Whatever. Kenny’s really been bugging me to put this up. As I mentioned to him, his Jeter argument is weak and flawed (as we all know) and the Joe Torre as overrated manager is nothing new to this blog. (See here, here and here, for some examples.) Here goes.
Get Over Him Already – He Shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame
This has nothing to do with Barry Bonds. Instead this has to do with a very good – not great – shortstop who happened to be in the right place at the right time. A little more than 10 years ago the debate started. Derek Jeter is better than A-Rod, Nomar, Tejada, and Rey Ordonez. So said Yankees fans. I still think Rey Ordonez was amazing defensively – his errors were often committed on plays he had no business even getting close to (i.e., other shortstops would not have had errors on such plays because the balls would easily have gone through gaps in the infield) – but Ordonez obviously ended up light years away from even Jeter. The numbers that the first three SSs put up, though, were incredible. Ah, but Jeter has intangibles…Baloney! He’s only slightly better than average playing on a great team, a team with a payroll that is $100 million more than the second highest payroll team for the last 10 years. (I apologize for not taking the time to write these thoughts more coherently – I just want to put the various thoughts down on paper to start the debate. I’m going to jump from idea to idea.)
I always said that if you put A-Rod on those Yankees teams instead of Jeter, then they may very well have won six or seven or eight championships instead of just five. So flush your intangibles down the toilet because who knows how they really cut. Is Jeter a hall of famer? Sure, he’ll make it. But only because he plays in New York. He was not the captain or really even the leader of the Yankees until 2001 – don’t forget Bernie, O’Neill, Tino and others. No doubt he was an integral part of the team but that doesn’t make you a hall of famer. A hall of famer should be head and shoulders above his peers who played his position at the time during which he played. Jeter is simply not there. Yes, you’re correct if you think he was a border-line all star almost every year he played. Let’s be real though about his all star appearances – at least one of those and probably two were only because his manager picked him to make the team – sums up Torre’s brilliance putting four SSs on the team one year just so that he can take Jeter without doing an obvious snub to players who were much better than Jeter up to that point in the year.
Like it or not, stats say a lot. What does Jeter have in comparison to SSs and hitters who played while he played? 3000 hits? Whoop-dee-doo. The guy also has a ton of at bats. According to baseballreference.com, Jeter is #16 on the at bats list for active players. Jeter is between two and nine years younger than each of the individuals who comprise #s 1-15. The next youngest is 35 and Jeter will surpass that player’s at bats easily by the time he is 35. So without getting into a debate about OPS and VORP and WARP and SCHWARTZ, because Yankees fans have pointed to the 3000 hits, I just want to say that that is a joke – he also has tons of at bats. Yes, he has to be very good to get 3000 hits but he’s not putting up the batting averages that Tony Gwynn put up. .317 or .315 just doesn’t do it for me today in terms of validating an entry into the hall of fame. The great play against Oakland when Jeter came from nowhere and threw the ball to the plate – amazing! But even Ordonez had many of those and a few plays in the field don’t validate an argument about intangibles validating Jeter’s entry into the hall of fame – don’t get carried away by Jeter’s flashiness.
I also love how Yankees fans bashed A-Rod for 10 years but many now love him and insist that they were not the ones who ever hated A-Rod or who ever thought or said Jeter is better than A-Rod. I think Yankees fans are pathetic for booing A-Rod so quickly when he came to New York. They wanted him to fail so that their eight or nine years of fighting for Jeter would be validated. I don’t understand why Jeter didn’t put an arm around A-Rod and ask the fans to stop booing A-Rod last year. Could it be because Jeter is jealous of the player who is truly great and he is tired of being the third best SS in New York? Yes. It exemplified great leadership from a captain not to do everything possible to make the best player in baseball (arguably) comfortable when he joins the team (this sentence was sarcastic if you didn’t realize). You can take the intangibles and flush them because of that also.
And what’s with Torre? Brilliant manager…Unless you look at what he did before he joined the team with the highest payroll (BY FAR) in baseball. And, yes, there is a strong statistical correlation between payroll and wins – not necessarily as clear with championships (because there’s a lot of luck with those) but there is a strong correlation with wins generally. So stop backing the manager who is taking down your franchise.
So, in sum, let’s stop patting Jeter and Torre on the back. Seriously, you guys (Yankees fans) are the true heroes. You are willing to be hijacked by an owner who is brilliant in business and you’re willing to pay a lot of money for tickets or YES network and you made the decision to spend a lot of money to win. Pat yourselves on the back. I’m not being sarcastic with that statement. If you want to win, it’s no big deal to spend an extra $10 or $50 a year as a fan. I would do it probably. But stop attributing the brilliance to Jeter, Torre or even Steinbrenner.
OK, let’s go. Have at Kenny in the comments.