Former newspaper fixture Murray Chass has a blog entry on loyalty in the Majors, particularly surrounding the Smoltz/RedSox/Braves affair and leads off with this Tom Glavine quote:
“When you get in a situation in negotiations when a player who’s been there a long time winds up leaving, it’s the player who is greedy and not loyal,” said Tom Glavine, who based his observations on 22 years in the major leagues. “But when the player wants to stay and the club doesn’t keep him it’s a business decision. You can’t have it both ways. Either it’s loyalty or not. You can’t blame a player when he makes a business decision and not say the same thing about the team.”I like that. Might not be totally true in this case (the Braves DID offer a contract, but it wasn't as rich as what the Sox offered), however.
Teams DO have to make special exceptions for the special players. But a team is not required to give any long term employ their final contract. If the Braves felt that Smoltz's 2009 season was not worth the financial risk (during a period of great economic uncertainty), they should not over-extend to keep him. Should they go higher than they otherwise would if that player wasn't "John Smoltz, Hall of Famer and All-Around Good Guy and Atlanta Fixture"? Probably, if for no other reason but to appease the fanbase.
But steering this back at Andy Pettitte. He's a Yankee with a wonderful legacy, or at least mostly wonderful (last Spring's revelations not withstanding). However, he's already left the organization once for three years in Houston. It's not like he's spent his entire career in pinstripes. If that $10m offer is to unseemly, he's welcome to go anywhere else. Remember, it was Andy who made it clear that it wouldn't be about the money this year, that he only wanted to finish his career on the Yanks and pitch in the new ballpark. But that's apparently not the case any longer, as his agents have wrested control of his fate.
And then there will be the mother of all loyalty battles, with the clouds forming in the distant horizon: what to do with Jeter when his deal expires. Will the Yanks pay him for in-the-prime production when he's no longer in his prime? Will they be too intimidated to bump him out of SS? Will Jeter force the issue by coming forward with a suggestion/willingness to change positions (to where, I have no idea any longer)? Will Jeter hold onto the idea that he's a shortstop and only a shortstop? Will the Yanks look to replace Jeter with a gloveman first/offensive threat second? How will this turn out, besides ugly?