Paul Hagen of Philly.com has a follow up to the recent NY Post story about Reggie Jackson getting together with Phillies Right Fielder Jayson Werth. He downplayed the meeting as a Yankee recruiting effort, but did say something interesting. Here’s the story:
The New York Post reported over the weekend that Yankees Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson and Phillies rightfielder Jayson Werth had an hourlong lunch at the Tampa Hyatt last Friday afternoon and then another on-field conversation before that night’s exhibition game at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
The strong implication was that Jackson was doing some early recruiting since Werth can be a free agent at the end of the season.
Jackson was a Yankees teammate of Werth’s stepfather, Dennis, from 1979 through 1981. And Werth’s mother, Kim, is the sister of Dick Schofield, who played with Reggie on the Angels from 1983 to ’86.
According to the paper, the Yankees denied that Jackson was representing the team in any way and general manager Brian Cashman said he was unaware that a meeting had taken place.
From the day he arrived in camp this spring, Werth has consistently maintained that his only concern is helping the Phillies win in 2010.
“Reggie’s an old family friend,” Werth said after yesterday’s game was canceled. “I’ve known him since I was 7 years old, I think. I’ve known him forever. There’s nothing to tell, really. Two friends having lunch.”
While there are rules against tampering, this would seem to fall into a gray area, even if Jackson had just happened to mention the benefits of playing for the Yankees during the conversation.
“What we talked about is our business. But, honestly, it was just two friends having lunch,” Werth said.
Given the rules on tampering, if I was recruiting someone I would do it exactly the same way. Talk in generalities, and try to get a sense of where the player is at. We know that the Yanks will have an interest in Werth, but what level of interest remains to be seen. If Brett Gardner has a big season (like Kevin Long thinks he will) they could be happy with their current outfield arrangement. They could be more interested in Carl Crawford, but Carl is a prime candidate to get traded mid-season and could sign an extension with his new team. They may not have any payroll space left if they sign a big pitcher like Cliff Lee, since they also have Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera to bring back. This is an interesting little tidbit, but I wouldn’t pencil him into the 2011 lineup just yet. I think they’re just covering their bases.
On a side note, Brian Cashman being unaware of the meeting is a little hard to swallow. He seems to want to muddy the waters at every turn. His lieutenants were just giving their own personal opinions about Joba yesterday, and yet those are two of the same people who will have the most input on where Joba is used. Whenever there is talk of any player, on his team or another, his answer is some variation of “Hey, you never know”. He should be doing Lotto commercials. He insists on having complete control of the Baseball ops in 05, and ever since then he has no idea what’s going on about anything. Color me dubious.
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