Buster Olney: Derek Jeter
October, 10, 2013
Jared Wickerham/Getty ImagesA year of frustration to the Yankees wasn't a disaster by the standards of most teams.
The Yankees’ final salary offer to Joe Girardi was presented last Thursday, and now that we know how it turned out -- like a televised poker game in which we see the cards -- it’s evident that the past week has been about negotiating, about trying to extract more from the Yankees. The Cubs never really had a shot unless Girardi made it all about the money and allowed himself to be offended by the Yankees’ intransigence in recent days.
This is what the Cubs suspected all along, that it was extremely unlikely that the former catcher would return to Illinois. Girardi has a longstanding relationship with the Steinbrenners and with general manager Brian Cashman, and although Girardi is a Northwestern product who has history with the Cubs’ organization, he doesn’t really know the Ricketts family or president Theo Epstein or GM Jed Hoyer.
So Girardi remains with an organization that faces many questions this offseason, but in the eyes of many rival evaluators, the notion that the Yankees are in a steep and irretrievable decline is viewed as incredibly na´ve and overstated.
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August, 19, 2013
Harry How/Getty ImagesHe might seem like more of a symbol than a player, but Jeter's presence is valuable in New York.BOSTON -- The last time Derek Jeter’s contract expired, in the fall of 2010, the Yankees held the negotiating hammer.
Jeter had turned 36 just months before and was coming off a middling type of season relative to his career performance, with his on-base average dropping from .406 in 2009 to .340 in 2010. So when Jeter looked for a significant deal, the response from Yankees general manager Brian Cashman was, in essence: Go ahead and try to find a better offer than what we’re willing to pay you, because it doesn’t exist.
Jeter wound up making a deal for far less than his side had aimed for, although nobody is suggesting the shortstop will starve based on his recent wages: $14.7 million in 2011, $16 million in 2012 and $17 million this year.
Now Jeter holds a player option for 2014 that would be for $9.5 million -- or he can take a $3 million buyout and blow up that option year. It might make sense for him to do this, because this time around, Jeter appears to hold significant leverage.
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June, 18, 2013
John Munson/USA TODAY SportsThere have been plenty of reasons for frustration in the Bronx this season.
Nobody will ever feel sorry for the New York Yankees because of their payroll, their bank account, and all of those championship flags flapping above their home ballpark. Think about this: The small handful of players who are unavailable to the Yankees because of injury today -- Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson and Kevin Youkilis -- earn more than the entire payrolls of about a third of the teams in the majors.
But the challenges the Yankees face are tangible, may cause them to stand down before the trade deadline, and may eventually prevent them from making the playoffs for just the second time since 1994. The front office made frugal moves late in spring training, and those players helped to buy time, yet there is a lot of murkiness ahead for the decision-makers, created partly by the past investments in the stars.
Granderson could get the pins removed from his fractured pinkie this week, and he is on course to come back in mid-to-late July. But the simple fact is that the Yankees have no idea -- absolutely none -- what they’ll get out of Teixeira, Jeter and Rodriguez in the second half of this season.
Teixeira received a cortisone shot Sunday and the Yankees are hopeful that this will help and he’ll bounce back. But Teixeira’s latest issue is all part of a larger problem with his wrist, and it remains possible that he’ll need season-ending surgery.
Rodriguez will take live batting practice today, and in the Yankees’ perfect world, he would come back for the last couple of months and be an above-average player at his position, which is what he was for much of last year. Jeter led the majors in hits last season, and maybe he’ll return and play that well again.
But they don’t know if any of that can happen, especially in light of the advanced age of all three of those players. If the Yankees didn’t have so many dollars invested in that trio, they would be better positioned to aggressively pursue solutions in the trade market before the July 31 deadline.
Like owners of a mansion in a bad real estate market, the practical reality is that the Yankees will have to wait. They will be blocked from making aggressive moves at first, shortstop or third base, because they can’t really acquire a player who quickly would become redundant if/when Teixeira, Jeter or Rodriguez returns.
It’s more likely the Yankees will have to be patient until the last days and hours leading up to the deadline before making their best-guess assessment of how much Rodriguez, Jeter and Teixeira can contribute.
"They’re going to be in a box,” one rival evaluator said.
Kevin Youkilis has been regressing. The Yankees are a lot like the 2012 Red Sox, writes Joel Sherman.
Around the league
• The Padres climbed over the Giants in the NL West standings by beating them in their own ballpark, and the win was created by this Will Venable catch.
• Max Scherzer is the first Tiger in more than 100 years to start a season 10-0, as George Sipple writes. He overcame ancient history, as Torii Hunter said.
From ESPN Stats and Info: Scherzer is the first starting pitcher to open 10-0 (all wins coming in starts) since Roger Clemens began the 1997 season 11-0.
How Scherzer beat the Orioles:
A) Scherzer brought his best fastball when he needed it, throwing 10 at 96 mph or higher. He had averaged fewer than four such fastballs per start entering Monday.
B) Three of Scherzer's four fastball strikeouts came on pitches of more than 96 mph. He threw five fastballs at 96-plus mph to Chris Davis with the bases loaded and two out in the fifth inning, eventually striking him out swinging on a 97 mph fastball.
C) Scherzer kept the ball away, throwing a season-high 66 percent of his pitches in the outer third of the strike zone or further outside. Seven of Scherzer's 10 strikeouts came on outside pitches.
D) All six of Scherzer's strikeouts with his off-speed pitches came the pitch directly after a fastball.
E) Scherzer held the Orioles to 0-for-16 with two strikes (although they were 7-for-9 before two strikes). Scherzer's .091 opponent batting average with two strikes is the best in the league.
Scherzer has struck out at least six in all 14 of his starts; only Pedro Martinez had longer streaks to begin a season, doing it in 15 straight games in 1999 and 29 straight in 2000.
• The sewage overflow at Oakland Coliseum that flooded the clubhouses and forced players to use the Raiders’ dressing room Sunday has been national news. But Athletics general manager Billy Beane says the smell of sewage is something the club’s employees cope with regularly, because of the nearly half-century-old infrastructure of the ballpark. "We have to live with it every day,” he said.
The commissioner’s committee to study the Athletics’ desire for a new ballpark was formed just after the inauguration of President Barack Obama -- his first term, more than four years ago.
This ballpark situation stinks, writes Mark Purdy.
• On Monday’s podcast, Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti was really good in talking about the mix of tough love and empathy he employs in his job, and Freddie Freeman discussed how he refined his approach at the plate, which worked for him Monday night, when he clubbed a walk-off homer.
• Giancarlo Stanton continues to just wreck the baseball, as Juan Rodriguez writes, and Stanton ended the streak that Patrick Corbin had built.
Stanton hasn’t wasted any time since coming off the disabled list. His second home run Monday was the 100th of his career in his 400th career game. He’s the ninth player to hit at least 100 home runs by his 400th career game.
Moves, deals and decisions
1. Jim Leyland says he’s going to go with a mix-and-match closer plan.
2. Tyler Lyons will get at least one more start.
3. Alex Wood is getting the ball for the Braves today, in his first major league start, writes Carroll Rogers.
4. Bo Porter is putting his faith in Trevor Crowe. Justin Maxwell is coming back.
5. You could really argue both sides of the Jurickson Profar debate, says Nolan Ryan.
6. Ian Kennedy dropped the appeal of his suspension, which means that he can participate in the Diamondbacks’ next series against the Dodgers, in early July.
7. Bruce Bochy admitted that he botched a double-switch.
8. The Reds are going to use Tony Cingrani out of the bullpen.
9. Ruben Amaro says he doesn’t do five-year plans, as David Murphy writes.
10. Jordy Mercer is going to be getting more playing time.
11. The Pirates are expected to sign their No. 1 pick today, writes Travis Sawchik.
12. Lucas Duda is getting a shot at first base.
Dings and dents
1. Anibal Sanchez and Alex Avila landed on the disabled list.
2. Jose Reyes and Brandon Morrow have started their injury rehabilitation assignments.
3. Asdrubal Cabrera hopes to be back soon.
4. Jake Peavy is having difficulty breathing.
1. The Royals are back at .500.
2. The Rangers busted their slump with one of their biggest moments of the season, as Evan Grant writes.
3. Wrote here the other day how impressed the Giants were with Josh Johnson, and the Rockies got a similar view of Johnson on Monday -- at the wrong end of a lot of zeroes. The Jays won with small ball, writes Ken Fidlin.
From ESPN Stats and Info, how Johnson dominated the Rockies:
A) Johnson had a season-high five strikeouts with his fastball, all on pitches up in the zone or above. The Rockies missed on nine of 14 swings against Johnson's high fastball.
B) All five of Johnson's strikeouts with his off-speed pitches came on pitches down in the zone or below; all five pitches were low and to Johnson's glove side.
C) He went to his slider a season-high 34 percent of the time, getting eight outs and four strikeouts with the pitch.
D) All 10 of Johnson's strikeouts were swinging.
4. Oakland blew a lead, and gave ground.
5. The Angels had a really good day at the plate.
6. Mike Leake was The Man for the Reds.
7. Domonic Brown and the Phillies got to frolic.
• Wil Myers is thrilled to get the big-league call-up. Many top prospects will have minimal time in the big leagues, some skipping Triple-A altogether, but as Myers joins the Rays, he will have had more than 1,296 plate appearances in Double- and Triple-A.
• The upcoming road trip will test the Rays’ pitching depth.
• Alfredo Aceves has been up to the task, as Michael Silverman writes.
• Daniel Nava’s return was keyed by defense, writes Peter Abraham.
• Chris Davis now leads the AL with 24 homers (five more than Miguel Cabrera), and is second to Miggy in batting (.337 to .358) and RBIs (61 to 71). We could have quite a Triple Crown race.
• The Royals climbed into second place on a luckless night for Carlos Carrasco.
• The White Sox played some '80s tunes after breaking a losing streak, as Mark Gonzales writes.
• The Twins are struggling in their own division, as Brian Murphy writes.
• The Angels’ defense has been terrible this season.
• DJ Peterson has begun a new path, in the Seattle farm system.
• A struggling Marlins rookie got a day off.
• Mike Zunino is enrolled in Baseball U, writes Ryan Divish.
• Washington continues to drift. But there is this: Bryce Harper is making progress.
• Denard Span’s swing is a problem, writes Adam Kilgore.
• For the Mets, a new face has arrived. This could be the start of something big, writes John Harper.
• Here’s yet another gem taken late in the draft developing in the St. Louis farm system.
• Shelby Miller took care of business.
• The Cubs’ frustration continues to build.
• Dale Sveum isn’t worried about the perception of fans.
• Carlos Gonzalez is good enough to carry the Rockies in Troy Tulowitzki’s absence, writes Troy Renck.
• The son of a former Giant haunted the Giants.
• For a couple of days, Don Mattingly will be king again.
The Rays’ Sam Fuld has had Type 1 diabetes since he was 10. The past two years, he has partnered with the University of South Florida Diabetes Center to host a two-day clinic in February for kids with juvenile diabetes. Sam runs the camp and recruits the instructors, all of whom are Type 1 diabetics. Also for the past two years, he has been the keynote speaker at Juvenile Diabetes Day at All Children’s Hospital. In April, he also spoke to 100 nursing students from the USF nursing program.
• The Angels thought about drafting Tim Tebow.
• The phone-book incident is part of Steve Sparks’ legacy, writes Tom Haudricourt.
• The Dodgers’ Stan Kasten is shaped by his father’s lessons, writes Bill Plaschke.
And today will be better than yesterday.
September, 5, 2011
Andrew Weber/US PresswireMiguel Cabrera has matured into one of baseball's fiercest hitters. And he's only 28.DETROIT -- Ozzie Guillen can remember the first time he saw Miguel Cabrera, as a skinny teenager, already so good at a young age that he was asked to play in a celebrity softball game in his native Venezuela. Cabrera was a shortstop in a country with a tradition of great shortstops, and so as Guillen remembers it, he let Cabrera play shortstop, Guillen played center field and Omar Vizquel played left.
It wasn't long after that Cabrera signed with the Florida Marlins, the team for which Guillen worked, and there was some disagreement in a staff meeting about the future of another shortstop, Alex Gonzalez. Some lobbied for the idea of pushing aside Gonzalez and installing Cabrera, and Guillen was astonished by what he heard.
"Cabrera's not going to be a shortstop," he insisted, having seen just how tall his fellow Venezuelan was. And after others in the room saw Cabrera, they understood what Guillen was talking about: Cabrera was going to turn into a very big man.
Cabrera was summoned to the big leagues in 2003, and Guillen was asked if he thought Cabrera could handle an immediate conversion to the outfield, and Guillen indicated yes, Cabrera would be comfortable with whatever was asked of him.
This is how a career with a Hall of Fame trajectory started: Cabrera playing in the World Series at age 20, mashing an opposite field home run off Roger Clemens after he had been knocked down, frolicking with the other Marlins after Josh Beckett finished off the Yankees in Yankee Stadium. Before last night's game, Cabrera walked across the first base foul line to Juan Pierre, and the two old friends greeted each other with a long-ago-choreographed handshake, a series of hand slaps and elbow jabs -- a legacy leftover from the 2003 Florida Marlins, like a Skull and Bones password.
Cabrera is 28 years old now, and a lot bigger than he was when Guillen first saw him. His baseball journey might be half over now, and he's had some detours along the way. But there has been one truth about Cabrera that has never been shaken: The man can hit like few before him. Saturday, Guillen marveled at how Cabrera faced White Sox closer Sergio Santos and anticipated a breaking ball -- while knowing that if he needed to he could take a fastball to the opposite field. When you look at all the great hitters in recent history, Guillen said, they have had the ability to take the ball the other way or through the middle of the field, and it's that ability that allows Cabrera to anticipate pitches the way he does.
Cabrera has been elevating the ball better of late, Jim Leyland noted before Sunday's game, and in the middle of the Tigers' wipeout of the White Sox -- the coup de grace for Chicago -- Cabrera drove a ball to the middle of the field -- straight up, and straight out for his 26th homer of the season, the 273rd homer of his career. He has 1,564 career hits and 971 RBIs and he's hitting .329 -- the sixth year in his career in which he's hit better than .300.
"He's got to take care of himself," said Guillen, "but he's a great hitter."
Nobody should go to sleep on the Tigers in the postseason, because this is a team locked in at the plate: Detroit went 24-for-48 Sunday night, with everyone from Cabrera to Victor Martinez to Alex Avila driving the ball the other way.
From ESPN Stats & Information: Thirteen of the Tigers' 24 hits came on outside pitches. The 13 hits on outside pitches match the most by any team in a game this season. The last team to do it was the White Sox, who did it in a 14-inning win over the Indians Aug. 16. The Tigers were 13-for-22 in at-bats ending in outside pitches, including Andy Dirks' home run. For the season, the Tigers are hitting .256 in at-bats ending in outside pitches, fourth highest in baseball (behind the Red Sox, Yankees and Phillies).
Max Scherzer threw seven shutout innings, the 18th time in his 29 starts he has allowed two earned runs or less. Also from ESPN Stats & Info, how he won:
A) Scherzer's fastball averaged 94.5 mph Sunday, his highest average velocity on his fastball since June 20, 2010.
B) Perhaps because of the Tigers' large lead, Scherzer's threw a first-pitch strike to 20 of 26 hitters (76.9 percent), his third-highest percentage of the season. With an 8-0 lead after the fourth inning, Scherzer threw first-pitch strikes to 11 of the 13 hitters he faced in the fifth inning and later.
C) Given the large lead, Scherzer came after the White Sox hitters in the strike zone. In the first three innings, 43.5 percent of Scherzer's pitches were in the strike zone, according to the Pitchf/x; in his final four innings, 62.7 percent of his pitches were in the strike zone.
D) Scherzer threw 17 sliders with two strikes, five more than in any of his starts in the last three seasons. He got five outs with his slider with two strikes, matching his most in the last three seasons.
The Tigers' finished off the White Sox, writes Michael Rosenberg. It was a drubbing, as Lynn Henning writes. Brennan Boesch will be lost for the season, because of thumb surgery.
• Chipper Jones says the Braves can take the Phillies in the playoffs, as Jeff Schultz writes.
From the story:
"We're what -- 10 games back in the loss column?" [Jones] said before the Philly lost at Florida (which actually left the team only nine losses apart). "I think it's safe to say the likelihood of them losing 10 games between now and then is slim. So we've resigned ourselves to the fact that we just want to go in and win the series. We want to play well against them. We want to sweep them. The more pressure we put on them, the better."
Then this: "The only team that can really put any pressure on them and beat them somewhat is us. And I hope we get them head-to-head in the postseason. If we get them head-to-head, we like our chances. We've beaten their big three [starting pitchers Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels]. I'm not sure if any other team in baseball has beaten their big three. They're a great ballclub, don't get me wrong. But we're not scared of them. It's going to be a knock down, drag out [fight]."
• I'd love to see a copy of the report that Joe West files about how he used instant replay in Sunday's game. If he maintains what he said Sunday -- that he used replay at the request of Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel -- he will directly counter what Manuel said. If Manuel didn't make the request, West used replay improperly.
Moves, deals and decisions
1. The Cardinals would like to keep Rafael Furcal.
2. The Yankees will keep six starters, for now, writes Roger Rubin.
3. The Giants need to have a discussion about Aubrey Huff, writes Tim Kawakami.
1. A) CC Sabathia and Derek Jeter rolled.
B) Again from ESPN Stats & Information, how Sabathia won: Sabathia threw eight more sliders Sunday than he had in any start over the last three seasons. Forty-seven of his 111 pitches (42.3 percent) were sliders, also his highest percentage in the last three years. Blue Jays hitters were 1-for-14 with seven strikeouts in at-bats ending with a Sabathia slider.
By consequence of throwing his slider so much, Sabathia threw his fastball less than 50 percent of the time for only the second start this season. Even still, Blue Jays hitters managed five hits against the pitch. It's the seventh straight start Sabathia has allowed at least five hits against his fastball; in his first 23 starts, he allowed five or more hits against his fastball seven times.
C) Right-handed hitters hit .381 against Sabathia in August; Sunday, Sabathia held right-handers to a .222 average (4-for-18), including 0-for-11 in at-bats ending in off-speed pitches. Sunday was Sabathia's first start since the beginning of August in which over half of his pitches to right-handers were off-speed.
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