Despite Second Super Bowl Win, Eli Manning is Still Not In Derek Jeter’s NYC Status

February 9, 2012

This is a response to Mike Silva’s piece on Saturday in which he raves about New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, and how if he helped the Giants win Super Bowl 46, could supplant Derek Jeter as New York’s sports darling and “catapult him to the top of New York sports.”

This is not a hit piece on Elisha, either. I have the utmost respect for Manning, who has endured the typical criticism of an impatient (and terrible) New York fan base who demands a championship every season.

And even though Eli helped lead the Giants to victory in Super Bowl 46 (his second Super Bowl win), neither he nor anybody else can supplant Jeter as New York’s sports hero. Jeter is at the top because the amount of World Series titles he has won (five, one more than Babe Ruth helped the Yankees win), and also the way he lives his life off the field – no scandals, is very charitable, clean living by being a homebody and avoiding the spectacle which is the press.

Eli is the same type of person. Two titles, married and like his brother Peyton, is pretty much a homebody living a quiet and very successful, scandal-free life.

Funny how Silva says that Manning is everything Jeter pretends to be

Silva starts his piece out by saying Jeter was in the “right place/right time” when he entered the major leagues, and then mentions later in his piece that “Jeter had the Yellow Brick Road paved for his glory; Manning has laid the bricks himself.”

That is factually incorrect as Jeter is one of the hardest working players in the game. Joe Torre once said of Jeter, “I trusted him more than any other player I had managed. I trusted him to be prepared mentally and physically every day, and to prioritize winning above all else. I trusted him to say the right thing, when talking to a teammate or the media. I trusted his instincts and his calm under the greatest pressure.”

The Yankees became a dynasty team with help from Jeter and his various high leverage exploits. His 704 career postseason plate appearances produced a slash line of .307/.374/.465 with 20 home runs. Does Mike forget Jeter’s leadoff home run off Bobby Jones in Game 4 of the 2000 World Series and then homered off Al Leiter in the 6th inning to tie the Game 5 clincher? Jeter was MVP of that 2000 World Series. Does Mike remember the game winning home run in the 2001 World Series, where Jeter received the Mr. November moniker?

Remember the flip play during the 2001 ALDS against the Oakland A’s? Jeter was in the correct position to back up an overthrow because he remembered they worked on that play in spring training – eight years earlier! A player who puts the time in the practice a play which might never occur is the epitome of a dedicated, hard worker.

Jeter also was approached by Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman a few years ago to discuss ways to improve his range on defense. Jeter worked diligently all off season to get quicker, then had one of his best defensive seasons of his career.

And with five World Series rings and as a first ballot Hall of Famer, Jeter looks like he has laid the bricks himself, too. No player wins titles by himself. Even though Eli plays the most important position in all of pro sports, he would not have won the Super Bowl four years ago without a great catch by David Tyree, a solid running game, a sturdy offensive line or that great pressure defense. He would not have won his second Super Bowl with some great catches by his wide receivers, a solid running game, a sturdy offensive line and that great pressure defense.

Of course, Jeter never won a title by himself either or might not have even been the best player on his team. But with the exception of Mariano Rivera, all those other players will have to buy a ticket to get into Cooperstown. So many factors go into winning a baseball World Series title, but Jeter was a big part in each of the five World Series titles the Yankees have won.

Throughout his piece, Mike says that Eli is just being himself and that Jeter is pretty much a phony. Mike actually stated, “I don’t even know if Jeter knows who or what he is.”

Let me answer that for you, Mike. Jeter is the ultimate team player who works hard to win. He stays out of the spotlight and doesn’t promote himself or get into any trouble. He lives a nice, clean life, and does things the correct way. His humble upbringing began as a kid when he signed contracts with his parents on what type of person he should be. And he continues to live his life in that very same clean manner his parents demanded of him.

Maybe if more kids were brought up that way, and went on and lived the same clean lives Jeter has, this country would be in much better shape than it currently resides.

Mike is fond of saying that despite being the Yankees Captain, Jeter isn’t a real leader because he is not a locker room presence. It was always Jorge Posada and now CC Sabathia who are more vocal leaders. But one former Yankee noticed Jeter did hold sway in the clubhouse. Former Yankee (one season – 2003) Chris Hammond said of Jeter, “It’s his leadership more than anything. Whenever there’s a problem in the clubhouse – there are a lot of little problems on the Yankees – Derek is the first one to step in and say, ‘What’s the problem? We’ve got to cut this out.’ I really looked up to him. Playing in New York is a pressure job. It’s hard being the captain of the Yankees. But he has never stumbled.”

That sound like a guy who has tremendous respect in the clubhouse and did not need to be as vocal to get his point across.

Derek Jeter and Eli Manning do not promote themselves. Mike constantly talks about the “Jeter brand” as to implicate Jeter has a itinerary to manage his every move, with a full-time public relations department running his life. What Mike does not realize is that most players who have been built up by the media is usually the result of the players play on the field, and not the player own self-promotion. The media builds people up, and when the players reach a zenith, very often that same media desperately tries to bring that player down.

Derek Jeter is the perfect example of that media ploy. There is nothing terrible in his past, no skeletons in the closet. Silva then has to make an issue of Jeter not going to the 2011 All-Star game or Jeter being “greedy and out of touch” regarding his last contract negotiation.

What athlete DOESN’T want to make the most money they can? Is that really out of touch or greedy? Not in any world. When the Yankees signed Jeter to his most recent deal, it was just as much for what he did for the Yankees over his prior seasons as much as what he was going to give them over the next three seasons.

Speaking of greedy, did Mike conveniently forget that Elisha and his father (also name Elisha) told the San Diego Chargers prior to draft day in 2004 to NOT draft him because he would never play for them? Both Elisha’s forced that draft day trade to the New York Giants.

I believe that is greedier and out of touch than anything Jeter has done to the New York Yankees. And like I said earlier, this is not a hit piece on Eli. I am just stating facts.

Regarding players and perceptions, Mike likes to live on the negative. When I went out to the 2010 AFL to scout many of the games top prospects, I texted Mike that I had a conversation with 2010 top overall pick Bryce Harper*. Mike’s reply asked, “Was he a jerk?” Once Mike has a negative thought process on players, he continues his negativity throughout the player’s career, especially if these players are Yankees.

*By the way, Bryce was definitely not a jerk, he was honest and forthright, and Bryce’s father, who I sat and talked with for an hour out in Arizona, was very pleasant and engaging.

Mike says, “In a lot of ways Manning is everything Jeter pretends to be.” What does Jeter pretend to be? A consistent player who is at the top of his sport, living a clean life with no drama? It is interesting that Eli “the savior” was almost run out of town in his first year. After becoming the starting quarterback, Eli struggled early then received a phone call telling him to keep his head up, keep playing hard, doing what he always has done, and things will work out.

That phone call was from Derek Jeter.

Maybe Eli can pretend to be the way Jeter really is. In fact, that article states how Eli wanted to emulate Jeter. Mike conveniently left this factoid out on his latest Jeter hit piece.

Mike then goes on to call Jeter a phony and says that Jeter’s Q-rating has taken a hit. According to this article from last season (around the time of his 3,000th hit), Jeter is the most marketable person in sports. Both Jeter and Elisha have been involved with several corporate sponsorships. The way Silva views corporations in general, I am surprised he didn’t mention that as another Jeter negative.

The fourth paragraph in Mike’s piece begins with “Even with his faults, Jeter…” Again, what faults is Mike referring? The fact that Jeter works hard at his game? That Jeter is not the demonstrative personality who gives great quotes or is constantly in the public eye? I truly find it difficult to even find one fault on this guy.

Not every player (or person) has the personality of Babe Ruth (whose birthday was yesterday), very outgoing and gregarious, loving all the attention adorned upon him. Ruth was virtually bigger than life. Those Yankee heroes of the past all had different personalities. While Ruth was the life of every party, Lou Gehrig was the total opposite with quiet consistency; Joe DiMaggio liked the nightlife of the Big Apple, but was always protected by his “friends” at his Toots Shor’s hangout, and vigorously protected his private life; Mickey Mantle was always partying and getting into trouble, while Yogi Berra was the married homebody.

Jeter appears to be a combination of Gehrig and DiMaggio, with a smattering of Mickey thrown in. He lives a bachelor’s life in the city during the season, and that hotbed of glitter, St. Petersburg, in the off season. He does go out, but avoids the popular places and the paparazzi, who primarily try to get the negative story on celebrities. Like DiMaggio, Jeter is very private about his personal life. He seems to have a few close (and trusted) friends and avoids the hangers-on, you know those types of acquaintances who helped bring down the careers of Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry.

Jeter stays clean and hasn’t done drugs and drank to excess like Gooden and Strawberry, or even like Keith Hernandez did during his playing days. And imagine if Jeter was known to have been drinking beer in the clubhouse like Hernandez was during Game 6 of a World Series?

Yet, despite any real negatives in his professional or personal life, Mike continuously rips Jeter, like he has a grudge against The Captain. He also has grudges against Joba Chamberlain, Brian Cashman, and to a lesser extent, Jesus Montero. Mike never passes up the opportunity to attack the New York Yankees, and especially these four individuals.

I don’t believe it is actually a grudge, but an intense jealousy of how good the Yankees have been, how good they currently are and how much better they will always be over their cross-town rivals, the New York Mets.

Over the years, Mike has been great to deal with. He has helped finance some of my baseball excursions (spring training and the Arizona Fall League), helped with credentials (Winter Meetings) and consistently has me on his radio show.

But Mike appears to have a vendetta against players who are popular players, and other who have been hyped by aggressive media.

Derek Jeter has always been No. 1 on his hit list.

No one is perfect, not even Derek Jeter. All people have their issues and faults, but when media members like Mike Silva have to constantly create things in his mind to denigrate one of the most upstanding and professional sports figures in the entire sports industry, his own faults come to the forefront.

That is jealousy and envy.

There is a possibility that Jeter is very protective of his quotes, career and his life because of the 24/7/365 nature of today’s society with everyone having a camera phone, ready to get the “scoop” on a celebrity behaving badly. But the Derek Jeter you see in today’s society is likely the Derek Jeter you would have seen during Ruth’s playing days.

And that is the Jeter who Jeter knows and really is.

Victor Martinez: Tigers Sign Catcher, Show They Don’t Know How To Build a Team

November 23, 2010

The Detroit Tigers are about to sign free agent Victor Martinez to a four-year deal worth $50 million. Martinez is listed as a catcher, but will primarily earn his keep via the designated hitter position.

It is said this move will give the Tigers a real good 3-4 duo of Miguel Cabrera and Martinez with V-Mart providing valuable protection for Cabrera. Maybe they can even sign another hitter (Magglio Ordonez, Jayson Werth, Carl Crawford?) to have a good 3-4-5.

That might boost Cabrera’s MVP status for next season (he finished 2nd today), but it still will not help the Tigers win in 2011 or 2012 and especially not during the final two seasons of the proposed deal.

The signing is terrible for the Tigers, and comes on the heel of another bad signing, the three-year $16.5 million deal for right handed relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit.

It just goes to show that the Tigers management has no idea how to build a winning team. As the Tigers are trying to do, it is impossible to buy your way into a championship.

Martinez does not offer anything more than a DH and occasional first baseman. He is completely unproductive on the defensive end of catching, unable to move well behind the plate and is really good in his ability to allow stolen bases. I am sure V-Mart is not the best game-caller either.

So to pay $50 million for a 32 year old DH is mind-boggling. And not only do they sign Martinez for four years, but they also have to give up a first round draft pick in 2011 (No. 19 overall) to the Boston Red Sox.

The Tigers give up a draft pick in a draft that is considered to be very, very deep. It could rival the 2002 first round and/or 2005 first round in terms of quality and depth.  And both those drafts were quality after the first round, too.

So, in a deep draft, a team which has a terrible farm system has given away its first round pick, and if they sign another Type A free agent, they lose their second round pick, too.

I am not against free agent signings. Many free agent signings work out for the teams with decent production, but rarely do they ever lead to World Series championships. When they do, it is because the free agent player was the “final piece.” 

Free agents are to be used to supplement a good farm system, to complement the players a team has already developed and who are ready to compete. They should not be signed to start a team or fix up some holes.

When your own home grown players have reached the point where they are “knocking on the door” is when you search the free agent market for that key piece. The Tigers did that in 2004 when they went out and signed Pudge Rodriguez to handle a younger pitching staff, and eventually went to the World Series in 2006.

The fact that the 2010 Tigers positional prospects are ranked the worst overall in baseball has forced the Tigers hand here to sign an aging FA veteran bat.

And the prospect spiral keeps plummeting downward for the Tigers. They would not win in 2011 without Martinez and they will not win with him.

Martinez is not a key piece for the Tigers as their lineup still stinks even with him protecting Cabrera in the No. 4 hole. V-Mart had a decent season last year, but in no way does it warrant a four-year deal worth $50 million. He is not a real impact guy, only the best available now, and will only decline as he gets older.

Even if Martinez does not catch any games in 2011, the wear and tear already on his lower half will hasten any decline*. Did you know Martinez only has had one season with a plus .500 slugging percentage?

Even Derek Jeter had one plus .500 slugging season, back in 1999. Jeter’s career OPS is a scant .001 below Martinez career mark of .838. Is that worth $50 million? In a park which is historically bad for Martinez and is considered a pitcher’s park?

*Some readers will relate this deal to the one the Yankees gave Jorge Posada four seasons ago, a four year $52 million deal. Another deteriorating switch-hitting catcher who will end up as a DH. But things are much different for the Yankees at that point.

First, Posada was a home grown, key member of the Yankees dynasty run in the late 1990s-early 2000s. There is something to be said for paying for past performance when you are a home grown champion. Second, Posada was still the primary catcher and also pretty decent behind the plate at that point. Third, he was coming off a career year which he slashed .338 BA/.426 OBP/.543 SLG/.970 OPS, with 42 doubles, 20 HRs and 90 RBI.

The deal does not make sense in terms of years, money or losing a draft pick.

The Tigers would be better suited to follow the lead of the Minnesota Twins, who won the A.L. Central division last year, three of the last five years and six of the last nine seasons. Load up on home grown talent, sign the top two or three to long term deals, and keep producing enough talent to fill holes along the way.

Granted the Tigers are taking on more payroll in trying to win.

But smart franchises increase payroll on their own players, not somebody else’s free agents.

That is the recipe for staying near the top of the standings nearly every season. But an organization first has to produce your own home grown major league talent.

Bad franchises keep signing other teams players instead of producing their own.

Victor Martinez and Joaquin Benoit are two bad free agent signings.

Par for the course within the Tigers ownership of Mike Ilitch.

Jorge Posada needs to rehab more than just his shoulder

October 20, 2008

It was recently reported that Jorge Posada will begin a throwing program around December 1st. It has been speculated that if Posada’s surgically repaired shoulder is unable to return to prior form, he would be a possible replacement for first base and sometime DH.

But, Posada has demanded that he catch and doesn’t want to play 1B or even DH full time. That puts the Yankees into a bind, given that they need to decide what to do at first for 2009.

My advice to Posada is to play wherever the team tells you to play. Be a team player and stop worrying about your petty self esteem issues and think about what is best for the team – not just yourself. The Yankees are the team that gave you a $52 million contract after the 2007 season, and they are your employer. After an injury riddled first year of that deal, think they would like to renegotiate those terms?

On July 30, Posada had surgery to repair a torn labrum, and since his shoulder was worse than originally thought, he also had work done to repair tears in the rotator cuff. It is not the first time Posada had surgery on that shoulder – he had a small labrum tear repaired in 2001.

Since the labrum is cartilage and not muscle, it remains very difficult to return to form. So, Posada has had two surgeries to repair the labrum. His very likely won’t have a strong enough arm to be able to stand the rigors of the major leagues, and he won’t be able to throw runners out on a consistent basis.

He should not be the full-time catcher next season.

However, if he whines and gets to catch, it will seem like Dave Roberts is on base all the time.

Of all the surgeries that could be performed on the throwing arm, labrum surgery is the worst.

I had labrum surgery and it took me more than a full year to be able to throw a ball again with any authority, and even then the throws weren’t as strong as they were before the surgery. I was 36 at the time of my surgery – the same age Posada is now.

Also, a check of major league players who have had torn labrums repaired reveal that Mark Mulder, Rob Nen, Jason Schmidt and former elite pitchers Mark Gubicza and Houston pitcher Mike Scott never fully recovered. The only pitchers I am aware of who have successfully returned have been Dwight Gooden (no-hitter in 1996, but did not have nearly the same velocity), Arizona reliever Jon Rauch and Kansas City starter Gil Meche.

So why is Posada insisting on catching next year? Why did he snap at reporters in July when manager Joe Girardi mentioned that Posada played 1st base on July 10th?

Here is a newspaper report from that incident: “Still, Posada stubbornly had maintained plans to return this season. He even defiantly snapped at reporters when he played first base July 10 in Pittsburgh: ‘I like to catch. Okay? I’m happy that I’m in the lineup, but I like to catch. I’m a catcher. I’m not a first baseman and I’m not a DH. I like to catch, so I’m looking forward to catching.’”

That defiant statement about not being able to play where he wanted was a direct slap in the face to Girardi. There have been recent reports also that indicated Posada has been detrimental to Girardi’s authority in the clubhouse.

Clearly, Posada is not enamored with his manager? But why?

It all goes back to 1999. Here is a statement from back then: “The New York Yankees picked up their $3.4 million option on Joe Girardi yesterday, keeping their catching platoon in place for 1999.” A catching platoon with Posada.

It’s obvious that Posada still has a beef with Girardi over Joe’s return in 1999. During the 1998 season, Posada caught the majority of games and was becoming the starting catcher, but when Girardi was resigned for the 1999 season, Posada became upset, mainly because he wanted to be the everyday catcher.

That was the year when Joe Torre missed the beginning of the season with prostate cancer surgery and Don Zimmer had the managerial reigns. Posada knows that Zimmer preferred Girardi and played him the majority of time early that season.

Here is what Posada said about that time period: “‘It was tough because we didn’t know what was going on,’ Posada said. ‘Don Zimmer was our manager, and there were a lot of changes. I’m the starting catcher, but now I’m not starting. I played the first game (of the season) and then I didn’t play the next few days…it seemed like Zim didn’t have the trust in me. (Girardi) was like a son, and he trusted him a little more.’”

Girardi was Zimmer’s catcher for a couple of years when Zimmer managed the Chicago Cubs. He knew Girardi and liked his ability. Posada was still young and some pitchers liked throwing to Girardi more. That is why Joe Torre insisted Girardi be signed for the 1999 season.

Posada’s resentment likely stems from an even earlier time. He didn’t make the cut on the 1996 post season roster (Torre chose utility man Andy Fox instead of a third catcher) and split time with Girardi in 1997 and 1998. But, he was still young and had plenty of future ahead of him.

Besides the pitchers liking to throw to him, Girardi was kept around for another reason – continue with the tutelage he began with Posada, who was still early in his catching career, having been drafted by the Yankees as a second baseman.

Girardi stayed with the Yankees in 1999 to continue to help Posada, but Jorge resents it because he wasn’t the full time guy. Posada was only the main guy behind the plate on one World Series title team during that dynasty – the 2000 team. And that is the main reason why he is so bitter towards Girardi.

But Girardi was extremely helpful to the young Posada. After Posada arrived for a platoon role in 1997, Girardi knew Posada would eventually take over the majority of the playing time and rather than resent Posada, Girardi embraced and tutored him.

Zimmer said it best back then, “No catcher could come to the big leagues could be treated any better than Posada. But that’s Joe’s style. Joe has done everything he could to make the other guy better.”

However, Posada said in a 2008 interview about his favorite moment as a Yankee (catching David Wells’ 1998 perfect game), that he was happy when Girardi left the team so he can be the full-time catcher.

Posada’s mouth has not been confined to only his position on the field either. Since he had shoulder surgery, Posada also has become a champion of controversy.

He rehashed the Joba Chamberlain debate, adamantly stating on Michael Kay’s YES network’s CenterStage show that Chamberlain needs to be a reliever because, while going 200+ innings, he would get hurt as a starter. Another likely reason is because Posada feels that with Chamberlain in the bullpen, the Yankees would be a better team.

 But if Posada can’t throw (and history states he won’t throw as well), wouldn’t the Yankees be a better team with him at 1B/DH?

Other players have done the position switch. Throughout history, major players have switched positions for the betterment of their team (and the length of their careers).

Robin Yount moved from SS to CF for the Milwaukee Brewers (and won an MVP at each position); Dale Murphy moved from catcher to CF and Cal Ripken moved from SS to 3B. Even HOFers Ernie Banks, Carl Yastrzemski and a former Yankee catcher, Yogi Berra, have switched positions to help the team.

Banks and Yaz switched to first base. If those great names can switch, then Posada can make the switch.

Players have moved for injuries, too. This season, Kevin Youkilis has played OF, 1B and 3B. He came up to the Red Sox in 2004 and played mostly 3B, but moved over to 1B when the Red Sox traded for Mike Lowell after the 2005 season.

Because Lowell is now injured, Youkilis has moved back over to third for the playoffs. He has even played a few games at second base and originally was drafted by the Red Sox as a catcher.

Bottom line is that Youkilis is a baseball playing, team player who will do anything to keep his bat in the lineup and help his team win. He does not pop off and complain that “I am a first baseman and I want to play first base.”

Jorge Posada needs to put his mouth and ego on hold and do what is BEST FOR THE TEAM. Maybe that is one reason why the Yankees did not make the playoffs in 2008 – not many team players.

When Posada needs to get ready for Spring Training, he can bring his catcher’s mitt, but he better make sure he also has a first baseman’s glove.

It’s what’s best for the team.