Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
I Gotta Rock
2005-11-01 05:25
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to


When the season ended part of me secretly wished that Joe Torre would tell George Steinbrenner to go to hell, and walk away from the Yankee job on his own terms. It didn't happen and I'm happy that Torre is still around. He knows what he's in for and he's a big boy. But apparently the prospect of working for Larry Lucchino for another three years was more than Theo Epstein was ready to endure. In a suprising turn of events Epstein turned down the Red Sox three-year offer to remain as the general manager of the ballclub. In effect, Epstein is saying that he isn't willing to put-up with his mentor Lucchino anymore (This article by Dan Shaughnessy has been cited as the straw that broke the camel's back for Epstein.) Good for him. He walks away from Boston with the world as his oyster. He'll forever be a hero in New England and now has his pick of job opportunities. I'm sure the Sox will find a decent GM, but for the moment there is no buffer between Sox fans and Boston's version of the Boss, Larry Lucchino.


In a move that is bound to infuriate as many as it pleases, the New York Post reports that Derek Jeter will be awarded the Gold Glove for the second consecutive year later today. While I don't think that Alex Rodriguez is the best fielding third baseman in the league yet, Jeter can give Rodriguez an assist for his new piece of hardware. It's not a coincidence that Jeter's fielding improved once Rodriguez arrived at the hot corner, allowing Jeter to cheat more up-the-middle. I don't put too much stock in the Gold Gloves--heck, Bernie won four of them, and Yankee fans are well aware of Raffey's 28-game winner in 1999--but I'm amused at how upset some fans will get over Jeter's selection. Good for you, Jetes: keep giving 'em something to riff about. But as Cliff mentioned in the previous post, Jeter's fielding has indeed improved. He might have won the award based on reputation but he wasn't an awful choice either.

The Yankees' organizational meetings commence today here in New York where it is unseasonably warm and gorgeous (whatta day to take a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge or hang out in Central Park). The first order of business for the Bombers will be to re-sign Godzilla Matsui. They've got two weeks to get it done. Something tells me that they will.

2005-11-01 06:10:52
1.   Alex Belth
Epstien did an admirable job with the Red Sox and deserves much kudos for the team winning a World Serious. But I'm sure we'll see a bit of revisionist history when evaluating him, particularly in his acquisition of David Ortiz, which, from what I've heard was more of a happy accident than anything else. During his first year with the Sox, Epstein had a deal in place for Eurbiel Durazo and made the rookie error of telling Billy Beane about it. Beane then swooped in and swiped Durazo, leaving Beane out to dry. That's when he went and got Ortiz, and of course, it turned out to be one of the best things that has ever happened to the Red Sox. I'm not saying you don't have to be lucky sometimes, but it's not like Epstein's number one target in 2003 was landing Ortiz. Turned out to be a great success story for the Sox, of course, one of those happy accidents that can make or break careers.
2005-11-01 06:18:29
2.   Dan M
Theo also gets a lot of credit for his 2003-04 off-season moves of landing Schilling and Foulke, but both of those moves seemed like easy choices. Schilling wanted out of AZ, and there were only a few teams (a) could afford him and (b) were close enough to a championship that he'd want to play for. Foulke was clearly the best closer on that market that year, and Boston badly needed one. Signing him was a no-brainer. I'm sure "Mind Game" will tell me otherwise, but I could've had the foresight to make those moves too.
2005-11-01 06:43:37
3.   Knuckles
Also, it's kind of funny that the Sox only got Ortiz because Cashman stood up to George and won that round. The Boss said, "Get Me Ortiz" and Cash calmly told him they can't because they had Giambi and Nicky Johnson already there...

And regarding the Sox being able to 'afford' Schilling, all the D-Backs really cared about was making sure Curt didn't go to the Yanks, as accepting Fossum and Lyon for old Redlight shows.

2005-11-01 06:47:23
4.   jalexei
I'm guessing Theo is both lucky and good, which is a pretty potent combo to possess. And I certainly think having a young and enthusiastic mind as part of the group steering the team can lead to some good out-of-the-(batters)-box thinking.

The more pressing issue for the Sox (and this is alluded to in the Globe's coverage this morning) is how tainted this position might be after a pretty public flameout. If I were a potential Sox GM I might just chalk it up to Theo's relative youth and inexperience, but I might also be wondering how bad things must really have been to drive someone from accepting a ton of money for their dream job.

Pretty bad, I might be guessing.

2005-11-01 06:48:37
5.   Alex Belth
Good points Dan. I was actually thinking about "Mind Game" last night. I think that book was hurt by how long it took to release but now that Theo's gone, perhaps its lasting value will increase.
2005-11-01 07:05:22
6.   rsmith51
Crap, now Jeter will never move to CF. I used to think that Ripken didn't have much range(Apparently so did Davey Johnson), but everybody said how good he was defensively.
2005-11-01 07:05:50
7.   Alex Belth
Oh, and isn't it just rich that the Astros extended Garner's contract through 2007?
2005-11-01 07:06:54
8.   Alex Belth
I think the window of opportunity for Jeter to move to CF has now passed. Three years ago it was a great idea, now, I don't think it's really an option...especially since he just won two gold gloves in a row (wink)!
2005-11-01 07:12:26
9.   Murray
Great job by the Boston Globe and the New York Times Company to help undermine Epstein, but an even greater job by Epstein for being perceptive enough to understand the implications of those actions. It's going to be a cold winter on Jersey Street, and it's comforting to see that Yankees' front office is now officially less screwed up--if only temporarily--than at least one other team's front office.
2005-11-01 08:36:23
10.   Dimelo
BTW, what happened to this website yesterday? I was avoiding the trick-a-treaters and my favorite Yankee website went kapoot on me.

Anyhow, it's great to see the Herald and Globe competing and the one paper with a pipeline right to the Sox front office got the story entirely wrong. The Herald actually did their homework, I can't believe I just said that, but they never said Theo agreed and said he was still seriously considering leaving the Sawx - which he did do. Kudos to the Herald, I'm glad Dan Shaugnessy and Luchinno are so despised. Why do I love Red Sox misery so much? Maybe it's because they are such gluttons for punishment, what I find strange is that I haven't heard if Schilling has called into WEEI. The Schill only released a statement. I need to hear what he has to say on this matter. Someone on the radio (preferably someone on Stern) should get Schilling's phone number and start calling Curt and asking him questions on all topics in the news. So Curt, how do you feel about Bush's new supreme court nominee? What's your opinion on Intelligent Design vs. Evolution? What do you think we should do about the oil crisis, Curt? I bet he'd love that, that f'en guy is so in love with himself. I bet he has a mirror on the ceiling of his bedroom so he can look at his ass while he bangs his wife.

2005-11-01 08:41:37
11.   tom yf
Someone please check the numbers for us, I have to run to class, but I think Jeter actually deserved it this year. Last year was a return from defensive muck to respectability, and coupled with The Catch and those dimples, they gave it to him. I am sure I remember him leading the league, or at least being in the top five, in many of the defensive metrics (leading guys like Tejada) by year's end. That means zone rating, range factor, fielding %, etc., things that are independent of what A-Rod does.

I know the Jeter love-fest never ends, but as a Yankees fan, I can't justify ending it! This is a guy who after getting the big contract, continues to steadily improve his defense on the wrong end of 30!

2005-11-01 08:44:24
12.   Sky1
Red Sox had it coming to them with Epstein leaving. You can only push people so far before they stop caring about what they had loved for so long. As was seen with Stottlemeyer for the Yanks, causing the Tampa fraction to have to find another successful pitching coach.
On the terms for the Golden Glove Jeter deserved it. Yes, he did make 15 errors for the whole season, but you have to also look at his playing time, Playing almost all of the games. Yes, him and A-rod do offer a solid left side of the diamond, but even ESPN's web Gems captured Jete, almost every game, with some amazing catches and his fielding response impecable. It isn't fair to label him undeserving of the award. He was given it for a reason, and deserves it.
2005-11-01 09:10:13
13.   Ben
Losing Epstein does not bode well for the Sox. It reminds me of the Mets not signing Delgado last year, another seemingly down-to-earth guy. It's not so much that you miss out on their services, but what it says about the organization that these kind of guys don't want to be affiliated with it, money not withstanding.
2005-11-01 09:18:20
14.   Ben
And wow, that Globe article from yesterday is not smart. If that was Lucchino's way of saving face, it was not smart. Isn't Epstein the child of a psychologist or something? Using freudian garbage on a guy like that isn't likely to go over well considering he already has to deal with the perception of his age being a limiting factor.

Oh well, Cashman's in control over here, or so I hope.

2005-11-01 09:38:11
15.   yankee23
I read somewhere last night that Jamie Moyer is likely to sign with the Yankees (for an estimated 8-9m/year). Has anyone heard anything about this? I'm truly frightened, I've seen Moyer pitch far too often to have any confidence in him (or his age).
2005-11-01 09:45:36
16.   Alex Belth
I found this article via David Pinto that is an interesting take on the Theo situation:
2005-11-01 09:47:44
17.   Alex Belth
Also, as far as Jeter goes, I found this on the Baseball Primer thread about the Post article:

The Inevitable Will Happen Eventually Posted: November 01, 2005 at 10:37 AM (#1714263)
This was the first season of his career where he was above-average at SS, according to BPro. He still wasn't a credible choice, though (Peralta and Uribe had him beat, Cabrera and Lugo were about the same).

2005-11-01 09:58:08
18.   Cliff Corcoran
Tom YF, the fielding stat I prefer is Baseball Prospectus's Rate. A Rate of 100 is league average. Last year Jeter posted a 99 Rate. This year he finished at 105. As for last year, as I wrote on the BRB at the time, "Carlos Guillen and Miguel Tejada (both of whom also had better offensive seasons than Jeter), Cristian Guzman, Rookie of the Year Bobby Crosby and the perennially underrated Jose Valentin were all better than Jeter in the field this year." This year Jhonny Peralta (113 Rate and a better offensive season than Jeter) should have been the runaway winner, but only Juan Uribe stood between Jeter and Peralta.

Yankee23, that's just absurd. From what I've heard the Yankees aren't in the market for a free agent starter, as well they shouldn't be.

2005-11-01 11:04:32
19.   Dimelo
I love stats, but for the life of me I'll never understand defensive ratings and statistics. It's not like in basketball or football where those stats are easy to measure. I've seen enough of Furcal and Reyes to know they are good shortstops. Last year, I saw Jose Valentin make some awful plays at SS - big reason why the WS at one point had him at 3rd and in the outfield (a couple of years back, I believe). I believe Valentin butchered a play against our very Yanks that led to a Yankee win too. It was another reason why the White Sox decided to let him go and get a better defensive SS in Uribe. That's why I don't think defensive stats are all that accurate, Valentin had a ton of errors and Jeter had less but somehow he was a better defensive SS.

For me it's hard to watch a game and see Jeter moving to his left or right, not getting to a ball and saying, ' would have had that play because he has better range to his '. I feel it is very subjective. One thing I know is that if a ball is hit to Jeter, I never scream 'please not him, find someone else', as I would find myself screaming many times whenever a ball was hit to Matsui. I've heard Red Sox fans scream about Jeter's catch in the stands and that Reese made the same play w/o having to dive in the stands - seeing both plays I didn't see it that way. But that's why defensive stats are so subjective. We see different things, how do we measure the speed of the ball as it comes off the bat and it's hit to the ball player's right or left. Each ball that's hit, that some defensive stat expert has some tool to measure, how do they measure the grass effect, lip of the infield, speed of the ball, etc, etc? The dynamics are endless. I think Jeter deserved the Gold Glove this year and last, but that's only because I go by what I see and that makes me a dinosaur. I know by what I see that Furcal and Reyes are better defensive players than Jeter, but I still think Jeter can hold his own with those guys.

Congrats Jetes....

2005-11-01 11:19:19
20.   Ben
Dimelo, you touch on something essential to great ball players in your comment. They all make the peculiarities of a single play irrelevant by being successful. Every ground ball is different and immeasurable, but so is every fastball, every swing, every flyball.

I remember when I played ball how each shot to centerfield required a lot more than routine fielding, but that if I read the spin right, checked the wind and adjusted my footing, it looked routine from the dugout. Any single misread could result in the hit falling in, and that would be reflected without apology in my fielding percentage.

So I agree with you about stats: I think they are fun to talk about, I think they indicate action and they can appear to honestly represent the core of the game. But just like matter is really made of energy when you look close enough, when I look close enough at stats I see that the real game is played in the space that the stats don't quite touch.

2005-11-01 11:30:21
21.   Dimelo
Ben, you definitely did a better job than me at articulating what I was trying to say. Good piece!

Just saw read this in the NY Daily News:
Yankees VP and special adviser Gene Michael, who had been having his own discussions with top brass regarding his diminished role last season, has resolved those issues and is expected to join Cashman at the pow-wow as well.

2005-11-01 11:50:06
22.   Ben
Thanks Dimelo, I should also say that when I mentioned my playing days, I'm talking little league.

Cashman and Michael! This is too good to be true. Scot Brosius, he of little stick and soft hands next.

2005-11-01 11:55:30
23.   Shaun P
Beautiful prose Ben, and good sentiments, Dimelo. I feel where you're both coming from, but I just don't trust my eyes - or my memory - when it comes to evaluating defensive performance. Especially with Jeter - we all remember the amazing plays because they were so amazing.

In any case, congrats to Jeter on the Gold Glove. If his defensive numbers keep improving, damn.

2005-11-01 13:09:42
24.   Nick from Washington Heights
From the newest Pinstriped Bible, my favorite opening lines of any baseball-related piece this year:

"Before casting aspersions on anyone else's evil empire, make sure your own house is in order. This is the lesson to be drawn from the departure of Theo Epstein from the Boston Red Sox. As they have so many times, the Red Sox have handed the Yankees an unearned victory."

2005-11-01 13:15:47
25.   Alex Belth
Not for nothing, but a friend of mine who plays hardball in an over 30 league sent me an e-mail about when you know you are too obessed with baseball (playing it not necessarily following it). This was my favorite line:

"You keep a wood bat in your car for security because aluminum 'just wouldnt be fair.'"

2005-11-01 13:35:44
26.   yankee23
That's a great line, Alex. I keep a wooden bat in my car too, though not 'cause it wouldn't be fair, just 'cause I've never owned an aluminum bat.

Cliff, thanks for giving that rumor the absurd stamp, I didn't really believe it but the last few years have made me wary, I guess.

2005-11-01 13:45:52
27.   unpopster
re: #10: Ask Curt Schilling the time and he'll tell you the history of clocks.
2005-11-01 13:56:51
28.   Dimelo
unpopster, I still haven't heard if Curt had his interview with WEEI yet. I am a little disappointed that he hasn't had more to say on this matter. It's become normal for the public to expect Schilling to comment.
2005-11-01 14:29:24
29.   randym77
Congrats, Derek! I think ya deserve it. I love stats, but IMO, they are never the whole story. Especially in baseball.

And congrats to A-Rod and Sheff, too.

Celizic at NBC thinks Theo's departure means the Red Sox are doomed:

He thinks Theo saw the train wreck the Bosox are headed toward, and decided to bail.


After all, Brian Cashman, another relatively young G.M. who also worked his way up the corporate ladder, re-signed with the Yankees despite the certain knowledge that he would be browbeaten daily by the owner and stabbed in the back at least bi-weekly by George Steinbrenner's Tampa cabal. Like Epstein, Cashman loves the team he helps run. Unlike Epstein, Cashman didn't think things were bad enough to leave.


2005-11-01 15:14:07
30.   ChuckM
I'm still trying to figure out how Schilling can look at his own ass if the mirror is on the ceiling. They say some guys have a rubber arm...
2005-11-01 15:30:09
31.   joe in boston
Oh man, what great posts today.

Jeter- GG. Fine with me.

Sox Drama. Love it. Keep it messed up and
keep it coming.

Schilling. He was on the radio (WEEI) on Sat. Just chatting etc. Course this was before the s**t hit the me, you'll hear from him.

Globe/Herald. Fun to read now and great for a Yankee fan up here in Boston.

Cashman, etc. I've got faith.

Alex - loved that link - great story by Sheriff Sully who is that guy ?

2005-11-01 17:43:39
32.   Schteeve
Congrats to Jeter if he gets it. I definitely feel that he gets to more balls up the middle with A-Rod to his right, and I don't think he's the best defensive SS in the AL, but Jeter's a brand. He's a living legend and he's going to get the benefit of the doubt for a long time to come. I don't think it's bad to have a guy like that on your team. Um, then again, Bernie Williams makes me reconsider that statement.
2005-11-01 19:26:33
33.   rsmith51
I will weigh in on the GGs.

C Jason Varitek-Posada would have been a better choice, but probably Pudge
1B Mark Teixeira-(Helps to hit well, ask Raffy...) No idea if he was the best, but Erstad looked good in the ALDS.
2B Orlando Hudson- Excellent choice
SS Derek Jeter- My favorite player, but should have been Uribe(or maybe Cabrera).
3B Eric Chavez- Fine with me. I thought Arod and Crede are pretty good, too.
OF Torii Hunter- Seems like there should be a minimum games played(120 or so) I would go with Rowand
OF Vernon Wells- Fine with me.
OF Ichiro Suzuki- Living on his reputation, but probably a fine choice.
P Kenny Rogers - Lazy voters who don't bother to consider that he missed 30 days. Rivera is my unorthodox pick.

2005-11-01 19:55:54
34.   Zack
Not to worry everyone, Schilling speaks! As if he could allow such an opportunity to go by without forcing himself into the center of attention! Foreshame those who doubted him!

2005-11-02 04:35:05
35.   Dimelo
Zack, I saw him on SportsCenter and was "shocked" that Schilling picked the national media this time vs. the local radio (WEEI) station to give his opinion. When the story only matters to other Bostonians and Red Sox faithful, he knows where to go to dish his comments. Say this about the man, he knows where to go and where to say it, whenever there's a matter that needs his attention. He should be the head of FEMA -- I mean he isn't qualified so that in itself would make him a good candidate.

On another note, I just read WasWatching's write up on Jeter's gold glove and it was an excellent write up.

2005-11-02 05:00:11
36.   singledd
In regard to the article by Shaughnessy, this could be an example of how reporting the news can make the news. For Theo, maybe hearing and reading an account of 'what happened' from an outside source, clarified his feelings. Whatever is it, you gotta admire him for following his own feelings and instincts, and not bowing to the company line.

What a turn-around that we held Torre and Cashman, and the bedeviled Sox lost Theo.
Any guys, hnd how about that 'Just say NO to Damon' petition. God, I hate the thought of him in pinstripes!

Comment status: comments have been closed. Baseball Toaster is now out of business.