Celebrity Yankee fan and former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani endorsed Joe Torre for manager last night. Meanwhile, as the hours drag on and no decision nears, I’m still wondering if the George Steinbrenner interview featured the words of the Boss or the words of an aging man who’s not all that. Time will tell. · (14) ·
Andrew Brackman | RHP
Born and raised in Cincinnati, OH, Brackman starred in two sports at Cincy’s Moeller High, a school rich in baseball tradition (the school’s list of alumni includes Buddy & David Bell, Adam Hyzdu, Barry Larkin, and Ken Griffey Jr). It’s debatable whether Brackman had a better baseball or basketball career as a prepster.
Now that we have a nifty little Spring Training countdown in place of what would have been an idle Joba Watch, let’s start the Hot Stove League off with a bang. I’d like to revisit the Jack Curry article on Scott Boras Or rather, let’s revisit what the article did not say.
In the piece, Curry talks at length about Scott Boras’ comments today that lay out in no uncertain terms his desire to see his number one client Alex Rodriguez opt out of his Yankee contract and head to free agency. Fine. That’s not news. What’s not in the article is the news.
In story after story yesterday, the word from Boras is, well, rather ridiculous. He feels A-Rod, 32 now, could and wants to play until he is 45; could break Pete Rose’s all-time hits record; could hit 1000 HR; could draw in $1 billion in revenue for a team with its own cable network; and should earn $33 million a year.
If all of those things happen, baseball should just stop because you would never ever see a player of that caliber again. But hyperbole aside, wading through Boras’ statements reveals the start of a negotiation. First, the age is important. Alex Rodriguez is 32 now, and his current contract runs out when he’s 35. He wants a ten-year contract extension.
Now, the money. In an ideal world, a team — the Yankees with their deep pockets and, conveniently enough, their own cable network already estimated to be worth a billion dollars — would hear out Boras and say, “Ok, Mr. Rodriguez. Here’s your ten-year, $330-million contract, guaranteeing your presence in pinstripes until you turn 45.”
But negotiations don’t work this way. The Yankees will offer a counterproposal, and they have a very firm and very public starting point from Boras. A counteroffer from the Yanks would probably be for seven years and $210 million or $30 million a year. A-Rod would be paid exceedingly well once he hits his early 40s, and the Yanks would keep him in pinstripes during what promises to be his next few very productive seasons.
There’s a catch. With A-Rod and the Yankees, there’s always a catch. Should the Yankees sink $30 million a season into one player? Should they be ready and willing to fork over $30 million for A-Rod to play his age 40, age 41 and age 42 seasons in the Bronx? That is a very, very tough call.
This year, Jason Giambi has been the poster child for overpaid, aging sluggers. Now, Alex Rodriguez, one of those genetic freaks who are amazingly healthy and great at baseball, doesn’t come with the needle-induced health problems of Jason Giambi. But only one baseball player has ever played well enough past 40 to deserve anywhere close to $30 million a year, and that person — Barry Bonds — is not saint.
So now, the fun begins for Brian Cashman. They’ll have to debate and analyze the numbers. They’ll have to look at budget projections, attendance numbers and TV ratings in an effort to make sense of a single player out of 25 making $30 million a year. The wild card in all of this is that robust salary. I don’t think any other team can come close to affording it while still putting a half-way decent team on the field, but I could be wrong. I certainly don’t envy Brian Cashman and the Yankees baseball people as they try to make sense of this. Good luck, folks. I have no answer to this A-Rod question right now.
The headline on Jack Curry’s latest says, “Rodriguez’s Agent Votes to Opt Out.” But that’s a bid misleading. The article simply features Scott Boras noting that it would be beneficial to A-Rod to opt out, but if he knows what’s best for him, he’ll stay a Yankee. Remember: If A-Rod opts out, Cashman will not re-sign him because the Yanks would lose the money from Texas. Let the fun begin. · (4) ·
Javelinas (Yanks AFL) 3-2 Win over Rafters
Reegie Corona walked with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th to win the game. He played solid defense at shortstop and made nice play on a groundball up the middle. Brett Gardner was a force on bases again. The guy never stays in one spot on the bases. Miranda was better than expected at first base but didn’t have much range on a hard hit to his right. Photos after the jump.
Ben’s commentary on the end of an era in New York got me thinking a lot more about the manager issue. I understand a lot of people want to see Torre gone. They decry his bullpen usage — and we’ve been guilty of that on plenty of occasions — and think he has some nonchalant attitude towards managing the game. “Binary baseball fans” (we’ll get more into this term later in the off-season) think he doesn’t play the numbers well enough. I have one question, though: Who do you think should take his place?
- Tony LaRussa? People will point to his personal pitching coach, Dave Duncan, and think it might be a good idea. However, as a commenter pointed out earlier today, how many pitchers came up through the St. Louis system during the LaRussa/Duncan tenure? Matt Morris. Oh, and Dan Haren, but all of his success came after he was traded. Duncan can fix veterans to a degree, but with the young arms in the system, I’m not sure I want Duncan around. As for LaRussa, I don’t really have an opinion on him, which puts me in the minority. Most people are against the idea. I’ll let you have it out in the comments.
- Don Mattingly? Please, let me know what he has done that indicates he’d be a competent manager. What sticks out to me about Mattingly is his reaction to Steinbrenner’s ultimatum for Torre:
“It’s obviously an uncomfortable situation for me. I don’t want to be caught in the middle of this. On the back end of that, Joe knows how I feel about him. He knows I would never do anything behind the scenes or anything else to backstab anybody. It’s not my character; it’s not part of me. I’m comfortable with that part of myself. Joe knows me, too, that I wouldn’t be doing that. My loyalty to him is as long as it has to be, really forever. He’s treated me great, he’s taught me tons.”
1) No one ever accused Mattingly of working behind the scenes. These sound like the words of a guilty man — guilty of something, not necessarily of explicitly lobbying for Torre’s job — to me.
2) If you hate Torre, do you take solace in Donnie saying “he’s taught me tons”?
But overall, he hasn’t done a thing to prove he can manage in the bigs.
- Joe Girardi? First off, he’d be managing a few guys he played with. I’m not sure how this has worked out in the past, but I’m not sure it’d be good for the Yanks. Second, I’ll name you two guys: Josh Johnson and Anibal Sanchez. Both pitched for Girardi, both haven’t been healthy since. The Johnson situation was the most egregious of the two, as we all know the rain delay story. If Girardi told Joba to go out there after sitting down for an hour, I might just storm the dugout.
- Bobby V? I still don’t think he’d ever manage for George. But if he’d be up for it, it’s a consideration.
- Tony Pena? I have nothing bad to say about the man. It’s tough to gauge what was his fault and what wasn’t with the Royals. He took a team that in 2002 hit .256/.323/.398 with a team ERA of 5.21, and turned them into a .274/.336/.427 team with a 5.06 ERA the next year. And then he lost Carlos Beltran to the Astros and Mike Sweeney to injuries, and the team collapsed again (their pitching remained horrible). Clearly, he was not in an ideal situation.
Who else? We’ll take any and all suggestions, and hopefully develop them into a good discussion. For the record, I’m all for giving Torre another contract. I don’t think anyone on this list could do a better job of managing this team.
Everyone likes to point their fingers. (Photo from Newsday/Paul J. Bereswill)
When the dust finally settles in a few days, an era of Yankee baseball will end. How this drama plays out, though, will determine which era ends, and the end result could be something of a surprise.
In one corner, we have George Steinbrenner threatening the end of the Joe Torre Era. If you take the interview with Ian O’Connor at face value, Torre’s gone. The Yanks didn’t make it past the first round of the playoffs for the third year in a row, let alone win a World Series, and King George is not happy.
For now, the going school of belief seems to be that Steinbrenner’s threats were not idle and that Torre is gone. The Yankee skipper spoke of the team not as a “we” but as a “them” during the post-game press conference last night. Peter Abraham noted a few other indications concerning the imminent departure of Joe Torre, and Bill Madden at The Daily News speculates that the Tony La Russa-Dave Duncan team may be Bronx bound.
But what if? What if George Steinbrenner’s interview featured the words of an aging and nearly deposed dictator? What if Brian Cashman enlists the help of the heir-apparent Hal Steinbrenner to push for Torre’s return? What if the rumors of Tony La Russa’s arrival in the Bronx raises too many alarm bells among the Yankee decision-makers?
If the Torre faction within the Yankees can outlast those doubting him, another era will end in the Bronx. The Era of the Boss would officially be over. We know, thanks to Portfolio magazine, that george is not well these days. If Joe Torre keeps his job, Steinbrenner’s public words and Yankee clout are all but gone.
Right now, no one really knows what should happen. Joe Torre made a few bad managing mistakes this week that cost the Yankees at least game two and maybe game four. He has a history of mismanaging the bullpen, but he knows how to handle the Yankees. Furthermore, the players – such as free agents Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada – love him. If he goes, they may go too.
So it becomes a showdown yet again between the Boss and the only man more powerful than the Boss in the eyes of the New York sports media. In a few days or hours or minutes, someone will win and an era will end. Whatever the outcome, it will affect the Yankees for years to come.