Thursday, November 4, 2010

Will Jeter play until age 42? And what will the Yankees be getting for their money?

A day after Hal Steinbrenner warned that "there's always the possibility that things could get messy" with negotiating with Derek Jeter, Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman wrote that New York Yankees shortstop could be asking for an additional six years so he could play until age 42. That just happens to be the same age that teammate Alex Rodriguez is signed through. Here's what Heyman said:
jeter could take awhile. may be thinking 2-3 yrs. but industry sources suggest he could ask to stay 'til hes 42 (6 yrs), a la arod.
What Heyman wrote that the captain would be asking for would not surprise me. ESPN's Ian O'Connor, who Jeter is cooperating with on a book, wrote this summer that Jeter wants to play into his forties.
But what will the Yankees be getting for paying Jeter for so long? Even Jeter's agent Casey Close didn't promise that Jeter in the future would be anything more than a Yankee icon for that time or salary. Here's what he told AOL Fanhouse:
"While it is not our intent to negotiate the terms of Derek's free-agent contract in a public forum," Casey Close told FanHouse, "we do agree with Hal's and Brian (Cashman, the GM)'s recent comments that this contract is about business and winning championships.

"Clearly, baseball is a business, and Derek's impact on the sport's most valuable franchise cannot be overstated. Moreover, no athlete embodies the spirit of a champion more than Derek Jeter."
Really. No other athlete "embodies the spirit of a champion more than Derek Jeter"?  You have to be kidding me. Just on a Yankee basis, is Jeter more of a winner than Yogi Berra with his ten rings, or Babe Ruth, or Joe DiMaggio. or Lou Gehrig, or Mickey Mantle? Why does Jeter, who has won exactly one ring in the last decade, (incidentally, the same number as A-Rod, the player who suffers in comparison to him), who was captain of the team that had the worst postseason collapse in baseball history, and whose team got outplayed this year by a team with 1/4 the payroll, "embodies the spirit of a champion" more than these Yankee legends do? C'mon now.

And in other sports, forget about Michael Jordan, or Bill Russell, or Kobe Bryant, or Magic Johnson, or Larry Bird, or Tiger Woods, or Martina Navratilova, or Roger Federer, or Joe Montana, or Terry Bradshaw. No, Jeter's more of a champion than any of them, according to Close. Puh-lease.

Unlike Mike Francesa, I'm not saying Jeter should be moved off shortstop for 2011 -- even with his down year, he still is one of the better offensive shortstops in baseball. And I don't even have a problem with the Yankees paying him big bucks for, say, three years, although he already has already been rewarded quite handsomely ($189 million in his last contract) for his impact on the team.

But there has to be a limit on how much the Yankees keep on paying him for past performance. Even Jeter's own agent seems to be suggesting that Jeter should be paid on his value as the face of the franchise over the last fifteen years, not on his current playing abilities.

And a new six-year deal is a long time to pay for the past. Unless you're ageless like Nolan Ryan or Jamie Moyer, or chemically enhanced like Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds were, what you're going to get at age 42 in even a superstar ballplayer isn't going to be very good. Remember the sadness of a 42-year-old Willie Mays stumbling around the field in the 1973 World Series?

And before you ask, yes, I expect A-Rod to look just as terrible at 42. But just because the Yankees made one dumb move with him, doesn't mean they have to do it again with Jeter. Three years is enough.

What do you think? Tell us about it!


Alvaro Fernandez Ravelo said...

According to Fangraphs, except for 2009 in which he had an spectacular year (and marginally in 2006) his value is LESS what he has been paid.

Jeter has an isolated OBP and SLG of .071 and .139, while A-Rod .084 and .269. That is, on diminishing AVG at least A-Rod will draw more walks or extra bases. So no, they are not comparable, A-Rod is better.

Two years and a team option with a team buyout for a third year is benevolent.

Anonymous said...

If Jeter is really the team player that everyone portrays him to be, he'll understand his role and take a 3-year deal.

If he decides to hamstring the Yankees with demands for a 6-year deal, his legacy should take a big hit.

Lisa Swan said...

Thanks for the stats, Alvaro!

Paul, good point. But there is a certain number of fans who will say that if Jeter wants a 10-year deal, $200 million deal, he should get it!

Uncle Mike said...

Giving Jeter the contract he's apparently looking for will, essentially, be fire insurance. It will buy the Yankees prevention of the firestorm that will come if they don't.

As the author of "Lady Loves Pinstripes" seems to be suggesting, we should be using Charlie Brown's old line: "Lucy, tell your statistics to shut up."

I know what you're thinking, but Charlie Brown was the Willie Randolph of his day: He never got a chance to see what he could do with a front office that gave him good players to manage, aside from the occasional snappy double play from Snoopy and Linus.

Lisa Swan said...

Uncle Mike sez, "Giving Jeter the contract he's apparently looking for will, essentially, be fire insurance. It will buy the Yankees prevention of the firestorm that will come if they don't."

You know, I don't get that. All we ever hear is about what a team guy Jeter is. How he's all about Yankee pride. How he plays for the love of the game, and not money. Yet you're implying that Mr. Team will take his talents elsewhere if the Yankees don't overpay him for however much he thinks he deserves.

Lisa Swan said...

And Derek Jeter already got compensated for the four rings. He got the third-highest contract in baseball history, $190 million over 10 years, after A-Rod got his first deal. How many more times do the Yankees have to pay for those rings?

Of the Core Four, the only player to ever take anything close to a hometown discount was Andy Pettitte, and that's because he underestimated what he could get on the open market a few years ago.

As for the idea that Jeter is some superhuman being that deserves consideration above anybody else in Yankee history, I'm not buying it. The Yanks aren't tossing him in the trash the way they cut ties with Babe Ruth, the greatest player of all time.

BrooklynGirl said...

It's great to see the media and fans want to lavishly spend money that isn't theirs to spend. Let's agree on one thing; "El Capitan" has done his part in making the Yankees even a more valuable franchise and the Yankees have compensated him VERY well for his services. Moreover, he is a future first ballot HOF'er playing for the Yankees and this has enabled him to have very lucrative marketing career away from the field. In Derek's world it's all good on the money side.

But nothing lasts forever and everything must change. Last year could be a bump in his career, but anyone who's attended games this year can see that he's slowed down at the plate(hitting into more DP's, fewer infield hits, more strikeouts) and in the field, (range is down). This doesn't make him a bum, but you can't fool Mother Nature. He's 36 not 26. Also people forget that he's played 147 POSTSEASON games; that's almost a whole regular season of high pressure stressful baseball games!

Give the man a 3yr deal with a mutual option for a 4th. In terms of $$$ I really think that $20-25 is too much. I mean should Hal and Cash shell out that much coin for a player who will definitely have to start playing less in the field (everyone in management pretty much agrees with this) and if he doesn't show that last year was an exception and not the new normal for Jeter, is going to be hitting in the bottom third of your lineup?

The smart deal says you pay him $15-$18M per year which is still VERY GENEROUS for any player in the twilight of his career. But I know they Yankees can pay a lot more and they probably will; but if they go over four years that's not smart.

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