With A-Rod ban settled, where do the Yankees go from here?

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The Yankees can finally move forward with their plans for 2014 now that Alex Rodriguez has received a 162-game ban which also includes the postseason. And they have to be pretty happy with how things have worked out.

It’s easy to see the benefits of having Rodriguez off the books for 2014, as he was due to make $25 million. Much has been made about the Yankees trying to get under the $189 million threshold, but Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears that they will still be charged $3,155,737.70 for A-Rod for luxury tax purposes for 2014 since the suspension is for 162 games and not a full year. That could cut things very close depending on what else they do this offseason.

On a related note, the Yankees are believed to be one of the front-runners for Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka. The savings from A-Rod, at least for 2014, should come in handy, but Tanaka is going to be very expensive. Due to the changes associated with the posting system, it will likely require a contract north of $100 million in order to sign him. That could easily push them over the $189 million figure.

Yes, the Yankees will save money with the suspension and won’t have to deal with the daily sideshow like we saw during the second half last season, but the loss of Rodriguez adds yet another question to the team’s infield going into 2014. Derek Jeter is no sure thing after being limited to just 17 games last season and the Yankees will attempt to piece together second base following the departure of Robinson Cano. As of now, they are counting on Kelly Johnson and the injury-prone Brian Roberts to be major contributors.

There’s still a chance that the Yankees could upgrade their infield via trade, as a Brett Gardner-for-Brandon Phillips swap has been mentioned in the past, but Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York reported this morning that the Yankees were still looking at free agents Mark Reynolds and Michael Young as possible fallbacks at third base. Of course, neither are inspiring options, but there’s slim pickings out there.

Derek Jeter calls Bryant Gumbel “mentally weak”

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Derek Jeter has not covered himself in glory since taking over the Miami Marlins. His reign atop the team’s baseball operations department has been characterized by the slashing of payroll in order to help his new ownership group make more money amid some pretty crushing debt service by virtue of what was, in effect, the leveraged buyout of the club. A club which is now 5-16 and seems destined for five months more and change of some pretty miserable baseball.

Jeter has nonetheless cast the moves the Marlins have made as good for fans in the long run. And, yes, I suppose it’s likely that things will be better in the long run, if for no other reason than they cannot be much worse. Still, such reasoning, while often accepted when a lesser light like, say, White Sox GM Rick Hahn employs it, isn’t accepted as easily when a guy who has been defined by his hand full of championship rings offers it. How can Derek Jeter, of all people, accept losing?

That’s the question HBO’s Bryant Gumbel asked of Jeter in an interview that aired over the weekend (see the video at the end of the post). How can he accept — and why should fans accept — a subpar baseball product which is not intended to win? Jeter’s response? To claim that the 2018 Marlins are totally expected to win and that Gumbel himself is “mentally weak” for not understanding it:

JETER: “We’re trying to win ball games every day.”

GUMBEL: “If you trade your best players in exchange for prospects it’s unlikely you’re going to win more games in the immediate future–”

JETER: “When you take the field, you have an opportunity to win each and every day. Each and every day. You never tell your team that they’re expected to lose. Never.”

GUMBEL: “Not in so–”

JETER: “Now, you can think — now– now, I can’t tell you how you think. Like, I see your mind. I see that’s how you think. I don’t think like that. That’s your mind working like that.”

. . .

DEREK JETER: “You don’t. We have two different mi– I can’t wait to get you on the golf course, man. We got– I mean, I can’t wait for this one.”

BRYANT GUMBEL: “No, I mean–”

DEREK JETER: “You’re mentally weak.”

I sort of get what Jeter was trying to do here. He was trying to take this out the realm of second guessing among people who know some stuff about sports and subtly make it an appeal to authority, implying that he was an athlete and that only he, unlike Gumbel, can understand that mindset and competitiveness of the athlete. That’s what the “get you on the golf course” jazz was about. Probably worth noting at this point that that tack has never worked for Michael Jordan as a basketball executive, even if his singular competitiveness made him the legend he was on the court. An executive makes decisions which can and should be second-guessed, and it seems Jeter cannot handle that.

That being said, Gumbel did sort of open the door for Jeter to do that. Suggesting that baseball players on the 2018 Marlins don’t expect to win is not the best angle for him here because, I am certain, if you ask those players, they would say much the same thing Jeter said. That’s what makes them athletes.

No, what Gumbel should have asked Jeter was “of COURSE you tell your players to win and of COURSE they try their hardest and think they can win every night. My question to you is this: did YOU try YOUR hardest to get the BEST players? And if not, why not?”

Question him like you’d question Rick Hahn. Not like you’d question Future Hall of Fame Shortstop, Derek Jeter.