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...

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Some thoughts on Andy Pettitte

About two years ago, I wrote about Andy’s contract situation. Some of what I said then:

This is a bit difficult. I am a big Andy Pettitte fan. I was sad to see him go in 2003 but I know (or I thought I knew) that he marches to a beat of a different drummer. That he wanted to go be near his family was a totally acceptable answer for my feeble brain. When he came back in 2007, I welcomed him. When he had a poor year in 2008, I was disappointed. I also figured that he’d finally make good on his oft-thought aloud retirement plans. Which would be cool with me; an athlete leaving when he wanted, with money on the table. That’s conviction.

However, the point of my writing was less about Andy’s off-field attributes and more about what I felt as his approaching hypocrisy. I’ve re-read my thoughts quite a few times and I have to admit that I was probably a bit harsh:

The Yanks have offered him $10m to pitch this season in pinstripes.

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The art of the “overpay”

Law continues:

The reason losing teams often miss out on premium free agents is that they don’t bid enough, because their current revenue streams don’t justify higher bids, or because they are not close enough to contention to merit increasing a bid in the hopes of boosting revenues for the coming year. Very, very few take pay cuts to go to contenders or major markets — and besides, the last time I checked, Washington, D.C. was the ninth-largest media market in the United States, according to Arbitron, so let’s stop pretending that the Nationals play in Podunk even if ownership sometimes acts like they do. Every offseason, we hear some losing team say they “had to overpay” to sign a free agent. We rarely hear some winning team come to the podium and say they got themselves a bargain because a top-tier free agent signed with them for 20 percent less than anyone else offered.

This is true.  I’ve mentioned the “hometown premium” the Yanks often have to pay to keep their own guys and Jeter’s newest deal is the latest example.…

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Behold, thy name is leverage

  • Derek’s significance to the team is much more than just stats” This is true. Jeter is the Captain, the team’s moral compass and ever-present driver to achieve. Jeter represents all that the Yankees want the franchise to represent: Class, Respect, Excellence.  Yet, the Yankees franchise will live on in the post-Jeter era, whenever that starts, be it 2011 or sometime in the future, just as it succeeded pre-Jeter.  The Yanks have paid Jeter handsomely during his incredibly successful tenure, some $205 million so far in salary alone.  In return, the Yanks have gotten all they could have asked for from Jeter.  His ten year contract has been a boon for both sides, an absolute rarity in professional sports.  Each side has thrived during the length of Jeter’s career to date.  The team’s success in the 1990’s helped fuel the crazy spending of the 2000’s (in an effort to keep the ‘dynasty’ alive).  Jeter is one of the main reasons for the team’s successes, but not the only one. 
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Who ordered the Code Red on Jeter?

Wallace Matthews gets all passive aggressive-y with Jeter, knocking Jeter’s down year (which we all know already) but then gets into how Jeter and hitting coach Kevin Long went to work on Jeter’s swing. Cynics among us will say: “Why’d it take Jeter until Sept. 11 to realize he was having a bad year and ask for help?” while others will simply be happy with the results.

The harsh reality of it seemed to be that at 36, Jeter was beginning an inevitable and irreversible slide.

For a time there, Derek Jeter was as close to an automatic out as you could find in the Yankees’ lineup, and often two outs; the 21 double plays he grounded into this year matches the second-highest single-season total of his career. […]

And the reason is simple: Somewhere along the line this season, Derek Jeter came to recognize that he was having not only a bad stretch, but also a real problem at the plate.

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RIP: Posada’s arm

I spent some time talking about Posada and 2011, his last year under contract:

So what’s going to happen next year when Posada will be another year older? It will be the final year of his 4 year, $52.4 million contract that he signed after Thanksgiving 2007. This contract, namely the 2011 year, is the biggest example of what I am always referring to the Yankees “hometown premium”. There was no reasonable, rational reason for the team to give Posada the fourth year, other than for nostalgia. It was unreasonable to expect Posada to remain at his age 36 (or earlier) performance levels through age 40, as a full time catcher. It was just unrealistic then and it’s even more troublesome now.  This hometown premium will rear its head when Jeter signs his extension and again as ARod ages (he’s signed through age 42, seven years from now).

This team is already aging in the core. Yes, there’s been a noticable trend towards getting younger, but the big guns on this team will need some DH/days off time next year, as they have needed this year. …

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Padres CEO Says It’s NOT All About the Money

But what’s amusing is that they don’t seem to realize that this “defense” is really just undercutting the point they think they’re making by demonstrating  that the difference between successful small markets teams and unsuccessful small market teams is the quality of management. Tampa Bay and Minnesota have been able to keep their organization stocked with young, affordable, talent while Kansas City and Pittsburgh have spent the better part of the decade competing to corner the market on aging 2nd and 3rd-tier free agents. Predictably enough, that left them with lousy teams and no future. Not exactly rocket science.

Now that’s not to say there aren’t advantages to having more resources, or a system in which a handful of teams really couldn’t afford to field decent teams, but that’s really not what baseball has. Between the rules and incentives of the player control period and revenue sharing, baseball puts a lot into making sure all teams have a chance to compete, and as we’ve seen plenty in the last decade, the competently run teams take advantage of that to the fullest.…

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On the eve of 39, what happens next year?

What Posada seems to be either downplaying or simply ignorning is the body’s ability to recover at the speed it used to as you get older:

From Posada’s standpoint, his collection of injuries is simply part of the job, something he’s dealt with annually since he broke into the league nearly 15years ago.

“It happens every year,” Posada said. “It’s nothing different than other years.”

No, it’s not different than other years, Jorge. You’re much older and the mileage is piling up. The bouncebacks take longer and the rebounds aren’t as high. Trust me, I know this first hand. Next year, he won’t be any younger.

But Posada’s defense has fallen from “merely adequate” to a liability. His shoulder remains troublesome and the cyst below his knee makes it difficult for him to catch multiple days in a row.  And, as Brien discussed, Cervelli is more of a problem than a solution:

The problem is that a combination of age and injuries have limited Jorge Posada’s ability to stay in the lineup as a catcher, making Cervelli the de facto starter.

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I suppose this won’t go away soon

What I did find amusing is that in a NYPost article a few weeks back, ARod was likewise described as a “frenemy” by Joel Sherman, who also threw out the six-year deal idea:

Still, he is not going to undersell himself. But the hidden card is what does a fair contract mean to Jeter. His contract averaged $18.9 million a year and he will make $21 million this season.

Is that the right area for two or three years? Or does Jeter demand a contract until he is 42, like the Yanks gave to his frenemy Alex Rodriguez? If so, that would mean a six-year deal before even contemplating that Rodriguez averages $27.5 million a year with a high of $32 million.

My gut tells me the agreement point will be toward the middle, think four years at $100 million. However, to convince the Yanks that is a good idea — to create an age-challenged infield left side of Jeter and A-Rod for years to come — Jeter is going to have to play like in his prime again; show that athletic arrogance in which he proves he is still a great shortstop, not just to himself, but to the Yankees and the world.

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