New York Yankees v Texas Rangers, Game 6

New Book coming out portraying Derek Jeter as less-than-Captainy

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Derek Jeter has been pretty much untouchable from a P.R. perspective for his entire career. Rarely have there been stories portraying him in a bad light and, even when there was something to chew on, it was never anything that stuck to him (quick: if A-Rod had issues with his taxes like Jeter did, how many stories would have been written about it?).

That has changed somewhat since last year. Part of it was because of his surprisingly contentious contract negotiation with the Yankees. A lot of it has simply been a function of him not being the same player he was in his prime.  Even the most seemingly bullet proof public figures take some shots eventually, because that’s just how it works.  It’s simply Jeter’s turn, I suppose.

The biggest shot is coming next month. ESPN New York’s Ian O’Connor has written a book about him called “The Captain.” It focuses on Jeter’s relationship with Alex Rodriguez and, if the teaser in yesterday’s New York Post is any indication, it will not be a flattering portrayal:

“The Captain,” by sportswriter Ian O’Connor, out next month, chronicles the bond between the Yankee stars — a soap-opera saga filled with power and betrayal — from their days as rookies playing for different teams but as close as brothers, to their icy co-existence in The Bronx. Jeter’s unyielding insistence on loyalty and his dislike for A-Rod during the third baseman’s early years in pinstripes was so legendary that one Yankee official admitted he was too scared to talk to Jeter about making amends with his teammate.

According to O’Connor’s account, Jeter seemingly went out of his way to maintain his grudge against Alex Rodriguez over the latter’s less-than-flattering comments about Jeter back when he played in Texas (that whole “he’s never had to lead” stuff from a GQ article). That, rather than swallow his ego and lead, he was actually a primary reason why the Yankees’ clubhouse was so dysfunctional for so long after A-Rod arrived. He could have been the bigger man, set an example for his teammates and helped A-Rod assimilate better but … he didn’t.

I have no idea what to make of this. I’m always wary when unauthorized biographies go too deeply into psychology because, really, if you haven’t at least spoken with the subject about it all, how can you know if what you’re hearing is reliable? And of course, O’Connor has a bit of a history in being a bit heavy handed when it comes to drawing moral and ethical conclusions involving ballplayers. Perhaps like that “The Yankees are better off without A-Rod” story he wrote in the Bergen Record a couple of years ago, O’Connor will disavow and delete this book too. But then again, this may be a case of the Post making the book sound more of a Jeter indictment than it really is. Perhaps it’s just a compilation of clubhouse gossip.

Today Jeter is quoted in the post: “Make sure everyone knows it’s not mine,” Jeter said. “I had nothing to do with that book.”  I suppose that this won’t be the last statement someone affiliated with the Yankees makes about it.

Shohei Otani may come to the United States after 2017

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Last week it was widely speculated that Shohei Otani, the highly-touted Japanese pitcher/designated hitter who stars for the Nippon Ham Fighters, would not come to the United States to play due to changes in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The upshot: the new CBA caps money available to international free agents under age 25 at $5-6 million and Otani, 22, would be worth way more than that, so why take the pay cut?

Now, however, Jeff Passan of Yahoo reports that the Fighters are set to post Shotei Otani following the 2017 season. Passan says that his sources have told him that there are potential ways around the limit on spending for under-25 players like Shohei Otani and he links a Japanese article from Sponichi which says the Fighters would post him after the 2017 season.

It’d be interesting to see what that loophole is. Without knowing the exact terms of the CBA on this score it’s impossible to know, but one possibility is that there are different rules applicable to those with professional experience in other countries as opposed to amateur free agents.

Whatever the case, the notion that we could see Otani in the U.S. at age 23 or 24 is pretty exciting.

Report: Phillies close to signing Joaquin Benoit

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Joaquin Benoit #53 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the seventh inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim  at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 15, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.

Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.

Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.

The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.