Saturday, November 27, 2010

As a free agent, will Derek Jeter pull an A-Rod or a Torre?

Derek Jeter and the New York Yankees are at an impasse right now in contract negotiations, with anywhere between $45 million and $105 million separating them.  So what happens next? I think one of two things happens -- he could either follow the path of Alex Rodriguez or Joe Torre. Let me explain.

Our Met fan friend Coop of My Summer Family fame is the first person I heard suggest that Jeter could pull an A-Rod, throwing agent Casey Close under the bus, blaming him for asking for too much money,  and then going directly to the Yankees to negotiate. Granted I never bought that Boras somehow acted against A-Rod's wishes -- as dopey as opting out during the World Series was, I am quite sure it was A-Rod's idea. But at any rate, after seeing what a huge blunder he made, A-Rod rang up Warren Buffett for advice. Alex then ate some humble pie, threw Scott Boras under the bus, and managed to get an even bigger contract than he had before. Not that I think Boras cared about that -- no matter how much he got blamed, he still got his 10%, and made Alex richer than ever.

The reason that scenario worked for A-Rod though, is that was plausible to believe that he was Boras' puppet, doing dopey things because the Avenging Agent told him to. Also, A-Rod was willing to humiliate himself in crawling back to the Yanks, begging for another chance. A less insecure, more prideful individual would have moved on, I think.

Could Jeter do the same thing A-Rod did to extricate himself from this mess? I dunno. The media has been on Jeter's case -- for really the first time ever -- about his outrageous contract demands, but I could see them going along with blaming Close, and not Jeter, for how much things have gone awry. It wouldn't be the first time they sent something negative about Jeter down the ol' memory hole.

The real issue would be the "crawling back to the Yankees and admitting he he was wrong" thingy. I'm not really sure Jeter could do it. I am quite positive he fully believes that he's worth $25 million a year for as long as he wants to play. Why wouldn't he? For 15 years, he's had everybody telling him how great he is. Combine that with a personality that cuts people off at the first sign of "negativity," as the euphemism goes, meaning that he doesn't have a lot of people around him questioning him and telling him that he messed up. I just am not sure how he would admit fallibility here.

Remember what happened with Andy Pettitte a few years ago? He turned down an $11 million option the Yanks had, and figured he could get more money. As it turns out, he misjudged the market, and ended up crawling back to the Yanks for $5.5 million plus incentives. But Andy was able to acknowledge that he messed up, and say that while he wished he were making more money, he was glad to still be a Yankee.

But Jeter is just not an Andy Pettitte personality type. The person he's most like is Joe Torre -- somebody who is used to being treated with deference, somebody quick to hold a grudge, and somebody quick to be insulted. So the longer this goes on, the more I can see Jeter complaining about the "insult" of only being offered $15M a year for three years, and him taking his talents to Baltimore or some other team.

Granted, I don't think any team will offer him anything close to what Jeter would make as a Yankee. But the Los Angeles Dodgers never came close to matching Torre's old $8 million salary with the Yanks -- or even that $5 million plus $3 million in incentives offer that the Yanks made him for 2008. You remember, the one he deemed "an insult"? Yet it didn't stop Joe from walking out the door. And a year after leaving, Torre was still so sure he was right, he trashed the organization in "The Yankee Years," complicating his legacy, and further ticking off the Yanks' front office.

Could Jeter do the same thing -- make that the same things, because he and his friends and family are fully cooperating with Ian O'Connor's upcoming biography? Absolutely. Remember, others, most recently Jon Heyman. have written that Jeter is already aggrieved that he's not the top dog he used to be among his teammates..O'Connor's new book promises to reveal info about the captain's declining influence in the clubhouse. Is it possible Jeter might trash the organization? I wouldn't be surprised.

Granted, it would make zero sense for Derek Jeter to burn bridges with the organization that made him a New York legend, and that is offering him more money than anybody else would. But it didn't make much sense for Joe Torre to do what he did, either.

What do you think? Tell us about it!


Alvaro Fernandez Ravelo said...

Torre. And I do believe that agents have responsibility here, Matsui's agents read the market pretty well, Boras' for Damon didn't.
Really looking forward for Orland Cabrera as the new Yankee SS for 2011.

Anonymous said...

I hope Jeter is not as shallow as Torre was in his book. Torre managed the Yankees, but he was a Met as a player and managed other teams before the Yankees, so his impact was not as bad as Jeter's would be to NYY.

Jeter would be banned from NYC if he started trashing everything (...yankees), as he made fans believe that New York was his home and that he loved being a Yankee more than anything.

MB said...

Take the $45 million and grow up already! Since when should somebody get paid because he's been decent and had integrity. Were those (decency and integrity) part-time jobs with the Yankees? If he's so decent and wants to win so much, then just be quiet. He may have one great year left, and that year might be worth the $45 mil. That's it! Merry Christmas Jeter! That's not a bad bundle from where I sit!

Alvaro Fernandez Ravelo said...

According to Fangraphs the most he has ever been worth in a single season was $32M in 2009. Since 2002 he has been between $11 and $17. Other exception '06 when he was worth $23M and '10 when he was worth a little bit under $10M. In summary, he has been overpaid.

The Yankees should as for a cut for his Ford, Nike and other sponsorships.

Lisa Swan said...

I haven't been much of a believer in Jeter's intangibles -- ehe's got just as much of an ego as any other superstar diva, he just hides it better. And the way the captain held a grudge against A-Rod when it hurt the clubhouse for years was completely unacceptable.

Which is why I find it laughable that he thinks he deserves extra money for his leadership. What leadership? Telling the fans not to boo Chuck Knoblauch and Jason Giambi, but refusing to do the same for A-Rod? Puh-lease.

Uncle Mike said...

So what "hurt the clubhouse for years" was Jeter holding a grudge against A-Rod?

Riiiight, that's the reason the Yankees lost in the Playoffs in 2004, '05, '06 and '07, not because A-Rod turned into Sergio Ferrer when the money was on the table. (If you don't remember Ferrer, ask Squawker Jon.)

Lisa, that's a very impressive Greek chorus you've got around you. But you're starting to write about Jeter the way Mike Lupica writes about Isiah Thomas. With one big difference: Lupica is right.

Lisa Swan said...


If Jeter is such a great captain, then why did the Yanks have a clubhouse that was so "broken," as Brian Cashman put it, that CC Sabathia was asked to help fix the clubhouse chemistry? Still waiting for a Jeter fan to explain that.

Uncle Mike said...

Why was the Yankee clubhouse broken? I'll give you 13 reasons. Surely, it can't only be money behind neither the Mariners nor the Rangers lifting a finger to keep A-Rod.

It would be different, Lisa, if you attributed the 1996-2003 successes to Joe Torre but not to Jeter. At least then you'd have a point.

But to dismiss both the greatest manager of the last 50 years and the greatest Yankee player of the last 40 years, and side with A-Rod, who was a self-made loser until some new pitching and Teixeria were brought in, reducing his burden...

I've often mentioned a game I saw at the old Stadium in 2005 or '06, where these two young women were sitting in front of me, wearing RODRIGUEZ 13 T-shirts, and commenting on how A-Rod was "so hot." I called him a loser, one turned around and said, "So what, he's hot." I began to wonder what Thurman Munson would have thought. These women clearly had the wrong priorities.

And, lest we forget, in the 2010 postseason, A-Rod's on-base percentage was .289, with 3 RBIs as the cleanup hitter; Jeter's OBP was .286 with 2 RBIs as the leadoff hitter. Functionally equal, and Jeter is a year older. Tell me again, which one is in decline? Tell me again, which one doesn't deserve all that money?

Subway Squawkers said...

Oh, please, Mike. Is that you best you got, some anecdote about girls thinking A-Rod is hot? As is every single girl wearing No. 2 shirts is a baseball expert.

As for the clubhouse chemistry, it has been reported by a variety of sources, including none less than Joe Torre's book, that the Jeter-A-Rod feud divided the clubhouse. It was up to the captain to welcome A-Rod to the team, and not hold a jealous grudge. If Donovan McNabb could welcome a dog killer who ended up taking to his job to the Eagles, then Jeter could have gotten over his pettiness and treated A-Rod as a valued teammate.

Then there's this:

"But to dismiss both the greatest manager of the last 50 years and the greatest Yankee player of the last 40 years, and side with A-Rod, who was a self-made loser until some new pitching and Teixeria were brought in, reducing his burden..."

A self-made loser with three MVPs, two as a Yankee. A self-made loser whose worst season rivals Jeter's best season. So much for you and other Yankee fans promise to stop denigrating A-Rod when he got a ring. Oy.

And your reading competition is getting spotty. I haven't dismissed Torre and Jeter; I just think that the Yankees have already paid several times over for the contributions, and don't need to keep on paying for rings won in the Clinton administration.

And by the way, Jeter had zero rings as captain until CC, Swisher and even AJ helped change the clubhouse chemistry. Ken Davidoff wrote today in Newsday that the whole "Choose a Side: Jeter or A-Rod" dynamic that infected the clubhouse finally ended when those guys got on the team. But the Yanks are supposed to pay extra for Jeter's leadership? Spare me.

Love the postseason comparison. You don't seem to get that the leadoff hitter having a .286 OBP isn't exactly anything to be proud of, do you? Not to mention the leadoff hitter having the worst OBP on the team for the 2010 season, while the cleanup hitter was one RBI away from leading the league, even though he missed 25 games.

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