Sunday, February 28, 2010

Girardi Struggling to Maintain Order Due to Lame Duck Status

The problems have already begun. Yankees Manager Joe Girardi is having an increasingly hard time controlling his team due to his lame duck status.

"It's subtle, but it's there," said Girardi in an exclusive interview with RJG. "Like the other day, I said to Robbie (Cano), 'Hey, it's time for BP.' And he was all, 'Quiet lame duck! I have a longer contract than you do.' You know what I mean? It's just there. Under the surface but clearly there."

Girardi, for the first time, is beginning to realize that his lame duck status may indeed affect his ability to do his job. While he has tried to keep the team focused on the task at hand, winning another World Series, his insecure job status has made it harder for him to communicate with players.

"Just yesterday I was talking to Teixeira and saying how hungry I am for another run at the championship. He turns to me, looks me dead in the eye, and says, 'Stop begging us to save your job already!' I couldn't believe it. Then I was talking to Marte about our expectations for him in the upcoming season and he goes, 'Come and lecture me when you have a contract longer than mine b-----!' It's been a tough few weeks.

Normally, in difficult times, Girardi would try to lean on some of his veterans, but even that has proved difficult, with two of the core four also in lame duck status.

"Derek tried to talk to some of the guys, but even he's having trouble. Last week, Derek was talking to CC after a workout and I could hear CC saying, 'Hey, remember that time when my contract was longer and worth more money than yours? Those were good times. Now why don't you get out of my face?!' No one has ever talked to Jeter like that."

Girardi has tried to appeal to Brian Cashman to extend his contract in the face of this defiant atmosphere, but Cashman has been unwilling to make an exception for the first manager since Joe Torre to win a championship for New York.

"I spoke to Brian recently and laid out my case. I explained the problems that are starting to pop up and how they're only going to get worse as the season wears on. All he said to me was, 'Hey Joe, how about you tell me how to do my job after you have some actual job security. How does that sound?' It's going to be a long season."


Rich Mahogany said...

Thanks for shedding light on the Yankees' shoddy treatment of lame duck players and staff. This is a serious problem. Apparently, Nick Johnson and Randy Winn don't even get lockers, and have to store their stuff at the bowling alley on River Ave.

Roberto E. Alejandro said...

In fairness, those two wouldn't have it any other way.

At this point, due to the Yankees ridiculous and inflexible policy on negotiating extensions, it would seem the inmates are truly running the asylum.

Dylan Murphy said...

You'd think they could at least break the rule for Jeter, but no. A little ridiculous.

lady gaganonymous said...

It is a little ridiculous but if they do it for Jeter and Mo, it looks like they're playing favorites. Not like they shouldn't play favorites with them, but whatevs. I'm just not excited for the Michael Kay-spurred-on drama over every Jeter at-bat and Mo save based on this contract thing this year, boooooo.

Roberto E. Alejandro said...

I think the fact that they held the line with Posada and Mo in 2007 (a year when neither player seemed happy about it, considering both would probably have signed for less had the Yankees negotiated in Spring Training; Posada almost signed with the Mets and Mo openly talked about how the Yankees better show him 'respect'), they can't negotiate with Jeter. The policy is silly, and it's one of those things that drives up payroll. I understand waiting to make sure there's no injury or whatever, but that risk doesn't disappear if they negotiate the contract now or later (i.e. if they give Jeter three years it's not as though he couldn't get hurt next year). Considering the recent talk of a budget, why not ditch this policy and negotiate with players at a time they might be willing to take less money? I know the Yankees can outbid anyone, but if they're going to have a budget, then deciding to outbid others for their own players limits what sort of other moves they can make. It's a stupid policy.

Rich Mahogany said...

Good points Roberto, but I can see why the Yankees do this.

First, it's a consistent policy that might prevent more players from getting disgruntled about their contract status. The Yankees are always a team full of veterans. If the Yankees aren't talking extension with Jeter and Rivera, then lesser mortals can't complain when their contracts are almost up.

Second, from a purely financial/team-building perspective, Jeter, Posada and Rivera are kind of scary players for the Yankees. They are all elite players and fan favorites who command a ton of money but are old enought to be serious decline risks. If you're the Yankee FO, you want as much info on these guys as possible before you re-sign them, and that means letting them play out their contracts. In Posada's and Rivera's cases, this strategy "backfired" because they continued to put up elite numbers in their contract years. But it very likely could have gone the other way, which would have let the Yankees re-sign Posada and Rivera for fewer years and less money.

Baseball Prospectus predicts Jeter to have the biggest drop off in value (measured by WARP) from 2009-2010 of any player in baseball, and he'll be 36 when the season ends. If the Yankees extended him right now, they would be paying for his excellent 2009, which would mean lots of money and years. In other words, Jeter would want MORE money if he signed today, not less. If Jeter declines in 2010, the Yankees can sign him to a slightly less gigantic contract. Waiting for Jeter's contract to expire is a gamble, but the odds greatly favor the Yankees. And I'm sure Jeter realizes that and understands it's just part of the business, because he's gangster.

lady gaganonymous said...

Rich - the BP projections are very weird. They project Jeter to be a 36-YO shortstop with pretty much no regard for his past performance. They also projected a year of pretty much total failure for Mo - again, because they're projecting him as a 40-YO pitcher, not Mariano Rivera. Let's face it, if projection systems could accurately predict Mariano, well then he wouldn't be Mariano.

WARP is also strange. I'll look at it, but last year they had Jeter as the 44th most valuable player in baseball, after guys like Yadier Molina, Brendan Ryan, and a bunch of closers.

As far as the budget goes, I'm pretty sure it's just a thing for this year when the free agent class is weak. Like, you might as well decrease the amount of money you're going to be paying in luxury tax, and I'm fine with them not breaking the bank to bring back another old guy who produced at an incredibly high level for himself last year. We do have enough of those.

Rich Mahogany said...

LG I thought you couldn't possibly be right about BP's WARP rankings, but I checked and sure enough, he's 44th. The list includes both pitchers and non-pitchers, so if you take out pitchers Jeter ranks somewhere around 20th. But Fangraphs has Jeter as 5th best in WAR, and I think that's more accurate than the 20s.

I agree that BP is way too bearish on Jeter, and probably too conservative on Rivera (I remember his projection as being pretty good, just not Rivera good).

Bottom line, there's a 99% chance that Jeter will re-sign whether he repeats 2009 or has a lousy season by his standards. The Yankees are hedging on his future by waiting this year because if he gets worse, they save money, and if he doesn't, they can afford to give him a mega-contract anyway. Basically they have nothing to lose by waiting.

lady gaganonymous said...

Rich - IIRC the BP projection had Mo with something like an ERA near 4 and the real killer (again, IIRC), 22 saves in 58 opportunities. That's awful. Lidge in 2009 laughs at that. And, if Mo was blowing saves that frequently, I expect he'd have a much, much higher ERA than just 4.

They are always very, very low on pitchers though. CC has pretty much the best projections in the book, and they're not really great.

I just can't get all excited about BP projections like everyone else does, because they are SO bearish on absolutely EVERYONE. Unless they're supposed to be, like, "this is the absolute MINIMUM of what these guys are gonna do." Their essays are interesting enough, but I don't find that book required reading like a lot of people do.

lady gaganonymous said...

also, WARP 2009 minus pitchers (I put the pitchers in parenthesis though):
1. Pujols
2. AdGon
3. Mauer
4. Utley
5. Hanley
Ubaldo Jimenez
Josh Johnson)
6. Zobrist
7. Longoria
8. Fielder
9. Braun
10. Kemp
11. Yunel Escobar
12. Zimmerman
13. Tulo
14. Figgins
(Matt Cain
15. Brendan Ryan
16. Marco Scutaro
(Andrew Bailey)
17. Pablo
(Wandy Rodriguez)
18. Orlando Hudson
(Joe Nathan)
19. Miguel Tejada
20. Casey Blake
21. Shin-soo Choo
22. Yadier Molina
23. Jayson Werth
24. the gangster who should be respected

Yeahhhh WAR's not perfect (it way overvalues defense, IMO) but I'll take it over WARP.

Oh and Mark Teixeira is #70. ????

lady gaganonymous said...

also, Jeter had a year with 7+ WAR. That is pretty tremendous. Position players with 7+ WAR since they started doing that (2002):

2002: Bonds, A-Rod, Vladdy, Brian Giles, Andruw Jones, Rolen, Giambi, Thome

2003: Bonds, Pujols, A-Rod, Sheff, Manny, Bret Boone, Rolen

2004: Bonds, Beltre, Rolen, JD Drew, Edmonds, Pujols

2005: A-Rod, Andruw Jones, Pujols, Derrek Lee, Utley

2006: Pujols, Grady, Ryan Howard, Beltran

2007: A-Rod, Magglio, David Wright, Utley, Matt Holliday, Pujols, Granderson (woot!), Chipper, Posada

2008: Pujols, Chipper, Utley, David Wright, Hanley

2009: Zobrist, Pujols, Mauer, Utley, Jeter, Longoria, Hanley, Zimmerman

Like I said, I think WAR overvalues defense, hence why Zobrist was higher than Pujols in 2009 which is ridiculous, and Jeter's generally fairly poor defensive ratings hurt him here, but getting 7+ WAR is huge. I wonder what the difference in WAR and WARP is. /dork'd, also taking over the comment section'd

Rich Mahogany said...

Thanks for the analyis LG! I was wondering about the WAR/WARP difference too. I mistakenly thought they were the same thing until you pointed out where Jeter ranked in WARP.

BP does like some of the other Yankees for 2010. It predicts Sabathia to be the AL pitching WARP leader and Teixeira, ARod and Granderson to be among the top 10 position players.