Breakfast With the Captains

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If Jason Varitek is toast, does this mean Derek Jeter is porridge?

“He’s not too warm, he’s not too cold,” said Kevin Long, the Yankees’ hitting coach. “He’s just kind of lukewarm right now.”

 

95 comments… add one

  • Varitek isn’t even edible at this point.

    Michel Richy May 4, 2011, 11:03 am
  • Jason Varitek
    2011 WAR: -0.3
    Salary: $2 million
    Future commitment: 0 years, $0
    Derek Jeter
    2011 WAR: -0.2
    Salary: $15 million
    Future commitment: 2 years, $36 million
    I’d say they appear to be equally inedible right now.

    Paul SF May 4, 2011, 11:22 am
  • WAR doesn’t do a good job with catcher defense. So Jeter is getting singed where Varitek can’t really lose.
    Of course Jeter is also still getting onbase 31% of the time. Varitek is at 23%.
    In short, one still contributes something. The other contributes nothing.
    The money point is a lame distraction. We could also compare Crawford and Gardner there and based on WAR.

    Michel Richy May 4, 2011, 11:46 am
  • “We could also compare Crawford and Gardner there and based on WAR.”
    We could, but that’s not the point of this article.
    Of course, money isn’t the point either, it’s performance, and as poorly as Jeter’s been playing, Varitek’s been that much worse. He’s put up a more negative WAR in less than half the plate appearances.
    Jeter’s porridge. That’s a pretty good way to put it. He’s milquetoast.
    Varitek is burnt toast.

    AndrewYF May 4, 2011, 12:14 pm
  • I’m not even saying anything…just going to watch this one.

    krueg May 4, 2011, 12:50 pm
  • Well, the point of my post wasn’t to say one is worse than the other, but since a comment went there, I felt obliged to note the fact that the Sox are paying minimally for their captain’s horrible performance and are under no obligation to keep him around if this level is his new reality, whereas the Yankees are paying quite a lot and are obligated to spend even more in subsequent seasons. That certainly helps even out the difference in their actual value — again, assuming both players aren’t due for some sort of rebound this year, and the safe money is on both of them doing at least somewhat better going forward.
    Varitek is playing worse baseball, but he’s doing so at a position where bad baseball is more a norm than an exception, and he’s only doing so half the time. Jeter is racking up tons of plate appearances and innings at a key position (and a key spot in the lineup) and providing negative value there, as well. On a per-PA basis, Jeter is less of a sub-replacement player than Varitek. Congratulations?
    All that to say, if we’re going to compare, and again that wasn’t the point of my post, I’d rather have the crappy halftime catcher making $2 million than the slightly less crappy fulltime shortstop/2 hitter making more than $50 million over three seasons (though in truth I’d rather have neither). I’ll assume their intangibles (Varitek’s mystical pitch calling capabilities versus Jeter’s mystical clubhouse-soothing effects) cancel each other out.

    Paul SF May 4, 2011, 12:58 pm
  • “I’m not even saying anything…just going to watch this one.”
    I’m pulling up a chair next to Krueg to watch. You have any extra beer to share, Krueg?

    I'mBillMcNeal May 4, 2011, 1:42 pm
  • Bartolo Colon would eat both of them for breakfast.

    SF May 4, 2011, 1:55 pm
  • Slightly less crappy? OBP is the only stat that helps because neither is hitting or slugging. There Varitek would place last among all catchers and by 30 points. By contrast, Jeter is 15th among 25 qualifying shortstops and 15 points out of the top 10. In fact Jeter is significantly better at his position than both of the crappy Boston catchers as well as their crappier starting shortstop to start the season. Varitek is a complete and utteer nothing. Jeter clearly still has value. He’d be the starter on about half of MLB teams.
    And again the money is irrelevant. Gardner is twice the player of Crawford. Who cares that he’s also 140 million cheaper?

    Michel Richy May 4, 2011, 2:56 pm
  • This is funny. We are now in a territory that brings great joy to me, in a strange way. We are in a territory where Yankee fans are arguing with exposition why DEREK JETER isn’t as shitty as part-time catcher and assisted-living facility candidate Jason Varitek.
    Excuse me while I smile.

    SF May 4, 2011, 3:03 pm
  • I mean, SF, it’s not really much of an argument. Derek Jeter, in his worst state yet as a player, is still twice the player Varitek is.
    The only reason it’s been brought up is because Paul decided to compare the two (In fairness to Paul, it was a lighthearted gesture, just like if someone were to compare Jeter’s contract situation to Crawford’s by equating a rabbit turd to a pile of elephant dung [which, as a Yankees fan makes me smile so much more]). Anyway, the comparison is this: Jeter sucks, but Varitek sucks so much worse. Like, worst player in baseball worse. You could make the same argument with Jeter and Cesar Izturis.

    AndrewYF May 4, 2011, 3:11 pm
  • I just looked up Jeter’s stats for this season… I didn’t realize he was at an OPS+ of 62. Has he been that bad, YFs? Or just unlucky in the first month? Honest question.

    Atheose - SF May 4, 2011, 3:19 pm
  • He’s been that bad, Ath. It’s sort of painful to watch the team’s franchise player becoming the worst player on the team. Except for like, Buddy Carlyle. I still think Jeter is a better player than Buddy Carlyle.

    AndrewYF May 4, 2011, 3:25 pm
  • Despite my joy that the most prominent Yankees player is performing poorly, such decline is depressing because it’s a reminder that an era of baseball is coming to a close. The only other Yankee I’d say the same about is Mo, though that won’t happen until he retires in 2017 at the age of 48.

    Atheose - SF May 4, 2011, 3:26 pm
  • Jeter territory was going to present itself sooner or later. The difference still remains that he’d be a starter on approximately half of MLB teams. Both of the Boston catchers would be lucky to start in AAA. Jeter is twice the player of the Sox full-time suckfest at catcher.
    The contracts are a lazy distraction for actual analysis. Jeter was never being paid for his performance. The Yankees willingly took a hit there.
    It does make me smile though that that one year after the Sox thought they were so smart in letting Bay go, they got a lesser player for twice the cost.

    Michel Richy May 4, 2011, 3:28 pm
  • And the only reason Rivera will retire is because the world ended in 2016 and they don’t play baseball anymore.

    AndrewYF May 4, 2011, 3:28 pm
  • Jeter clearly still has value.
    Based on the metrics we have available, this is flatly untrue, which is why I find the shades of difference between two sub-replacement-level players not terribly interesting.
    Varitek’s the worst player in baseball? Fine. I would never object to saying that. He’s also playing half the time (or less) and getting paid $2 million to do it. How does that make Jeter’s situation any better?
    At this point in 2011, the Yankees would be better off sending their $15 million starting shortstop and entrenched top-of-the-order batter to the minors and starting a generic AAAA player in his place, at least according to WAR. The fact that the same is more true for Jason Varitek doesn’t strike me as a particularly compelling argument, especially since I brought Varitek up in the first place.
    Like I said, they are both inedible. If your argument is that Jeter is inedible like sandpaper is inedible, but Varitek is inedible like sulfuric acid is inedible, then I’ll gladly concede your nitpicking in exchange for your acceptance of my broader point: that neither of them is worthy of a job in baseball if their 2011 performance to date is indicative of their true value going forward.

    Paul SF May 4, 2011, 3:28 pm
  • It does make me smile though that that one year after the Sox thought they were so smart in letting Bay go, they got a lesser player for twice the cost.
    Uhh, have you looked at Bay’s stats since leaving Boston? That WAS a smart decision. The Crawford one may or may not have been, but it’s too early to tell there.

    Atheose - SF May 4, 2011, 3:34 pm
  • Where Jeter and Varitek place among their peers shows their values. It is clearly obvious. WAR is misleading. Wake up to that fact.
    Jeter has also been unlucky. A few more singles and he’s a top 10 shortstop. It is the beginning of the end for him. Varitek is already finished. Of course he’s still better than Salty.

    Michel Richy May 4, 2011, 3:35 pm
  • Okay, Paul. You’re right. Neither player is doing well. It was a funny post, unfortunately made unfunny by us Yankee fans wanting to at least keep a modicum of dignity alive for Jeter. But clearly you also meant to get a dig at us Yankee fans because you are voraciously defending the content behind it.
    So how about we talk about the 2 starting position players on the Red Sox who also don’t deserve a major league job? One of which, I may add, has $140 million coming to him over the next 7 years. Yow.

    AndrewYF May 4, 2011, 3:40 pm
  • Always bill…here you go buddy…

    krueg May 4, 2011, 3:45 pm
  • I think most of us would agree that Carl Crawford is a very good player who is just going through a slump which will probably end at some point (and which seems to have ended a few days ago). And we would all also agree that Derek Jeter has probably had the best, most memorable career out of any current player on either of ours teams except for maybe Mo. Which is what makes Jeter’s decline so sad and depressing for those of us entrenched in the rivalry.

    Atheose - SF May 4, 2011, 3:48 pm
  • I am trying to figure out the actual food metaphor at work here.
    Is Jason Varitek like that package of chicken hearts you get for like a buck a pound at the grocery store, the leftover shit nobody will buy but that still can fill a part of your stomach, and you don’t notice it if you surround it with caramelized onions, truffle oil, or slather it in the most delicious red wine reduction or demi-glace you can make?
    Jeter, then, is that $125 prix-fixe meal you get at a famous restaurant in New York, but it’s cold, undercooked, and while it is better than chicken hearts it costs like fifty times more, and not only that but you have made reservations to eat at that restaurant every night for three years and you can’t cancel.
    This is fun. Oh, and I love Carl Crawford. He’s amazing. At something I am sure.
    ;-)

    SF May 4, 2011, 3:49 pm
  • Jeter has also been unlucky.
    Uhm. He has what, nine nubber infield hits? ‘Unlucky’ is the battle cry of those in denial.

    ponch - sf May 4, 2011, 3:53 pm
  • zzzzzzzzzzz ;)
    i was gonna join you krueg, but you know me when it comes to captain rangeless…but i’m gonna shock anyone who is used to me defending jeter…this time paul has a point…his lighthearted jab at both captains is fair…i understand the urge to bring other players into the comparison, but since none of them are captains, and the title of the post was “breakfast with the captains”, other players are irrelevant to this particular discussion…the money argument is bogus as well, since the yankees acknowledged giving jeter a well above market contract, in fact, a market where they were the only player…i’m smiling at the attempts to determine who sucks more…the fact that they both suck at key positions on our respective teams should be equally disappointing to both sets of fans…jeter’s demise may be more dramatic since he’s always been considered the better player…my pro-yankee position further forces me to find an advantage for the yankees here, and that might be that the sox will have a difficult time finding a replacement even at the level of suck being shown by both tek and salty…jeter’s level of suck should be more easily topped with somebody off of the yankees own bench…nunez perhaps…i don’t see the yankees doing that of course, so the point is just fodder for this discussion…

    dc May 4, 2011, 3:54 pm
  • By the way, and I think Ath nails it above (and I don’t really care to have this car careen further off the path), Carl Crawford is 6 or his last 13. So if he keeps that up through September he will hit like .430 for the year.

    SF May 4, 2011, 3:54 pm
  • LOL at SF’s food metaphor

    Atheose - SF May 4, 2011, 3:55 pm
  • Well said, DC. You also bring up a good point: if Jeter keeps performing like this, at what point is he benched for Nunez?

    Atheose - SF May 4, 2011, 3:57 pm
  • the fact that they both suck at key positions on our respective teams
    Honest question: does Tek suck at a “key position”? What is “key” about it: his offense? Because the Sox don’t seem to be suffering because of their catchers, it’s rather a number of other underachievers who have far better career averages. Is it his defense? Because both Salty and Tek have done ok based on the evidence of their pitchers’ performances. I honestly want to know what is “key” about the catching position for the Red Sox. They are 14-15 at this point (12-5 in their last 17), and I’d have almost no way of assigning a level of impact to the catchers.

    SF May 4, 2011, 3:58 pm
  • Well they’re bad both defensively and offensively. When it comes to handling pitchers Varitek is often heralded, but who knows how much stock to put in that.

    Atheose - SF May 4, 2011, 4:00 pm
  • Yeah, I’m not really engaging the Crawford comparisons because they are obviously trollish in nature. There is good reason to believe what we are seeing with Varitek and Jeter this season is real, or at least closer to reality than not. No one on the planet thinks Crawford’s 2011 performance until April 22 was real (he has an .861 OPS since then).
    unfortunately made unfunny by us Yankee fans wanting to at least keep a modicum of dignity alive for Jeter. But clearly you also meant to get a dig at us Yankee fans because you are voraciously defending the content behind it.
    Is the first sentence sarcastic? I’m not sure. The initial response to my post said nothing about Jeter, so it certainly didn’t come across as an attempt to save some dignity for him, but more as an unprovoked slam on Varitek. Which is fine, I’ve spent enough time slamming him myself, but I wanted to make clear that Jeter and Varitek are — more metaphors! — residing in the same neighborhood. Jeter’s house may be a rundown mansion on one end of the street, and Varitek’s might be a cardboard box on the other end, but there they both are, and no one from Extreme Makeover Home Edition even goes to that part of town anymore.
    I don’t buy the argument that salary is irrelevant because the Yankees were intentionally overpaying based on past performance. I don’t doubt it’s true, but I do doubt the Yankees would have paid Jeter anything close to his salary if they had seen this dropoff coming (again, assuming it’s real; it might not be, then this whole discussion will look stupid). Further, it’s one thing to overpay intentionally for sentimental/clubhouse/respect reasons — heck, the Sox did it themselves with Varitek and Mike Lowell — but it’s quite another to do so when there are no other offers anywhere in the ballpark.
    I’m more receptive to an argument that the Yankees are insanely rich and so money is less an object to them, which is undoubtedly true. But $15 million-plus is a lot of money, no matter how rich a team is. It might mean less to the Yankees than other teams, but a contract that expensive is a burden, which means the Yankees certainly expect at least some return on it, which is why I don’t think discussing salaries is irrelevant if we’re comparing the relative suckitude of the two players.

    Paul SF May 4, 2011, 4:12 pm
  • As a fan, it sucks to see guys like this (always respected Varitek despite his unfortunate uniform) struggle.
    I still feel like Jeter is an adjustment away. His strikeout rate is actually down some from last year. He’s making contact, but not solid contact. At least that’s my hope. I hate to see guys playing past their time. He could very well come out of this funk, though.
    The whole Yankees team this year is full of players who have been either completely on or completely off (Russell Martin and Robinson Cano have really been the only consistent guys). I expect Jeter to start hitting better just like I expect Nick Swisher to do the same. His .320 BA 15+ HR 30 SB days are behind him, but I think Jeter can do better than he has been the 180 games.

    DustyDrB - YF May 4, 2011, 4:30 pm
  • At this point, both teams have done well in spite of their respective positional situations. The main difference, I think, is that the Sox went into the season knowing the catchers could suck and were willing to take the hit.
    I don’t think the Yankees went into the season expecting Jeter to be sub-replacement.
    And, for the record, the Sox are 13th in the AL in catcher OPS and 10th in catcher defense (DRS calculates defense for catchers), while the Yankees are 10th in shortstop OPS and 12th in shortstop defense (also using DRS for consistency’s sake).
    According to Fangraphs, Yankee shortstops have been ranked 10th in batting runs (-4.5) and 10th in fielding runs (-1.5). Red Sox catchers are ranked 13th in batting runs (-8.8) and ninth in fielding runs (-1.0). That puts Yankee shortstops at -6 runs and Red Sox catchers at -9.8 in runs above average. But the Sox get 2.2 runs because catcher is the hardest position on the field, while the Yankees get 1.1 because shortstop is a hard position (but not as hard as catcher). That makes it -4.9 runs for Yankee shortstops and -7.6 runs for Red Sox catchers, a difference of 2.7 runs. Extend that over the course of the remaining 130 games or so, and you get 14.4 runs — about one win and change, assuming no improvement at all from any of the Sox’ catchers or Yanks’ shortstops.
    Suffice it to say, I won’t begrudge Yankee fans if they want to celebrate Derek Jeter essentially being on pace to be one win better than Jason Varitek and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, players described as “finished” and “lucky to start at AAA.” My question is why would you want to?

    Paul SF May 4, 2011, 4:30 pm
  • Tek: Cardboard box in a bad neighborhood, chicken hearts.
    Jeter: Disappointing fancy meal and run-down mansion.
    Jeez.

    SF May 4, 2011, 4:45 pm
  • Trying out some other metaphors:
    Carl Crawford – amuse bouche of cat turd in a blini, with the next course a light rissoto with fresh spring peas. second course yet to come.
    Dustin Pedroia: short stack

    SF May 4, 2011, 4:49 pm
  • SF said : “Because the Sox don’t seem to be suffering because of their catchers, it’s rather a number of other underachievers who have far better career averages.”
    The Sox are CERTAINLY suffering because of their catchers. That’s what happens when you have a sub-50 OPS+ guy in your lineup every day. Does it hurt extra that guys like Crawford are struggling? Yes, but the catching situation hurts JUST THE SAME. I never understood Sox fans on this site pooh-poohing the Sox’s horrifying catching situation because ‘oh it’s okay the rest of the team will pick them up.’ It’s NEVER okay to have an obvious, gaping hole on your team, especially if your team is supposed to contend for a championship. How is it ‘okay’ to have a sub-50 OPS+ player in your lineup every day? It’s not. It sucks. Just like it’s not okay for the Yankees to have started the year with AJ Burnett as their 2nd-best starter. Yes, the offense and bullpen should carry them some of the way, but it doesn’t discount the fact that it’s simply NOT A GOOD THING. Not in a vacuum, and not in terms of the team.
    I am just completely befuddled by this attitude from Sox fans that the catching situation doesn’t matter. Was this the standard line from Gammons? Did the Boston media hype machine (BEST TEAM SINCE ’27 YANKEES!!!) really work its magic that well on you guys?

    AndrewYF May 4, 2011, 4:50 pm
  • Varitek has been a liability at the plate since at least 2008, not breaking an OBP of .315 in any of those 3+ seasons (with barely above .220 OBP this season). On the defensive side of things, he has caught fewer than 1 in 4 base-stealers in each of those 3+ seasons (plus 4 additional seasons before 2008).
    As recently as 2009 Jeter came in third in MVP voting. As poorly as he is doing now – and it is pretty poorly – his OBP is almost 100 points higher than Varitek’s with many more PA’s accumlated.
    A big part of what I think hurts Jeter is that he is not a guy who wants to adjust anything. And his effort to adjust his swing, especially with poor early results, seems forced and uncomfortable at best. He seems in between swings right now and as Paul O’Neill noted, seems to be reverting back ot his old swing – which O’Neill says is likely a good thing. I’m not so sure.
    Regardless, if you want to forget about all past performance and only focus on this young season, then I think the point of where they each rank relative to all other players at their respective positions is a good one. And Jeter does come out much much better on that score than Varitek.
    As far as the relevance of the money, the Yankees pay almost $15million/year for a set-up man. It just doesn’t mean that much to them. Nor does it mean a whole lot to the Sox compared to most other ML teams.

    IronHorse (YF) May 4, 2011, 4:59 pm
  • “Suffice it to say, I won’t begrudge Yankee fans if they want to celebrate Derek Jeter essentially being on pace to be one win better than Jason Varitek and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, players described as “finished” and “lucky to start at AAA.” My question is why would you want to?”
    Who is celebrating Jeter being terrible? No one. Even if you think Jeter has suddenly fallen completely off a cliff, and will never ever get even slightly better from this point out (and if you want to talk about performance since April 22nd, Jeter is batting .300/.356/.325, not great, but certainly much better than his current stat line), he’s STILL a significantly (yes, I do think 14 runs is significant) better player than whoever the Sox have at catcher.
    I think what’s going on here, underneath, is people are responding to the absolutely horrifying mistake the Sox have made by not paying more attention to their catching situation. How could you possibly start a team with a pair of catchers you ALREADY EXPECT to be sub-replacement level? Especially when the completely obvious answer was there for the taking. And don’t tell me the Sox actually tried for Martin. They didn’t. They didn’t even make him a competitive offer. To entrust the catching spot to a guy who has never even been a replacement-level catcher, offensively OR defensively, over a 27-year old guy (only 2 years separated from being one of the most valuable assets in the game) you think might be an injury risk, is idiotic at best, bordering on Steve Phillips-level insanity at worst.

    AndrewYF May 4, 2011, 5:07 pm
  • I am just completely befuddled by this attitude from Sox fans that the catching situation doesn’t matter.
    I think it matters. I just have a hard time figuring out how to measure the overall impact of the catching position with respect to this year’s edition of the Sox. At the plate? They have sucked. Obviously a negative impact. Inarguable. They stink offensively.
    Defensively? Metrics are inexact, as we all know. But certainly the whole “Salty can’t work with the pitchers” BS at the opening of the year is just wrong.
    Overall? What’s the assessment? Have the Sox’ catchers been awful, terrible, or just slightly bad? Besides Martin (and we don’t know how that will end), what were the other options that could have markedly improved this position over what it is now? They aren’t clear-cut frankly – we’ve been through this. I don’t think Theo would say “this position doesn’t matter”, and I am not saying that either.
    But to date this year I have watched almost every game and I can’t come close to explaining their impact beyond “sucking at the plate”. I guess that’s my point.

    SF May 4, 2011, 5:08 pm
  • Wait – are we comparing Derek Jeter to the Sox catching tandem or are we comparing the captains? I assumed from the title that it was the latter. If it is, one of the answers to “My question is why would you want to?” is that Jeter has bought himself a good season or so benefit of the doubt based on what he has done over his career and how well he played as recently as 2009. He is now pretty much at that season grace-period limit and if he can not start hitting with some authority in the next month or so, he has got to get dropped in the lineup in my view. Varitek – having brought less value over his career to the Sox than Jeter has – has nevertheless been getting substantial benefit of the doubt for what – 3.5 years now?

    IronHorse (YF) May 4, 2011, 5:08 pm
  • And don’t tell me the Sox actually tried for Martin. They didn’t. They didn’t even make him a competitive offer.
    How do you know this? How? Do you have inside knowledge? We’ve been through this in another thread.
    More to the point: teams make mistakes. The Sox, at this point, made one by passing on Martin. Is this worth arguing about? I don’t think you will find a Sox fan who will say “yeah, based on the stats to date we did the right thing not getting Martin”. Hello, straw man!

    SF May 4, 2011, 5:12 pm
  • To entrust the catching spot to a guy who has never even been a replacement-level catcher, offensively OR defensively, over a 27-year old guy (only 2 years separated from being one of the most valuable assets in the game) you think might be an injury risk, is idiotic at best, bordering on Steve Phillips-level insanity at worst
    Are you trying to turn this into a debate about Theo Epstein’s abilities, something irrelevant to this topic? I think this comment should be ignored by the readers here in the interest of sanity.

    SF May 4, 2011, 5:14 pm
  • Lost in all the nonsense about salaries and OPS is the fact that Jeter still gets on base at a decent clip and especially so for shortstops. That makes him valuable as a top of the lineup bat and certainly moreso than two absolute blackholes at catcher. Despite all the attempt at equivalency Jeter is prob. 2-3 wins better than that suckfest. He declining but he ain’t done. Varitek though is finished and Salty us a never will be.
    Of course the Yankees certainly knew his decline was ahead. If you don’t remember Cashman told him to test the market. But they treat their guys with some semblance of respect unlike how Lowell, Pedro, Damon were treated. That’s why Martin and Teix wanted to play for the good guys. They knew he’d be treated well. The Yankees absolutely knew they were overpaying for Jeter but that is what was necessary for an icon.

    Michel Richy May 4, 2011, 5:16 pm
  • Wait – are we comparing Derek Jeter to the Sox catching tandem or are we comparing the captains?
    I was comparing chicken hearts to undercooked short ribs.

    SF May 4, 2011, 5:16 pm
  • and Salty is a never will be.
    Michel Richy in 2007: “That Jose Bautista: six months from working in an auto body shop”.
    How do you know these things? What’s the trick?!

    SF May 4, 2011, 5:18 pm
  • SF, it’s a response to the issue brought up by Paul – that the Sox entered the season with catchers they expect to suck so it’s okay that they’re sucking because nothing was expected of them, while the Yankees entered the season with a guy they expect to be good so it’s worse that he’s sucking, because more was expected of him.
    It was an intellectually dishonest comparison to begin with:
    “Varitek sucks – we all know that. He sucks a lot because he’s accrued -6 runs of suck in less than half the playing time of Jeter. Okay, true, but are you really happy that this is the level you want to compare Jeter to?”
    Except that the one who brought it up to begin with is Paul. It’s a loaded argument, rigged to make Yankee fans feel bad either way you slice it.
    I could do the same thing with Carl Crawford and, say, Andruw Jones, and have it be just as valid as what has been done here in these comments. Unless of course, saying Carl Crawford hasn’t been any good is now considered ‘trolling’.

    AndrewYF May 4, 2011, 5:23 pm
  • Martin wasn’t promised anything by the sox. The Yankees told him hed be the starter if healthy.
    Whoops! :)
    Great points Ironhorse. The comparison to peers is obviously too difficult for some. And the money is completely irrelevant.

    Michel Richy May 4, 2011, 5:24 pm
  • Thanks for the smile in comparing Salty to Bautista. Keep dreaming because of one double. Brett Gardner has abetter shot of hitting 50 homeruns. :)

    Michel Richy May 4, 2011, 5:27 pm
  • “Michel Richy in 2007: “That Jose Bautista: six months from working in an auto body shop”.
    How do you know these things? What’s the trick?!”
    Really? I can make the same argument with Francisco Cervelli. At this point, you’ve reduced it to any 25 year old can break out at any point so you can never insult anyone because they could be Jose Bautista and then won’t you look stupid!

    AndrewYF May 4, 2011, 5:28 pm
  • Varitek – having brought less value over his career to the Sox than Jeter has – has nevertheless been getting substantial benefit of the doubt for what – 3.5 years now?
    Nah, I don’t think so. They haven’t paid him much, so he’s not getting some sort of special treatment on that front (though clearly paying him anything is relative overpayment!), and his previous contract was a four year deal inked in 2004 that expired in 2008. At that point the Sox signed him to a two year deal that was club-advantageous structure-wise (the player option for the second year was for 40% less than the first year) and his contract amount dropped again last year. So it’s not like his contract trajectory has failed to track his career trajectory.
    The issue has to be that they continued to sign Tek over anyone else, and in that point you have a point. But again I ask this without prejudice: what is the impact of his presence on the pitching staff? I am not apologizing for his awfulness as a hitter, or his poor ability to throw out base-stealers (though I think pitchers don’t get far enough blame for this in general). I just have no idea how to comprehend this aspect of things.

    SF May 4, 2011, 5:32 pm
  • Jose Molina would be better at this point.

    Michel Richy May 4, 2011, 5:35 pm
  • The point of this post was to have some fun with the fact that Kevin Long made one of the most tepid — pun intended! — comments about a struggling player I’ve ever heard, and tie it in to the fact that Jeter and Varitek can now accurately be compared to unappetizing breakfast food.
    The first comment to the post was to denigrate Varitek for whatever reason — defensiveness, salvaging dignity for Jeter, hatred for stocky men with gotees, who knows? — so I responded, noting (in not nearly this many words) that while Varitek is indeed worse, he’s not so much worse this year as we’d think and he’s paid far, far less. So, as far as comparisons go, I’m not sure either team is getting the better end of the deal when it comes to their respective captains in 2011 and beyond. I further expounded to reiterate that Jeter is better than Varitek, but that since both players are below replacement level, I don’t really find the distinction all that compelling. I still don’t. They both suck so far this year, and they can both be compared to unappetizing breakfast food.
    That’s the extent of my argument. That’s it. Since then, we’ve had a lot of red herrings thrown into the mix, including Carl Crawford, Russell Martin, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, the Red Sox’ offseason plan, Peter Gammons and a stupid NESN column that no one at this site ever endorsed, never mind even linking to.
    I’m not trying to shut down the argument; I love a good argument, after all. I’m just trying to circle back around to the original points I made at the beginning of this thread because it’s gotten a little convoluted.
    I think the overall comparison (value each team is getting from the position and how do we figure that out on the catching side) and the question of offseason planning are better discussions to have, actually. It would certainly get us away from this rather tedious back and forth over whose crappy captain is crappier.
    To that end, I’m still willing to give Saltalamacchia time. He’s 27, he’s shown some promise at the plate (especially lately), he hasn’t been abominable behind it, and the only way the Sox are ever going to find a longish-term solution at catcher is to try out a young guy for an extended period of time to see if he works. To me, the upside outweighs the downside, which is that he sucks for a couple of months.
    Which brings me to Andrew’s question about the catching situation not mattering. It’s not that it doesn’t matter; it’s that teams frequently win the World Series with gaping holes at one or more positions. The 2007 Sox had Julio Lugo, as a prime example. The main problem with that is if you go into the season with a position you know has a good chance to suck, you have less margin for error with unexpected suckage at another position. But looking at the Sox’ lineup, it’s hard to find another spot where suckage was remotely likely. Maybe Ellsbury in center, but the Sox had/have good depth there.
    The Red Sox started off poorer than expected not because the No. 9 spot of their lineup didn’t produce, but because the starting rotation got lit up the first time through, then when the pitchers started settling down, the heart of their lineup was awful. Of all the reasons why the Sox started 2-10, I would put lack of catching production well down the list, behind non-performance factors like strength of schedule and bad luck. And obviously the Sox’ catching situation hasn’t much inhibited their compiling the best record in baseball in their past 17 games, just as the Yankees’ shortstop situation hasn’t much inhibited their ability to jump out in front of the AL East and have the best offense in baseball.
    Finally…
    Varitek … has nevertheless been getting substantial benefit of the doubt for what – 3.5 years now?
    I don’t think being replaced as the starter midway through 2009 and opening the next two seasons as the backup count as getting any benefit of the doubt, actually.

    Paul SF May 4, 2011, 5:40 pm
  • SF, I’m honestly nowt paying a lick of attention to contract amounts. I’m not making a comment about whether the Yanks or Sox cut good deals or are getting value for their dollar. I’m making the point of these two players’ value to their teams, as gauged by their relative worth to others at their positions. Gettiing th ebenefit of the doubt, in my opinion, has to do with whether or not you are the starter, and whether or not you are hitting in a key position. Jeter – in my view – is reaching the end of the grace-period during which he should be maintained in the #2 slot because they have other great hitters who could slot between Gardner and Teix (or Granderson and Teix), though he still should get the benefit of the doubt as a starting SS because relative to other SS’s he is still A. pretty good and B. better than the Yanks replacement options.
    Varitek was horrible at the plate in 2008 and 2009 and yet played in over 100 games both years. He was then bumped (finally) to back-up, though foolishly subbed for Saltalamacchia this year when the latter struggled a bit. These are the ways in which I see him getting the benefit of the doubt that I don’t think he has earned.
    Now my fear about 2011 Jeter is that he may be Varitek circa 2008, which would mean he really is at the start of an irreversible period of suckitude. But 2011 Jeter compared to 2011 Varitek? They really are not in the same neighborhood that Paul argues they are, in my view.

    IronHorse (YF) May 4, 2011, 5:40 pm
  • Actually Cervelli would be an upgrade for the Sox too.
    That’s what kills me about the Jeter comp. He’s better than Scutaro too!

    Michel Richy May 4, 2011, 5:40 pm
  • You know, if this site were filled with Sox fans who were deluded about the abilities of Jason Varitek that would be one thing, but I first posted a picture of Tek as a piece of toast like three years ago, and the general sentiment of every SF around this place has been one of “holy shit, Tek is STILL getting PT?!”. So it’s not like any of us are in denial around here.
    The question as to whether the Sox did wrong by sticking with Salty over Martin is something else, not really relevant to this thread and has been covered elsewhere, and will likely come up many times before the year is through. It is certainly fodder.

    SF May 4, 2011, 5:42 pm
  • Ummm the salaries are the biggest red herrings in this entire thread – utterly meaningless. You also still ignore positional value. Jeter has a job with half to on third of teams. Varitek has no job except for the Sox. He’s in the running for worst in baseball.

    Michel Richy May 4, 2011, 5:45 pm
  • Jose Molina would be better at this point.
    Alfred Molina would be better at this point.

    SF May 4, 2011, 5:45 pm
  • “Alfred Molina would be better at this point”
    Now THAT made me laugh. Doc Ock would be AWESOME at the catcher position.

    IronHorse (YF) May 4, 2011, 5:47 pm
  • though foolishly subbed for Saltalamacchia this year when the latter struggled a bit.
    I agree with this, but I see that as a Francona failing, as opposed to a front office failing, which was the direction of the conversation.
    I’ve made it clear fairly recently that subbing for Saltalamacchia because some pitchers were struggling made zero sense.
    He’s better than Scutaro too!
    Comments like this are why the discussion got as off course as it did. In fact, they make me wonder if we’ve had an old friend return to the site.

    Paul SF May 4, 2011, 5:48 pm
  • Doctor Octopus would be one heck of a catcher!

    Michel Richy May 4, 2011, 5:49 pm
  • > Jeter has a job with half to on third of teams
    But not as a starter, and not as a top-third batter.

    attackgerbil May 4, 2011, 5:50 pm
  • I was more thinking Alfred Molina in Boogie Nights. That would be a funny sight behind the plate.

    SF May 4, 2011, 5:51 pm
  • I think Jeter starts for at least 1/3 of ML teams ag…top-third batter? Probably not if looking at 2011 alone and certainly not if 2010 + 2011 performance is taken into account. I’m praying he bounces back, but I must admit that I am beginning to pray against hope.

    IronHorse (YF) May 4, 2011, 5:52 pm
  • The point with Scutaro is what is being ignored. Namely Jeter would have been the Sox starter. Now add up 10-15 more teams like that and you’ll understand why Jeter still has significant value in the game. Varitek has none.

    Michel Richy May 4, 2011, 5:53 pm
  • Varitek has none.
    And we have come full circle back to the picture of Tek as a piece of bread that has just been cooked. Which PAUL posted.
    You guys are arguing with whom, exactly?

    SF May 4, 2011, 5:54 pm
  • Yeah one third as a starter but as a 7 or 8 hitter. Have you seen OBPs at those slots around the game?

    Michel Richy May 4, 2011, 5:56 pm
  • I think Jeter starts for at least 1/3 of ML teams ag
    To go back to an earlier comment, I find that the defense of Jeter has become, at this point, one where Yankee fans are now making a case that Jeter could start for at least one third of the teams in the Majors.
    Isn’t this a little sad for all of us?

    SF May 4, 2011, 5:56 pm
  • Comparing Carl Crawford’s struggles with Derek Jeter’s struggles is self-evidently intellectually dishonest, and you know better, Andrew. Unless you truly believe Jeter’s true talent level at this point is 2009, and he’s just in a 13-month funk.
    Our other “friend” in this thread just can’t go too long without revealing himself. The comment about how the Red Sox don’t “respect” their stars — in a thread about how one of their stars is playing terribly and has been kept around too long, no less! — is what sealed it for me.

    Paul SF May 4, 2011, 5:59 pm
  • It is sad SF if Jeter stays where he is now or recedes even further. No argument there.
    It is not so sad if this proves to be only a rough period for a guy who is barely more than a season removed from one of the best seasons he ever had on what has been a sterling career.
    I’m still not ready to concede that this is as good as he’ll ever be again. But it may be. And if it is, yes, that would be sad to me.

    IronHorse (YF) May 4, 2011, 6:01 pm
  • Marco Scutaro was better than Jeter in 2010, and Jed Lowrie is better (so far) in 2011, so Jeter doesn’t have a place in Boston. Sorry.

    Paul SF May 4, 2011, 6:01 pm
  • Umm we are argueing that Jeter is NOT finishd. That is where this thread went off-track especially when salaries got tossed in. Jeter is trending cleary down but he is still valuable, unlike Varitek.

    Michel Richy May 4, 2011, 6:02 pm
  • Lowrie wasn’t the starter to begin the year and its arguable on Scutaro in 2010. Jeter had the sane bat and won a gold glove.

    Michel Richy May 4, 2011, 6:06 pm
  • Jeter should be trotted out every day. There’s no reason not to. They are 17-10 with him sucking round objects, so why wouldn’t they just keep playing him? What are the other options at this point?
    Check back in in a month or longer.

    SF May 4, 2011, 6:07 pm
  • Jeter … won a gold glove.
    That’s a pretty good note to leave this discussion, I think.

    Paul SF May 4, 2011, 6:08 pm
  • That last question is the point. Jeter is a starter. And hes already the oldest on a ring team. Why can’t he do it again?

    Michel Richy May 4, 2011, 6:11 pm
  • “‘m more receptive to an argument that the Yankees are insanely rich and so money is less an object to them, which is undoubtedly true.”
    Be cool krueg…be cool…breathe…

    krueg May 4, 2011, 6:17 pm
  • > Isn’t this a little sad for all of us?
    I’ve told this story before, but I’ll tell it again just because it was so much fun. I was at one of Jeter’s first games when he got called up to Columbus, who was playing against the Red Wings (Rochester, Orioles’ AAA at the time) at Silver Stadium. I went to the game with THE LOUDEST Yankee fan ever, my awesome friend Jake. Aside: Jake has tenor voice, kind of like Joe Pescii, which when he gets pissed off would ascend into a contralto that you could hear from a half-mile. Literally. He almost got us thrown out of a ball game by cursing out a first base line ump from the back bleacher row up third base. Combine that with the fact that he is the best Vulgarian and baiter at a ball game I have ever heard, he quite often was more entertaining than the game. He is THAT GOOD.
    Anyway, as I remember it, Jeter got a “boo” when he came to the plate because he already had a rep as a Yankee on the rise, and the people at the game that night were edumacated. He deked an infield single, stole second, stole third, and ran home on a grounder. All in about 30 seconds. I was in love.

    attackgerbil May 4, 2011, 6:17 pm
  • Thanks for that ag – I take solace in the fact that Derek Jeter can still do one of the things noted in that story. Indeed, it’s one of the only things he seems to do these days. Can you guess which one?

    IronHorse (YF) May 4, 2011, 6:20 pm
  • Glad I left this discussion when I did. Things unraveled quite a bit.

    Atheose - SF May 4, 2011, 6:20 pm
  • Well, I know he can still deke a single, and I also know that he’s one of the smartest base runners I have seen. His gaffes, which are so few, are legend because he makes so few.

    attackgerbil May 4, 2011, 6:26 pm
  • sheesh guys, i was actually trying to be neutral for a change in a discussion about jeter…catcher is a key position on any team…period…but it’s like any position, you may have to make sacrifices offensively or defensively…remember when mike piazza was a “catcher”?…trying to rationalize a lesser value because your guy sucks is bogus…varitek’s main value for most of his career was his legendary “handling of the pitchers”, which is now being called “mystical”, “magical”, and “questionable” even by sox fans…i don’t buy the notion that the position isn’t important because everyone else can pick up the slack…you guys wouldn’t let me use the same argument for shortstop… it’s ok that jeter has no range because arod and cano will cover for him, and we’ll have gardner play a little more shallow in left…and cano, tex, arod, granderson, and the others will pick up for him offensively…c’mon…no, your catching position is a huge problem, especially since the lack of confidence in salty has resulted in more playing time for tek…it’s hidden right now by the more dramatic lack of performance by other guys, but it’s there…just like we have an issue at shortstop, a more complicated one, given the personality and status of the individual…but, it’s more likely that jeter will have an acceptable year [gut only] than any combination of salty and tek…if you guys are ok with your catching situation relative to your perception of its importance, then why are we even talking about it?…and really, this is not, or shouldn’t be about money…we discussed this point re. jeter over and over again during and just after his contract was signed…why do you guys insist on dusting that one off again?…give it a rest…i tried to give this post a fighting chance in my first comment, but now i’m beginning to see that it’s just another attempt to bait yf’s…i guess it worked ;)

    dc May 4, 2011, 6:28 pm
  • “Comparing Carl Crawford’s struggles with Derek Jeter’s struggles is self-evidently intellectually dishonest, and you know better, Andrew. Unless you truly believe Jeter’s true talent level at this point is 2009, and he’s just in a 13-month funk.”
    Is it really, though? I personally believe (it was more of a hope than a belief since before he started hitting a bit better) Jeter’s talent level is somewhere around his ’08 season, which I don’t think is a ridiculous assumption, considering the man’s career. He’s compiled a .550 OPS so far, which is well below what you can expect from a guy with that talent. I really do think he has the ability to improve quite a bit.
    Crawford’s expected level of production as a hitter, honestly, might not be that much better than Jeter’s ’08 numbers, switching out some of the on-base numbers with some extra power of course. I think we have to take into account that Crawford’s numbers, even including his career year last year, are .296/.337/.444. It’s very possible that, given he’s playing half his games in a park that some have suggested hurts his overall game, his expected numbers should in fact be around a .770 OPS. If that’s his talent level, why is it so unheard of that he’s struggling the way he has, but it’s just a matter of course that Jeter is struggling? At this point in time, it’s possible that the two are similarly talented hitters (at least in terms of OPS), and both are hitting a similar rough patch. Yes, Crawford is 30 and Jeter is 37. But age is not the only factor we can possibly consider when evaluating baseball players.
    I just don’t think equating the two player’s struggles is automatically intellectually dishonest.

    AndrewYF May 4, 2011, 6:34 pm
  • The only thing I have to say is Carl Crawford is 29 and Jeter is 36.
    Making Carl 30 was subtle, Andrew. Nice.

    SF May 4, 2011, 6:44 pm
  • well sf, at 29 his body may still be baseball-young, but a big part of the game is being confident and comfortable…admittedly i’m only a casual observer, but it appears to me that crawford is struggling big-time, and it’s not just mechanical…

    dc May 4, 2011, 6:48 pm
  • I seriously thought he was 30. I looked at their birth years (1981 and 1974) and not at their baseball ages. He turns 30 in August. No underhandedness intended.
    Although to be fair, Jeter is technically a year younger than what I said as well ;)

    AndrewYF May 4, 2011, 6:48 pm
  • > Can you guess which one?
    Aw CRAP. I just got the joke.

    attackgerbil May 4, 2011, 6:48 pm
  • I knew you’d get there ag :)

    IronHorse (YF) May 4, 2011, 6:51 pm
  • Crawford struck me as extremely overrated. Without the OBP his speed doesn’t play as well as it should. I’d be much more surprised by him holding his value than him being finished young. If his skills drop at all he’s an overpaid middle infielder playing a peak offense position. Heck Pujols could have played LF in Fenway.

    Michel Richy May 4, 2011, 6:53 pm
  • Just giving you a hard time, Andrew. It came off a little like “democrat party” does when the GOP says it, but I see how easy it is to make the mistake.

    SF May 4, 2011, 6:53 pm
  • dc, Carl is 6 for his last 13. He hasn’t looked too struggle-y the last three days to me.

    SF May 4, 2011, 6:54 pm
  • Yeah, Crawford’s been around forever. Crazy he hasn’t even hit 30 yet.

    AndrewYF May 4, 2011, 6:56 pm
  • Heck Pujols could have played LF in Fenway.
    Damn, Pujols was available?

    SF May 4, 2011, 7:01 pm
  • Yeah SF – I didn’t realize that one either.

    IronHorse (YF) May 4, 2011, 7:05 pm
  • Crawford will be fine.
    The Jeter story is depressing. His bad run dates back to May, 2010. The stats support what we all see. His game seems to have fallen off a cliff. And now there are 4 years left. The interesting thing to me is whether there is any possibility he retires before the end of his deal. Obviously, the economic incentive–a rather large one–is for him to stay, but how do things like pride and concern for legacy influence an individual? And if he stays and plays for 4 years like this, what does that do to his legacy?

    Nick-YF May 4, 2011, 7:07 pm
  • “…dc, Carl is 6 for his last 13. He hasn’t looked too struggle-y the last three days to me. …”
    that’s nice…maybe he’s settling in and found his comfort zone…up until that point he was the proverbial “deer in the headlights” at the plate, and at times he looked awkward defensively…with his ops at .512 and ops+ at 41 his most recent 13 ab’s should be encouraging…he seems equally [un]comfortable at home and away, so it can’t be fenway, or that he misses the fake grass at the trop…he definitely prefers may over march and april…he’s too good a player not to heat up so the 13 ab’s are indicative of something…but, don’t be so quick to pooh-pooh my suggestion that his april struggles might have been something more than mechanical…

    dc May 5, 2011, 10:07 am

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