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Yesterday, I wrote about a completely misleading hack-job of a story MLB.com was running about how the Yankees were maybe, sort of, kind of, possibly, potentially going to mistreat Mariano Rivera next year. I know, it sounds ridiculous. And it is. The non-story sparked a lot of discussion, both here on Depressed Fan, in the Blogosphere and throughout the mainstream media:

- NY Daily News: "Rivera ready for hardball"
- ESPN.com: "Rivera talks about impeding (sic) free agency"
- AP: "Rivera Says It’s Possible He May Move on Next Year"
- Yardbarker: "Mo Money, Mo Problems"

Fine, reporters need to report on stories, and even if it was a ridiculous story to begin with, they're only doing their jobs. The only thing that bothers me is that the press has literally created an issue for the Yanks now. According to ESPN, Cashman is going open talks with Rivera about an extension, at least, that's what the tease on the homepage of ESPN.com, "Yanks GM to talk Mo money," would lead you to believe. Of course, if you actually read the story you'll find that Cashman actually said exactly what he should've. In a nutshell, Mo is under contract. Mo hasn't approached him about an extension. Mo's agent laid the groundwork for future negotiations, but it was nothing pressing. But, and I'm paraphrasing here, if it'll make you Jackals happy, I'll sit down and talk to Mo about this non-issue.

One positive thing to come out of this whole media debacle is a conversation I had with my brother today about whether Mo is underpaid. When he asked the question, I said absolutely not. He's the highest paid closer in baseball. His response was a bit philosophical, but worth pondering. "How much are the Yanks paying Carl Pavano?" He asked.

My response, "Too much."

His reply, "Right, and how many innings has he pitched over the past couple of years?"

Me, "Ugh, I don't know maybe 50?"

Him, "And how many innings has Mo pitched?"

You can see where this is headed, and you can compare anyone on the Yanks to Pavano if you want to play that game, but this led to a bigger discussion. I've been saying for a while that Mo is the best baseball player of my lifetime, period. Where the Yankees are concerned, no one is more responsible for the 4 titles they won and the 11 consecutive post season berths than Mo. If that's the case, then isn't he worth more money than anyone else on the team?

After giving it some thought, the answer is yes. Just being the highest paid closer isn't fair-market value for Mo because he transcends the position. If I was judging an arbitration hearing between the Yanks and Mo, I'd rule that he should be their highest-paid player. Now, obviously this doesn't mean the Yanks will do this, or that they should pay him twice as much as he's making now it doesn't make fiscal sense, but when you put a dollar value on each Yankee player, Mo should be at the top.

In a nutshell, if this ridiculous story puts a seed of doubt in Rivera's mind it's not going to be hard for him to marshal support from the Yankee fan base, and he's basically going to have the Yanks over a barrel. I don't think he's the type of guy to take advantage of this, but his agent might be. The bottom line is that the Yankee dynasty would've never existed without him, and it would die tomorrow without Mo. The dynasty didn't die the night they lost to the Diamondbacks, it'll die the day he doesn't put the pinstripes on, and I'm really hoping that day isn't coming any time soon.

by Brian on Feb 13 2007