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MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner has passed away following a battle with inoperable brain cancer. He was 51. Weiner, who grew up in Paterson, N.J., replaced Donald Fehr in 2009 and had been with the union since 1988. He was incredibly bright and an extraordinary leader, and he continued to work hard for the players even after being diagnosed last August. Condolences to his family and friends.
Got a pair of non-baseball business notes involving two prominent Yankees to pass along, so let’s dive in:
Derek Jeter: Book Publisher
According to Julie Bosman, Derek Jeter announced this week that he will start Jeter Publishing, a publishing imprint that is partnered with Simon & Schuster and Wicked Cow Entertainment. He admitted to thinking about life after baseball while hurt for much of this past season. “I’ve had a lot of time to myself to think. The whole last year has been sort of a blur. Being away from it for so long gave me the opportunity to think about what the future may hold after baseball” said the Cap’n. “I think this sort of sets the blueprint for post-career. This is a great way to start.”
Jeter’s first books will be released sometime next year. They’re expected to include nonfiction books for adults, children’s picture books, elementary grade fiction, and books for children who are learning to read. The project could lead to film and television publications. “You never know where this may go. You look at all the opportunities that come with content in general — I mean, there might be a compelling story that someone has that turns into a film or a TV show,” he added. “If I put my name on something, I’m going to be involved. I’m not just going to put my name on it and not pay attention.”
You could have given me roughly a million guesses, and I would have never guessed Jeter would get into book publishing after his playing days are over. That’s pretty cool though, congrats to him for getting this off the ground and figuring out what he wants to do once he hangs up his cleats. Still, book publishing? Never would have guessed it.
Joe Girardi: Mobile App Engineer
Dan Barbarisi reports Joe Girardi has developed a new mobile app with Appetizer Mobile that is scheduled to launch early next year. This isn’t some branded app that got the okay to use Girardi’s name and likeness at the last minute, he’s been working on it for the last year. “I see my children on apps — and ordering apps, on many occasions — and I just thought it would be kind of fun to create an app that I felt was appropriate for them,” he said. “I think that’s what you worry about all the time, for me, as a parent with kids.”
Girardi declined to reveal the specifics of the app, but it’s a “sports-related multiplayer-capable game utilizing ‘augmented reality technology,’ which supplements real-world environments with computerized input,” according to Barbarisi. That’s a mouthful. Appetizer Mobile CEO Jordan Edelson said it will be “kid-friendly but targeted to baseball fans and adults as well.” The app will be free to download but there will be in-game purchases. Girardi’s cut is going to charity.
“It’s a different side of me, because I think people are always used to seeing me at the ballpark, and not having this type of creativity. It’s not something that I do a lot of, but when I do put my heart and soul into something, it’s important to me,” added the skipper. This isn’t an unexpected as Jeter getting into book publishing, but I can’t say Girardi struck me as the type of guy who was big on technology or anything. Good for him. Sounds like he was very involved in the process and put a lot of work in.
As the GM Meetings wrapped up today, Bud Selig confirmed MLB’s owners unanimously approved expanded instant replay for the 2014 season. Both the players’ and umpires’ unions must sign off on the plan before it can be implemented, but that is expected to happen. “There isn’t one play or one instance that changed my mind. It has just happened over time. I know we’re doing the right thing,” said the commissioner.
Under the new system, each manager will be given two challenges to use at any point in the game. Managers were expected to be given three challenges under an earlier proposal, but they could only use one in the first six innings. I’m glad they changed that. Challenges are lost only if the play is not overturned — the play is reviewed off-site and the ruling is relayed to the umpiring crew — and if the challenge is successful, the manager retains it for use later in the game. Balls and strikes can not be challenged (duh) and homerun calls will still be handled by the umpires, as has been the case since 2008.
MLB tested the new system during Arizona Fall League play last week — managers were given an unlimited number of challenges and were encouraged to use them so they could work out any bugs — and things went fine. The games themselves were painfully slow because of all the replays, but that won’t be an issue next year as long as each manager is limited to two challenges. The challenges and replays themselves were quick and easy, usually taking less than a minute. It’s not a perfect system, but it’s definitely an improvement. Hooray.
Brian Cashman held his annual end-of-season press conference on Tuesday afternoon and, unsurprisingly, there were no announcements made. Not even a minor one. He fielded questions for about an hour and in typical YankeeSpeak, the GM said a lot of words that had little substance. The team’s higher-ups have a knack for dodging questions and giving vague answers while talking a whole bunch. Anyway, let’s recap the presser:
On Joe Girardi
- Cashman confirmed he met with Girardi “for a while” yesterday and will meet with agent Steve Mandell tomorrow to continue talks. “After tomorrow, I think I’ll get a real good feel for where we’re at,” he said. “I think he likes it here. We’re going to give [Girardi] a real good reason to stay.”
- “His effort and his efforts in pre-game preparation for each series and how he runs Major League Spring Training … he’s been consistently tremendously at it,” said the GM while also crediting Girardi for working with such a poor roster this season. “[His] job as a manager is to make sure these guys compete on a daily basis … I thought he did a great job, him and his staff.”
- Cashman would not comment when asked if the Cubs (or any other team, for that matter) had contacted the team to ask for permission to speak to Girardi. His contract expires November 1st.
- Cashman closed the press conference with a preemptive “no comment” about how things go (went?) with Mandell tomorrow. He told the media not to bother to reach out for an update because he won’t give one. It was kinda funny.
Major League Baseball announced the full 2014 schedule this afternoon, and the Yankees will open next season right where they end this season: in Houston. Here’s the schedule. The Yankees and Astros kick off their 2014 slates with three games starting Tuesday, April 1st. From what I can tell, every other team opens their season on March 31st. Because of the retractable roof at Minute Maid Park, there is no obligatory off-day following Opening Day.
The Yankees go to Toronto for three games with the Blue Jays after they’re done with the Astros, then they’ll head to the Bronx for the home opener against the Orioles on Monday, April 7th. They open with six on the road before playing nine straight at home. Here are some more schedule notes:
- Subway Series: Like this year, the Yankees will play a home-and-home series against the Mets. They’ll play the four games from May 12-15th with the first two at Yankee Stadium with the next two in CitiField. Reverse of this year.
- Interleague Play: The Yankees will play all five NL Central teams next year. They play four against the Cubs (two at home, two on the road) and three games each against the Brewers (in Milwaukee), Cardinals (in St. Louis), Pirates (at home), and Reds (at home). Their final series in an NL park is May 26-28th against the Cardinals. They finish up the no-DH portion of the schedule early.
- West Coast: The Yankees play their final West Coast game on June 15th, which is insanely early and awesome. After that, the furthest west they have to go is Minnesota (four games in early-July) and Texas (three games in late-July). They don’t have to leave the Eastern Time Zone after July 30th.
- Longest Homestand: Ten games from July 18-27th against the Reds, Rangers, and Blue Jays. That is immediately after the All-Star break.
- Longest Road Trip: Eleven games from July 4-13th against the Twins, Indians, and Orioles. That is immediately prior to the All-Star break. They also have a ten-game road trip from June 6-15th against the Royals, Mariners, and Athletics.
- AL East: Seventeen of the Yankees’ first 22 games are intra-division. Only seven of those 17 are at home. Twenty-six of their final 29 games will be played within the division as well, including a season-ending three-game series in Boston. September will be brutal.
The Yankees open with 13 games in 13 days, so they won’t have the opportunity to manipulate their roster and skip the fifth starter until the middle of April. They end the season with 20 games in 20 days, meaning no built-in days off the bullpen and whatnot. That is rather unfortunate, but such is life. The schedule is what it is.
Via Bob Nightengale: MLB is prepared to adopt an expanded replay system that would give managers the opportunity to challenge a disputed play. Managers would get three challenges per game but could only use one in the first six innings (wtf?), and most (but not all) plays would be reviewable. Reviews will be made by a central office that will remain in contact with the crew chief.
Expanding instant replay is great and MLB should be all for it, but the manager challenge system is … questionable. There will be a lot of ways to exploit the system, namely by having someone in the clubhouse watching replays before telling the manager to formally issue the challenge. I suppose you could also see a situation where a challenge is made just to give a reliever more time to warm up. I dunno, we’ll see. There is a phasing plan to implement the system in 2014, but the final vote won’t come until the owners’ meetings in November. The players’ and umpires’ unions must sign off as well. Getting the umps to agree could be a headache.
Via Sweeny Murti: Alex Rodriguez‘s return to the Yankees last night netted the YES Network its best ratings of the season. They averaged 393k total viewers for the game and topped out at 756k from 8:30-8:45pm ET, right around when Alex came to the plate for the first time. In terms of Neilsen ratings, YES was at 4.34 for the game compared to a season average of 2.52, which is down almost 40% from last year (4.17) and 50% from 2009 (4.72).
Obviously ticket sales and television ratings are way down this year, that’s no secret, but A-Rod‘s return will definitely help on the business side of things as well as on the field. He’s a car wreck and people can’t look away — most watch because they hate him and some watch because they actually like him. The important thing is people watch. Brian Cashman recently called the A-Rod trade his best not only because he was awesome on the field, but also because he helped increase ticket sales and cable subscribers. The Yankees seem to truly hate A-Rod and want him gone as soon as possible, but I’m guessing they’ll have no trouble taking in all that extra revenue while waiting for his appeal.
Alex Rodriguez started what is supposed to be a quick little two-game rehab stint with Double-A Trenton last night, hitting a long homerun and playing five innings at third base. During his post-game press conference, the team’s third baseman came out swinging with some thinly-veiled accusations. Here are the quotes, courtesy of Ronald Blum:
“There are a lot of layers,” he said after homering Friday night for the Double-A Trenton Thunder in his return from a leg injury. “I will say this: There is more than one party that benefits from me not ever stepping back on the field. And that’s not my teammates and it’s not the Yankee fans.”
“I think it is pretty self-explanatory. I think that is the pink elephant in the room,” he said. “I think we all agree that we want to get rid of PEDs. That’s a must. I think all the players, we feel that way. But when all this stuff is going on in the background and people are finding creative ways to cancel your contract and stuff like that, I think that’s concerning for me, it’s concerning for present — and I think it should be concerning for future players, as well.”
Poor Alex can’t even get through a simple cliche without messing it up. He also said he expects to return to the team Monday in Chicago “unless I get hit by lightning, and these days you never know.”
Anyway, it’s obvious A-Rod is referring to the Yankees here, and he isn’t exactly wrong. There have been countless reports in recent weeks and months suggesting the Yankees are trying to find a way to wiggle out of the 4+ years and $90M-something left on his contract, not to mention all the stuff about MLB wanting him out of the league. He’s just saying what we all know.
Between the recent Mike Francesa interview shenanigans and these quotes, basically all the public barbs the two sides (technically three sides) have traded in recent weeks, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: if A-Rod goes down, he’s going down with guns blazing. I’m not going to lie, part of me is looking forward to the ensuing chaos. It will be fascinating.
Indians right-hander Carlos Carrasco has been suspended eight games and fined an undisclosed amount for intentionally throwing at Kevin Youkilis earlier this week, MLB has announced. He was making his first start after serving a six-game suspension for throwing at Billy Butler. That incident happened back in 2011, but Carrasco’s Tommy John surgery got in the way.
In case you forgot, Carrasco threw at Youkilis on Tuesday after Robinson Cano had taken him deep one batter earlier. Given his history of throwing at people, the suspension isn’t surprising. Just glad Youkilis wasn’t hurt more than anything.
Just seven months before hitting the open market as (by far) the best free agent available, Robinson Cano has fired agent Scott Boras. He is now represented by CAA Sports and Jay-Z’s new Roc Nation Sports. Cano will be Roc Nation’s first client and they will handle his marketing. Buster Olney, Mark Feinsand, Ken Rosenthal, and Dan Barbarisi all had a hand in breaking the news.
“At this point in my career, I am ready to take a more active role in my endeavors both on and off the field,” said Cano in a statement released on Roc Nation’s site. “I am confident that the pairing of Roc Nation Sports and CAA Sports will be essential in helping me accomplish my short- and long-term goals. I am making this important decision now so I can keep my focus on helping the Yankees succeed in 2013, while minimizing any distractions for me and my teammates.”
Darren Rovell notes that Jay-Z hopes to become a certified agent in baseball, football, and basketball. Roc Nation’s initial launch is with CAA Sports, but it will be its own stand-along company. Given his new affiliation with Jay-Z, it is very hard to see Cano leaving New York. I doubt he has his eyes on joining the Mets either.
Brodie Van Wagenen of CAA will handle the bulk of Cano’s contract talks. He represents Ryan Zimmerman, Carlos Quentin, Ryan Howard, and Drew Storen, among others. CAA itself has a long client list, including stars like Ryan Braun, Buster Posey, Matt Cain, and Roy Halladay. Current Yankees Phil Hughes and Boone Logan are both CAA clients.
“Robinson Cano is an extraordinary all-around talent who has established himself as one of the game’s best and most consistent players,” said Van Wagenen in a statement. “Our mandate is to minimize his distractions while helping him achieve his goals on and off the field in both the short- and the long-term. His immediate concern is continuing to show respect for the New York Yankees organization, his teammates and fans.”
As for the Yankees, Cano cutting ties with Boras is pretty much the best case scenario as far as contract extension talks go. They’ve already made their franchise cornerstone a “significant offer,” though apparently there hadn’t been much progress in recent weeks. With a few notable exceptions, Boras has always taken his biggest clients out onto the open market and created a bidding war. Teams like the Tigers, Nationals, Angels, and especially the Dodgers figure to be in the mix for Cano after the season. Nearly every star CAA client has signed an extension in advance of free agency.
Does the agency switch means it will be easier for the Yankees to sign Cano long-term? Maybe, but I’m not sure easier is the best way to put it. I do think it improves their chances of signing him to a more affordable contract — not a ton because I doubt Jay-Z wants his first baseball contract to be a sweetheart deal — though Robbie is getting paid either way. He’ll clear nine figures easily and could double Chase Utley’s second base record of $85 million guaranteed. Perhaps he’ll sign a shorter (six years?) deal instead of seeking a massive eight- or ten-year agreement. That would be awesome.