. 

What would the Red Sox do in the extremely unlikely event Jeter and Close accepted the 3/$60M offer?  It would be nothing short of a disaster.  While the contract doesn't have long term ramifications, it would huge short term consequences.  You know how Theo strives for payroll flexibility?  You can kiss that goodbye for the next three seasons.  That bridge Theo was building?  Let's just say it would collapse under the weight of Jeter's massive salary.  How about prospect Jose Iglesias?  Blocked.  It's unlikely that Jeter would be willing to both sign with the Yankees and change positions.  As a result, the Red Sox pitching staff would suffer immensely causing ERAs to jump. 

Shaughnessy's article is clearly aimed at the "Yankees suck!" crowd.  While I appreciate being a part of that crowd (albeit ONLY when the Red Sox and Yankees are playing), it's not a particularly bright or rational crowd.  It's too bad he feels more comfortable channeling the aimless emotion of Red Sox Nation in his articles.  He'd better serve both RSN and the Boston Globe by providing original, rational baseball analysis.  

Close, Jeter Meeting with Yankees in Tampa

Since there really isn't too much going on, I thought I'd pass on Ken Rosenthal's latest tweet:
"Jeter, Close meeting with officials in Tampa. Story coming on .
This likely means absolutely nothing, but I (like every other blogger and journalist) am desperate for new Derek Jeter news.  I'm starting to feel like Ewan McGregor in Trainspotting.  You laugh, but I was about ten minutes away from seeing babies crawl across the ceiling.

Stay tuned...

Upton to be Pulled Off of Trade Market by End of Winter Meetings

With the Justin Upton rumor mill having gone silent over the last few days, this news shouldn't come as too much of a surprise:
"Things have been quiet on the Upton front since last week and the team figures to know one way or the other by the end of the four-day meetings whether Upton will be a D-back come Opening Day.
'There comes a point in time when we've kicked the tires, gone through the process and you finally say 'We're keeping him,' Towers said. 'We should have a real good idea by the end of the meetings.'"
If you have dreams of one day becoming a Major League General Manager, I hope you paid close attention to what Kevin Towers did there.  Towers is a master at building a player's trade value.  By setting an artificial deadline (i.e. the end of the winter meetings), he's hoping some team will panic and overpay for Upton's services.  While I'd like to think that major league GMs are too smart and savvy to fall prey to such tactics, I know better.  Brian Sabean, Ned Colletti, and Dayton Moore are always lurking...

Rockie Mountain High

Prior to today, Troy Tulowitski was a rich man.  Now, he’s even richer.  Rather than have Tulowitski play out the remaining three years of his six year $31M contract, the Rockies have decided to not only pick up his $15M option for 2014, but also tack on an additional six year $120M contract that will run from 2015 to 2020.  All told, Tulowitski will make $157.75M over the next 10 years.  

Like Craig Calcaterra of NBC’s Hardball Talk, I’m left wondering why the Rockies made such a big push to sign a player that was already locked up for the foreseeable future.  It’s most confusing.  Don’t get me wrong.  Tulowitski is a fantastic player who does a lot of things incredibly well.  For starters, he’s only 26 years old, and he’s already a consistent 5-6 WAR player.  Second, he’s an excellent defender at one of the most defensively challenging positions (SS) on the field.  He has soft hands, great range, and a strong arm.  Third, he hits for average, has excellent power for this position, gets on base at an above average clip, exhibits good plate discipline, and is an above average base runner.  If you were going to build a contender around one player, he’s on the short list of five or ten guys you’d consider. 

Still, I can’t help but wonder if this was a somewhat of a miscalculation on the part of the Rockies.  Tulowitski may be an excellent player now, but what happens if he runs into a string of nagging injuries that not only keeps him out of action for extended periods, but also limits his production.*  This isn’t completely out of the realm of possibilities as he spent significant portions of both the 2008 and 2010 seasons on the disabled list with a torn quadricep and fractured wrist.  I’m not saying he’s going to have an injury riddled career, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention it as a possibility.  That said, assuming Tulowitski remains healthy, I project him to be a 4.5-6.0 WAR player between 2011 and 2016, and a 2.5-5.0 WAR player from 2017 and 2020.

* Nomar Garciaparra, a player with a comparable skill set, had his first major injury in his age-27 (2001).  By the time Garciaparra reached his age-30 season, he was overcome by a barrage of injuries that completely derailed a career that seemed Hall of Fame bound.  Nomar's career as an effective major league starter ended at age-32.  He was out of the game by the time he was 35 years old.  
To an extent, I understand the Rockies' desire to lock up their franchise player.  After their last franchise player (Matt Holliday) priced himself out of the Rockies comfort zone, they were forced to trade him to Oakland one year prior to him becoming eligible for free agency.  As such, they wanted to make sure they had Tulowitski locked up through his prime.  The problem is that they didn't need to sign Tulowitski to another extension.  They already had him locked up for the next four seasons.  While the Rockies probably saved themselves $20-40M by signing him now, they’ve added considerable risk due to the length of the commitment they’ve made.  The smart move for the Rockies (and Tulowitski) would have been to hold off signing a contract for another two or three seasons.  Luckily for the Rockies, Tulowitski is a good bet to provide enough value to justify his contract assuming he stays healthy.  It's not a bad signing.  Just a confusing one.    

The Magical Mind of Scott Boras

Say what you will about Scott Boras (liar, manipulator, greedy, sweet guy who loves taking romantic walks on the beach with that special someone), but the man comes up with some very interesting ideas:

“Teams currently obtain such players through the Rule 5 draft at the winter meetings. The cost of each player is $50,000, and the player must be offered back at half-price if he doesn't remain on the major-league roster all season.

The Boras plan would generate considerably more sizzle – and dollars.

Each team would protect a set number of players: 40, the current number, or maybe even 45. Every other player in a club's farm system would be available through a blind posting process similar to the arrangement baseball maintains with Japanese clubs.


Boras, though, believes his plan would force clubs to place even greater emphasis on scouting and development, making talent evaluation that much more important.”

While his idea is incredibly creative, it’s neither necessary, nor in the best interest of baseball to implement.  For starters, there’s nothing wrong with the Rule 5 draft.  The draft serves its purpose by keeping teams from stockpiling young talent (not currently on the 40-man roster within three to four years of their signing) in their minor league systems.  Assuming Boras intends to keep the eligibility rules identical, the quality of the prospects available is likely to be fairly low.  While there will certainly be some diamonds in the rough, the pool will be primarily made up of raw Latin prospects in their early 20s and low reward post prospects in their late 20s.  If, on the other hand, Boras intends to change the eligibility rules (which it sounds like he’s suggesting) by making any prospect not currently on the 40 man roster eligible for posting, his system would change the way teams and farm systems are developed.  While this would greatly improve the quality of talent available, it could have a less than favorable impact on the development of certain prospects.

Secondly, a blind posting system could create something of an administrative nightmare.  The folks at MLB headquarters would be responsible for handling tens to hundreds of posting bids at any given time.  Mistakes are bound to happen occasionally.  (Let us not forget the debacle surrounding Pedro Alvarez at the draft pick signing deadline in August 2008.)  What recourse will a team have if they’re in advertently denied an opportunity to negotiate for a player’s services? 

Lastly, this gives big market clubs greater incentive to go “over slot” to sign draft picks in an effort to accumulate additional high end talent.  It shouldn’t come as any surprise that Scott Boras represents a large number of the top prospects in each amateur draft.  As a result, he will benefit from the larger bonuses given to amateurs.  Additionally, as big market teams build deeper farm systems, they’ll be able in better position to take some additional risks by selling surplus talent via Boras’s posting system.  The revenue generated via the posting process can then be funneled back into the Major League payroll.  The additional money flooding the free agent market will likely cause salary inflation.  Again, Boras, who just happens to represent a fair number of the biggest free agents every offseason, will reap the financial benefits.

I don’t want to give the impression that big market clubs will be the only ones benefiting from Boras’s proposed posting system.  Small and mid-market clubs will benefit to an extent as well, just not in the same manner.  Due to the likely salary inflation caused by an influx of additional revenue, small and mid-market teams will be at a greater disadvantage for signing big name free agents.  This may cause smaller market teams (like the Marlins or Pirates) to hoard the revenues obtained via posting rather than reinvesting it.  While this would positively affect an organization’s profit margin, it would have an adverse impact on not only the competitive balance, but also the overall quality of play on the baseball field. 

I know.  It’s shocking.  Scott Boras, knowing his dream of abolishing the amateur draft will never be realized, has come up with a way to build an alternate system that benefits him financially.  It’s pretty brilliant.  You can’t blame the guy for trying.  Fortunately, there are enough of us that are hip to his little charade.  Rarely does he have an idea that isn’t entirely self-serving.

Monday, November 29, 2010

More Great Moments in Dodger Decision Making...

If the reports from Buster Olney and Ken Rosenthal are true, Juan Uribe made an awful lot of money today.  How much?  3 years and $21M.  Yikes!  This has to be one of Ned Colletti's most...um...interesting moves, and he's had a lot of them.  (Juan Pierre and Andruw Jones anyone?)  Then again, what else do you expect from a man that was an apprentice under Brian Sabean.*

*Making fun of Brian Sabean never ceases to bring me joy.

To steal a word from Casey Close's vocabulary, I can't help but be "baffled" by the Dodgers willingness to go to three years on Uribe, especially considering the uncertainty surrounding the franchise's ownership situation.  $21M is a lot of money for a player that's posted below average wOBAs in six of his nine full seasons in the major leagues.  Offensively, he exhibits above average power, but not much else.  Uribe has a below average line drive rate, poor plate discipline, and replacement level on-base abilities.  This isn't to say he's not a useful player.  Uribe is a versatile defensive player who's proficient at three defensively challenging infield positions (2B, 3B, and SS).  That said, Uribe isn't the type of player any team should invest in long term as there are cheaper alternatives on the market each offseason.  The Dodgers would've been wise to do their due diligence, and explore the market for undervalued players.

With Rafael Furcal and Casey Blake currently entrenched at shortstop and third base, the Dodgers will likely play Uribe primarily at second base.  Despite Uribe's offensive shortcomings, he still represents an upgrade over current second baseman Ryan Theriot, who's now likely to be non-tendered.  While Uribe's acquisition likely makes the Dodgers better in the short term, it poses several questions for the Dodgers in the long-term.  Uribe will be under contract for his age 32, 33, and 34 seasons.  As such, he's much more likely to decline than improve.  It's not a stretch to imagine Uribe regressing back to this 2007/2008 replacement level form.  If he does, Colletti will be the one with egg on his face.

In an unrelated note, I wonder how Uribe's signing will impact the Derek Jeter contract negotiations...

Jeter Gets Served!

The Yankees seem to be getting a little feisty lately.  Earlier today, Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York reported that the Yankees (or should I say a source inside the organization) think their Captain shortstop needs to “drink the reality potion” before stepping back up to the negotiating table.  Oh, and just when you thought the talks weren’t completely dysfunctional, there’s news that the two sides haven’t so much as texted each other since before Thanksgiving.  Simply delicious! 

This isn’t going to be resolved for another couple of months, so prepare to get daily updates on the ongoing saga.  The whole situation is very un-Yankee like.  The Yankee’s image of class and sophistication has been temporarily replaced by the image of the Maury Povich show on “paternity test day”.  Everyone’s scratching, clawing, and yelling, while the studio audience is cheering for more.  It’s trashy and horrifying, yet I can’t look away. 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Vazquez Signs One Year Contract with Marlins

Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports reports that the Florida Marlins and Javier Vazquez have come to terms on a one year deal worth around $6-7M.  I have to admit I'm a little perplexed by this one.  Last week, there were several reports indicating Vazquez had turned a couple of multi-year offers.  One of those offers came supposedly came from the Washington Nationals at 2 years $20M.  It's possible that the Nationals offer was bogus (this is the Hot Stove Season after all), but if it wasn't, I'd be very interested to find out why he turned down multi-year deal with a larger annual average salary.

Just two seasons ago, Vazquez was one of the most effective pitchers in the National League (with the Atlanta Braves) going 15-10 with a 2.87 ERA (2.82 xFIP), 9.77 K/9, 5.41 K/BB, and 6.5 WAR.  His performance earned him a controversial fourth place finish (ESPN Insider subscription only) in the NL Cy Young award voting.*

*Personally, I loved Law's decision to put Vazquez on his ballot.  If he'd received better run support, no one would've complained about Law's decision to put Vazquez on his ballot ahead of Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter.

Prior to the 2010 season, Vazquez was traded to the Yankees for Melky Cabrera and a couple of minor leaguers.  Throughout the season, Vazquez struggled mightily seeing huge spikes in his walk, home run, line drive, and contact rates, which was mostly likely caused by a corresponding drop in fastball velocity from 91.1 MPH in 2009 to 87.7 MPH in 2010.  Vazquez was so ineffective that he was not only demoted to the bullpen twice during the season, but also left off of the Yankees playoff roster in both the ALDS and ALCS. 

Assuming Vazquez can rediscover his fastball velocity, he should be a pretty nice addition to the Marlins.  He'll fill the role as the Marlins fifth starter slotting behind Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, Anibal Sanchez, and Chris Volstad.   If Vazquez should falter, the Marlins have a more than capable replacement in Alex Sanabia.  At $7M per season, we can't really consider Vazquez a low-risk signing (especially since $7M is a lot to the Marlins), but it certainly does have the potential to be high-reward.  If Vazquez can rebound, and become a 2-3 WAR pitcher in 2011, this signing could have a huge impact on the Marlins ability to reach the playoffs.  That is, if they can overcome some of their bizarre personnel decisions this winter (i.e. the Uggla/Infante trade and John Buck signing...

Do the Red Sox Have to Trade for Upton?

Over the last few weeks, there's been a lot of discussion in both the traditional media and the blogosphere regarding the availability of Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton.  When a 23 year old former first round pick with seemingly unlimited potential becomes available, every seems to have an opinion as to whether (insert your favorite team here) should take the plunge and acquire him.

Even here at BBIMH, both Josh and I have expressed differing opinions on the subject.  To me, Upton is a five tool player with tremendous power potential, good speed, and above average defensive skills.  At 23 years of age, Upton is only beginning to realize his potential.  His best seasons are clearly ahead of him. Players like Upton come along very rarely.  It'd be foolish for any team to not explore the idea.*  Josh, on the other hand, sees Upton as a player who's hype far outweighs his current and likely future production; therefore, a risky trade proposition.  As evidence, he pointed to Upton's high career strikeout rate, and low home run rate despite playing in one of the more home run friendly parks in baseball.  While I understand his reasoning, I respectfully disagree.  

*Please note that I used the term "explore".  As with any free agent signing or trade, the benefits of acquiring a player needs to equal or exceed the costs.  I am by no means suggesting that a team should acquire Upton's services at any cost.

A few days ago, Christopher Gasper of the Boston Globe offered his opinion on the prospects of a Justin Upton trade, and what'd it mean for the Red Sox. 
"It's early in the offseason to panic. However, yesterday's news that Victor Martinez is like the Patriots -- Motown-bound -- was greeted with groans and gripes because this third-place team needs to add impact pieces, not subtract them. The virulent reaction to Martinez's four-year, $50 million deal with Detroit from a frustrated fan base showed that this has the potential to be the offseason of our discontent on Yawkey Way. It's probably going to get worse before it gets better on the free agency front with third baseman Adrian Beltre viewed as being likely to bid the Hub adieu too.
That's why it's imperative that the Red Sox make the Upton move. It's bold, it's proactive and it will move the needle for a club that desperately needs some positive spin to sell to a now suspicious fan base. More importantly it could help the team in both the short term and the long term on the field. Yes, the asking price is very high, as the smoke signals from the Hot Stove indicate it would take both Ellsbury and Bard, plus another piece to make it happen. But so is Upton's ceiling."
Yes, the Red Sox need to add impact pieces, but how would retaining Victor Martinez long-term help the Red Sox?  As I've mentioned before, signing a soon-to-be 32 year old catcher to a long-term deal is usually a losing proposition.  If we were talking about a one or two year deal, I would be able to understand his point.  We're not though.  We're talking about tying up four years at $50M for a catcher who's best seasons are behind him.

Oh, did I mention that VMart isn't even going to be the Tigers primary catcher?  On Friday, the Globe's Steve Silva reported the Tigers are only planning on playing Martinez at catcher for 60 games with remainder of his starts coming at DH.  Using Bill James's projection that Martinez plays 134 games in 2011 (60 at catcher and 74 at DH), he projects to lose 1.0 WAR in positional value alone.   Although, Martinez projects to make up some of that lost value due to improvements in offensive production and replacement level value, he will still lose about 0.5 WAR (making him a 3.5 WAR player in 2011).  While this is enough to justify his 2011 salary, we shouldn't expect this trend to continue over the life of his four year contract. 

As for his opinion on Upton...  While I agree that a player of Upton's caliber could help the Red Sox in both the short and long-term, I reject the notion that "it's imperative" for the Red Sox to make a deal.  Furthermore, I reject the idea of making a move merely to placate a fan base that's irrationally suspicious or angry.  It's a terrible idea.  The second you make a move based on either of the above two reasons, you're making a huge mistake.  Decisions like these need to be made based on objective analysis, not the overly emotional cries of the fans or media. 

Is it in the Red Sox best interests to make a few upgrades?  Sure.  Do they have to trade for Upton in particular?  No.  Further down in the article, Gasper mentions that Upton will be cheaper over the next five seasons than either Carl Crawford or Jayson Werth.  While this is technically true, it's somewhat misleading.  Crawford and Werth are free agents.  If the Red Sox were to sign one of the two outfielders, they would have give up a first round draft pick to the losing team as compensation.  (Note that they're already receiving a better first round pick from Detroit for signing VMart.)  This is, of course, in addition to paying said player's annual salary.

With Upton, the Red Sox would not only have to take on Upton's salary ($49.5M through 2015), but also trade away valuable major league players and/or prospects in return.  If reports are true, the Red Sox would be giving up three relatively cheap (albeit arbitration) seasons for Jacoby Ellsbury, and five cost controllable seasons for closer in waiting Daniel Bard for Upton.  And that's before we discuss the two to three additional prospects that will be required to complete the deal.  Depending on the prospects the Diamondbacks ask for (Casey Kelly?), the overall cost of the deal could become prohibitive.

Despite what Gasper leads the reader to believe, a trade for Upton is not as cut and dry as it appears.  There is a significant cost to making a trade.  If the Red Sox were to overpay for Upton, it could hamper their ability to trade for an important piece at the July 31st trading deadline.  Furthermore, trading away four or five talented major league caliber players and prospects could have a long-term affect on the team's ability to maintain maximum payroll flexibility.  

Saturday, November 27, 2010

For the Love of God...Can the Nightmare Finally be Over?

I'm really getting sick of writing about the Derek Jeter situation.  There are times where I feel like it's all I talk about.  That said, the storyline is just so compelling.  It's kind of fun watching the Yankees and their Captain bicker over millions of dollars.  This is baseball's equivalent to Kanye West and his crazy tweets, or Lindsey Lohan and her inability to stay out of rehab.  It's become a water cooler story that keeps getting juicier as time goes on.  And juicier, it has become...

Yesterday, I mentioned that Bill Madden reported that Derek Jeter was requesting a somewhere around 6 years $150M.  Later, I updated the post with a quote from Jeter's agent, Casey Close, who stated Madden's report was "simply inaccurate".*  Today, there are two new reports (one from Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times and another from Bill Madden and Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News) stating that Jeter is requesting a deal worth $22-24M over four to five seasons.

*Odd choice of the word "simply", don't you think?  Has anything regarding these negotiations been simple?

To quote the movie Clueless, "Whatever".  If the reports are true, Casey Close is really splitting hairs over what he considers to be "simply inaccurate".  Sure, the $25M per season figure was a little off, but it wasn't by that much.  It's certainly not off by enough to warrant coming out with a statement refuting the report.  Then again, there could be an ulterior motive for refuting the report.  As I've mentioned a few times before, when you look at the situation objectively, it's ludicrous for Jeter to expect a contract of that magnitude.  After all, he is a 36 year old shortstop that was below average offensively (per wOBA, EqA, and OPS) and defensively (per every advanced metric available) in 2010.  This is true, even after you add Jeter's intangible qualities to the equation.

Perhaps, Close knows his demands are insane, and he's trying to save face by attempting to keep his demands private.  I don't know whether this is true or not, but I'm starting to wonder if it is.   As I mentioned yesterday, Close forcefully refuted Madden's report of 6/$150M.  Throughout the negotiation process, he has never once mentioned what he (and Jeter) felt was a reasonable offer.  The only thing he's mentioned is that the Yankees offers (presumably around 3/$45M) haven't been inline with a player of Jeter's stature.   At this point, there are too many reports claiming Jeter's looking for A-Rod type money (albeit a little less) for me not to believe it.  Close's denials are coming off as desperate and hollow.

Felix Pie Channels his Inner Milton Bradley

If there's one thing I love about baseball, it's player/manager confrontations with umpires.  Well, ok.  There are a lot of things I love about baseball, but this is one of the things that bring me the most joy.   

The other day, Felix Pie went into a murderous rage after getting picked off of first base.  I'm not sure where this falls in the all time great temper tantrums of all time.  I can say for , but it definitely falls behind the following:

5.  Roberto Alomar spits on John Hirschbeck
4.  Milton Bradley tears his ACL
3.  Anything involving Lou Pinella whether he's kicking his hat, kicking dirt on an umpire, or stealing bases.  He's the king of manager tirades.
2.  Delmon Young bat toss
1.  Braves minor league manager, Philip Wellman, "throws grenades" at an umpire.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Garland Signs with Dodgers

You know it's a slow news day when Jon Garland signing a one year $5.5M with the Dodgers is big news.  The contract includes a vesting option for a second season if he hurls 190 innings in 2011.

Garland is your garden variety innings eater who should slot in nicely behind Kershaw, Billingsley, Lilly, and Kuroda.  A lock for 200 innings, Garland will give the Dodgers below average strikeout numbers, average walk rates, and ground ball heavy GB/FB ratio.  He's nothing special, but he's the kind of pitcher that every contending team needs.

Considering how well he did with pitching half of his starts at Petco in 2010, he should have no problem transferring that success to pitcher friendly Dodger Stadium.

Derek Jeter Looking for an Insane Contract

Earlier today, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News reported that the Jeter/Close camp is looking for a contract in the range of 6 years $150M.
"Throughout this process, Close and Jeter have never revealed what they're actually looking for - which is why so many Yankee fans, opposing club officials and nationwide media types are asking: Why are the Yankees treating Jeter this way? But sources close to the Jeter/Close camp have said their starting point was six years, $150 million and that they aren't budging on $25 million per year - which would effectively get the captain about even in annual average salary to Alex Rodriguez, the real benchmark from their standpoint in this negotiation."
Yes, you read that correctly.  As I mentioned the other day, the Yankees have given Jeter their blessing to test the free agent market.  Presumably, this will give Jeter and Close a chance to see how much he's really worth on the free agent market, thereby bringing his demands back to reality.

The Jeter free agent frenzy is going to be a long, painful road.  Dave Cameron recently compared Jeter's situation to that of Manny Ramirez during the 2008-2009 offseason.  I don't think that's too far off to be honest.  Like Manny, Jeter is coming to terms with the idea that his value is not nearly as great as it once was.  That can be a tough lesson for any player to learn--especially one that's been a cornerstone for one of the keystone franchises in baseball.

UPDATE (11/26/2010 @ 6:05 p.m.):  Jeter's agent, Casey Close, responded to the claim that Jeter is requesting a 6 year $150M contract:
"The recently rumored terms of our contract extension are simply inaccurate."
Not surprising.  He doesn't want anyone thinking that neither he, nor his client, are crazy.  Of course, Close didn't say what he and Jeter were requesting from the Yankees (or any other team for that matter).  Then again, Close doesn't seem like the kind of guy that likes to negotiate through the media.  Oh wait...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Morneau's Road to Recovery

Justin Morneau was putting together an MVP quality season when a concussion, on July 7th, unexpectedly derailed his season.   Despite multiple attempts to comeback last season, Morneau suffered through intense headaches and dizziness.  Finally, it appears that Morneau is on the road to recovery.  Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that Morneau has resumed his cardio workouts, and should be able to return to baseball related action in the near future.
"The road to recovery is going well," Morneau wrote in an e-mail to the Star Tribune. "I started working out again this week, and I am feeling pretty good. It has been a long and frustrating road, but feels good to be able to function normally on a day-to-day basis.
The first couple of workouts have gone well, and I am sure I will be more than over-anxious to get spring training and the season started once February rolls around."
This is great news.  Morneau is an incredibly talented player, and it'd be a shame to see his career derailed by a freak injury.  At the time of his injury, he was putting up career highs in batting average, OBP, and SLG; a .447 wOBA (+35.1 wRAA); +9.8 UZR (+9 DRS); and 5.3 WAR.  While the Twins played very well in his absence, it's entirely possible the Twins would've fared better in the playoffs had he been in the everyday lineup. 

Last season was shaping up to be a career year with Morneau putting up numbers far above his career norms.  I expect him to regress back to his mean baseline performance, so expecting a reprise of 2010 in 2011 should not be expected.  Going into his age-30 season, I expect him to return to the 3.5 to 4.0 WAR player he was prior to next season.  Either way, it'll be great to have him back.  He's a solid player that makes one of the best teams in the American League even better.