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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Tom Verducci plays around with facts and figures in Derek Jeter article

Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci wrote a full-throated defense of Derek Jeter for the Yankees to show Derek Jeter the money. Verducci's piece is similar to his Joe Torre defense: He's an icon! He's got a lot of rings! How dare the Yankees demand he take a pay cut! The Yankees made him look bad by saying how much he thinks he's worth!

Which isn't surprising. After all, Jeter was one of Torre's and Verducci's key sources in "The Yankee Years." And don't forget, that book is where we heard about A-Rod being called "Single White Female," and how we heard all sorts of sordid details about that supposedly one-sided jealousy/obsession he had with Jeter.

But in this latest piece, Verducci doesn't just bash the Yankee front office and lionize Jeter as an icon. He doesn't just write this article like it's a press release from Casey Close. Verducci also twists around a lot of facts in the case, and I'm not letting him get away with it.

Verducci says:
The Yankees, who reportedly offered Jeter a three-year, $45 million deal, want to cut Jeter's pay by 21 percent, to pay him less money than they committed for Kei Igawa, to pay him less money annually than they do A.J. Burnett, and, including this deal, to pay him less money over his entire Yankee career than they will give Alex Rodriguez just for the nine seasons between when he turns 34 and 43. Of course, no one is allowed to mention Rodriguez's 10-year, $275 million contract in the negotiating room.
1. To pay him "less money than they committed for Kei Igawa" sounds like an outrage. But what he wrote distorts what really happened. The Yankees actually are paying Igawa a total of $20 million in salary. Igawa has a five-year contract. So he's making $4 million a year, not $15M. The extra figure involves the $26 million posting fee the Yanks had to pay Igawa's Japanese team for the right to negotiate with him. That adds up to $46 million. Granted, it was a huge mistake. But it's a distortion to insinuate that the Yanks are paying the hapless Kei Igawa more than Jeter.

2. Here we go again on the A.J. Burnett comparison. Let's review: Burnett was coming off a great season; he won 18 games and led the AL in strikeouts. The Yankees desperately needed arms. A.J. was the second-best free agent pitcher on the market that year, after CC Sabathia, and the Braves also wanted to sign Burnett. That's called leverage, something Jeter doesn't have these days. Sure, Burnett had an abysmal 2010, but it is completely forgotten that his great performance in Game 2 of the 2009 World Series completely changed the series around. If the Yanks had lost Game 1 and Game 2, they may very well have lost the series. Considering that so much of the Jeter hype is about the rings, why isn't the fact that Burnett was a key component ot the 2009 team ever taken into account?

3. As for A-Rod, it sticks in Verducci's craw -- and Jeter's craw, too -- that Rodriguez makes more money than Jeter. Tough. Newsflash -- Jeter was never as good a player as A-Rod. Rodriguez signed his contract at age 32, after the greatest season he had and the best season a Yankee hitter had had since Mantle and Maris. In Jeter's case, he wants A-Rod money when he's 36, and on the downside of his career. As for Verducci's outrage that "one is allowed to mention Rodriguez's 10-year, $275 million contract in the negotiating room," Verducci also fails to mention that Jeter is the second-highest paid player of all time, making $205 million so far. Boo bleeding hoo. If Jeter wants that kind of deal, the Yanks should offer it -- when he gets close to hitting 660 homers, that is!

Then there's the way Verducci tries to put a happy face on Jeter's awful 2010 season:

In his final 28 games, including the postseason, after some physical and mechanical adjustments, Jeter's batting average (.311) and OBP (.390) were in line with his career averages (.314 and .385).


A few down months by Jeter 16 years into his career have handed the Yankees leverage, and they are wielding it like a ballpeen hammer in public.
Those stats look very impressive, but they distort what really happened. From June 10 to September 10, Jeter hit just .232, with a .311 OBP, and an anemic .631 OPS. That isn't just a slump -- that's falling off the cliff for half the season. At age 30, those numbers are a little troubling. At age 36, they're a huge blinking warning sign.

As for the positive figures Verducci highlighted, I ran a look at Jeter's stats over the last 19 games of the season. Jeter did go .342 over those games, with a .436 OBP. But it should be noted that, by the time Jeter finally got into a groove, the Yankees were already assured of a postseason spot. Then he went in to the playoffs, the time he was supposed to shine, and hit just .250, with a .286 OBP, and 10 strikeouts. That's a very different picture than what Verducci paints.

What do you think? Tell us about it!

8 comments:

The Omnipotent Q said...

Saw Verducci, who I do respect, on the MLB Network along with a few others spouting the same "Jeter is an icon so pay him a truckload more money" nonsense. They were the same ones who were speculating on Manny Ramirez possibly being in a Yankee uniform in 2011.

It was pretty silly on "Hot Stove" last night.

Symphony said...

I've never seen so many people, bloggers and reporters alike, embarrass themselves like they are right now in their Jeter defense.

Its been some of the most intellectually dishonest BS I've seen in a long time.

And if someone else used their talking points in support of any other player these same defenders would rip them apart.

Steven said...

Lisa,

Thanks for this excellent column.

It strikes me that Jeter's "good month" numbers might justify oh, I don't know, maybe $15 million a year for three years?

To tell you the truth, I really don't care (and think it could be justified on icon grounds) if they give him $22 million for 2011; I just don't want it to be a committment for 2014-15-16, etc. That's the mistake they made with Arod and Posada.

Kate said...

I love Derek Jeter and I will always defend him and I think the Yankees can go to $18 million but keep it at three years, with a possible option for a fourth if he proves he can still play.
I never realized how jealous he is of Arod....I agree with you completely about the situation being different when Arod got the monster deal.
Also, Jeter is not a DH where as Arod can DH for a few seasons easily.
The biggest mistake Jeter's camp made was to sign a 10-year deal when you consider the position he plays and the age the contract would end. If he had signed seven, even an eight year deal he would have gotten a lot more money and time.
Jeter needs to get real a little....

BrooklynGirl said...

Please correct me if I am wrong, but doesn't the deal on the table from the Yankees make Jeter by far the highest paid shortstop in baseball? Isn't that what he was at the end of last season? So what has changed? Why does the media continue to insult us fans by saying he should get whatever he wants, pay him, they've thrown money at lesser players before, blah, blah, blah. How come Mo could accepted a 3 year deal back 2007 few years ago,and is now working on a 2 year deal at the age of 41? How many rings would Jeter have without Mo? Talk about a player with leverage! If Derek is an icon, then Mo is an icon to the 5th power(because that's how many rings he has). Time for the Captain to get over it, man-up and get a realistic deal done,or move on. No hard feelings. Sometime a change of scenery is good for everyone.

Uncle Mike said...

"From June 10 to September 10, Jeter hit just .232, with a .311 OBP, and an anemic .631 OPS. That isn't just a slump -- that's falling off the cliff for half the season."

For the Yankees, October is at least half the season. How many times did A-Rod "fall off the cliff"? Yet we still gave him more money, and he hasn't hit like a top-flight cleanup hitter should since then. Double standard, Lisa, double standard.

Subway Squawkers said...

Q, I missed that show. Then again, my head would have exploded if I had seen it!

Symphony, I agree. And I think the media is behind the times. A fairly solid majority of fans are on the Yankees' side here.

Steven, when the media talks about the Yankees overpaying, they never seem to mention that four-year deal for Posada!

And Kate, I think Jeter isn't just jealous of A-Rod; he's jealous that Scott Boras came up with the clever opt-out scheme, too! Remember, A-Rod had three opt-out clauses in his original contract, ready to use whenever he had a breakout season.

Lisa Swan said...

"For the Yankees, October is at least half the season. How many times did A-Rod "fall off the cliff"? Yet we still gave him more money, and he hasn't hit like a top-flight cleanup hitter should since then. Double standard, Lisa, double standard."

Funny you should say that, given that Jeter's October numbers were awful, too, this year. If that means it's half the season, and his three-month slump is half the season, then his entire season was a failure, right?

Besides, Jeter was a leadoff hitter whose OBP was just .311 for three months. Those are terrible numbers.

As for your A-Rod comparison, show me any three months in A-Rod's career where he has fallen off the cliff like that. The fact is that even when he misses time due to injury, A-Rod still hits at least hits 30 homers or more, and drives in 100 or more RBI. Which is called doing his job as a cleanup hitter. He was one RBI away from tying for the league lead in RBI, even though he missed 25 games due to injury. Yet you say "he hasn't hit like a top-flight cleanup hitter should" since 2007? What games are you watching?