Friday, February 14, 2014

Derek Jeter and Workplace Etiquette

The encomiums will be endless, and this isn't one of them. Rather, it's a cool story that Joe Sheehan threw out as an aside in his newsletter (which is fabulous and a subscription I recommend highly - you can get it here).

In 1994, the Yankees had the best record in the AL when the strike ended the season. In 1995, they were second to Boston but were the wild card team, losing to the Mariners. So hopes were high heading into 1996. But their switch-hitting shortstop, Tony Fernandez, broke his elbow in spring training. Management wanted 22-year-old rookie Derek Jeter, who had hit .306 with a .383 on base percentage in four minor league seasons, to play short. Principal owner George Steinbrenner, though, was unimpressed with Jeter during 15 games in New York in 1995, as he hit just .250 with a .294 on base percentage, striking out in over 21% of his plate appearances. Steinbrenner had his eyes on Mariners shortstop Felix Fermin, a slick fielder who had batted .317 in 1994 but had lost his job in 1995 to two future Yankees: Luis Sojo and rookie Alex Rodriguez. To get Fermin, Steinbrenner wanted to trade a 26-year-old Panamanian pitcher who'd struggled to a 5.51 ERA in his rookie season (a lot of rookies in this story), throwing 67 innings split between starting and relieving. The pitcher: Mariano Rivera

So to review: Steinbrenner wanted to trade Mariano Rivera for a shortstop coming off a .195 batting average in order to avoid playing Derek Jeter.

The moral of the story, of course, is that sometimes it's OK to talk your boss out of doing something really stupid.

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