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How Can Pitcher Prevent Injuries?

I had the great pleasure of speaking with former Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson Saturday at the Strat-O-Matic 50th year anniversary. Before speaking with me, Peterson took the stage with Stats, Inc. founder John Dewan to talk statistics in front of hundreds of Strat-O-Matic fans. Of all the fascinating figures that these two men presented, one statistic particularly startled the crowd.

Peterson mentioned that every year, over 25 percent of the money spent on Major League Baseball pitchers is spent on pitchers on the disabled list.

Stop for a second. What comes to mind immediately upon hearing that fact?

Maybe it’s Carl Pavano, who signed a four-year, $40 million contract with the Yankees in 2004. Injuries and a secret car accident prevented him from pitching any more than 145 2/3 innings in his four seasons in pinstripes. (By contrast, CC Sabathia pitched almost 100 more innings in 2010 alone.)

Or maybe Barry Zito comes to mind, who signed a seven year, $126 million contract with the Giants in 2006. Don’t tell Giant fans, but the contract is still not over. Thus far, he has won just 40 games. And, oh, he missed out on their championship last year.

It’s a startling statistic, yes. And the emotions that come with it are fierce. Almost every fan can relate in some way to this astonishing fact and not one of those fans is happy with it.

But what are the implications?

Given that figure, that 25 percent of the total salary for pitchers is spent on injured pitchers, there are two possible explanations: 1.) a lot of low-paid, mediocre pitchers are often injured or 2.) fewer, high-paid pitchers are often injured.

Looking at data from, 1.) is likely the answer. Since 2001, 39.1 percent of the 947 total pitchers have spent time on the disabled list. Because that number is higher than the 25 percent of total salary, that means that quite a few low-paid players are on the disabled list.

Indeed, this is quite encouraging to hear. If 2.) was correct and fewer, high-paid players were often injured, then we would conclude that being a good, dominating pitcher meant that you would be injured more often.

However, that is not the case. Rather, we find that the true cost lies in mediocrity. In other words, being a bad pitcher increases your chances of getting injured.

This makes sense. Bad pitchers usually have something wrong with their mechanics. If you throw a baseball 90 miles per hour even remotely wrong, not only will you be unsuccessful, but you will be destroying your arm.

There are other explanations as well. Maybe it is a matter of intelligence. Smart pitchers will usually be more successful and will also be more likely to protect their arms and prevent injuries. If this were true, it would be seen across all positions, not just pitchers.

Nevertheless, this is good for pitchers to hear. Constantly, we hear about how unhealthy it is to be a Major League pitcher. But if you are a good Major League pitcher, it may not be all that dangerous. It’s the bad pitchers we need to worry about.

If success correlates with injuries, how should it be put into practice? Maybe when managers are looking at pitch counts and protecting young arms, they should take into account their level of success: bad pitchers get less pitches than good ones. In practice, that probably happens anyway, because who wants a bad pitcher to stay in the game?

So, why has this fallen through the cracks? Why haven’t we heard this before?

Simple: when Carl Pavano, Kevin Brown, or Barry Zito goes down after signing a lucrative contract, we hear about it. Those rare situations are so inflated by fans that we think they happen often. Conversely, when a young, low-paid, decent pitcher gets injured, nobody hears about it. But the reality is that the latter happens much more often.

Ultimately, the lesson is simple: the best defense against Tommy John surgery is not ice, or a good trainer, or fewer pitches. It’s a good ERA.

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2010-11 MLB Offseason: New York Yankees Still Have a Chance

Brian Cashman and the entire Yankees organization are still hiding under the covers. It’s been a rough offseason for New York; not necessarily because they missed out on talent, but because the organization was continually embarrassed.

It started, of course, with Cliff Lee. After we were led to believe that Lee would be a Yankee without any kind of disturbance, the Phillies walked in and lit the Yankees desires on fire. No big deal, everyone said, the Yankees just didn’t want to spend that kind of money. That’s fine, but maybe we should have heard that earlier.

Derek Jeter also earned a spot on this list as well. As if it wasn’t ridiculous enough for Jeter ask for five or six years, his agent decided to take it to the next level and call the Yankees actions “baffling.” The Yankees won that battle without ever shedding a drop of sweat, but an embarrassing result for Jeter is an embarrassing result for the Yankees

Then, to add insult to injury, Kerry Wood decided to sign with the Cubs for a fourth of the money he could have made with the Yankees. I want to be a Cub for life, he said. Don’t ask me what’s going through his mind.

The Red Sox also did a small number on the Evil Empire. In an attempt to swarm the tabloids of the baseball world, Theo Epstein decided to take a shot at signing Mariano Rivera. Although Rivera swept it off with virtually no thought, the last thing the Yankees needed was to be on the wrong side of a joke.

To top it off, another small Yankee dream was diminished. The Yankees missed out on Zack Greinke, mostly because they didn’t want to give up their entire minor league system, but also because they were never too excited about bringing him to New York.

Here are the two ways to look at the Yankees’ 2010-11 offseason: (A), the cynical view, would be to say the Yankees two best additions are Russell Martin and Pedro Feliciano—not too inspiring; (B), the optimistic and realistic view, would be to say the Yankees will enter the 2011 season with the same team that won the 2009 World Series.

Ultimately, this offseason was hyped up beyond belief for the Yankees. But the problem was that the actual Yankees organization had different plans. Cashman would have loved to add Lee or Crawford, but evidently he wasn’t too eager to sign either of them; at least for the prices the market demanded.

However, that is not a reason to let this offseason slip away. A couple weeks ago, the Yankees were hit with their lowest luxury tax since 2003. Clearly something is missing. Not to say the Yankees should spend for the sake of spending, but there is still room to improve.

By now it is quite obvious that the Yankees are not going to improve their starting pitching. If, by some miracle, Prior can help this team, the Yankees will have a great pitching staff; but don’t count on it.

As it stands, the Yankees starting rotation is projected to have a higher WAR in 2011 than it did in 2010, so the Yankees can feel comfortable entering the season with C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova and a fifth starter of their choice. (The Yankees still await a verdict from Andy Pettitte.)

But with the remaining money the Yankees have left on the table, they can still make significant improvements to their bullpen.

If the Yankees want to take a risk, they can go with a young Chad Cordero or a much older Brian Fuentes. Both can be labeled as “very high risk, very high reward.”

If the Yankees want to make a big splash, they can strike a deal with the Royals for Joakim Soria. But after the Yankees listened to ridiculous offers for Greinke, it is unlikely that these two teams can work anything out this offseason.

Then, there is Rafael Soriano. The Yankees have been clear throughout that they do not want to spend the money he will demand. But if things get too close to the finish line, it wouldn’t hurt the Yankees to spend some of their extra cash on a guy who had 45 saves last season.

When I heard that the Yankees were having “internal conversations” about Manny Ramirez, it became evident that the Yankees just weren’t taking this offseason seriously. There are plenty of places to improve, and it’s time for Cashman to wipe away the tears and get something done.

Listen to Jess on What’s on Second: The Radio Hour Monday nights at 9 p.m. ET. Follow him on Twitter @jesskcoleman or send him an e-mail at

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Cliff Lee to the Philadelphia Phillies: Why the New York Yankees Win This Deal

Everyday on the way to school, I pick up a copy of AM New York, a local newspaper in New York City. While sifting through the pages, I see an article entitled “Yankees wait on Cliff Lee.” Just then, my phone vibrated. It was an e-mail from my fellow writer Steve Lenox. “I was right,” he said, and went on discussing the Cliff Lee deal.

Startled and confused, I started looking around for an answer. The subway conductor then walked through the doors of the train and saw I was reading about Lee and the Yankees. “Don’t read that junk,” he said. “He signed with Philly.” Relieved, I leaned back in my seat, and went on with my ride.

Bad reporting on behalf of AM New York is part of it, but things happened extremely fast. Within a few hours of us even finding out that the Phillies were involved, Lee was gone. And the newspapers couldn’t even keep up.

I got to school only to be approached by five or six people all screaming. “It’s over,” they all said. “The Yanks are done.” Disgusted, I calmly explained to them how ridiculous they sounded.

Account for all free-agent signings so far this offseason, and the Yankees still have a payroll of $190 million. That is the highest in the Majors, and the Yankees expectations have not changed whatsoever.

Now, it is true that the Yankees could use some pitching help. But here is how I see it: If Andy Pettitte returns, the Yankees will have the same rotation they had two years ago when they won the World Series, with the addition of Phil Hughes, who won 18 games last season. Cliff Lee happened to be on the team they beat.

“A.J. Burnett? Really?” I heard that a lot today. It is borderline criminal to talk positively about Burnett in New York.

But why can’t he have a comeback season? Why can’t a veteran pitcher who led the league in strikeouts three seasons ago, and led the Yankees to a championship two seasons ago have a comeback season?

Another bright spot is the signing of Russell Martin to a one-year deal today, according to He may not be Lee, but having 28-year-old, two-time All-Star and Gold Glove winner behind the plate can’t hurt. Especially considering the backups are Francisco Cervelli and Jesus Montero.

Furthermore, the Phillies are not done dealing. Phillies beat reporter Todd Zolecki points out that the Phillies are going to need to clear some payroll space to compensate for Lee’s massive deal. Joe Blanton is someone the Phillies are looking to move, and it wouldn’t hurt for the Yankees to add a 30-year-old with plenty of experience in a big city. He would only cost $17 million over the next two seasons.

And, make no mistake, bringing Lee aboard for seven years was not something the Yankees were particularly thrilled about. If they were, they would have thrown a lot more money at him—and, trust me, they could have. In the end, the Yankees realized it wouldn’t be too smart to sign a pitcher through age 39 and up to age 40, especially considering he has only had three good seasons in a nine-season career.

Having a payroll below $200 million is not such a terrible notion either. The Yankees will have a lot more flexibility in the future to make big deals, and still have a great chance to win in the short-run. 

Nevertheless, the sun will rise tomorrow. The Yankees are still a great team, and still have very high expectations. They won with this team in 2009, and they can win with it in 2011.

If you told me the Yankees would go into the 2011 season with CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Phil Hughes, Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mariano Rivera, Joba Chamberlain, Curtis Granderson, Russell Martin, and possibly Andy Pettitte, I don’t think I would be very worried.

What a day. And I never even got to remind people that there are two months left in the offseason.

Listen to Jess on What’s on Second: The Radio Hour Monday nights at 9 p.m. ET. Follow him on Twitter   @jesskcoleman or send him an e-mail at

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Edge of a Cliff: If Cliff Lee Does Not Sign With the New York Yankees

Cliff Lee, Cliff Lee, Cliff Lee. Did I mention Cliff Lee?

If you’re Brian Cashman, a Yankee fan or anyone living in or near New York, you are probably beginning to get tired of hearing the name of someone who, as of right now, has nothing to do with the New York Yankees.

Sure, Lee is worth the hype. After leading the league with a 2.54 ERA and winning the Cy Young award in 2008, Lee has put on a show in the American League. Most recently, he carried the Texas Rangers through the postseason, giving up just three runs in three starts before falling apart in the World Series. 

But the Yankees have invested so much time and effort into signing a player that may not even want to come to New York. So what happens if he doesn’t sign in New York?

True, we were saying the same thing about C.C. Sabathia a couple years ago, but it’s not as though the Yankees have A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira as backups this time around. The Yankees have many problems to solve, and now they have created a situation where it’s Lee or nothing.

It didn’t have to be that way.

The Yankees expressed no interest in other pitching options such as Jorge De La Rosa, Scott Downs, George Sherrill and Ryan Rowland-Smith to name a few. Not to say the Yankees should have signed them, but they should have at least engaged some of them in conversation, ensuring that they would have a plan B if Lee did not sign.

In the case of Lee not coming to New York, the Yankees have very little breathing room. Joba Chamberlain and Ivan Nova would be the in-club options for starting pitcher, but in one case you lose a relief pitcher, and in both cases you experience a significant decline from Lee.

But before we go ahead and speculate, it is important to note that we have no idea what is going on in Lee’s mind. Income tax, commute to his home; none of these matter. In the end, it will likely be a combination of money, money, money and maybe a small hint of family issues that will influence Lee’s decision. But again, we just don’t know.

The sad truth is that both the Rangers and Yankees have gotten so caught up in signing Lee that neither of them has a clear plan Bas mentioned beforeand that has led both of them to drive up the price, a risky move that they have forced themselves into.

While it’s easy for us to get caught up in what Lee has done over the last six years, we forget that there was also his career before that. 

Lee has had ERAs of 2.54, 3.22 and 3.18 in the last three seasons respectively. That’s pretty good, but why does he have a career 3.85 ERA? Because he had ERAs of 6.29, 4.40, and 5.43 in three of his six seasons before his breakout season in 2008.

Red flag, red flag!

I am a firm believer that pitchers can reinvent themselves, but I am also a firm believer that you don’t give a guy seven years just because he did well over one-third of his career. In any player’s case, there is an entire story to be told, but with Lee, nobody has spoken a word.

And for that reason, the Yankees and Rangers are swimming in their ignorance. Even if they realized three weeks ago that Lee was not worth it, it would have been too late. Poor planning has forced them both to put everything they have into bringing in Lee, who, despite some question marks, is the indisputable leader of an uninspiring free agent class.

In other words, New York and Texas, at this point, have no choice but to haul in Lee.

The Yankees, however, do have a little wiggle room. They still have A.J. Burnett, C.C. Sabathia, Phil Hughes and maybe even Andy Pettitte. So, if you are forced to start the season with Ivan Nova or Joba Chamberlain as your fifth starter, it’s not the end of the world.

If the Yankees don’t, in fact, sign Lee, they shouldn’t give up. Yes, it will be depressing, but the 2010 postseason revealed that the Yankees’ problems extend beyond pitching; there are always other places to improve.

If there is one thing that is more concerning than the Yankees’ pitching situation (which really isn’t all that bad), it is their catching situation. As it is now, the Yankees will go into the regular season with Jesus Montero, an unproven prospect, and Francisco Cervelli, a solid but mediocre youngster, as the starting catchers; not too inspiring.

Nevertheless, something has been whispered in the baseball world that should be ringing loudly in the minds of Yankee fans. According to the Daily News, the Yankees have offered a one-year deal to 27-year-old, former Dodgers catcher Russell Martin.

Martin would give the Yankees the best possible improvement they can get apart from, and possibly even including, Lee. He has a career .385 on-base percentage and can potentially hit around 20 home runs per season. He’s also a great defensive catcher, taking home a Gold Glove in 2007.

He has been on the decline the last couple of years, but he is a very solid player who is in the prime of his career. He would give the Yankees a spark behind the plate that they have not seen in a very long time. 

The Yankees have already made their mistake, and they shouldn’t prolong it. With no plan B, the Yankees’ future looks dark should Lee decide to pitch in the desert. With little time left, however, Martin could be the Yankees’ silver lining in a slow offseason. 

After all, if the Yankees didn’t mean it when they said Bubba Crosby would be the starting centerfielder in 2006, so what makes us think they mean it when they say Cervelli will be their starting catcher in 2011?

Listen to Jess on What’s on Second: The Radio Hour Monday nights at 9 p.m. ET. Follow him on Twitter  @jesskcoleman or send him an e-mail at

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Change We Can Believe In: Bud Selig Open to Instant Replay

Turn back your clocks a little over a year ago to the 2009 American League Divisional Series between the Yankees and the Twins. The Yankees had home field advantage and were heavily favored. They swept the series three games to none, but largely thanks to a disturbing phenomenon down the left field line at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees won Game 1 by a score of 7-2. But, for any team starting a playoff series away from home, the Twins had one objective: just win one. Going into Game 2, a day removed from a trip to Minneapolis, that seemed very possible. And when the Twins were leading 3-1 in the bottom of the eighth, things looked pretty good.

The Yankees scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth, tying the game at three. The game went to the 11th-inning still tied at three. In the top of the inning, however, the course of baseball history quietly changed.

Joe Mauer led off the inning with a line drive down the left-field line. Mauer would have easily made it to second, but Phil Cuzzi, whose only job was to make that exact call, missed it. The Twins followed with two straight singles, one of which would have surely scored Mauer. However, no runs scored, and the Yankees won the game in the bottom of the 11th inning.

The series was now 2-0 going to Minnesota. The Twins were deflated, and the Yankees were on a roll. Who knows what would have happened if that call was changed.

Simply put, instant replay would have prevented that incorrect call. But a failure on the behalf Major League Baseball has prevented that idea from every becoming a reality. Why doesn’t Major League Baseball have a desire to get the calls right? That is the one question that has never been answered.

I was very happy today to see a tweet from ESPN’s Jayson Stark noting that Commissioner Bud Selig left a meeting with his on-field committee feeling “more open [to expanding instant replay] than he’s ever been.”

Hopefully, this will end something long overdue and no longer worth avoiding in any logical sense.

Bud Selig has been quoted numerous times saying that he concerned about “the pace of the game.” That concern, in my perspective, is ridiculous.

First, consider how things usually unfold nowadays: the ump gets the call wrong, and then the television broadcasters show that it was clearly a mistake. The manager storms onto the field, and we watch for two or three minutes as the two opposing sides bark at each other. The call, however, is never changed.

It is also possible that the umps will have one of their very effective meetings. For another one of two minutes, the umps come together in the middle of the field and talk about who knows what. Regardless, the umps usually still get it wrong.

Now consider what it would be like if Major League Baseball had instant replay. Here is a script of what would happen:

Ump: [Makes incorrect call. Questioning himself, he signals to the crew chief to make a call to another official sitting in a booth, watching the TV broadcast.]

Crew chief: [Picks up phone] “Safe or out?”

Official in booth: “Out.”

Crew chief: [Signals out.]

That’s it. 45 seconds at most. No argument from the manager, no disputes. Just a quicker, cleaner game.

I never criticize umpires for getting calls wrong. Their job is very hard, and they need all the help they can get. We have the technology available—right at our fingertips—to get these calls right, so why not use it?

Watching a game on TV, the typical fan knows the correct call within 15 seconds. Why should the fan be able to see evidence that the umps cannot? Not to mention that the manager and umpire are usually arguing as the fan watches the replay.

Another argument Mr. Selig has made is the following: our officials are still investigating the issue, therefore we need more time. What’s to investigate? How many people really want to know the right call? 

I commend Major League Baseball for implementing replay on home run calls. That’s a big step. But there is nothing more ignorant to say about baseball than “home runs solely affect the outcome of the game.” We need to get everything right, not just home runs.

Enough procrastinating. Why are we so afraid to change? Instant replay would make games faster, reduce the amount of arguments, and, most importantly, make the calls more accurate. 

What are we waiting for? Lack of instant replay has already taken a huge toll on the game, and it will continue to. Just think that with replay active, the Yankees might only have 26 championships.

Listen to Jess on What’s on Second: The Radio Hour Monday nights at 9 p.m. ET. Follow him on Twitter @jesskcoleman or send him an e-mail at

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Adrian Gonzalez to the Boston Red Sox: True Beginning of a Frustrating Career

What if you broke into the hotel room of Adrian Gonzalez, looked through his things, and found a diary? What would it say? Here is a possible answer:

June 2000

I DID IT!!!! Today is a day I will never forget. I was the first overall pick of the 2000 draft today. Looks like I am going to Florida! Sure, they are a horrible team, but every first round pick has to start out their career with a horrible team. I’ll just do my best in my time here and try to make it onto a better team. But for now, I did it! My life dream is complete! Florida, here I come.

July 2003

Just heard I was traded to Texas. I would have loved to go to a better team, but I have great confidence in that club. At this point, I don’t even want to win, I just need to make it to the Majors. I can’t even imagine playing with guys like Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Rafael Palmeiro. Wow. 

April 2004

What a day! My first game in the Major Leagues. I went 0-for-3, I am not too happy about that, but meeting playing with my idol Mark Teixeira was just incredible. Thanks to the Yankees, I never got my chance to play with A-Rod, but it was kind of cool to play with Alfonso Soriano.

Don’t tell anyone I said this, but I am glad Rafael Palmeiro is gone. I’m telling you, he DEFINITELY took some kind of steroids. Either way, this is it! The beginning of my Major League career. I NEVER want to go back to the minors again! 

January 2006

I started in Florida, then went to Texas, and now I am off to San Diego. I must say, all of this trading is kind of depressing, but at least I am going to a better team. The Padres made the playoffs last year. It’s such a bad division that maybe we can make it to the playoffs this year. I hope so. I haven’t traveled all the way across the country for nothing!

June 2010

Starting to hear about some trade rumors. Some teams are looking after me, trying to get a deal done. We are in the thick of a pennant race, so I can’t see any deal getting done. But, I gotta tell you, this team really doesn’t have what it takes to keep up with the Rockies and Giants. I’ll have to just wait one more year.

November 2010

I hit 30 home runs again this year. That’s four years in a row. What do I have to do? Just when it looks like I might get a chance to win it all, our team collapses. I never really wanted to get traded to the Rangers or Padres, but I dealt with it. Now, when I really want to get traded, it just won’t happen. I’m trying to be patient, but come on already!

December 2010

FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY! I’m going to the Boston Red Sox. Great fans, great division, great team! Finally I will know what to expect from my team. Honestly, I can’t wait for the energy when we play the Yankees; it’s gotta be better than when the Padres played the Rockies. Wow! This is awesome.

And, plus, I will finally be hitting in a hitters ballpark. Let’s see if I can break 50 home runs this year. Maybe I’ll have a bet with David Ortiz. Hahahahaha! This is great. Now we are talking about an extension. That would be nice, I don’t want to risk going to another horrible team. I’m 29 years old, and now my career has REALLY begun!

Listen to Jess on What’s on Second: The Radio Hour Monday nights at 9 p.m. ET. Follow him on Twitter  @jesskcoleman or send him an e-mail at

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Derek Jeter Negotiations: Pride vs. Power

Since 1901, only nine shortstops age 37 or above hit over .270 in a season. Derek Jeter will qualify as the 10th player in that category next season, and the New York Yankees are well aware of that.

Sure, if you are going to bet on someone entering that group (that happens to include six Hall of Famers), it might as well be Jeter. For the Yankees, who have more money floating around than we can imagine, it is an easy bet to make.

But, then again, if Jeter only hit .270 as a 36-year-old, what should make the Yankees think he will do better as a 37-year-old?

As far as the Yankees are concerned, they have already made a bet. They offered Jeter three-years, $45 million. Jeter and his agent, on the other hand, don’t see this as a smart bet (as if it were their place to say).

Just how ridiculous is this getting? After Jeter surprised the Yankees by asking for four to five years, he decided he would go even further and say he wanted $92-96 million. Not only would that pay him more annually than what he signed for when he was 27-years-old, it would also pay him as much as his teammate, Alex Rodriguez.

And so begins the A-Rod/Jeter debate: 234 home runs vs. 631 home runs, three MVP awards vs. no MVP awards, one batting title vs. no batting titles. Sorry Jeter, it isn’t looking good for you.

But that won’t convince Jeter. “I may not have stats like A-Rod,” he will say. “But what about my intangibles? And what about all the seats I will fill when I am in pursuit of my 3,000th hit?”

Now, the Yankees are always open to business proposals, and nobody knows better than them how much money Jeter creates for the organization. However, for a team that has won 27 championships, they also know the benefits of winning a championship, and that is where Jeter falls out of the equation.

That is where we stand right now. Sadly for Jeter, everyone is starting to see that Jeter needs the Yankees much more than the Yankees need Jeter. Nobody is jumping out of their seats to sign a 36-year-old shortstop and, until now, Jeter thought he could rely on the Yankees to keep paying him. 

So we find ourselves locked in an epic battle. A battle between pride and power. 

The sad truth for Jeter is that he has no strong selling point. Sure, the Yankees would love to have him in pinstripes when he hits his 3,000th hit, but since when did the Yankees have trouble selling tickets?

What it comes down to is this:

The Yankees can always build a championship team, and they will win more championships without Jeter than they won with him. On the other hand, Jeter has no other team that will pay him $15 million for three years.

There is only one way for this to end. Both the Yankees and Jeter are serious about reaching an agreement. They just disagree on how to get there. In the end, only one thing will matter. Jeter wants to be a Yankee. Period.

The Yankees have all the leverage here. As Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has made clear, Jeter should take offers from other teams. He may do that, and he will find that no other team is going to give him the years or the money that he wants.

The only reason there is an argument is because Jeter knows how valuable he is in pinstripes. But once you take those pinstripes from him and give him a Giants jersey, for example, he is no longer worth eye-opening figures. Plus, if the Yankees remove themselves from the discussion, the competition is severely reduced.

Ultimately, Jeter will have to decide between one of the following two scenarios: (a) take a pay cut from the Yankees or (b) take a pay cut from a different team. 

We all know which one he will pick, but he better do it quickly. The longer he waits, the more pressure he puts on himself and the less money he will make. It’s no surprise the Yankees aren’t acting very urgently.

The lesson is simple. It is a lesson we learn every year and one the players always seem to forget. The guys with the money make the rules. Keep your ego out of it and you will make the money you deserve. Act as though you deserve more and you will find yourself wondering where it all went wrong.

Listen to Jess on What’s on Second: The Radio Hour Monday nights at 9 p.m. ET. Follow him on Twitter @jesskcoleman or send him an e-mail at

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2010 AL Cy Young Award: Say Goodbye to the Win

An important and long overdue message was sent to the baseball world the other day when Felix Hernandez, a 13-game winner, was announced as the winner of the 2010 Cy Young award over CC Sabathia, a 21-game winner.

The message was unequivocal. Twenty-one of the 28 voters believed the 24 year old should win the award, and for a good reason. Hernandez had the lowest ERA, the most innings pitched, the least amount of hits per nine innings and the most games started in the league. He also had more strikeouts and less walks than Sabathia.

Besides the fact that this was the right decision, this vote was a massive step towards the demise of a statistic that was once regarded as the most important method for evaluating a pitcher: the win.

“This confirms the Cy Young is an award not only for the pitcher with the most wins but the most dominant,” Hernandez said as he celebrated his first Cy Young award.

Hernandez is the first starting pitcher to win the Cy Young award with 13 wins or less since Fernando Valenzuela in 1981. That, alongside the overwhelming majority that voted for Hernandez, suggests people are beginning to uncover the ridiculous effects of considering wins.

The counter argument is simple, and was summed up just the other day by the National League Cy Young award winner, Roy Halladay. “Ultimately, you look at how guys are able to win games,” he said.

I don’t know if Halladay ever learned basic conceptual baseball, but someone should tell him that it is mathematically impossible for a pitcher to win a game on his own. He can pitch scoreless and hitless innings for 350 straight years, but until his team scores a run, he will never, ever win the game.

Now, it is true that a pitcher can severely help his team win a game. If a pitcher pitches a no-hitter, his team is more likely to win than if a pitcher gives up 15 runs. But those statistics are more accurately represented in other independent statistics.

ERA, strikeouts, walks, home runs allowed, etc., are all independent statistics; they are affected solely by the pitcher, and have no connection to his team’s offensive performance. In other words, a pitcher can give up 13 earned runs and still win the game (as Eddie Rommel did in 1932), or a pitcher can pitch a perfect game (as Roy Halladay did last year) and be awarded in the same way.

The win reflects absolutely nothing. You can pitch a horrible game or a great game, and it will all be recorded exactly the same when it comes to wins. ERA and other independent statistics, on the other hand, specifically illustrate a pitcher’s performance, and are thus a much better gauge of a players ability.

Starting in 2011, people will be able to cite historical evidence as to why wins should not be considered in the Cy Young discussion. “Hernandez won it in 2010,” they will say. “And he didn’t even win 14 games.” They will be right, and the Cy Young award will begin to have meaning.

Listen to Jess on What’s on Second: The Radio Hour Monday nights at 9 p.m. ET. Follow him on Twitter  @jesskcoleman, or send him an e-mail at

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New York Yankees’ History Should Determine Derek Jeter Talks

After the 1934 regular season, Jacob Ruppert, then Yankees owner, offered to make Babe Ruth the manager of the Yankees’ top minor-league team, the Newark Braves. Ruth’s wife and business manger advised Ruth to reject the offer, and he took their advice.

That would end his 15 year stint with the Yankees, during which he hit 659 home runs, and became possibly the most beloved Yankee of all-time. Splitting up with Ruth on bad terms was a bad move from a public relations stand-point, but the Yankees prevailed.

Bernie Williams, a fan-favorite, life-time Yankee, played 16 seasons in New York before his contract expired in 2006. He wanted to play in 2007, and even said he would accept a role as a backup outfielder. The Yankees offered him an invitation to Spring Training, but did not guarantee him a spot on the roster. Williams declined, and the Yankees once again broke up with a popular Yankee on bad terms. The Yankees, again, prevailed.

After the winning a championship in 2009, the Yankees had two more beloved players to resign. Hideki Matsui, the World Series MVP, and Johnny Damon, who was almost certainly going to be back, had messy negotiations with the Yankees. Neither returned, and the Yankees prevailed

The Yankees have won an astonishing 27 World Championships because they have one goal: winning. They never make decisions based on emotions, and they never resign players just to improve fan morale. Why? Because the Yankees know that the best way to make your fans happy is simple. All you have to do is win.

After the 2010 season, the Yankees are back where they have found themselves in prior decades. One of the most popular Yankees of all-time, Derek Jeter, is nearing the end of his career and is looking for a new contract.

The Yankees want to bring him back, and rightfully so. Jeter still has some years left in him, and can still contribute. 

But Jeter and his agent have gone far enough to express their desire for a four, five, or even six-year deal. The Yankees, on the other hand, are geared more towards a three-year deal.

This is a perfect time for the Yankees to return to their fundamental practice that has helped them win more championships than any other team in history. Instead of backing down and making the emotional induced decision to keep Jeter around for as long as possible, the Yankees need to stick to their guns and do what they know is best for the future success on the team. I think we all know what that means.

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MLB Rumors: Carl Crawford To the New York Yankees?

Besides Cliff Lee, Carl Crawford is possibly the most talented free agent on the market. He is near the top in stolen bases every year, he can hit above .300, and he is young. No team doubts the difference that Crawford can make.

Thus far, Crawford has seen some interest thrown his way. The Angels seem to be the leading contender in the contest, with the Red Sox also in the mix. However, while these teams have talked about hauling in the left-handed outfielder, the future doesn’t look to bright for these negotiations. That’s not good for Crawford, or for these teams. has released estimated payrolls for the 2011 season. It accounts for currently signed players, estimated arbitration deals, and other in-club obligations. These numbers will allow us to see how much money each team has available, and we can gauge how that team will act in the free agent market.

Let’s begin with the leading contender, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. They have long been a team that runs, and runs, and runs. They love speed and athleticism, and Crawford fits that mold more than anyone in baseball.

According to the estimations, the Angels will have a payroll of $125 million in 2011. Over the past three years, they have averaged a salary of $110 million. As it stands, the Angels will be increasing their salary to an all-time franchise high, and it is unlikely that they will be able to add to that total with the $20-$25 million that Crawford is expected to make.

Next is the Boston Red Sox. They, too, would love to bring in Crawford. The Boston outfield has been has been extremely uncertain for the past few years, and Crawford would provide a spark in Fenway Park for years to come. 

But, like the Angels, the Red Sox have a problem. They have an estimated payroll of $137 million in 2011, just $6 million below their three-year average. In Boston’s case, they would need to come up with around $20 million to pay for Crawford, and that is not taking into account other free agents the Red Sox have targeted, such as Jayson Werth.

There are two possible situations that can arise from this situation: (a) Crawford takes a pay-cut from either the Red Sox or Angels who will be able to find some extra cash, or (b) Crawford takes an even bigger pay-cut from a team like the Yankees, who will wait until Crawford sees no other bidders.

The second scenario is the most likely one. As it is, no team besides the Angels, Red Sox, or Yankees even pretends they can afford to bid on Crawford. Even if the Angels or Red Sox can find some extra cash, they will still be competing with the Yankees, who have an estimated 2011 payroll that is $48 million less than their three-year average.

The Yankees are likely going to give Lee around $30 million, and they will still have around $18 million left. That is less than Crawford expects to make, but it looks to be the most money available. It will be an interesting ride, but either way, it appears that Crawford can expect a little less than he would have hoped for.

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