Derek Jeter is the undisputed leader of the New York Yankees, but for how much longer? Though he hasn’t announced when he retires, 2014 is looking like his last hurrah after coming off a grim season that kept him sidelined for all but 17 games.
Jeter has led his team to countless championships all the while being a picture-perfect advocate for the Yankee organization by embracing and displaying what it means to be a true New York Yankee. He is the heart of the Bronx, and the Yankees cannot afford to lose the impact that he brings to the team who has lost majority of their core now that they have established themselves as a team who lives off of free agents. Brian McCann is the perfect successor to Jeter.
Opinions have been thrown around about the Yankees’ offseason moves being signs of desperation and inability to build from within, but the McCann signing was much more.
McCann is a natural leader. During his nine seasons with the Atlanta Braves, McCann proved to be not only one of the most dependable catchers in the league, but he also established himself as a great teammate. His bulldog attitude brought him congratulations from numerous players and coaches around MLB when he showcased his loyalty to pitcher Paul Maholm by blocking home plate after Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Carlos Gomez admired his home run a little too long for McCann’s liking. The Yankees need that.
The Yankees need players who want to play for the guy next to them, not guys who want a payday and another contract to extend their career. Watching McCann’s introductory press conference had to be inspiring for Yankee fans. McCann claimed that becoming a Yankee was one of the best days of his life and that his goal is to become the next great Yankee catcher, referencing Thurman Munson, Yogi Berra and Jorge Posada as his standard. McCann doesn’t want money; he wants to leave a legacy.
Bringing in McCann was more than just statistics. Certainly he will have a much greater chance of recording his first 30 home runs and 100 RBI season by playing in the Bronx with the DH spot and the short right field wall at his disposal, but I believe McCann will contribute more than tangibles.
Jeter has lead by displaying his class, maturity and skill. McCann holds leadership qualities in a more outspoken and brazen manner, which I believe will be essential in the Yankees’ post-Jeter era.
Another plus of the McCann signing for Yankee fans is that the recently cooled rivalry with Boston Red Sox just got a major revival after watching them win a world series, and then they brought in a guy who already is advocating for the pinstripes, though he has yet to wear them on the field. If McCann was able to participate in scuffles in the NL, I can’t wait to see his passion on full display in the AL East now that he is an official member of the world’s greatest rivalry.