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October 09, 2006

Daily News' Harper: Jeter Is The Problem


From John Harper in the News today:

There's only one person who can change the dispassionate climate surrounding the Yankees, and it's the reluctant captain, Derek Jeter. But if he hasn't been willing to embrace A-Rod by now, it's hard to believe anything is going to change.

Scouts have been saying it more and more - in critical situations, pitchers armed with enough firepower can attack A-Rod boldly up in the strike zone, usually with major success.

But the bigger problem is A-Rod's addled state of mind, the steady erosion of confidence that made him look clueless at the plate during stretches of the 2006 season, when he was guessing so badly that he was missing sliders by a couple of feet. And that surely is tied to his relationship with Jeter.

It is no news bulletin that A-Rod wants to be liked, accepted, loved, however you want to say it, by his teammates, especially Jeter. And the captain hasn't budged on the matter, to the point where an ex-teammate, who wouldn't use his name for fear of crossing Jeter, said yesterday it creates a certain tension at times.

"He won't let Alex in," the former Yankee said of Jeter. "Everyone in there knows it, and it bothers Alex and impacts the clubhouse."

Jeter sets the tone for everything the Yankees do, so while he got tons of credit, and rightfully so, when they won, he has to take some of the blame now for allowing the A-Rod mess to seemingly suffocate this team. He has kept A-Rod at arm's length, apparently all because he can't get past the famous Esquire article of five years ago in which A-Rod allowed his jealousy and self-esteem issues to surface for the first time.

This is not the first time that we've heard about the distance between Jeter and A-Rod.

Therefore, I believe this situation to be true - even though it is possible for some to be running wild with stories about Alex and Derek.

This reminds me of 1977 - when Reggie Jackson joined the Yankees clubhouse and was not accepted by Thurman Munson, and others, because of remarks that Jackson made about Munson in a magazine interview. A-Rod used Esquire (to diss Jeter) and Reggie used Sport (to get on Munson), if I recall correctly.

Reggie Jackson, to his credit, did not allow any lack of love in the Yankees clubhouse to impact him in a bad way - in fact, Jackson performed extremely well in New York.

To A-Rod, I would go back to what I said when Tom Verducci focused on Alex's feelings that he lacked support in the Yankees clubhouse this year:

Winners make commitments. Losers make excuses.

Blaming Jeter for A-Rod's problem is an excuse making - and a loser's approach.

Rather than get on Jeter for not fluffing A-Rod's pillow everyday and making sure that the skid-marks in Rodriguez' underwear come out in the laundry each week, it makes more sense to examine the mental toughness, or lack thereof, of A-Rod - and consider if he's just not ready to play in a town like New York.

If Alex Rodriguez needs Derek Jeter's love in order to survive in New York and play well, then he's too fragile to play for the Yankees.

That should be the story here - not a dig on Jeter.

Posted by Steve Lombardi at October 9, 2006 09:20 AM


I agree w/ your conclusions about ARod. I'm sick to death of him and his whining. Even Saturday he was moaning about how hard it was on him to be booed this season.

Steve, I don't know where you got the stat's earlier this season, but if possible, I'd love to get updates on ARod's average w/ the Yanks down 2 runs or less this season and last, as well as the last 3 postseasons. When you looked this mid-season, I believe he was hitting somthing like .087.

Thanks Steve.

Posted by: redbug [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 9, 2006 10:14 AM

I'll put that on the "to do" list!

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 9, 2006 10:22 AM

I'm not going to read too much into this.

Alex Rodriguez is the defending AL MVP. Rodriguez had another solid season, third on the team in RCAA.

I call BS.

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 9, 2006 10:33 AM

redbug - I use baseballmusings.com, Dave Pinto has a day-by-day database there that he's always updating. You can use to get the info you want.

Since I just got something off of Steve's "to-do" list, I think Steve should at least buy me a cup of coffee.

Posted by: Garcia [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 9, 2006 11:06 AM

"Blame Jeter" is so absurd.

"An ex-teammate, for fear of crossing Jeter, wouldn't use his name."

What is this? The Jeter mafia?! I think the guy is more afraid of what people like us would think of him if we knew who he was.

Posted by: pokeefe [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 9, 2006 11:14 AM

How does Jeter embracing Arod help the pitching? The pitching is the problem.

Everything else is window dressing. With decent pitching the Yankees would have been up 2-0. Yeah, they could have blown the next 3 but if the pitching was good I'd take my chances.

Mussina couldn't hold the lead. Maybe the Yankees would have been shut out in game 3 regardless how Johnson pitched but it still would have been Yankees up 2-1.

Posted by: RICH [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 9, 2006 12:05 PM

Garcia - you want cream and sugar?

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 9, 2006 01:40 PM

This has to be a joke right?...That writer should be fired, everyone is accountable for their own actions and play, that is ridiculous.

Posted by: antone [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 9, 2006 01:55 PM

This has to be a joke right?
It's the NY media. You know how it is around here, find a talking point, then beat it into the ground. That's the way it's always been as long as I can remember

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 9, 2006 02:28 PM

Raf, i'm sure Arod had great RCAA, and VORP, and OPS, etc. But it seemed like most of his rbi's and HRs came off weak pitchers when the games were already decided. I remember being at a game this year where the Yanks put a rally together and were up 6-1 in the late innings. Arod hadn't done well in earlier at-bats (when the game was close), and now he was coming up with men on (and the game pretty much decided). A fan stood up and yelled 'Arod, we're up 6-1, this is your time!'

(ESPN) Late and close: (87 pa) .237 ba, .694 ops.
Runner on 3rd, <2 out: (50 pa) .267 ba, .759 ops.
RISP, 2 out (good here): (109 pa) .313 ba, .970 ops.
PS: 1-14, .205 ops!

L&C: (91 pa) .293 ba, .938 ops
Man on 3rd, <2 out: (37 pa) .296 ba, .820 ops
RISP, 2 out: (105 pa) .302 ba, .941 ops
PS: 2-15, .635 ops

Can be bounce back to 2005? At this point, all the hype/attention may be too much.

Sorry to bother you Steve, but could you find out what Arod has done against quality pitchers with the Yanks? I'm not sure how you'd define that. Maybe the top 50 starters in VORP, or ERA, and maybe the top 25 relievers...

Posted by: 98Yanks [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 9, 2006 04:38 PM

But it seemed like most of his rbi's and HRs came off weak pitchers when the games were already decided.
Maybe 2005 was a fluke, maybe 2006 was a fluke. We don't know (at least until we look at the numbers). May as well run the numbers for the rest of the team, it may not be just an "ARod thing."

People take their cue from what they read. That's why we're hearing that all of a sudden ARod can't play in NY despite being the defending MVP. Having a MVP caliber season shows you can play in NY. Having a positive RCAA over the duration of your Yankee career shows you can play in NY.

The long season allows a player to get his numbers in all kinds of situations. Yes, he'll get "meaningless rbi's" he will also get them "when it counts."

Just like with hits, sometimes a hard hit ball goes for an out, sometimes the dribblers will go for a hit. Over the season, they average out.

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 9, 2006 05:29 PM