Fan Confidence Poll: December 6th, 2010

Season Record: 95-67 (859 RS, 693 RA, 98-64 Pythag. record), finished one game back in AL East, won Wild Card, lost in ALCS

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Weeks of Jeter entertainment come to an end

When a conflict comes to a resolution, we’re normally able to take a step back and reflect on it. With the Derek Jeter contract negotiations, that’s not necessary. The situation was pretty transparent from the beginning. The Yankees set the tone with their initial offer, one that no other team would dare match. From there it was just a matter of when Jeter would accept the situation. But while we won’t learn much by looking back at the situation, we did get something out of it. We were entertained.

The way the negotiations played out was insanely entertaining. Six years and $150 million? That was worth a good chuckle. It might have been true, but chances are it wasn’t. Even four to five years at $23 or $24 million was comical. Then came the quotes from the Yankees brass. Sure, it was mostly unnecessary — especially when it involved Hank. But the frustration was palpable. The Jeter camp was being unreasonable, and it appeared to have gotten under the Yankees’ skin.

More than the negotiations themselves, the commentary about the negotiations provided high entertainment. Whether on Twitter, in an article, or in the comments section, we saw people provide all kinds of rationale for why Jeter deserved to get paid what he wanted, or why he should take the Yankees’ offer. (Though the term rationale might be generous when describing the former.) It also led to a short-lived, but still entertaining, collection of terrible articles about the situation.

I don’t know about everyone else, but I had fun during those few weeks. Maybe I got a little worked up at one point or another, but that’s going to happen when arguing something about which I’m passionate. I can see why people might have been annoyed at how it played out. Seeing multiple articles every day about one player’s contract negotiations can become grating. But even if it did become a bit too much on one day, it all reset the next day. The conversations began anew, and we were entertained all over again.

It might not have been all that entertaining, of course, had there been a chance that Jeter would leave. We all knew that no matter how this played out that Jeter would play shortstop for the Yankees in 2011 and beyond. Because we knew this we could view the negotiations in a different manner than we see them with, say, Cliff Lee. There’s a real chance Lee signs elsewhere and helps a Yankees rival. With Jeter it was the furthest thing from our minds — or at least most of our minds.

I’m glad it’s over. The entertainment factor in this was definitely coming to a halt, so drawing it out any longer would have become obnoxious. But it was fun while it lasted. I don’t wish that all negotiations played out in this way, but with Derek Jeter it worked. Now that it’s over we can forget the annoyances and remember the conversations and debates. That’s what made this whole situation interesting and entertaining.

Sunday night Lee rumor round-up

As the Winter Meetings kick off, the rumors are flying. For Yankee fans, Cliff Lee will be our guy of the week. Already we have news. Jon Heyman reports that the Rangers won’t go to six years for Lee. Meanwhile, Yahoo’s Tim Brown says that Lee would return to Texas if they guarantee him a sixth year. If that’s not an agent looking for guaranteed years and dollars, I don’t know what is.

Open Thread: The Red Sox’s play for Mo

I didn’t quite have a chance to explore this angle in my afternoon ode to Mariano, but check out what Anthony McCarron had to say about the Red Sox’s bid for Rivera. It sounds as though Boston truly tried to pry the future Hall of Fame closer out of the Bronx.

The Yankees may have had some uncomfortable moments, however, when they heard that Rivera’s agent, Fern Cuza, had talks with the Red Sox and even fielded a two-year offer from the Yanks’ ancient rivals. While Rivera did not seem close to leaving for Boston, he didn’t say he’d never pitch for the Red Sox.

“They talked to Fern, they were interested,” Rivera said. “I really appreciate that. I know there was interest and I respect that. I respect the organization and the front office of the Red Sox. Like I said, I have to thank God and be grateful for that, that they were thinking of me.

“It was respect. The rivalry we have against each other and the tremendous organization. Just take it in consideration and the Yankees did what they were supposed to do and that’s the end of that.”

I appreciate how Rivera says the Yanks “did what they were supposed to do.” They have him his years; they gave him his dollars; and they get to keep Rivera. I’ll always wonder if the Red Sox were interested in Mariano simply to drive up his price in New York or if Theo Epstein pushed hard to find someone, anyone, more reliable than Jonathan Papelbon. For what it’s worth, Mariano Rivera has always said he respects but would never pitch for Boston. We didn’t have to test the strength of his claims.

Meanwhile, what a day, eh? Adrian Gonzalez isn’t on the Red Sox. Jayson Werth is on the Nationals, and the Winter Meetings don’t even officially start until tomorrow. Mike and Joe are on location in Orlando, and we’ll have plenty of coverage from the meetings.

In local action, the Giants and Knicks both won today while the Nets and Islanders did not. The Rangers are playing right now, and the Jets’ highly anticipated showdown with the Pats isn’t until tomorrow. You’ve got the Steelers and the Ravens for Sunday Night Football. Enjoy the open thread.

Jayson Werth lands in … Washington?!?

The first big move of the winter meetings has just gone down, with Jayson Werth agreeing to a (get this) seven year contract worth $126M with the Washington Nationals. Yes, the Nationals. That works out to exactly $18M per season. Clearly, the market is rather inflated right now, so any idea of a five year contract for Cliff Lee probably went out the window. The bidding starts at six.

Update (5:14 p.m.): Joel Sherman tweets that the Red Sox offered Werth four years. Today has, so far, not been a great day for the Bostonians.

Mailbag: The Killer B’s vs. The Big Three

Viva la The Big Three. (Cataffo, NY Daily News)

Dan asks: How excited should we be about the Killer B’s (Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances and Andrew Brackman) in comparison to how we were a few years ago with the Big Three (Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy)? Also, when can we expect an impact at the major league level?

The first thing we have to remember is that we’re talking about a group of very different pitchers here, so it’s not exactly an apples to apples comparison. Just speaking in general terms, Brackman, Betances, and Joba are all pure stuff guys. Hughes and Banuelos are a combination of stuff and polish, while Kennedy is all polish. The Killer B’s have a higher collective ceiling only because IPK drags down The Big Three, not that he’s a bad pitcher or anything.

Another difference is health. Both Brackman and Betances have had major elbow surgery in the not too distance past, but none of The Big Three have gone under the knife. Well, Kennedy did for his aneurysm in 2009, but that was a non-baseball thing, like Banuelos’ appendix. Then there’s performance. Hughes, Kennedy, and Joba completely smoked the minors, not a single one ran into any kind of rough patch where they struggled for a month or so. Brackman, as well know, sucked in 2009, and Betances had been pretty inconsistent prior to the elbow. The track records are on opposite ends of the spectrum as far as I’m concerned.

If I had to pick between the two group of pitchers at their respective prospect status peaks, I’d take Hughes-Joba-Kennedy eight days a week and twice on Sunday. Hughes and Joba we simply the two best prospects of the six, and at his peak Kennedy was a better prospect than either Brackman or Betances. In terms of hype, which is really what the question boils down to, I don’t think there’s any doubt that the Big Three were more hyped and anticipated. Like I said, they all destroyed the minors, and that alone is enough to drum up some excitement. And remember, the Yankees were in a very different place a few years ago. The rotation was crap and here we had three young and exciting arms coming to save the day. That adds fuel to the fire as well.

As for when you can expect The Killer B’s to make an impact, I think Brackman’s the first one to debut, likely as a reliever in the second half of 2011. I suppose if he performs well enough and the Yankees have a need, he could come up as a starter, but there are a few guys ahead of him on the pecking order. Both Betances and Banuelos are 2012 guys at the absolute earliest. Neither has much experience at Double-A, so they still have to clear that hurdle and then deal with Triple-A. Banuelos will probably beat Betances just because he’s better and is more advanced as a pitcher, but Dellin has a 40-man roster spot to his name.

Best part of it all? The Yankees have five of these six guys, so no matter who you like best, we all still win. Developing not one, but two trios of pitching prospects like this within four years of each other is rather awesome if you ask me.

Reports: Gonzalez, Sox fail to reach extension deal

Update (2:59 p.m.): Jon Heyman, Ken Rosenthal and Joel Sherman are reporting that talks between the Red Sox and Adrian Gonzalez on a possible contract extension have fallen through. The Red Sox and Padres agreed yesterday to a deal involving Gonzalez and three top Boston prospects that was contingent upon the Sox’s coming to terms with the slugging first baseman on a long-term extension. Now that the contract talks are dead, the future of the deal remains cloudy.

Despite this development, talks between the Red Sox and Padres are not over. Rosenthal says that the Padres and Red Sox can pull the trigger on the trade, but the Sox are hesitant to give up so much for only one year of control. If the Red Sox do acquire Gonzalez, they could still take advantage of their exclusive right to negotiate during the course of the season. The Padres, says Heyman, won’t field more offers if this trade fell through. This tale isn’t over yet.