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.

Mike Rizzo and Shawn Kelley almost got into a physical confrontation

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A few weeks back the Washington Nationals designated reliever Shawn Kelley for assignment the morning after he threw his glove into the ground and glared at the Nats dugout in frustration after giving up a homer in a blowout win against the Mets. He was later traded to the Athletics. Nats GM Mike Rizzo said at that time that he thought Kelley was trying to show up his manager and that there was no room for that sort of thing on the team, offering an “either you’re with us or you’re working against us” sentiment in the process.

Today the Washington Post talks about all of the Nationals’ bullpen woes of late, and touches on the departure of Kelley as being part of the problem. In so doing, we learn that, on the night of Kelley’s mound tantrum, he and Rizzo almost got into a physical confrontation:

Rizzo headed down to the clubhouse and confronted Kelley, according to people familiar with the situation. The argument became heated, including raised voices, and eventually it almost became physical, according to people familiar with the exchange. Adam Eaton got between the two of them and separated them before things could advance further . . .

Might I point out that, the fact of this emerging now helps to vindicate Brandon Kintzler who, the day before, was traded away, some say, for being the source for negative reports from inside the Nats’ clubhouse?

That aside, the article does not make anyone look good, really. Rizzo had the backing of his team with the Kelley incident, but the overall story — how did the Nats’ bullpen, which was once a strength — get so bad? — does no favors for Rizzo. Mostly because he seems to have thought that they had so much extra bullpen depth that they could afford to deal away Kintzler, which he says was a financial move, not a punitive trade for being a media source.

Question: when was the last time you heard a baseball man say he had too much relief pitching? Especially today, in which the bullpen has assumed such a prominent role? Seems rather unreasonable to cut relievers when you’re trying mightily to come back from a sizable deficit in the standings, yes?