Many key personnel who contribute mightily to playoff-bound teams go unheralded and unsung throughout the baseball season. But that doesn't mean they are unimportant. Oftentimes coaches, scouts and typically uncelebrated front-office folks are true behind-the-scenes MVPs. Let's celebrate some of this year's greatest unsung heroes, baseball people who aren't necessarily all that well known to folks outside the sport's inner circle but are nonetheless making vital contributions to their team's success.
Here are my unsung heroes ...
The Yankees plan to treat
Jeter isn't a free agent until after 2010, and apparently will have to wait until after 2010 for his new contract. The Yankees will honor Jeter for passing
This is the same way the Yankees handled
There's no doubt Jeter wants to stay a Yankee forever, and Jeter's Yankees bosses know they can't allow any other outcome. While Yankees higher-ups endured a sticky separation with Torre (and Torre's parting shots in his best-selling book,
But just because they wait doesn't mean there's any great chance Jeter leaves. He did well to get a $189 million contract last time, wisely following the lead of Rodriguez's $252 million Rangers deal. But the team can't claim to be at all unhappy with how it's turned out, either.
They know they can't let him go. And he surely can't imagine himself elsewhere, either. This is a marriage that works. The guess here is that after 2010 the Yankees re-sign him for at least $60 million over three years, perhaps a little more than that.
The Red Sox have every intention to offer him arbitration, as became clear when they insisted on retaining that right before trading for him. And, barring some great change, he has every intention of turning it down so he can go someplace else to close. That's what he wants to do.
Some teams that could be interested in Wagner include the Braves, Tigers, Astros and Cubs. Another interesting team could be the Nationals, which is basically the Virginia resident's hometown team. All of those teams have closer issues.
• The Mets might also consider
• The Phillies would still like to get
• The Royals don't do many things well, but they do make a decent spoiler. They prevented the Tigers from winning the division title in 2006, their victories over the White Sox and Twins made sure those two teams would have to play a playoff last year and their just-completed three-game sweep of Detroit has given hope to the White Sox and Twins. Royals ownership has often prevented its baseball people from making deadline trades in order to avoid the dreaded 100-loss season, according to people familiar with their situation, and this strategy probably works to their detriment in the long run. But it does make them a tougher team than some also-rans who hit the wall.
• Losing 17 years in a row isn't easy, even if the Pirates made it look so.
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