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

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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.

Pirates sign reliever Eric O’Flaherty

Eric O'Flaherty
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Left-hander Eric O'Flaherty has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Pirates that includes an invitation to spring training.

O’Flaherty was one of the best relievers in the league for the Braves from 2009-2013, posting a combined 1.99 ERA in 249 innings, but Tommy John elbow surgery derailed his career and he struggled for the A’s and Mets in 2015 while dealing with shoulder problems.

It’s tough to know if O’Flaherty is healthy at this point, but the 31-year-old southpaw certainly has a chance to be a nice reclamation project for the Pirates on a no-risk contract.

Mariano Rivera to get his plaque in Monument Park on August 14

Mariano Rivera
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The greatest closer in history is going to get the ultimate honor the New York Yankees bestow on August 14. That’s when Mariano Rivera will get his plaque in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium before a game against the Rays.

There was some chatter in the last year or two about whether the Yankees were somehow lowering their standards out there, what with guys like Tino Martinez getting honored. But if that’s something you care about it won’t matter in this instance. Rivera would’ve been worthy even if the old snobby ways had held and only inner-circle types got a plaque, what with him being a key member of five World Series-winning teams and his status as the all-time saves leader in the regular season and the postseason.

The Yankees retired Rivera’s No. 42 in 2013. He’ll get his plaque in August. Then, on the first ballot for which he is eligible, he’ll be voted into the Hall of Fame, likely with a percentage in the mid-to-high 90s.

Dodgers “trying to trade” Alex Guerrero

Alex Guerrero
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Alex Guerrero is a potentially good right-handed bat without a position to play in Los Angeles, so Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reporting that the Dodgers are “trying to trade” him makes sense.

Guerrero, who signed with the Dodgers out of Cuba for $28 million in October of 2013, spent last season in the majors hitting .233 with 11 homers and a .695 OPS in a part-time role that generated 230 plate appearances. He logged a total of just 355 innings defensively, mostly as a left fielder and third baseman.

Guerrero could be intriguing–particularly to an American League team for whom his defense isn’t much of an issue–because he hit .329 with 15 homers and a 1.113 OPS in 65 games at Triple-A in 2014 and was consistently a .300 hitter with an OPS around 1.000 in Cuba. He’s also 29 years old, so Guerrero is no doubt looking to play regularly.

The New Zealand World Baseball Classic team performs the Haka

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It’s World Baseball Classic time again. Just the qualifying rounds. The actual tournament happens in 2017. Qualifiers will happen in Sydney, Australia, Mexicali, Mexico, Panama City, Panama and Brooklyn, N.Y., periodically, between now and September.

The Sydney round just got underway yesterday, so yes, some actual baseball is going on. As I’ve written and ranted before, the WBC is not my favorite thing that happens in baseball and certainly not the most important thing, but it’s pretty fun. Especially when there are displays of enthusiasm and pageantry and the like.

Such as the Haka, which basically every New Zealand sports team does and which never gets old:

 

Down in Sydney, the Australia, New Zealand, Philippines and South Africa teams are competing in a six-game, modified double-elimination format. In the other three qualifying rounds, Mexico, Czech Republic, Germany, Nicaragua, Colombia, France, Panama, Spain, Brazil, Great Britain, Israel and Pakistan will compete. Each qualifying round puts one representative in the WBC.

Those four qualifiers will compete in the WBC itself against countries that performed well enough in the past that they need not submit to qualifying: Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Korea, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, United States and Venezuela.

Someone make sure Jon Morosi is well-hyrdrated. It’s gonna be a long year.