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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Derek Jeter: Future Yankee owner?

A few days ago, I called into the MLB Home Plate station on XM Radio to participate in a discussion about Derek Jeter's contract situation. Host Holden Kushner was insistent that Jeter needed to be paid more than Alex Rodriguez, even if it were only a dollar more, to signify his worth to the team.

I respectfully disagreed, saying that if Jeter weren't worth as much as A-Rod at age 26, coming off four World Series titles in his first five years, he wasn't worth it now. Although the captain means so much to the Yankee franchise's fan base, so do Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada. Do they need to make more than Rodriguez as well to prove that point? Besides, I noted, A-Rod's contract was ridiculously high, and the Yanks should never have given him that kind of money. Why compound that mistake by giving another player even more money?

Anyhow, I'm reminded of this discussion - and of the whole Jeter contract situation - after reading this morning's New York Post, where Kevin Kernan has upped the ante on the "What is Jeter worth?" discussion. According to the columnist, the only way the Yanks can truly keep Derek Jeter as a "Yankee for Life" is to make him a part owner of the team. That's right - a retired number isn't enough. Monument Park isn't enough.  It's owner or bust, baby.

Kernan's not exactly known for having the best logic - a few months ago, he included the Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Clippers on his most overrated teams list.  (Who, exactly, is overrating these perennially awful teams?) And today's column is just as much of a doozy:
The Yankees and Jeter will come together on a new deal at some point, but Jeter needs to be a Yankee for Life and there is a way to make him one. The Yankees need to work out a deal with Jeter where they allow him to become part of Yankees ownership after his playing days are complete. Players cannot be part of ownership, so this would have to be a separate deal.

As it stands now, most certainly, Jeter will follow the player-to-ownership path of Michael Jordan. Jordan should have been with the Bulls for life, but wound up a Wizard at the end of his playing career and over the weekend became principal owner of the Charlotte Bobcats.
The Michael Jordan analogy actually makes the case against players being owners. Jordan retired as a Bull in the most perfect way possible - making the final shot to win his sixth ring with the team. Yet he tainted his legacy by unretiring to play past his prime, in no small part because he was a part owner of the Washington Wizards. And as part owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, he was behind drafting the tearful Adam Morrison, among other not-so-great decisions. Jordan was the greatest NBA player of all time, but he's been mediocre at best as an owner so far. Is that really a record to emulate?

Yet Kernan insists that having Jeter as a Yankee owner is a great idea. "There never will be another George Steinbrenner," he writes, "but imagine the buzz of having Jeter as part of the ownership group. He could be Boss II. What better owner could the Yankees have than Jeter?"

I know Jeter wants to be an owner one day, but Kernan fails to realize what a circus it will be for everybody involved if the captain becomes a Yankee partial owner, especially if it's just after his retirement as a player. The media will scrutinize every single decision the Yankees make - from spring training hats to player development choices - to see if it's what Jeter wants. It will be impossible for Brian Cashman or anybody else in the franchise to make any independent choices. How could that possibly be a good thing, especially since none of us know yet what Jeter's skill set would be as an owner? Being a great player does not translate into being a great coach or manager or owner, after all.

No, Kernan's column is just upping the ante on the already over-the-top media coverage of Jeter. Besides, the Steinbrenner sons have made it clear that they weren't going to put an untouchable Yankee legend in a position of authority when they passed on having Don Mattingly be Joe Torre's successor. And their father George suffered a huge PR hit when Yogi Berra stayed away from Yankeeland for fifteen years after being fired as manager. So why would the Steinbrenner family effectively give the team to Jeter, somebody even more untouchable among the fan base than Mattingly and Berra? It makes no sense.

The Yankees don't need to give Derek Jeter the moon and the stars to make him a Yankee for Life - just a new contract as a player.

What do you think? Tell us about it!

1 comment:

"Nutball Gazette" said...

I want Jeter to finish his career as a Yankee, It would be great if he can put up another 5 years with near 200 hits, But I doubt it but I could see another 800 hits in him without him playing on too long to just break Rose's record. But I agree with you as him being an owner, But maybe just maybe being he lives in Tampa, If the rays still exist and he can help get a state of the art Stadium for Tampa he could be the owner of the Rays,

Ok I am now going to take my medication and go to bed.