I got into this yesterday, and a great deal more last season. What I wrote on November 14, 2008, in my “Varitek’s a proxy for Jeter” posting (please keep in mind the date and how we had no idea that Derek’s defensive renaissance was on the way):
Fact: Jeter’s 10 year, $180 million contract expires after the 2010 season. Next year is 2009, believe it or not. Two years. That’s it. Then what? Anyone can see that he’s no longer a very good defender and some may think I am too kind when I call him “capable” right now. But that’s not going to improve as Jeter enters his late 30’s. Will Jeter move to 1B? What if Teix (or other more adept/powerful player) is entrenched there? Will he slide to 2B? Outfield? Willingly or will it be kicking and screaming?
What if Jeter (and agent Casey Close) pull what Varitek/Boras are trying to do to the Sox: Sell the intangibles and disregard the facts? What if Jeter, at age 37 (during 2011), decides that playing SS is more important than any other factor? How will the Yanks react?
Nearly all of the great SS’s, particularly the bigger ones, eventually moved from SS to yield to a younger, more athletic body. Ripken, Yount, Ernie Banks to name just three. Yount moved from SS at age 29, when he was still young enough to make the all star team as a CF. Ripken waited until age 36. Banks moved to 1B at age 31. Hell, ARod moved from SS to 3B, yielding to Jeter, in 2004 at age 28.
For Jeter to approach 4k hits, using an easy average of 200 hits per year (career average: 206), he’d need to play at least another seven years. That’s five years after his contract expires. And, uh oh, using his average hits/year, Jeter will be thisclose to the immortalizing 3,000 by the time 2010 concludes. Can you see Jeter/Close walking into Hank & Hal and saying: “Jeter needs 85 hits to reach 3,000. Want him to do it in some other uniform in some other city?” Talk about pressure.
Going back a year and a half leads to reading some funny things we thought we knew at the time; namely that Jeter was no longer capable of playing an even adequate shortstop. But now, after his scintillating 2009 season, who’s to doubt Jeter’s pride and ability, particularly when hears the murmurs?