Hal Steinbrenner did an interview tour of 1050 ESPN Radio and WFAN - sure wish he had given us ink-stained wretches a shot at some questions - and the comments that interested me the most were those on free agents Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera.
"Derek and Mo, obviously we want them back," Steinbrenner told Mike Francesa. "They’re hopefully lifelong Yankees. They’re great leaders. The’ve been great Yankees.
"But we’re running a business. If there’s a deal to be done, it’s going to have to be a deal both sides are happy with. How long that takes could be frustrating for the fans."
He added to Michael Kay: "There’s always the possibility that things could get messy."
I think I get the strategy here: Get the word out there could be some turbulence here before they find common ground with these guys. And they will find common ground with these guys. No one thinks otherwise.
It also sends the message to Jeter and Rivera: This isn't 2007 anymore. Hal and Hank Steinbrenner had just taken over, officially, for their dad, and the team got crushed for the poor way it handled Joe Torre's departure. So the brothers compensated by giving silly contracts to Rivera, Jorge Posada and Alex Rodriguez, the only one of which looks particularly good now is the Rivera deal.
Steinbrenner aced that most important test, IMO, but I was disappointed in the rest of his stuff. His outrage concerning Chuck Greenberg's comments was a bit over the top. I mean, was anyone really that offended by what Greenberg said? Greenberg's comments made Greenberg look stupid more than they impugned the good name of Yankees fans.
And likewise when it came to Steinbrenner's comments about the 2010 Yankees. He told Francesa, essentially, that the team expects to qualify for the World Series as a bare minimum. Yes, he's trying to connect with fans on a visceral level, but it wouldn't hurt to throw some cold water on that expectation level. To qualify it somehow: "Yes, we want to win the World Series every year, but so does every other club, and sometimes, it just isn't meant to be."
--The Mets hired J.P. Ricciardi as a special assistant to new GM Sandy Alderson. Great hire. Ricciardi is a terrific scout. His downfall in Toronto resulted from attributes - overpayment on contracts, an early draft strategy that overemphasized college players and controversial public comments - that shouldn't come into play with this new gig. I'd expect Ricciardi to check out potential trade targets, draft targets and free-agent targets as well as scout the Mets' own players in both the major and minor leagues.
--Thanks to Dennis for tipping me off that the Brewers hired Ron Roenicke as their manager. That means another job opening gone for Bobby Valentine, and as time progresses, I'm growing increasingly skeptical that he'll ever manage again. He really likes his job at ESPN and gets paid well to do it, and many teams just don't want to roll the dice on him.
--Have a great night.