Friday, February 6, 2009

What is in Derek Jeter's future with the Yankees?

Over the past five years, even though Alex Rodriguez's life has been endlessly scrutinized, discussed, and psychoanalyzed, there is one topic that is hardly ever mentioned. It's the fact that he gave up being the best shortstop in the game, and the chance to go down as the greatest shortstop of all time, to be a Yankee.

For all the talk over the years, of A-Rod being a me-first, 24 and 1 type of player, giving up being shortstop was about as selfless as it gets in this game. And unfortunately for him, he never really got the credit he deserved for being a true team player there.

All of this brings me to Derek Jeter. Squawker Jon, who has access to the premium ESPN Insider feature, was telling me about Christina Kahrl's article suggesting that Jeter move to center field. (I think it's too late to do that - if it were to be done, it should have happened three years ago - but that's me.)

And in today's New York Post, Joel Sherman wonders what will happen in 21 months, when Jeter's contract expires:
Yankee officials already talk privately about dreading D(erek)-Day.

After all, what team official wants to tell Jeter he has to take a pay cut or has to move positions or - gulp - just has to move on? How would you like that on your baseball epitaph: You were the Yankee executive who told Derek Jeter thanks for the memories?

Of course, the alternative is not too appetizing either. Because kowtowing to Jeter's legacy by paying him lavishly and keeping him at short means tying yourself to a late-30s icon well beyond his expiration date.

I would hope Jeter would move gracefully off shortstop when the time comes, and I think he will. Let's hope that this situation isn't going to get as contentious as it did when Davey Johnson wanted to move Cal Ripken Jr. to third. Of course, A-Rod is at third, so moving Jeter there isn't going to work, but I digress.

The other issue the Yanks are going to face regarding Jeter is the money. After all, they're paying A-Rod over $27 million a year until he's 42 years old. Do you think Jeter's going to want comparable money for being the face of the franchise, and for putting fannies in the seats, as George Steinbrenner would say? I sure do. Jeter got his 10-year, $190 million contract with the Yanks right after the Texas Rangers' record-breaking deal with A-Rod, after all.

While Jeter won't be going for the all-time home run record like Alex is, he will be going for 3000+ hits, which is another big achievement. (It still amazes me that no Yankee has ever reached that milestone in pinstripes!)

Unfortunately, all of this is going to be a issue for the Yankees, along with when it's time to tell Jorge Posada he's no longer catcher. Actually, that one will be much harder than moving Jeter, I think. Heck, Posada still wanted to catch last season when he literally couldn't throw anybody out - remember that game against Boston where they ran like crazy on him?

I disagree with Sherman's conclusion, though, that things would be better for this situation if Joe Torre were still the Yankee manager.

What makes Sherman think that Torre would even go along with moving Jeter off shortstop? He had no choice but to agree with Brian Cashman moving Bernie Williams out of center and bringing up Robinson Cano, because the Yanks went 11-19 to start out the 2005 season and Torre's own job was on the line. But he sure wasn't happy about it.

And it's why Cashman didn't give Bernie a guaranteed contract offer in 2007 - because he knew Joe would still play him over Melky Cabrera if he had the opportunity. Heck, if Torre had had his way, Bernie would continue to be the starting center fielder!

Joe DiMaggio wasn't graceful - or gracious - about ceding center field to Mickey Mantle. Let's hope Derek Jeter handles it better when it's his time to move off shortstop.

Is it too soon to worry about what should happen to Derek Jeter? Leave us a comment!


Ryan O said...

wasn't his time 3 years ago?

Anonymous said...

The problem with some aging superstars is they think they are more important than the "team". Case in point Farve and the Jets, far too many athletes hang around too long and look foolish. IMO Jeter is smarter than that, at least I hope so, with Damon most likely leaving after 09, LF may be a good fit for Jeter for his waning years. He is a multi-millionaire so money should not be a problem and hopefully ego isn't either. Personally, I think he has earned the right to retire as a yankee. His only short coming being as a club house leader, on field you could not ask for more.

Uncle Mike said...

A fact can be either true or false. "Alex Rodriguez was the best shortstop in the game" is not a fact, it is an opinion. An opinion can be neither true nor false; it can only be agreed with or not.

The Yankees went with the proven winner at shortstop and the proven stat-gatherer at third base. If anyone thinks that putting A-Rod in at short and moving Derek Jeter to third would have made any difference, then I have to ask if A-Rod would have risked his pretty face to make a game-saving play against the Red Sox, as Jeter did. I doubt it.

So unless you (and by "you" I mean all A-Rod fans, not necessarily Lisa) think that A-Rod, like Joe DiMaggio as opposed to, say, Willie Mays, would have found himself in position to make that play without looking spectacular, then I think it's time to put to rest the opinion that A-Rod -- or Nomar Garciaparra, for that matter -- was a better shortstop than Jeter.

Of course, there are still some people who think that Rey Ordonez was the best shortstop in baseball. Pardon me while I guffaw.

Suppose A-Rod had refused to budge from shortstop. Would the Yankees have been willing to take up the rest of the $252 million contract? Knowing George Steinbrenner's tendencies, I'm leaning 70-30 against that.

Anyway, one such gesture doesn't make one selfless, especially compared to his behavior in the five years since -- or have we forgotten his little stunt during the 2007 World Series, which he damn well should have been in, considering his regular season stats.

<< I would hope Jeter would move gracefully off shortstop when the time comes, and I think he will. Let's hope that this situation isn't going to get as contentious as it did when Davey Johnson wanted to move Cal Ripken Jr. to third. Of course, A-Rod is at third, so moving Jeter there isn't going to work, but I digress. >>

Presuming that Jeter would object to Joe Girardi or his replacement moving him off short, as Davey (the Luckiest Manager Who Ever Lived) Johnson did to the statue of Cal Ripken the Orioles erected at shortstop at Camden Yards (Wait, that wasn't a statue?), presumes that Jeter won't do what the manager tells him to do. Jeter's a good soldier. We're not talking about Manny Ramirez here.

Anonymous said...

A-Rod's double play was even more of a game saver given the situation in that game against the Red Sox.

I completely agree, Jeter is a good soldier.

Anonymous said...


I don't think anyone else on the Yanks right now would've busted up his face for a play like Jeter did.

In that particular regard, he's the exception, not the rule. Most of us have a built-in safety mechanism that prevents us from causing ourselves bodily harm. Those excluded are stuntmen and super-hyped athletes.

I don't necessarily equate getting your face banged up with being selfless in and of itself, but Jeter has shown himself to be a true team player and soldier (as you mentioned) many times, but that's due to his character and loyalty to the team, not because he almost knocked his own teeth out.

A-Rod has done plenty for the Yankees in terms of getting us to the post season and also making some terrific defensive plays in key games that may have saved the season at times.

Many ways to look at these things.

Anonymous said...

Let's worry about this year and bringing a Championship back to the Yankees....I'm sure that's what Derek is doing.

Go Yankees 2009 !!!

Unknown said...

Hey Mike,

Get a clue, Arod was the best shortstop in the game. Offensively and defensively they are not in the same class and never have been. Jeter still cries over Arod saying that to the Esquire reporter. He was only stating the obvious. It's like comparing Babe Ruth to Tony Lazzeri. In 30, 40 years when they are both long retired Arod will be remembered as one of the greatest to ever play the sport and still be a household name where Jeter will be like Tony Lazzeri is now. You heard of him because he was part of the great Yankee teams but he was just a cog in a wheel.

Anonymous said...

Hi D,

I agree with everything you said, except that Jeter will be remembered the way Lazzeri is remembered now.

Jeter is way, way, way too popular and famous, and he's a four-time champion that dates hot super models. A-Rod is, of course a superior all-around player. He's better than most everyone, but I truly believe that Jeter will proably be remembered the same way DiMaggio is remembered.

Unknown said...

Hi Emperor,

Thanks I am glad to see fellow Yankee fan who can see beyond the hype. Obviously only history will tell. Jeter might date hot models but in 40 years it's stats and record which will shine, not his dating. Jeter maybe a 4 time champion but Lazzeri was a 5 time champion. Their averages are similiar so are their rbi's. Both were on very successful Yankee teams and eras. I think the next few years will go a long way in defining him and unfortunately I think his decline will get more rapid.

Anonymous said...

Selfless - A-Rod - the same sentence? It could be said that A-Rod gave up playing SS to become a Yankee. It could also be said he gave up playing SS to improve his chances to win the WS by becoming a Yankee. It could further be said he gave up playing ss to make more money than any human being deserves for playing a game by becoming a Yankee. Of the three, I say it was the money. But that's just my opinion based upon his deplorable and selfish bahavior at the end of the 2007 season. But I know for now that Torre is the new scapegoat for Yankee fans so you have to start shoring up A-Rod's shoddy public image. Good luck with that.

Anonymous said...

You're right - their numbers are very similar.

I happen to be a big A-Rod fan, and have been for a long time. When he became part of the Yanks, I was thrilled and in spite of his post season shortcomings (thus far), I'm still feel very fortunate that he's on our team. I think he will eventually have his cake and eat it, too.

I'm also a big Jeter fan. He's meant so much to the Yankees and us fans over the years and he'll always be a special player in my book.

I don't divide up the Yankees and take one's side over another. I can be a fan of each player for different reasons.

But this villifying of A-Rod really has to stop. Some people hang on to such tenuous stubborn principles of insisting that they just don't ever want to accept the guy and warm up to him. It's no wonder he chokes at times. All that negative energy all the time - it takes an incredibly big man to ignore than and to be fair, Jeter's never experienced anything like that ever in his entire baseball life.

I know if it were me, and I knew that no matter what I said or did and how negligible and trivial it really may be in the normal scheme of things, I'd go insane thinking I have to be tormented just for having the sheer audacity of having human flaws like everyone else because of the amount of money I earn.


Anonymous said...

And I'm not saying A-Rod isn't selfish. Yes, of course he is. But really - c'mon, people, do you honestly, seriously, truly think that he's any more selfish than 75% of the enormous ego-inflated athletes in professional sports? Just because he lives in a fishbown and is scrutinized from all angles 24 hours a day doesn't mean he's any different than a lot of other people. It's just that he's covered more often and his personal life is exploited more often for the very SELFISH benefit of a rabid media and fan base just looking to point the finger at the scapegoat and deflect attention off of themselves.

Think about it.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


please list the number of times Jeter has cried over Arod's comments in Esquire. Otherwise, that is pure projection on your behalf because you like Arod better than Jeter and bought into the media hype of the popularity contest between the two.

lb said...

I think it is still too early to start worrying about "The Jeter situation".

Is it gonna come up in a few years? Yes.

This year? No

Will Jeter handle it gracefully? I honestly don't know. I hope he does, but he is not a robot..he is human. So maybe we will get a hissy fit from him.

Anyway, all I am concerned about is winning the WS this season.

Alvaro Fernandez Ravelo said...

Please read "Forging Genius: The Making of Casey Stengel" by Steven Goldman. Back then they knew when to get rid of players close to their declining.

Anonymous said...

bench coach for the dodgers

Anonymous said...

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