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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Derek Jeter’s struggles in 1996 spring training almost cost the Yankees Mariano Rivera

Fermin had, of course, already been traded for a future Hall of Famer…

Yes, general manager Brian Cashman said, the unthinkable nearly happened.

It was spring training 1996, and the Yankees weren’t sure what they had at shortstop.

“We were going to go with the young shortstop that turned out to be Derek Jeter,” Cashman said Saturday. “Derek wasn’t having a good spring training.”

Cashman said there were some people in George Steinbrenner’s “circle” who raised concerns about how ready Jeter would be. Then, Cashman said, infielder Tony Fernandez and Pat Kelly got hurt, leaving the team with few alternatives at shortstop “if Jeter failed as a rookie.”

So the Mariners came calling with a trade proposal.

“They had Felix Fermin they wanted to move,” Cashman said. “They wanted either Mariano Rivera [who had pitched against Seattle in the 1995 ALDS] or Bob Wickman. One of those two guys for Felix Fermin, and The Boss was honestly considering it and forced us to have some serious conversations about it.”

Cashman recalled the talks—held in then-manager Joe Torre’s office and including Gene Michael, then-GM Bob Watson and Cashman—as being spirited.

“It was a fight to convince The Boss to stand down and not force us to do a deal none of us were recommending,” Cashman said. “And it wasn’t because we knew what we had in Mo or Wickman, it was we had committed to go with young Jeter. Thankfully, we didn’t do that deal. That was as close as we ever came to trading Mariano.”

The District Attorney Posted: March 10, 2013 at 11:21 AM | 28 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: derek jeter, history, mariano rivera, mariners, yankees

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   1. flournoy Posted: March 10, 2013 at 05:21 PM (#4385683)
For those who don't want to look it up, Fermin was released by the Mariners in mid-April, and the Yankees then signed him a couple of weeks later. They released him two weeks later.
   2. John Northey Posted: March 10, 2013 at 05:32 PM (#4385687)
Sigh... if only...
   3. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: March 10, 2013 at 05:46 PM (#4385694)
Sigh... if only...

So you're saying the Mariners would have converted Mo into a failed starter?
   4. Mayor Blomberg Posted: March 10, 2013 at 05:54 PM (#4385698)
well played, JE
   5. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: March 10, 2013 at 05:55 PM (#4385699)
no, he's saying that Steingrubber would have insisted on starting Fermin, because Jeter "spit the bit". Then in June, they trade him to Toronto for Dale Murray
   6. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: March 10, 2013 at 06:02 PM (#4385708)
"So we were all, 'Well, we could put our top minor leaguer in there, our top pick in the 1992 draft, who'd been one of the highest-rated minor leaguers four years in a row, and who'd moved up every year after producing and improving every year... or we could get a 31-year-old who'd never hit much and had a significant injury history.' It really came down to how well the prospect played in a few exhibition games before the season started."
   7. Walt Davis Posted: March 10, 2013 at 07:24 PM (#4385853)
Wickman (and Gerald Williams) was traded later that year later for a PTBNL, Pat Listach and Graeme Lloyd. In an odd twist, Ricky Bones was the PTBNL in Aug 1996 and Listach returned to the Brewers in Oct 1996. How the heck does that work? I can understand "OK, Bones is too much we get Listach back" but it seems to violate at least the spirit of trade rules that the Yanks got to keep Listach until the season was over (but apparently returned before the playoffs). Was he on the DL? That would seem OK.

   8. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: March 10, 2013 at 07:49 PM (#4385882)
How the heck does that work? I can understand "OK, Bones is too much we get Listach back" but it seems to violate at least the spirit of trade rules that the Yanks got to keep Listach until the season was over (but apparently returned before the playoffs). Was he on the DL? That would seem OK.
Listach arrived in NY with a broken foot. There was some to-do over whether or not the Brewers knew about that ahead of time, and I believe Bones got sent as some sort of compensation, and after the season Listach was returned to Milwaukee to simply end the whole thing.
   9. Der-K: Hipster doofus Posted: March 10, 2013 at 08:03 PM (#4385894)
Not the same, exactly, but a more recent version came in the Loux / Brigham trade this winter, to compensate for health issues with a prior deal (Brigham/Soto).
   10. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: March 10, 2013 at 08:05 PM (#4385898)
a) he had some good qualities as well, but this represents the worst of Steinbrenner. "Trade those two HoFers for Felix Fermin!!!!"

b) wasn't he (GS) suspended at that time?
   11. willcarrolldoesnotsuk Posted: March 10, 2013 at 08:42 PM (#4385921)
Wow, Fermin's line the year before: 195/232/225. How much worse did Steinbrenner think Jeter could possibly be?
   12. jyjjy Posted: March 10, 2013 at 08:43 PM (#4385922)
Cano was almost traded like 11 times if I recall. God bless you Tony Womack.
   13. jyjjy Posted: March 10, 2013 at 08:44 PM (#4385923)
a) he had some good qualities as well, but this represents the worst of Steinbrenner. "Trade those two HoFers for Felix Fermin!!!!"

I think this is the first time I've seen anyone imply Bob Wickman is a HOFer.
   14. Tim D Posted: March 10, 2013 at 08:56 PM (#4385931)
Hopefully Dave Dombrowski reads this and doesn't trade Nick Castellanos for Carlos Marmol. Back away from the edge, Dave.
   15. PreservedFish Posted: March 10, 2013 at 09:45 PM (#4385956)
I don't think it was a given that Jeter would stick at shortstop. IIRC at the time he was considered a very toolsy athletic defender but an error machine. You know how teams do this sometimes ... they decide a guy is not able to play a position and then it doesn't matter how bad the replacement is as long as he's considered defensively adequate.
   16. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: March 10, 2013 at 11:10 PM (#4385995)
Steinbrenner ordered Al Rosen to get rid of Guidry following a bad start in spring training 1977--Rosen just quietly ignored the request...
   17. John Northey Posted: March 10, 2013 at 11:33 PM (#4386009)
The Jays had a trade for Guidry lined up in early 77 - for Bill Singer but the Jays ownership rejected it as Singer was a 'headliner' (sigh). Ah well. We did get McGriff and Collins a few years later for a few magic beans.
   18. Dan Posted: March 11, 2013 at 12:44 AM (#4386028)
Cano was almost traded like 11 times if I recall. God bless you Tony Womack.


Cano was actually one of the players Texas could have chosen as the PTBNL in the ARod trade. They took Joaquin Arias instead though.
   19. Walt Davis Posted: March 11, 2013 at 12:50 AM (#4386032)
Cano was almost traded like 11 times if I recall.

Well, he was blocked by future HoFer D'Angelo Jimenez
   20. Howie Menckel Posted: March 11, 2013 at 12:54 AM (#4386034)

Count Da Ring - Arias played in 112 G for the Giants last year and went 3 for 6 with 2 doubles in beating the Reds in NLDS.

So Cano and Arias are even there...

   21. Gonfalon B. Posted: March 11, 2013 at 07:23 AM (#4386065)
Re: #16--
It was Gabe Paul who told Steinbrenner that he would quit if the team traded Guidry, and then tell the press why.
   22. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: March 11, 2013 at 09:14 AM (#4386114)
I believe Cano was also one of the items the Yankees had on the Randy Johnson pu pu platter for Arizona.
   23. bunyon Posted: March 11, 2013 at 10:42 AM (#4386212)
Said Steinbrenner at the time, "But he can't go to his left!"
   24. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: March 11, 2013 at 10:54 AM (#4386218)
I always enjoy thinking about these what if trades. I'm pretty sure Jon Lester was supposed to be part of the Red Sox ARod deal and every team has its similar situations.
   25. Shibal Posted: March 11, 2013 at 12:49 PM (#4386309)
You think Cashman would be telling this story if Steinbrenner was still alive?

Funny story, but I'd fire any guy who pissed on my dad's grave like that. Get er done Hank.
   26. Swoboda is freedom Posted: March 11, 2013 at 02:14 PM (#4386389)
You think Cashman would be telling this story if Steinbrenner was still alive?

Funny story, but I'd fire any guy who pissed on my dad's grave like that. Get er done Hank.


How do you think Cashman got the broken foot? You didn't believe that phony parachute story? That was just his first warning.
   27. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: March 11, 2013 at 03:34 PM (#4386449)
The 1980s and earlier Steinbrenner would have gotten his back up when he got push back like this and not only traded for Fermin, but would have made sure that Jeter never played for the Yankees... It's a pity he actually mellowed out as he got older and was more willing to listen to others.
   28. jack the seal clubber (on the sidelines of life) Posted: March 11, 2013 at 03:51 PM (#4386473)
How do you think Cashman got the broken foot? You didn't believe that phony parachute story? That was just his first warning


"This comes from Big George, Cashman. See you in hell!".

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