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.
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).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.
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.
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.
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