Saturday, June 25, 2011

Cashman extending olive branch to Jeter?

Was Brian Cashman extending an olive branch to New York Yankees Captain Derek Jeter this week when he bluntly and emphatically expressed no interest in trading for Jose Reyes?

Ever since Jeter went down with a calf injury, there has been a very vocal group of fans and even some in the media advocating what would be a blockbuster trade between the Yankees and Mets. But Cashman put the kibosh on those thoughts when he said the Yankees have no interest in trading for Reyes, who is emerging as a true superstar in his walk year.

Of course, Cashman’s comments may just be a nod to the reality of the Yankees’ situation. Jeter is signed for another two years beyond 2011 and has an option on top of that. If he were moved off of shortstop, the Yankees would likely have a $17 million designated hitter with little power in their lineup. Plus, Cashman & Co seem very high on Eduardo Nunez, who has shown he has a solid bat, but has played terribly in the field (he’s very lucky to have Mark Teixeira at first, who has saved him at least a half dozen errors). Of course, Jeter was once a terrible shortstop too, but that was mostly in the minors and he has gone on to win five Gold Gloves, which the stat geeks will say he doesn’t deserve.

Does Cashman’s denial even truly matter? We know that the general manager doesn’t have the final say on baseball signings. Cashman was overruled by the Steinbrenners just this offseason when they ordered him to sign Rafael Soriano, who quickly made Cashman look like a genius by pitching poorly and then winding up on the disabled list. But if the Steinbrenners decide that the prospect of swooping up Reyes from the Mets, whether in a trade now or in the offseason when he becomes a free agent, is too much to resist, Reyes will be a Yankee.

I doubt Cashman and Jeter have shared anything more than an awkward handshake since the offseason, when Cashman took the contract negotiations to an ugly place by publicly questioning Jeter’s job performance and daring him to seek a better contract than the Yankees were offering.

If Cashman is trying to mend fences with his captain, will it work? I seriously doubt it. Ian O’Connor’s Jeter biography made it clear that Jeter is an unforgiving person, ready to cast out anyone for even the slightest perceived insult or betrayal. Of course, he did come to a truce with Alex Rodriguez, but that took more than four years. I doubt Cashman wants to wait that long for the ice to thaw.

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