New York Yankees Should Take Lessons on Handling Veterans from the Red Sox
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It appears that the whole episode surrounding disgruntled catcher turned designated hitter Jorge Posada is over, for now at least. But the issues will be back after the season, as Posada’s generous contract is coming to an end.
The Yankees will have a tough choice ahead of them since Posada's numbers are going to have to take one hell of a turnaround for the Yankees front office to even consider bringing him back.
The Yankees have been a breeding ground for diva behavior for quite some time now. Lifelong Yankees such as Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and the aforementioned Posada have been free agents over the past few years, but the thought of them playing for another team has never really been legitimately entertained. The players know it, and they have used it to their advantage.
The problem is that the Yankees are expected to win, or at least contend for, a championship. Keeping one's veterans and winning world championships do not have to be mutually exclusive.
Just ask the Boston Red Sox.
The Red Sox have three veteran players whose sentimental value to the fans can only be measured in the blood and sweat they have left on the field and the tears of joy that they have brought to the fans at Fenway Park and throughout the Boston community.
These players are David Ortiz, Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield.
The combined salaries of these three players are slightly higher than the salary of Posada and roughly equal to that of Jeter’s. I’m sure all three players wanted more since all three contributed to the two World Series championships that most living Sox fans were around to see.
The difference was that the Red Sox ownership opted to pay its veterans for what they were projected to do, not what they had done already.
Now this directly applies to Jeter, Varitek and Wakefield in term of statistics at least. Posada’s stats had not plummeted when he signed his most recent four-year, $52 million deal. Ortiz had his $12.5 million option exercised, which was more than the Sox could have paid for him but after a strong finish to a season where his production was nearly nonexistent for the month of April.
But Ortiz wanted a multi-year deal. The Sox said tough s**t. Back in 2008 Varitek wanted a similar deal to Posada’s. What did he end up with? A one-year deal with a player option that was later exercised. The two-year deal was worth less than a fourth of Posada’s.
Quite simply, the Red Sox do not put up with diva-like behavior that is detrimental to the team. Manny Ramirez was known for his diva antics for nearly a decade in Boston. While Manny had a history of demanding trades throughout his time in Boston, it was when his production started to drop when the Sox finally gave up and sent him packing. But it was hardly a move that hurt the team, though, as the Sox came within one game of the World Series that year.
Which Team Handles Its Veterans Better
Sure, the Sox have not always been that way. Beloved heroes such as Mo Vaughn have left the team in disgrace. But this current Red Sox ownership was not responsible for that. The Yankees? Might be a younger generation but looks like the same old Steinbrenners to me.
These recent blowups by Posada are not comparable to those of Ramirez. Posada is not hitting, and he has no trade value. Furthermore, he appears to have the support of Jeter, another player with diminished production. While Varitek and Wakefield have remained valuable because of their willingness to take a backseat role, the Yankees do not have that luxury. Jeter and Posada will not sit on the bench.
There will come a day where the playing days of all five of these players will end. But it is not this day. When this day comes I hope it comes with the applause and recognition for these players who have brought a combined seven World Series to their respective teams. But that requires the Steinbrenners to change the behavior that rewards their players today for their contributions yesterday. If this keeps up, Jeter and Posada’s exits will be met with sighs of relief, not applause.
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