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Sweeny Says: Jeter Speaks

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(Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images)

(Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images)

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By Sweeny Murti
» More Columns

Derek Jeter was the guest of honor Thursday night at Joe Torre’s annual Safe At Home Foundation Gala. For the last eight years Torre’s event has helped create awareness and fund programs to end the cycle of domestic violence. For more information you can visit www.joetorre.org.

Jeter drew extra attention this year for the simple reason that he is technically not a Yankee anymore. He is a free agent, and because he is this off-season has already created its share of humorous and awkward moments, from family members calling him unemployed to passersby asking them to join their favorite teams.

Jeter, as he has deftly done for a decade and a half, once again deflected the flurry of questions regarding his future as a Yankee. Listen here to seven minutes of vintage Derek Jeter…

The thing that seems to make this exercise even mildly entertaining for Jeter is that he knows what the rest of us know, that he is and always will be a New York Yankee. And what appears to be gleaned from listening to Jeter is that the priority here is to sign Derek Jeter the player (and yes, he is a shortstop for at least 2011) and worry about Derek Jeter the Ambassador down the road.

His former manager and host for the evening, Joe Torre, spoke glowingly of Jeter as he always does. Torre had the good fortune to manage Jeter and the rest of the Core Four in their primes. So now that they are all in their late 30’s or early 40’s, I began by asking Torre about the job facing his successor Joe Girardi in dealing with aging superstars…

While acknowledging Jeter’s increasing age, Torre seems to think Jeter’s career low averages in 2010 may have been a bit of an aberration…or at least he hopes so…

Of course Torre was asked the question about seeing Jeter play for anyone else but the Yankees. Of course not, he answered, but Torre left open a small possibility that things may not work out in the storybook way and you wonder if that’s still the sting of Torre’s own last chapter in New York that leaves him feeling that way…

Among the other guests at the Torre Gala was former Met and Yankee star David Cone. Coney thinks, like many others, that Derek Jeter is the face of the Yankees. But he offers a different perspective on it. Listen here…

If you heard Jeter defend his selection as a Gold Glove winner compared to what the guys computing advanced defensive statistics tell us (“I don’t play video games, you know what I mean.”) you know where he stands. But another interesting perspective was offered by Cone when talking about Jeter, his former teammate, as a shortstop with sure hands and how that is not as easy to quantify using the new math. Listen here…

There are few people in the game as fun and as interesting to talk to as David Cone. Here’s hoping he again lands in a spot where we can all benefit from his expertise on a regular basis.

Finally we get to Brian Cashman, whose mere appearance at the Torre Gala would have sparked some interest had the two not helped bury the hatchet in September with Torre’s appearance at Yankee Stadium the night of the Steinbrenner Monument unveiling. And while Cashman revealed little about the negotiating process with Jeter and Mariano Rivera except to say that initial conversations were had, he offered up this analysis of Cliff Lee (and his wife) based on his Wednesday trek to Lee’s home in Arkansas…

Cashman’s role as family counsel continued this week with yet another meeting, this one with Jorge Posada, having to tell Posada he is no longer in the team’s plans as a catcher, but as the DH instead. Knowing how intense and emotional Posada can be, one might imagine this meeting going about as well as one in which Tom Hagen would deliver bad news to Sonny Corleone. As it turns out, Cashman was quite impressed with how Posada handled himself…

Mariano Rivera stopped by to chat for a moment as well, but only long enough to tell us he didn’t know anything about his contract talks, but he promised to fill us in when the time comes. It was fast and clean, and as he walked away after I got almost nothing out of him, I felt a little like some hitters have after a several hundred other appearances by Rivera. I even looked down at my microphone to make sure it wasn’t broken.

But this is just the beginning of a long winter. As I like to say often, there is no such thing as an off-season…they just stop playing games for a little while.

Thanks again to the wonderful people at the Safe At Home Foundation and the great work that they do.

Sweeny Murti
Yankees@wfan.com
www.twitter.com/YankeesWFAN

pixy Sweeny Says: Jeter Speaks
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