Friday, November 26, 2010

Joel Sherman and his latest wacky contract proposal for Derek Jeter

What's the deal with Joel Sherman? The New York Post columnist has been over the place on the Derek Jeter contract issue from reasonable to raving, and his latest column, suggesting that the Yankees give Jeter a contract to age 42 (!), makes no sense, especially given what he's written before.

Let's review what Sherman has said so far:

* On November 5, he suggested the Yankees offer the shortstop a 3-year, $45 million deal, which turns out to be what the Yanks actually offered. But then he added on a 25-year, $75 million personal service contract, where the Yanks would essentially pay Jeter to be Jeter. This deal would set a horrible precedent for the team, and makes zero financial sense.

* On November 12, he supported signing Jeter, but said pleasing the captain couldn't take the place of the Yankees' winning, writing: "This is a baseball team, not a fan club or an alumni association. Realistic discussions of Jeter are too often scuttled with his intangibles or his class or his history. That is all nice. But what do they have to do with winning games from 2011 forward? If you are honoring those elements with unquestioned playing time or a spot atop the order, you have lost what Jeter himself claims he is all about, which is team and winning."

* On November 23, Sherman wrote very harshly about the shortstop's demands, saying, "Derek Jeter’s position when it comes to his contract negotiations appears to be this: I am Derek Jeter, pay me."

* And today, the New York Post columnist thinks he's come up with a way to solve the negotiations. But not only is it inconsistent with what he's written in the past, it's even inconsistent with what he writes earlier in the column!

Early in the column, Sherman sez:

"Frankly, I think the Yankees are fine here. Their three-year, $45 million offer is probably way more than any other team would bid. Therefore, every additional penny proposed represents bidding against themselves."
But then he suggests they do just that, bid against themselves.  One of the reasons Sherman exhorts the Yanks to do this deal is that if they don't give Jeter more money, "we might, for example, see the passive-aggressive Jeter emotionally detach himself from some of the day-to-day elements that he has taken on previously as Yankees captain and icon." Yeah, before you know it, he'll stand by idly and refuse to step in when one of his teammates is getting vociferously booed or something.

Sherman then suggests:

"So how can both sides move toward each other? Here is the Thanksgiving gift: The Yankees give Jeter a six-year, $75 million contract that breaks down as $20 million a year from 2011-13 and $5 million a year from 2014-16. The twist is that each $5 million year becomes a $20 million season if Jeter reaches 500 plate appearances in the previous campaign. Thus, for example, if Jeter remains a full-timer in 2013 and totals at least 500 plate appearances, then he would make $20 million in 2014 rather than $5 million."

How does this deal make any sense for the Yankees? Sherman suggests that the average annual value would be less, so it would save the Yanks a little on luxury taxes. Big deal. They still have to pay Jeter for six years, not three. How does that help?

And Sherman misses some really obvious problems with his proposal. It's not so much the $20 million in the first three years (although that's still overpaying Jeter for lower production). It's giving him three more years. It's keeping in on the payroll until he's 42, when he's already showing signs of aging at age 36.

And to top it off, making 500 plate appearances be the magic number to guarantee Jeter an extra $15 million a year will hamstring the Yankees in several ways.

First off, it gives Jeter even less of an incentive to never take a day off, when any potential day off could mean a 75% pay cut. And forget about pulling him before the end of the game, either. He'll be playing as much as possible to make that money. Who wouldn't?

It will also put immense pressure on whoever the Yankee manager is to play him every game, no matter what, or risk alienating Jeter and his rabid supporters.

Then there's the place in the lineup, which is currently at the top. How are the Yanks going to move him further down in the lineup, even when his stats merit it, if it could cost him plate appearances?

Sherman may think this compromise (which is a completely one-sided one, where the Yanks gain nothing, and Jeter everything) is a good one, but it makes zero sense financially. And having to get at-bats everyday for a player in his 40s, or risk him making less money than A-Rod (shudder!) will be an ongoing nightmare for the Yankee manager. How does this help the team win, or do anything other than make Jeter even richer?

Sherman ought to remember what he himself said earlier this month: "If you are honoring those elements with unquestioned playing time or a spot atop the order, you have lost what Jeter himself claims he is all about, which is team and winning." The writer sometimes comes up with great ideas, but this "Thanksgiving gift" of a new contract idea is a real turkey.

What do you think? Tell us about it!


Alvaro Fernandez Ravelo said...

This is worse than two papers in one, it's two writers in one! Happy Thanksgiving Lisa!

Rob Abruzzese said...

I like his proposal only because the two sides are anywhere from $55 million - $105 million apart depending on which report you believe. Either way at least he's trying to come up with solutions instead of this game of chicken that seems to be taking place.

Subway Squawkers said...

Eh, the best solution is for Derek Jeter to realize that even $15/45 is a gift.

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