The rising price of catchers

In the last week we heard rumors that the Yankees were discussing a multi-year extension with Russell Martin, which would have kept the 29-year old Martin in pinstripes for the next 3 years.  Ultimately, no agreement was reached, and instead Martin will play out 2012 for his agreed-upon 1-year salary.  It sounds like there is mutual desire to keep Martin in New York, but it doesn’t sound like the two parties saw eye-to-eye on the finances. The topic of extending Martin has been discussed on this blog and elsewhere, with mixed opinions.  Those in favor have argued that Martin is Continue reading The rising price of catchers

Some thoughts on Andy Pettitte

As we wait for Andy Pettitte to make his decision, a few thoughts…

Like most of you, I have long been an Andy Pettitte fan. Through thick and thin, I have admired Andy Pettitte. Not just the pitcher; the man, too. Sure, he has his scarlet letter to mar his legacy and I’m far from naive enough to simply ignore it. But I won’t let it define him. That’s just me. You’re welcome to judge Andy’s transgressions within your own kalidescope of values and vision.

I have long respected Andy’s out-front and honest debate about whether it’s time to hang ’em up and return home for good, to be that full time parent that he seems to truly want to be. As a father, I can completely appreciate the speed at which our kids grow up and the desire to be around as much as life dictates and/or allows.

I read a Tweet from Jon Heyman last night that had me thinking about Andy way too much. First, the Tweet:

pettitte thought likely to return because family supports it. but friend says andy, upset over low ’09 base, wont accept a “lowball” offer

My first thought was that Andy would be best served to let 2009 go; his lowball 2009 salary was doubled in 2010. That got me looking back into my archives about the 2008 off-season, Pettitte’s prior comments and some things jumped out at me.

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The art of the “overpay”

I named this site “It’s About The Money” because in most (like 99% or so) cases, signings in baseball hinge on price more than anything else. Sure, there are those random cases where a player will take less to be in a particular place or on a particular team, like Marco Scutaro joining the RedSox. But most often, a player will take the most money offered, and Jayson Werth’s whopper deal yesterday is no different.

I’m glad Keith Law addressed this as it was something on my to-do list, but Law rightfully notes:

You may hear that the Nationals “had to overpay” for Werth to get him to come to a team that hasn’t been a winner. This is complete nonsense, perpetrated by agents to get more for their clients and by team executives to justify bad financial decisions. Free agents go to the highest bidder; if a losing team wants to sign a free agent, they simply have to offer more (factoring in taxes) than any other team is offering. Players like taking the most money. Agents encourage players to take the most money because it maximizes their commissions. The union encourages players to take the most money because it tends to pull up other players’ salaries.

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Behold, thy name is leverage

Disclaimer #1: I’m really getting sick of this. I know this elaborate, frustating mating ritual is necessary, but for Pete’s sake, let’s get on with it already.

Disclaimer #2: I want Derek Jeter back in pinstripes.

Derek Jeter’s agent, Casey Close, is a smart guy and from all accounts an excellent agent. However, Derek Sanderson Jeter does not hold the leverage in this negotiation. At least, not if Jeter wants the most amount of money possible. So when I read these quotes by Close, I have to shake my head:

“There’s a reason the Yankees themselves have stated Derek Jeter is their modern-day Babe Ruth. Derek’s significance to the team is much more than just stats. And yet, the Yankees’ negotiating strategy remains baffling. They continue to argue their points in the press and refuse to acknowledge Derek’s total contribution to their franchise.”

Let’s dissect these comments…

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Who ordered the Code Red on Jeter?

ESPNNY brought out the long sticks to poke Jeter with no fewer than four articles about Jeter, his down season, his looming free agency and other fun stuff. I won’t FJM any of them since each makes some fair points, but let’s recap a bit of each, starting with Andrew Marchand’s piece:

Many baseball people think Jeter’s next deal with the Yankees will be in the neighborhood of $20 million a season for three or four years. If the Yankees offer anything close to that, they will almost certainly be bidding against themselves.

It is the exception to the rule,” the ex-GM said. “It is not a rational contract. He is Derek Jeter.” […]

For the Yankees, it is not as much about the money, but it is about the length,” the scout said.

It’s always about the money, stupid. And whether the Yanks overpay Jeter by $5m a year or $10m a year, it really is immaterial to the team. That “hometown premium“, as I like to refer to it, will not hamstring the team and their ability to field the most competitive club possible next year. The team’s revenues are sky high, even during this economic trough we’re still struggling through. Let’s hold the discussion about signing a 36 year old shortstop to a 4 year contract for a bit. There’s more to get through here today.

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RIP: Posada’s arm

This looked like a Little League game:

Four stolen bases in one inning? That’s bad. Four steals in one inning, top of the ninth, in the midst of a 4 game losing streak, including two steals of third without even making a throw? That’s flat-out awful. Inexcusable.

Jorge has thrown out just 16% of SB attempts this year, his worst of his career, and that includes his shoulder-injured year of 2008:

Year Age Pos 5 G Inn Rtot Rdrs Rtot/yr Rdrs/yr SB CS CS%
1997 25 C 60 479.1 -6 -15 40 10 20%
1998 26 C 99 792.0 7 11 48 32 40%
1999 27 C 109 885.2 -4 -5 75 29 28%
2000 28 C 142 1182.0 0 0 70 34 33%
2001 29 C 131 1111.2 -4 -4 94 37 28%
2002 30 C 138 1191.2 -4 -4 76 31 29%
2003 31 C 137 1165.0 1 -2 1 -2 72 28 28%
2004 32 C 134 1102.1 -3 -5 -3 -5 67 25 27%
2005 33 C 133 1076.2 4 -2 4 -2 90 39 30%
2006 34 C 134 1050.1 6 1 7 1 64 38 37%
2007 35 C 138 1111.1 -8 -7 -9 -8 102 32 24%
2008 36 C 30 234.1 -4 -5 -20 -26 34 7 17%
2009 37 C 100 785.0 -3 -11 -5 -17 80 31 28%
2010 38 C 79 650.1 -10 -7 -18 -13 67 13 16%
16 Seasons C 1569 12843.0 -28 -38 -3 -6 979 386 28%
Provided by View Original Table Generated 9/27/2010.

Posada’s arm has become a joke and I fear facing the Rays should the Yanks get to the ALCS.

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Padres CEO Says It’s NOT All About the Money

Well, this is interesting:

With the third best winning percentage in baseball, the low-budget Padres have defied the odds.

“I think there’s a misconception about payroll,” said Moorad, who made his name as a sports agent inking record deals from Orange County. “The media and some fans would have you believe if you spend more money you have a better chance to win.”

He points to winning teams with smaller payrolls, including the Tampa Bay Rays, Oakland Athletics, Minnesota Twins and Arizona Diamondbacks, where he was chief executive and part owner from 2004 to 2009.

But none of those teams have won a championship in the past decade. And for every feel good story in smaller baseball towns, there are sad tales of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Baltimore Orioles or the Kansas City Royals.

Combined, those teams have 35 years of losing seasons.

You have to love the casual editorial bias at the end there don’t you? “Sure, some mid/small market teams are consistently in the mix of things, but others are perennial bottom feeders.” Strangely, you never see complaints about the payroll advantage the Yankees and Red Sox tut-tutted by invoking dysfunctional large market organizations like the Mets and Cubs. That only works when you’re sticking up for the poor, disadvantaged, Dayton Moores and Peter Angeloses of the world. Continue reading Padres CEO Says It’s NOT All About the Money

On the eve of 39, what happens next year?

Happy early birthday to Jorge Posada! The longtime Yanks catcher turns 39 years old on Tuesday, August 17th. And as I can attest to, when you get to this age, you mind still believes you can do the things you could do at 25 but the body is no longer willing. {And it sucks. Bigtime.}

I’ve been a huge Posada fan for as long as he’s been in pinstripes. I’ve been amazed that he’s been able to remain a productive catcher even as he passed the threshold of when most catchers begin their rapid decent into retirement or DH/1B-land. Maybe it’s because Posada was originally a second baseman, coverted by the Yanks to a catcher. Maybe it’s because he split time with Joe Girardi early in his career. Regardless of the reason, Posada has been able to remain mostly healthy his entire career and has put up numbers that puts him in many “Hall of Fame?” discussions. But his ability to remain in the lineup, productive offensively while being at least adequate defensively appears to be fading. Fast.

Still, Posada’s nagging injuries have kept Girardi from overusing him, as last weekend marked the first time since May 1-3 that Posada caught three days in a row.

“Physically, he’s had knee issues and he’s had other issues that we’ve had to deal with,” Girardi said. “I can run him out there five days in a row, but I’m not sure when we’d get him back. That’s what I have to guard against. Those are the tough decisions that I have to make. Sometimes players aren’t going to like them, but we’ve been able to keep him off the DL for the most part this year.”

And this is the heart of my concern about Posada and the Yanks, for this year and next.

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I suppose this won’t go away soon

We can hope this idle chatter and postulating about Jeter’s next contract will die down once the season starts for real.

The Yankees generally have treated their own big stars very well. But six years for a shortstop who’s 35 now is seen as a stretch, even by the execs who say they expect that to be the asking price. “Casey Close is a good agent. You don’t get if you don’t ask,” one executive said. Close declined comment.

Six years may seem extreme. But there is logic to it. Jeter saw his famous frenemy Alex Rodriguez get a 10-year, $275-million deal from the Yankees two winters ago that will take him to age 42. Jeter will be 36 by the end of the year, so six more years would take him to 42, same as A-Rod.

After seeing A-Rod get a contract taking him until he’s 42, why wouldn’t Jeter want the same? A case could be made that Rodriguez is a more natural fit as the DH, so playing into his 40s might be easier. But both are hard workers, extremely fit and without injury history. And Jeter’s the one who’s a Yankees legend.

I discussed this a bit earlier this week, and several other times (here’s another), so I don’t want to continue to spend countless cycles on it, but some quick thoughts:

  • Is it really necessary to knock ARod, yet again? I know he’s an easy target, but c’mon.
  • Jeter’s pride is well-documented. Will he demand:
    • Same AAV as ARod (or $1 more)
    • Extension to age 42
  • Will he be “reasonable” in his demands, both in terms of AAV and term?

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