The NY Yankees’ Management Needs to Take a Page from the Boston Red Sox
(This blog was originally posted on the Yahoo Contributor Network on May 18th, 2011. As of 7/31/14 YCN has taken down all of its content)
For years now I’ve been reading about the impending problems the New York Yankees will face with their collection of aging superstars. Years ago it may have been pre-mature but the Jorge Posada soap opera last weekend and the Derek Jeter contract dispute over the summer smacks me and all Yankees fans in the face that the future is now, and unlike the Y2K hysteria this media creation is real.
Jorge Posada was wrong. He asked out of the line-up and apparently in an expletive laced tirade, he asked off the team an hour before a nationally televised game against their biggest rival, the Boston Red Sox.
Yeah that wasn’t going to attract any media attention, right. He apologized. He was and should be forgiven. The fact that he is feeling or has felt disrespected, I still find a little troubling. Further, if you are sincerely sorry, you need to stop talking about the adjustment to being a DH, put your team first, and hit.
Other great players have made the transition and accepted it as an opportunity to extend their career rather than as a demotion. You still have an opportunity to be a starting player on the winningest franchise in all of sports and you’re making 13 million to boot. You can view it as a blessing or a banishment. These can be moments to savor or moments to waste in self-pity or bruised ego. Which sounds better?
Truth is, if the Boston Red Sox management ran the Yankees they wouldn’t be having these problems with Posada and the contract difficulties they had over the summer with Jeter. The Sox are much more cold-blooded about these situations and I mean that in a good way.
In the past they let go of an iconic star, Roger Clemens, potential Boston icons, Mo Vaughn and Nomar Garciaparra, and the guy who hit a game seven grand slam in Yankee stadium to help them get to and win their first World Series since 1918, all-star Johnny Damon.
The Red Sox recent history is to make a fair market value offer and see how badly their stars want to be on the team. As a result, in recent years, David Ortiz has taken less money to stay with them (and batted anywhere in the order they asked). They have locked up some of their young stars on friendly deals like Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis. Youk has agreed to play whatever position helps the team.
With Jeter it seems like it is sacrilegious to mention switching from shortstop. Okay Youkilis is a younger player who hasn’t yet earned Jeter’s status but he is a star.
However, there is no debate that catcher Jason Varitek means at least every bit as much to the Red Sox as Posada does to the Yankees, maybe more, as he is their captain. During his last contract negotiations, the Sox treated him based on his current value and were prepared to let him go. They didn’t buy into the idea that they had to overpay him now for past services rendered that he was fairly compensated for, or for his iconic status. They were not going to cave and they won a stare down with the Darth Vader of the sport, agent Scott Boras.
Not only did Varitek stay for Boston’s price, but he has since accepted a back-up role, and even batted ninth without it being a problem. He is still the team leader they have come to expect. In all of these decisions, the Red Sox moves proved correct with the possible exception of Clemens, who comes with an asterisk because of alleged PED use.
If Jeter and Posada are who we thought they are, are they supposed to be fighting for every last dime? Would they put their ego (with respect to fielding position and batting order) before the team? If Jeter played for any other franchise he’d likely be making around ten million a season on a one to three-year deal and he’d be happy with it. Here, if true, the talk is he feels betrayed.
Yankees management enables these situations by overpaying players, and caring too much about what the media thinks. Yes, Yankees management did talk too much during the Jeter negotiations wanting to win the media battle if you will. As a result, Jeter is said to have a chip on shoulder about how the process was handled even though he is arguably being overpaid by around 20 million on this contract.
Here is another example. Giving Posada four years on his last deal was too much. The Yankees knew that and offered three, but rumors of the New York Mets offering four got them to match it. This is another situation where you need to be like the Red Sox and not be scared to let your players walk. You should have stuck with three and put the onus on Posada.
If 2007 World Series MVP for the Red Sox, Mike Lowell could turn down a fourth year offered by another team to stay with the Red Sox, than Posada could have as well. And again, Lowell accepted whatever role he was given and was a good soldier about it.
During 1990’s World Series run, the Yankees had a great culture integrating veterans and youth and a team first attitude. Today this belongs to the Red Sox, and it is not like their players are playing for free, they have the second highest payroll in baseball.
You can do it again New York. Stop talking to the media about these things (or keep it to a humble minimum), make the tough choices now, and reap the rewards for it later. Contract wise you may be stuck for a while because of the deals you already have on paper but if players aren’t performing you can’t be scared to bring up Jesus Montero and any other young players you have in your system. Then it will be up to you to treat your stars firmly, fairly, and with dignity. And remember, your stars of tomorrow will be watching.
Published by Jeff Schubert
Jeff Schubert is the Host/Executive Producer of the show Filmnut that airs on thestream.tv. Each webisode provides an in-depth interview about the making, marketing, or distribution of film, TV or new media…