Can we please remember for a second that Derek Jeter is, first and foremost, a baseball player?

16 Comments

I’m not sure what to make of Derek Jeter’s total value. That is, his value as both a baseball player and a piece of marketing and good will and all of that. And those are the terms in which his current contractual situation are being played out.

There’s just so much uncertainty there. I think those who say that Jeter is irreplaceable or that he’s worth tens of millions as a personality alone are frankly deluded. There’s a value to that stuff, sure, but I don’t think it’s that great.  At the same time, anyone who completely discounts the notion that Jeter has some value over and above his OPS and defense is loony too (not that I’ve seen anyone totally discount it).  It’s just that unless you’re privy to all of the numbers the Yankees and Jeter’s representatives have along those lines, you can’t know this stuff. And even those people then have to take a leap of faith because the numbers don’t tell the whole story.

Still, I think we can recognize baloney when we see it, and there’s some baloney in this morning’s article by Bob Raissman, in which he quotes an alleged expert on sports marketing who thinks that Jeter would be valuable to any team who is launching a regional sports network like YES.  The example he uses is the Astros, and he drops this beauty:

“Jeter’s presence at a fledgling regional sports network has value,” said Lee Berke, president of LHB Sports, Entertainment & Media Inc., a company that advises sports and entertainment properties on network start-ups. “Jeter’s leverage is this: Suppose he goes to a team that’s just developing a network, like the Astros.

“You’re out there trying to sell the network to cable systems for the first time,” Berke said. “When a team doesn’t have a record of recent success, you’ve got a real advantage saying (to cable operators) ‘We’ve got Derek Jeter. We are committed to excellence.'”

Really? Does a Derek Jeter signing and a one-day press conference that would accompany it really signal to smart business people and the viewers who pay for their services that the Astros are “committed to excellence?”  Depending on the contract price, it could mean that they’re committed to delusion. Depending on how he hits between Opening Day and May 11th it could mean that they’re committed to paying for the shadow of a once-great player. How much did Hank Aaron mean for the 1975-76 Brewers’ bottom line?
Which isn’t to say that Jeter is done. He may bounce back remarkably. It’s just that trying to value him separate and apart from what he actually brings in terms of baseball production is silly.  Even the Yankees have to weigh his average and OPS over his Q score.  He’s a baseball player, after all. He’s not hosting a talk show.

Astros push ALCS to Game 7 with 7-1 stunner against Yankees

Getty Images
6 Comments

There’s just something about playing in your home ballpark. The Astros decimated the Yankees at Minute Maid Park on Friday, riding seven scoreless innings from Justin Verlander and a pair of big runs from Jose Altuve to win 7-1 and force a Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

Through the first four innings, however, the teams looked equally matched. Luis Severino no-hit the Astros through 3 2/3 innings, losing his bid on Carlos Correa‘s line drive single in the fourth. The Astros returned in the fifth to do some real damage, drawing two walks and plating the first run of the night with Brian McCann‘s ground-rule double off of the right field wall. Things didn’t get any easier for Severino. Jose Altuve lined a two-RBI base hit into left field, upping Houston’s advantage to three runs.

Verlander, meanwhile, muted the Yankees’ offense with seven innings of five-hit, eight-strikeout ball. While he didn’t come close to matching his complete game effort in Game 2, he was still plenty dominant against a struggling New York lineup. No player reached past first base until the sixth inning, when a pair of base hits from Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius gave the Yankees their first runner in scoring position. That didn’t last long, though, as Gary Sanchez grounded out on a 3-0 slider to end the inning.

In the seventh, Houston’s ace got into another spot of trouble. He walked Greg Bird on six pitches to start the inning, then plunked Starlin Castro on the wrist. Aaron Hicks struck out, in part thanks to a questionable call by home plate umpire Jim Reynolds, but it was Todd Frazier who presented the biggest threat after returning an 0-1 fastball for a 403-foot fly out to left field. Luckily for Verlander, George Springer was there to bail him out with a leaping catch at the wall.

The Yankees kept things exciting in the eighth, too. Aaron Judge ripped his third postseason home run off of Brad Peacock, taking a 425-footer out to the train in left field to spoil the Astros’ shutout. That was the only real break the Yankees got, however, as Altuve, Alex Bregman and Evan Gattis returned in the bottom of the inning to tack on another four runs, including Altuve’s solo shot off of David Robertson:

Ken Giles handled the ninth, expending 23 pitches and giving up a base hit and a walk before retiring Frazier and Headley to end the game. Thanks to Houston’s winning efforts, the two teams will compete in their first seven-game Championship Series since 2004 — and this time, at least one of them is guaranteed to come away with a win.

Game 7 of the ALCS is set for Saturday at 8:00 PM ET. Houston right-hander Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA) is scheduled to face southpaw CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA).