Feb
22

On mansions, hunger and Hank Steinbrenner

By

An aerial view of St. Jetersburg (Photo Credit: Michael Egger, TBO.com)

Derek Jeter has built himself an huge mansion on Davis Island overlooking the Tampa Bay. Jeter spent $7.7 million on two lots back in 2005 and 2006, and in early 2009, he started construction on his $7.7 million house. It’s a very big house, the largest square-foot-wise in all of Hillsborough County.

Hank Steinbrenner, the Yanks’ general partner and co-chairperson, doesn’t much go for mansions. While talking off the cuff with reporters on Monday afternoon, Hank attempted to channel his dad as he questioned his team’s hunger in 2010. “Sometimes, I think maybe they celebrated a bit too much last year, and some of the players were too busy building mansions and doing other things and not concentrating on winning,” he said. “I have no problems saying that. I think they’ll come into this spring with a new hunger, and that’s what it takes to win.”

When a reporter noted that only Jeter built a mansion this past year, Hank backtracked a bit. He didn’t, however, note that the mansion under the microscope had been under construction during the Yanks’ 2009 World Series run. “I’m not singling anybody out,” he insisted. “Maybe they were riding the wave of ’09 a little too much. It happens. Psychologically, it happens.”

Except for a digression on Rafael Soriano, those were Hank’s most strident words during the nine-minute session with reporters. Afterwards, Erik Boland of Newsday took to Twitter to remind the amused masses that the eldest Steinbrenner son has “little influence on day-to-day operations.” The comments are, in other words, “nothing more than entertainment.”

But I think there’s more going on than just entertainment. Hank is defensive about his money. He’s made that perfectly clear in his repeated attacks on Major League Baseball’s revenue sharing system, and again yesterday, he called it either communist or socialist. Bud Selig, he says, wants to “do something” about it.

With Jeter, then, Steinbrenner, who doesn’t involve himself with the Yanks too closely, saw what we all saw. George’s golden boy — the short stop/captain who could — is getting older. With free agency looming, the 36-year-old hit .270/.340/.370 last year and produced career lows in nearly every offensive category. He was also coming off of a 10-year, $189-million contract but still wanted to be paid like the icon he is and the player he was.

After bitter negotiations made worse by incessant media coverage, the Yanks and Jeter struck a deal. For the next three years, Jeter will average $16 million in annual salary, and he holds an $8 million player option for 2014 that could be worth as much as $17 million. As Jeter noted this weekend, he intends to play out the duration of the contract. “That’s my option, buddy,” he said.

We don’t know what kind of season Jeter will have this year. We don’t know if Kevin Long can stave off an age-related decline. We don’t know what 39-year-old or 40-year-old Jeter will look like. We do know that he’ll be living in a mansion in Hank’s backyard that’s bigger than any house around. No wonder the Yanks’ owner is taking jabs at mansions.

Hanks likes to roar; that’s nothing new. But taking aim at Jeter won’t earn him many accolades from the fans. The Yanks are moving forward with Jeter, as they should, and that’s just the way of things, mansions and all.

A Note on Soriano

In the same interview, Steinbrenner defended the Yanks’ signing of Rafael Soriano, and he adamantly compared the reliever to Cliff Lee. “Everybody’s missing the point,” he said of the criticism surrounding Soriano. “We didn’t get Lee, but we got the second best relief pitcher in the American League next to our own guy…They seem to be conveniently forgetting that fact.” He again repeated, “We didn’t get the starter, but we got the reliever.” As the Yanks head into the season with a mixture of Sergio Mitre, Ivan Nova, Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon holding down the back end of the rotation, I wonder who exactly is missing the point.

A hat tip to Marc Carig for the Hank Steinbrenner audio.

Categories : Musings

82 Comments»

  1. Neil says:

    That apple not far from the tree thing would seem to apply with Hank. Hopefully Hank will be as free flowing with money as he is with his comments when the Garcia, Mitre, Colon, Nova, Millwood? thing doesn’t work and the Yanks have to overpay for a pitcher somewhere.

  2. mbonzo says:

    Hank is doing his best impression of his father from the 1980′s.

  3. bonestock94 says:

    His justification for Soriano of not getting Lee proves that he’s a jackass that should be ignored.

  4. MikeD says:

    Jeter may never be what he once was, he might even be worse this year than last. Age will catch up to all. One thing, however, that should never be questioned about Jeter is his dedication. He gives it his all. He deserves better than off-the-cuff comments like this from Hank.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      “One thing, however, that should never be questioned about Jeter is his dedication. He gives it his all.”

      There’s been way too much of this fanboy/goldenboy stuff… He’s a human being. It is possible he could make a mistake or give less than his all.

      Hank said he was not referring to one player. All 5 of the highest paid Yankees had career worst seasons or close: A-Rod, Jeter, Tex, CC, and AJ… (Berkman too, though he was only there 1/2 a season.) If I had paid them a combined $112.5 mill last season to watch them collectively underachieve I would call them out too.

    • Poopy Pants says:

      I’ll stop questioning Jeter’s dedication when he volunteers to bat 8th or 9th in the lineup.

  5. pat says:

    Jeter built a 30k sq ft house for only $7.7 million? To me that’s the most absurd part of this whole story.

    • Jonathan says:

      he bought the land for $7.7MM. Two lots. I think the next sentence is just a typo or I could be wrong. It’s possible the lots cost $7.7MM and so does the house.

  6. Chris A says:

    I don’t understand the ownership bashing when it comes to Soriano, the one thing that bothers me about this website is the authors tend to act as if it was their money that was being spent to sign players. Did the Soriano deal make us better? Yes. Will it prevent us from landing a premier free agent down the road? The writers seem to think so, even in the face of our spend to win at all costs mentality (there is nothing to suggest that there is some magical payroll threshold that when reached will cause ownership to say that’s enough). Do you honestly think the Steinbrenner’s do not have enough foresight to consider the ramifications of every free agent contract they enter into? They know what they are doing. Thank God we have owners like the Steinbrenners, I hope the day never comes when we are complaining that we did not sign someone, rather than complaining that we just signed an elite reliever.

    • I think you’re absolutely missing the point. The money isn’t in question at all. Of course, the Yanks can afford it, and of course, the Yanks’ bullpen is likely better off for it (as long as Soriano stays healthy). In fact, I didn’t mention the dollars here and have never done so in a post about Soriano.

      What Hank is saying though is just wrong. Soriano can’t replace Lee or any front-line starting pitcher. To equate those two shows a sheer lack of understanding of how baseball works.

      • Chris A says:

        I find it foolish to believe that Hank meant that the Soriano signing makes up for the holes we have in our rotation (maybe I’m hoping that’s not what he meant).

        Regarding Soriano, my orginal post is aimed at other authors on this site, as I never you said that you in particular were ever critical of the deal. The bottom line is I am more than willing to tolerate an occssional assanine comment from the owner of my team, if it means that he and his family are willing to spend whatever it takes to win.

        Obviously we have holes in our rotation, but after missing out on Lee, I don’t know what we could have done differently this offseason, as none of us truly know what kind of SP market Cashman is facing in trying to construct a deal.

        I think Hank was simply trumpeting the fact that we added a great reliever.

        • Take a listen to the interview that Carig published on his own post. It sounds to me as though Hank is saying that signing Soriano effectively makes up for missing out on Lee. I know you’re willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, but that’s not the way it comes across in the context of the interview.

        • pete says:

          But then what did Hank mean by us “missing the point”? If Hank thinks the point is that we got Soriano, and not that we didn’t get Lee, then I agree with Ben – Hank is the one missing the point. Missing out on Lee was the defining characteristic of this offseason. The other moves the team has made (Soriano, Jones, Garcia) should benefit the club some, but they will not make up for Lee’s absence.

          If his implication is that people criticizing Soriano’s contract are “missing the point” because Soriano’s a great reliever, then I would again agree with Ben – the criticism is not due to Soriano’s being anything other than a great reliever, it’s simply that the contract was not a very team-friendly contract, just like Jeter’s and A-Rod’s contracts are not team-friendly contracts. As fans of the team and not the individual players’ bank accounts, we here tend to prefer team-friendly contracts, or at least contracts that are of appropriate value to the Yankees. The Soriano contract probably isn’t far off market value, but it’s nowhere near an appropriate value to the Yankees, because their bullpen was already excellent and deep without him, and they have glaring needs elsewhere.

          I would have liked the contract a lot more, though, if they had at least considered letting Joba try to start this year, as it would have essentially meant upgrading a reliever and getting a starter.

      • Ted Nelson says:

        I tend to agree that the site as a whole–led by Mike but seemingly groupthink from the authors down to the readers–has taken a hardline stance against the Soriano deal to the point of ignoring reality and taking every possible opportunity to bash it. The day it happened Mike came out with separate articles on just about every single negative aspect and theoretically possible negative aspect of the signing. About 2 sentences the whole day were dedicated to what a good relief pitcher Soriano is… It was actually just a link in one sentence I believe. The corresponding positives to each negative were ignored… i.e. he is still whining about the draft pick, but has failed to explain once that the Yankees could get a pick or two when Soriano leaves and that any single late first round pick has a very low chance of even making the impact in his career that Soriano can in a season. That without hard slotting or an international draft it is very possible to make up for a lost first rounder. Or complaining in the same breath both about signing a reliever to a 3 year deal and the fact that he might opt out before 3 years… I see how they take the risk of a three year deal even if he busts completely, but if you think a one or two year deal would have been wiser and he opts out you get your wish. I would have liked to see more actual analysis instead of biased blabbering and bemoaning that they failed to sign Lee.

        Your own article points out that Hank is not involved in day-to-day operations, so who cares if he knows how baseball works? He writes (co-signs, so to speak) the checks.

        I take it more as a defensive stance about the offseason not being the disaster it’s portrayed as in the media. At worst just an appeal to “stars” being important and the Yankees getting another “star.” Possibly, at best, as an attempt to explain that after missing on Lee getting the best reliever was a better move than panicking and overpaying to get another starter, any starter by opening day.

        It’s also hard to say someone doesn’t know how baseball works and then–as a site–constantly discuss how starters and relievers are totally unrelated. There have been times when the authors of this site have literally implied or outright said that a bullpen’s only job is to protect leads. As if there is no such thing as a come from behind win. As if the Yankees didn’t have almost 50 come from behind wins last season (not all on the bullpen’s dime, but I don’t have that stat). As if fully 1/4 of their victories weren’t credited as “wins” to relievers. As if there wasn’t still about 1/2 the game left to be played when Nova came out of most of his starts last season. As if the Yankees have more than one starter who averaged over 6 innings last season. As if Soriano’s 60-ish innings of 2-3 ERA ball–and the cascading impact that has on Joba and D-Rob entering games instead of lesser relievers–won’t help the pitching staff and team as a whole. And, yes, as Chris says… as if ownership’s money is more important than having 2 of the best relievers in baseball instead of one. Implying that there are very strong diminishing returns in the bullpen without providing any evidence to support that stance. Penning articles that the 8th innings is no more important than the 7th and high leverage spots can basically happen at any time, then implying a team only needs one “closer.”

        So, I think groupthink and an irrational hatred for the Soriano signing have led to a pretty weak analysis from the site as a whole and just taking jabs at it when the chance arises.

        • VLM says:

          So because you disagree with Joe, Ben and Mike on — or don’t understand or overestimate — the Soriano signing, you’ve resorted to personal insults and accusations of groupthink. Seems logical to me.

          Gotta love the internet!

          • Ted Nelson says:

            Where did I resort to personal insults? I said that I have not liked their coverage of the topic and laid out a variety of reasons why. There was nothing personal about my comment whatsoever. A lot of what I wrote is nothing more than facts. Mike did come out with several articles criticizing the signing on the day it happened and has not acknowledged many of the potential positives. Facts, nothing personally insulting about it.

            The groupthink is pretty obvious.

            “or don’t understand or overestimate — the Soriano signing”

            What’s not to understand? He agrees to pitch for the Yankees, they agree to pay him certain amounts of money under certain conditions. Not a difficult concept.
            How am I overestimating it? I never said it was a good contract. Not once. I said that I have not liked the coverage on this site.

            Gotta hate the internet when people attack you irrationally without even laying out an argument.

            • VLM says:

              Gotta hate the internet when people attack you irrationally without even laying out an argument.

              If 30 people before me laid out a cogent argument and you chose to ignore it, what’s the point in my doing the same? Accusing people of groupthink is definitely a personal insult.

              But here: I’ll throw you a bone. On a cost per win basis, a first-round draft pick is far more valuable than a $12 million reliever. And it’s even more valuable when that draft pick would otherwise go to a team against which you would fight for a playoff spot in the same division.

              • Ted Nelson says:

                “If 30 people before me laid out a cogent argument and you chose to ignore it, what’s the point in my doing the same?”

                A. I obviously did not find their argument cogent, or even convincing… but it’s a different argument altogether anyway. You do not seem to know what I am arguing. I am not arguing that Soriano’s contract is an amazing deal, or even a good one. I am arguing that the coverage on this site of that deal has been poor (and also that it’s not the worst deal or doomed to be a failure). I have not seen any arguments to the contrary–people even discussing the site’s coverage of the deal–let alone 30.
                B. Perhaps not all of my points are correct, but I raised a number of them. You have addressed none of them and simply accused me of, basically, being a jerk.

                “Accusing people of groupthink is definitely a personal insult.”

                No, it’s not. You may take it as such, but it’s not. “the practice of approaching problems or issues as matters that are best dealt with by consensus of a group rather than by individuals acting independently; conformity.” There is a group consensus that leads people to make nebulous statements they don’t even feel they have to back up with facts or quantify. “First rounders are valuable.” “Relievers aren’t that valuable.” “Relievers are volatile.” Etc. All may be true to an extent–especially in relative terms–but need to be quantified to have any real meaning: a “because I say so and everyone agrees” argument is not cogent. The groupthink, again, is obvious.

                “On a cost per win basis, a first-round draft pick is far more valuable than a $12 million reliever.”

                20% of late first round picks will ever make a meaningful impact in the major leagues (talking about 1st rounders in general is irrelevant because we’re talking #31, not Bryce Harper or David Price). Given that volatility and the Yankees financial position relative to the league, I’ll take the guy I know has a good chance to contribute even at $12 mill. I’ll also do this because I can pay over-slot later in the draft to recoup that pick with a similarly talented player or do the same with an IFA. And because, depending on the next CBA, I have a good shot at getting back 1 or 2 picks for Soriano anyway.

                “And it’s even more valuable when that draft pick would otherwise go to a team against which you would fight for a playoff spot in the same division.”

                No. This is not a sound argument. I’m tired of hearing it over and over. Tampa was getting a pick if Soriano signed anywhere. If Soriano re-signed they were getting an actual contributor instead of a 20% chance of getting one 3-6 years down the road.

        • Ted, this is simply unacceptable. You are revising history to make your point. I am going through our archives, and Mike did not write about the Soriano deal at all on the day after. He wrote an article about Joba and the rotation. I wrote an article that night about how the Yankees rotation still needs work, despite the strengthened bullpen. Then, after the weekend, Mike wrote one article about the opt-out clause, something which he does not like and an argument he laid out clearly. After that, Mike wrote two short posts on Soriano, both noting his upside.

          Your characterization of our stance — as though we have a uniform stance — is simply inaccurate.

          • Ted Nelson says:

            After going through the archives you are right that I have overstated things. My impression at the time and memory of it now, though, was basically of Mike taking every opportunity to point out the negatives… which has largely continued till now. Your own initial reaction was far more impartial and reasonable, and my criticisms would mostly be nitpicking.

            “an argument he laid out clearly.”

            This is really where I disagree. I feel like Mike’s reporting on the subject was very biased. Pointing out every negative and just ignoring corresponding positives. I took that stance and the time and, while my memory exaggerated the truth, I still take it.

            I apologize for forgetting your initial article on the signing; however, it was erased from my memory by what I feel has been biased reporting on the deal and repeatedly knocking it where possible.

      • Poopy Pants says:

        What should ownership have done to replace Lee? The post insinuates that ownership ignored some other option and got Soriano b/c he has a flashy name.

    • mbonzo says:

      First off, the money is not the problem with the contract. The Yankees lost a first round draft pick in one of the strongest drafts ever. Of course, first round draftees, even very good ones, don’t always become stars, and if you’re getting a typical type A free agent they’re usually worth the pick. Soriano is not a typical type a agent, he’s a relief pitcher, and he’s not even a closer. The problem is that the Yankees are giving up a potential star prospect for a setup pitcher… and its with in the league.

      The analysis doesn’t even discuss this, but it points out that Hank somehow thinks a starting pitcher, that usually gives a team a strong 6ip, and 200ip a year, can’t be replace by a setup man. When Hank says stuff like this, it seems as if the Yankees can’t sign a free agent, they’ll just sign another one regardless if they help the team. The contract Soriano signed was bad for the Yankees, and the reasoning Hank gave was basically, “We didn’t sign Lee, so instead of spending our money and draft picks wisely, we’ll just retaliate by buying up the next best player even though we don’t need them.” Its incredibly childish and bad baseball reasoning. Hanks a dick.

      • Chris A says:

        The loss of the pick, doesn’t concern me. Look at Montero for example, signed as a FA, Cano signed as a FA, Gary anchez signed as FA, Alfonso Soriano signed as a FA. Or look at Gerrit Cole, a first round pick of ours now pitching for UCLA or Mark Prior who picked USC over us. Don’t get me wrong however HOF players come out of the first round but to say that a potential star could emerge from the late first round pick we lost is not completely without merit, but is extremely tenous at best. I will take the “sure thing,” production from Soriano, over the “potential star,” you say we might have lost.

        • whozat says:

          The Yankees hit their payroll limit in 2008, when cash wanted to upgrade his outfield but was told there wasn’t money to take on Mike Cameron’s contract.

          So, let’s not act like there’s an infinite volume of money, because we know that there isn’t.

          Furthermore, the Yanks themselves have had success for a couple years now building a great bullpen for the stretch run by keeping relief options open, avoiding big commitments that force you to pitch a guy who sucks just because he makes a gajillion dollars, and making key acquisitions later in the season. Doesn’t it concern you that, given that evidence, ownership would turn around and commit 30 million to a reliever in his 30s for three years? Doesn’t it make you question their decision making skills to see them look at the available information and decide that THIS was the player to guarantee 30 mil over three years to — unless he’s actually good and healthy, in which case he gets to opt out after EACH YEAR of the deal.

          So, really, they agreed to pay him 3/30 in the event that he’s hurt or sucks. If he’s actually good, they have to pay MORE to re-sign him.

          And, on top of that, they gave a division rival their only first round draft pick. For what? 30 relief innings over the first three months of the season?

          It’s not JUST the draft pick or JUST the money, or JUST the length of the contract, or JUST the notion that — somehow — this guy was the next big name after Lee, so he’s worth almost the same. It’s ALL of these things. It’s ownership signing a player to make a splash instead of listening to their baseball people, it’s giving out a ludicrously player-friendly contract when he had no leverage, AND it’s giving away the draft pick.

          • Ted Nelson says:

            “Doesn’t it concern you that, given that evidence, ownership would turn around and commit 30 million to a reliever in his 30s for three years?”

            He’s one of the top 6 or so relievers in baseball… This is not just some random reliever.

            “And, on top of that, they gave a division rival their only first round draft pick.”

            Come on… This is horsecrap. Tampa was getting a pick (2 overall one from the team) where ever he signed and late first rounders have about a 20% chance of ever being real MLB contributors. And they can get a pick or two back.

            “somehow — this guy was the next big name after Lee, so he’s worth almost the same”

            You’re being ridiculous and painting a picture that is divorced from reality. $120 mill and $33 mill are not anywhere close to each other. The Yankees paid Soriano a maximum of 1/4 what the Phillies paid Lee and even a lower % of what they were willing to pay Lee. Lee is signed till he’s almost 40, while Soriano is signed through his early 30s.

        • hogsmog says:

          But it really, really isn’t a sure thing. Relief pitchers are extremely volatile. Not only does Soriano have a huge standard deviation on his WAR/season, but the raw number isn’t even that high (2.6), and that’s during a season where he closed. The only other time he broke 2 was in 2006.

          • Also, health. Soriano has never made it through three consecutive years injury-free, and he was healthy in both 2009 and 2010. That’s playing with fire.

            • Fabio says:

              I know you are calling into attention his injury risk, but arguing that from he “he was healthy the last 2 seasons” seems really odd.

              • Ted Nelson says:

                Yep… totally irrational: he was injured in the past so he will be injured again in the future.

                I can’t tell you how disappointed I am with the coverage of the Soriano deal on what I consider to be a great site. Just grasping at straws to paint what was an obvious overpay as the worst deal ever with no chance of working out. That it was an overpay speaks for itself. They could have analyzed the deal rationally and concluded such. Instead it seems to have been this site’s mission to prove there is no possible way that Soriano can work out for the Yankees and a 3 year deal taking up about 5% of payroll is the end of the world.

                Our team has 2 “closers” instead of 1 and people are acting like it’s the end of the world. Acting as if high leverage situations only present themselves in the 9th. Mo is 41 and the Yankees gave him as much money for 3 years as they gave Soriano for 3… but no one has questioned that deal. No one has said that because he’s been healthy for X years Mo is due for an injury.

                • If you’re going to criticize our coverage, I’d appreciate some citations (links). You’re heaving accusations with zero substantiation, and I think you’re grossly overstating and even misrepresenting our opposition to the Soriano deal — first and foremost by assuming that we all take the same position. It’s frankly insulting.

                  • Ted Nelson says:

                    Basically, I don’t think there’s much need to cite Mike’s article on the day of the deal. The citation is implied: the articles he wrote on the day of the signing. Possibly that day and the next. There were probably a half dozen of them easily. I was waiting for you or Ben to come out with a more well-thought-out, reasonable take on the deal… but I remember waiting in vein. Perhaps I missed that article, and you could provide a link. About all I remember was a half-mocking article about having the greatest bullpen ever.

                    You and Ben might not have the same opinion as Mike, but by failing to come out and point out where you differ, as a reader, your support is implied. For example… Mike keeps talking about the pick–just a week or two ago in his first draft coverage–and I haven’t seen a single article by you or Ben actually quantifying what you can expect with a late first round pick. I haven’t seen an article talking about how the MLB system makes first round picks less valuable in that you can go over-slot to get a similar talent later in the draft or get an IFA. (They failed to sign Cole, for example, but at least got Slade. Say the Yanks failed to sign Slade as well… bad but not the end of the world. They still had/have Austin Jackson/Granderson, Brett Gardner, Mason Williams, Melky Mesa, Angelo Gumbs, Ramon Flores, etc., drafted Kevin Jordan, and could have made an effort to draft or sign another OF.) Maybe I’ve missed it. Just above Ben says that because Soriano was healthy in 2009 and 2010 and has a past injury history the Yankees are “playing with fire.” Maybe they are, but since they can actually consult medical professionals I’ll reserve making uninformed statements that sounds like MSM groupthink… Soriano is an “injury-risk,” Renteria is “clutch,” Pujols isn’t “clutch,” Javy and Pavano “couldn’t handle NYC.” This kind of brainless crap is why I read this site rather than the MSM. So, seeing it here is discouraging. Sorry if that’s insulting. It’s just how I feel.

                    I’ve also seen enough general criticisms of the deal, with no counter-arguments presented, to assume the consensus is pretty strong. And, again, I’m not saying this was a great decision or a good contract. Just that I feel the coverage has been over-the-top.

                    As a reader with no idea who you guys actually are, it’s not that easy to separate you. To be perfectly honest. I have seen enough bashing of the Soriano deal for all the same reasons and no article that looked at the deal in a thorough, rational way: the deal broke and Mike wrote 100 articles about how terrible it was and how terrible it could be in every negative situation that might theoretically arise while building a strawman out of the positive sides of the same situations. So, a consensus is somewhat implied. If one of you had written an article about the Soriano deal basically saying “you know what, they overpaid and there’s some serious risk but this isn’t the end of the world and could help in x, y, and z ways” to counteract Mike’s ranting about how the world was coming to an end… Maybe I wouldn’t have assumed a consensus existed. Maybe I missed that article, but I was looking for it and don’t remember seeing it.
                    Again, as a reader, I have been disappointed with the coverage of the site as a whole. That at the same time implies no author specifically and every author. I am just one reader of your site. I am disappointed. Obviously a lot of other readers aren’t. I’m just voicing my own opinion.

                    • See my other comment. Now you’re just lying. Mike wrote one post about the deal, focusing on the opt-outs, and it came after the weekend.

                    • jsbrendog (returns) says:

                      but he saw it with his own eyes joe, stats be damned

                    • Ted Nelson says:

                      Looked at your comment and responded. My memory was exaggerated. I was not trying to lie, I just did not check my facts. That was and still is my honest opinion on and recollection of coverage. It is distorted, but I found there to be a continuous theme of distorting the negatives and positives of the deal without much quantification. Mostly in Mike’s work, but in yours as well and throughout the site.

                      “They were also 5-4 when tied after seven. Chances are that Rafael Soriano won’t turn all of those instances into wins, but he’ll certainly help. That’s one of the few consolations I can take in the three-year, $35 million deal he has reportedly signed with the Yankees.”
                      “preposterous is the idea that a great endgame somehow covers up a weak opening”

                      These quotes from your article, to me, are part of a larger trend on the site of referring to the (lack of) importance of the bullpen, without so much as any quantification. You talk about Soriano helping only in tie games in the 8th, but then also point out in a separate article that he should be used in high leverage situations whether they arise in the 6th, 7th, or 8th. How about the certainty Soriano provides relative to most relievers, who besides injury risk also have performance risk? Balfour, for example, has only two good seasons to his credit with a bad season sandwiched between. Jenks had a bad season people *expect* him to bounce back from based on loose statistical trends. The Karsay risk is much greater there, in my opinion, than with Soriano. When Soriano’s been healthy he’s been very good. I think it was an overpay, but I’ll generally take Soriano at a large premium over a Balfour, Jenks, or Benoit type of reliever.
                      People point to the general riskiness of reliever performance without isolating those who have the stuff and track record of Soriano… which is somewhat like me pointing to the riskiness of starters in general in regard to an elite starter specifically.
                      Then there’s the rotation stuff. To me a lot of people’s–maybe subconscious–reaction to the Soriano signing was amplified by their feelings about Lee. So, Hank saying that Sori replaces Lee was a great opportunity to re-air their frustrations. A strong pen doesn’t impact the opening in any way… the opening is still what it is. It does allow a manager to pull a struggling starter earlier. It does allow a team to keep games closer/further (if they’re losing/winning) for the last 1-5 innings of a game… A few paragraphs were dropped saying that the end game is better without offering much detail, but then the discussion went right back to how awful the starters are. Continually harping on this through a fairly pessimistic viewpoint is another issue I have with the site as a whole–writers and commenters as a general group.

                      The injury stuff has also been done to death without much evidence. He was injured before does not mean he will be injured in the future. To me implying that certain (fairly healthy… not talking Mark Prior or Greg Oden or Nick Johnson here) players are “injury prone” without seeing their medicals and having the degree to interpret them is like ESPN “analysts” saying they’d rather have Renteria than Pujols because he’s “clutch.” Maybe his injury history is a concern, but *if* every doctor the Yankees have on staff tells them Soriano is at no greater risk of injury than any other reliever… I would have to go with that. Maybe they overruled their Dr.s as well as Cashman, but for my own sanity I’m hoping they considered that and at least would have used it to gain more leverage than they did. So, to me, you can say “it scares me” but you can’t say “it makes him a greater injury risk than any other reliever.”

                      It is possible to criticize both the opt-outs and the 3 year deal; however, in doing so one should acknowledge the inherent contradiction in their argument. Yes, the opt-out assign risk to the team and not the player. However, if you believe that a reliever is likely to get hurt at, basically, any random time in a 3 year period, if he opts out after one of two years not having suffered an injury… that’s a huge boon to you. It’s tough to say you want it both ways… sort of selfish on the fan’s part to want players to get screwed when they stink and be locked in when they perform. Apparently, for some reason, Soriano had the leverage to get this. Maybe Boras just straight played SteinLevine… but maybe Soriano had another offer that wasn’t far off. I find it disingenuous to–as Mike has done–assume there was no market for a top closer like Soriano just because we didn’t hear rumors. If you don’t know exactly what offers Soriano had on the table from other teams, why just assume he had none?

                      You covered the pick thing a million times more thoroughly than Mike, but still didn’t quantify just how unlikely a late first is to help and how replaceable that pick is (though you do discuss the latter). You end your article, though, saying the Yankees gave up the chance to draft a young player… which as you point out earlier isn’t entirely true. That’s nitpicking, but in the context of repeatedly pointing out the negatives and not the positives that’s the kind of thing that subtly led me to my opinion on the coverage.

                    • Chilibacca says:

                      If you didn’t seem so pompous it’d be a lot easier to agree with you.

                • bexarama says:

                  Yep… totally irrational: he was injured in the past so he will be injured again in the future.
                  That’s not irrational. It means he’s injury-prone. It doesn’t guarantee a guy getting hurt, of course.

                  Do I think this site has, at times, been a little too negative about the Soriano thing? Sure. The swipes in unrelated articles are probably not necessary But I also think they’ve never said anything like he’s not a good pitcher. I can pretty distinctly remember someone writing an article about how much better Soriano makes the pen. And no one is acting like it’s “the end of the world,” be more dramatic please.

                  • bexarama says:

                    also re: groupthink, when you run a really good site and you have generally sane opinions, and you just about always argue your points (even if I don’t necessarily agree all the time) in a coherent and cogent way, you’re gonna get people generally agreeing. I’d rather have that than certain other comment sections on certain other sites.

                    • Ted Nelson says:

                      My problem with it is when it leads to blanket statements that are accepted without quantification or examining the facts.

                      For example, before making a statement like “it’s always bad to give up a pick for a reliever” how about examining: the expected value of the pick, the expected value of the particular reliever, exactly how volatile relievers are, the MLB structure that allows you to go over-slot and sign IFAs, the likelihood that Soriano leaves as a Type A or B given all factors from performance to the new CBA, etc.?
                      Or before deciding Eduardo Nunez is garbage, how about projecting how garbage he is expected to be and how amazing the average MLB SS is?
                      Or before deciding Freedy Garcia is exactly what his WHIP says he is, how about actually taking a closer look to see where there is some reason for optimism?

                      It’s just human nature, I guess, but I’d like a more rigorous examination of the facts in some cases instead of everyone jumping on board with one side to the point where you can just make blanket statements and feel no need to quantify or prove them.

                    • bexarama says:

                      My problem with it is when it leads to blanket statements that are accepted without quantification or examining the facts.

                      Kind of like yelling GROUPTHINK! because you don’t agree with one facet of the site or getting most of the facts about who wrote what articles wrong when being very insistent about it?

                      Also, I think it’s funny you say that thing about Garcia because most people here are way more optimistic/reasonable about the Garcia and Colon types than at other places. The Nunez thing, fine, but I think I’ve said quite a few times that while he can probably be a starting SS somewhere, it’s not going to be for the Yankees.

                    • bexarama says:

                      I’d like a more rigorous examination of the facts in some cases instead of everyone jumping on board with one side to the point where you can just make blanket statements and feel no need to quantify or prove them.

                      In saying “everyone” and “no need” you just did that yourself.

                    • Ted Nelson says:

                      I wasn’t referring to you with the groupthink thing, just in general on the site. There are certain topics where things that are debatable can be presented as concrete facts because there is a general agreement. In general you get people just throwing around blanket statements, but the community nature of this blog is what leads me to classify it as “groupthink.” Again, this is not an insult: it’s a description. I think I’ve done a pretty thorough job of describing why I use that term, whether you agree or disagree. I’m not just hurling it out there to insult people who disagree with me.

                      “Kind of like yelling GROUPTHINK! because you don’t agree with one facet of the site or getting most of the facts about who wrote what articles wrong when being very insistent about it?”

                      I have acknowledged above that my memory was off, but I still have not liked the coverage of the Soriano signing generally. However, by and large I try to go to great lengths to quantify my points. When Joe pointed out the archive history disagreed with my account, for example, I looked at it and acknowledged as much. I then described how I came to my
                      (incorrect) recollection of events.

                      “Also, I think it’s funny you say that thing about Garcia because most people here are way more optimistic/reasonable about the Garcia and Colon types than at other places.”

                      I guess it’s all relative to what “other places” you’re referring to, but I still think there’s a lack of examination of Garcia’s 2010 season. If the Yankees signed, I don’t know… say Pavano, I think there would be a lot of analysis of him as a pitcher (maybe Pavano’s a bad example given his Yankee history… just went with a free agent they might have signed besides Lee… who is good enough that I think people might have just accepted that without much examination). With Garcia, talking generally here, the response is basically “he stinks and he’s only been healthy 1 of the past 4 seasons.” Never mind that he got hurt at the beginning of that period and has been healthy since coming back in late 2009 (and never mind that few if any of us have medical degrees and have examined Garcia). Never mind that in 21 of his 28 starts last season he allowed 3 or fewer ERs. Not saying he’s an ace or even that good, just saying I think there are reasons for optimism that are largely being overlooked in favor of blanket pessimism/apprehension.

                      Some of the blanket statements I might even generally agree with… just wish they were framed in a more flexible way. Instead of stating as fact that this will happen, for example, it’s more correct to say it is likely to happen and ideally one could quantify how likely. That’s just how I see it. Obviously plenty of people see it differently.

                    • Ted Nelson says:

                      “I’d like a more rigorous examination of the facts in some cases instead of everyone jumping on board with one side to the point where you can just make blanket statements and feel no need to quantify or prove them.

                      In saying “everyone” and “no need” you just did that yourself.”

                      No I didn’t: “in some cases.” Some cases is not a blanket statement, it’s referring to a set of cases. There are cases where a blanket statement is made and all respondents to that article/comment (everyone) jumps on board, and there is apparently no need to quantify or prove it because it gains acceptance without being quantified or proved.

          • Ted Nelson says:

            When he’s been healthy Soriano has consistently been one of the better relievers in baseball. You are overstating his volatility based on injuries that may or may not repeat themselves.

        • pete says:

          Giving up first-round draft-picks AND gobbles of money for a reliever, no matter how good the reliever OR the draft, is dangerous.

      • Ted Nelson says:

        “Of course, first round draftees, even very good ones, don’t always become stars”

        That’s a HUGE understatement. About 20% of late first round picks will ever make any noticeable, positive MLB impact. Maybe 5% percent (probably less) of them are anything that can be called “stars.”

        “Soriano is not a typical type a agent, he’s a relief pitcher”

        The vast majority of late 1st round picks will not match Soriano’s 2010 WAR in their entire careers. Their entire careers.

        “he’s not even a closer.”

        Closer is not a real thing… it’s a made up word. And Soriano absolutely is one of the best “closers” in baseball. It’s just the pitcher a team selects to pitch only in the 9th inning. You can have higher leverage situations before the 9th than in the 9th. Are you really implying that one closer is better than two closers?

        “The problem is that the Yankees are giving up a potential star prospect for a setup pitcher… and its with in the league.”

        They are giving up about a 20% chance at a major league contributor for one of the best 6 or so relievers in all of baseball. And Tampa was going to get a pick no matter where Soriano signed so the “within the league” argument is useless.

        AND they can get one or two picks back when Soriano leaves. If you’re going to claim that someone you don’t even know is a total idiot, you might want to actually be thorough and truthful in your argument.

        • mbonzo says:

          1. This is a late first round pick, but a very good draft. A pick in the 30′s is equivalent to a pick in the teens this year.

          2. Again, this draft is different. If a player develops into an everyday position player, a starting pitcher, or even a closer, I can guarentee they will have a higher WAR than Soriano.

          3. Girardi has stated multiple times that Soriano will be the setup man. He’s not a high-leverage pitcher. I wouldn’t mind the deal as much if I knew he’d be saving games in the 6th, 7th, or 8th. He won’t, he’ll just be the 8th inning guy.

          4. Again, 20% is just a made up number that you’re placing on draftees in what could be the strongest draft ever. Tampa would not necessarily get a first round pick either, another team with protected picks or had already signed a type A better than Soriano would give them their next pick.

          5. Sure they could get 2 picks back… in a weaker draft. The problem is that there is a bit of risk with Soriano’s health, if he cant compete as a setup man this year than he’ll be on the line for a lot of money and no one will want to risk moving him to close. 2012 free agent market is very deep in closers so theres no reason why he should opt out then.

          Hank is an idiot for what he said, blasting the captain and pushing for the Soriano signing to make up for signing Lee is one of the stupidest things I’ve seen from this front office. Brian Cashman is the baseball man, and its scary to see that Hank has can overrule him so easily with a bad plan for the team.

          • Ted Nelson says:

            “1. This is a late first round pick, but a very good draft. A pick in the 30?s is equivalent to a pick in the teens this year.”

            I think it’s pretty impossible to quantify how much better this draft is than others before any drafted player has played a single professional inning. I find it hard to believe that this one draft is twice as good as any draft in the past 45 years. It’s possible, but it’s really unlikely.

            Even at 14-16, you’re looking at 15 out of 45 guys picked from 1990-2004 who have made a significant positive MLB impact. 33%. There’s still a 67% chance you get no positive major league impact from a 14-16 pick. But again I think it’s unlikely that this draft is twice as good as the average draft.

            “If a player develops into an everyday position player, a starting pitcher, or even a closer, I can guarentee they will have a higher WAR than Soriano.”

            Again, the chances are against a pick developing into “an everyday position player, a starting pitcher, or even a closer.” 80% against it in the late first, and still 2/3 against it even in the mid-1st. And since Soriano’s one of the better closers in baseball, it’s really hard to guarantee a closer will have a higher WAR…………

            “3. Girardi has stated multiple times that Soriano will be the setup man. He’s not a high-leverage pitcher. I wouldn’t mind the deal as much if I knew he’d be saving games in the 6th, 7th, or 8th. He won’t, he’ll just be the 8th inning guy.”

            Not at all my point. I’m saying that Soriano has “closer” stuff. Whether he’s pitching in the 8th or 9th, who cares? Apparently not you since you just stated you think leverage is more important than inning.

            “Again, 20% is just a made up number that you’re placing on draftees in what could be the strongest draft ever.”

            No, it’s a projection based on historical results. How else would you place a value on a pick? You can’t just look at ceilings or dream about pixy dust, you have to realistically look at the fact that historically most 1st rounders fail and even most top 100, top 50 prospects fail.

            “Tampa would not necessarily get a first round pick either, another team with protected picks or had already signed a type A better than Soriano would give them their next pick.”

            Tampa has a buttload of picks in the top 100. Is it really THAT important whether they got the #31 or #61 pick? By your own standard this draft is twice as good as average and the #61 pick in this draft is a 1st rounder anyway… Their draft strategy is unlikely to involve targeting only the best players with all their picks, because they won’t be able to sign them. Some will probably be guys they know aren’t the best but will sign cheap and some may even be guys they know they can’t sign and will just collect the comp pick on in 2012.

            “Sure they could get 2 picks back… in a weaker draft.”

            A theoretically weaker draft. Given what an enormously large proportion of draft picks fail, I will take 2 in a “weak” draft over 1 in “the greatest draft in the history of the earth.”

            “The problem is that there is a bit of risk with Soriano’s health”

            There is a bit of a risk about every player’s health. Unless you have medical proof he’s more injury prone, let’s not pretend we’re his doctors.

            “if he cant compete as a setup man this year”

            When has he not competed? Whenever he’s been healthy he’s been good. There are 3 different years he could net the Yankees draft picks, not to mention every season from there to eternity. Doesn’t have to be in 2012. Could be ’13, ’14, ’15… Unless the CBA changes his status drastically there’s a good chance that one of the best relievers in baseball will be recognized as such under the CBA.

            “its scary to see that Hank has can overrule him so easily with a bad plan for the team.”

            “Ownership” is not just Hank…

            “blasting the captain”

            Because that’s what he did, right? He said he wasn’t referring to one player. The Yankees 5 highest paid guys made almost $115 mill last season and all had career worst seasons or close… Calling out the leader of a group is a fairly viable way to call out the group as a whole. If Jeter doesn’t want to be subject to criticism he wouldn’t be a team leader.

  7. FIPster Doofus says:

    Shut up, Hank.

  8. Kiko Jones says:

    At a time when the baseball world is full of stuffy folks whose finely-tuned comments come across as overheated clichés, I welcome Hank’s, even if I disagree with them. The eldest Steinbrenner son might be a lot of things but he’s no idiot: he knows Soriano isn’t a replacement for Lee. The point he’s clumsily trying to make is directed towards the folks who feel all the Yankees did in the off-season was miss out on prized free agents, overpay Jeter, and lose Pettite. (And, right or wrong, there’s a small army of people who feel that way.)
    Look, we may not have not gotten the guys we wanted but we got the no.2 reliever in the game. We did something. That’s all he’s saying. To think Hank wouldn’t know the difference between a starter and a set-up man is to regard him, at best, as pathetically ignorant; at worst, an imbecile. He’s neither.

  9. Pete C. says:

    What’s he going to say? We stink? C’mon, They know that once Cliff Lee jilted them, nothing they did this offseason will look good to the fans. But he’s not going to admit that anything they did was a bad move not at this point anyway.

  10. A.D. says:

    Could potentially think about believing the “celebrated to much” if they hadn’t made it to the ALCS

  11. Monteroisdinero says:

    Those interior decorating bills that Minka runs up to fill 30,000 sq feet are gonna be something. Maybe Jeter can rent out 3/4 of the house to our bench players…

  12. Mike B. says:

    what has this loudmouth ever done aside from inheriting the yankees? guy has some nerve to question the work ethic of the Captain.

  13. paul says:

    SHUT UP HANK! freakin ridiculous comments…as usual…tryin to be his pops…aint goin to happen. just shut up and let the fellas play ball…this is the crap that gets on my nerves.

  14. Richard Deegan says:

    Gee, if that’s the explanation, why didn’t Hank make a big play to grab Dan Uggla from Florida to back up Robbie?
    Every go to the store for your wife and come back saying, “Gee, Honey, they were out of milk, but they had a sale on Rheigngold”?
    Never been a fan of Lee and his 2& 1/2 decent years (at the same age as Denny Neagle), but Hank’s logic seems just plain silly.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      “why didn’t Hank make a big play to grab Dan Uggla from Florida to back up Robbie?”

      Soriano is not “backing-up” Mariano… Every team uses multiple relievers in the same game. About the only time you use multiple All-Star 2B at 2B in the same game is the All-Star game.

  15. JFH says:

    Hank Steinbrenner = The Village Idiot

  16. CapitalT says:

    Hank wants to bring back the Kemp, Collins, Griffey era

  17. Monteroisdinero says:

    Hank’s comments remind me of the speak first-think second days of his father in the 70′s and 80′s. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree in this case.

  18. Yank the Frank says:

    Hank does sound just as dumb as the old man.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      You’re really a Yankee fan calling George Steinbrenner dumb? That seems pretty disingenuous. The Yankees hadn’t made the playoffs in 8 seasons or won the WS is 10 when George bought the team, and won 7 WS and 11 pennants during his ownership. They were in the World Series about every 3 years under his watch.

      • CS Yankee says:

        George rebuilt a fallen asset into a power house again…

        However, after his rants, tantums, and unlawful ways it lead to the following;
        1) George being banned from the sport.
        2) Free Agents not taking the money to be a NYY.
        3) Not trading every half-decent prospect for a has-been.
        4) Having a manager actually stay for a full season.
        5) The start of WS victories 4-out-of-5 years.

        Is it just me or could Hal be adopted…he looks nothing like Hank or George, he is in control of his emotions, seems bright, tactical, etc.

        FWIW, I think it is an internal battle whereas Hal & Ninja is pitted against Hank & Levine and the choas will lead to an exposion, unless either Hank or Randy are removed from the equation.

        • jsbrendog (returns) says:

          hal must take after his mother

        • Ted Nelson says:

          He owned the team for 37 years and I’m not saying he was perfect, I’m just saying that it’s hard to call someone so successful “dumb.” Especially when you don’t know them from Adam or much of anything about the internal workings of the organization.

  19. Yank the Frank says:

    That was George’s money not his baseball brain. The nineties dynasty was created when George was not allowed to run the team.

    • jsbrendog (returns) says:

      this is true and very often overlooked. george’s money b uilt the team, not him.

      • Yank the Frank says:

        You can never win an arguement with the dead. George’s history will get a total re-write.
        As much as I dis-liked George as an owner, I would rather have him and all his warts than any of these other yahoos. He at least put his money where his mouth is.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      “The nineties dynasty was created when George was not allowed to run the team.”

      That’s an oversimplification. He was reinstated in 1993. There was plenty of time to do “dumb” things between 1993 and 2007 or whenever you want to say the dynasty ended. I’m sure he did plenty of dumb things, but I’m also saying he probably did some smart things. It’s hard to scapegoat him for all the failures and credit him for none of the successes.

      He owned the team for 37 years and I’m not saying he was perfect, I’m just saying that it’s hard to call someone so successful “dumb.” Especially when you don’t know them from Adam or much of anything about the internal workings of the organization.

      • Yank the Frank says:

        I was not calling George “dumb”. Obviously someone as suuccessful as him has business brains. He just did not have baseball brains. I was saying that he said many dumb things much like Hank, which is what this article was about.

        • Ted Nelson says:

          You specifically said he sounds as dumb as his old man…

          • Yank the Frank says:

            I’ll write slowly, when he speaks, he says things that are just as dumb as his old man use to say, so he sounds just as dumb as his old man. Get it?

            • Ted Nelson says:

              I’ll write slowly too if that helps… “He sounds as dumb as his old man” implies his old man was dumb, “he sounds as old as his old man sounded” implies his old man sounded dumb. Get it?

              I can see how that’s an honest and small mistake, but don’t get all pissed of at me when I read what you wrote and took it to be what you meant. I can’t read your mind through the PC, I can only read what you write.

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