If you jump into the way-back machine, I wrote this in 2008 and in re-reading it now, it’s funny/sad/pathetic how quickly I was then to extend Jeter’s poor defense to a point that Jeter would be willing to vacate SS on his own. How naive?!? However, this point still resonates:
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?
In many ways, he is our Derek Jeter, though the Yankees’ calm-eyed, fist-pumping captain is obviously superior in talent and production. They both have extremely recognizable profiles as central figures in baseball’s marquee rivalry. They both are greatly respected by their peers. They both loathe A-Rod. And one more commonality: When it became clear that the tangible measures were now suggesting that the player had significant flaws, they both had a well-stocked army of vocal and oblivious supporters who began clinging to the flimsy concept of “intangibles” as a vague means of denying the erosion of their idol’s talent. The emperor has no clothes – and in Jeter’s case, the emperor can’t go to his left, either.
Here’s the thing: I think Jeter is self-aware enough that he won’t want to play if he can’t play at the levels he’s already set as his “norm”. I can’t see Jeter doing what other HOF’ers have done, hang on just to play another year. It sure won’t be for the money, that’s for sure.
And you can bet your bobblehead that punching holes in that particular argument carries a tremendous amount of satisfaction. For all of Varitek’s alleged intangibles – handling pitchers, hustling, grit, guts, toughness, chewing glass, spitting nails, squatting, scowling, etc. – recent events suggest he’s teetering on becoming one of the most vile subspecies of professional athletes: an aging, subpar performer who demands the salary and security of a prime-of-career star.
You can virtually swap Jeter’s name for Varitek’s in the passage above and recycle this in two years. But I am hopeful, optimistic, homer-iffic in thinking that Jeter/Close won’t be looking for a 6 year deal at age 37. But there is a part of me that fears they will and fears more that Hank & Hal will be too scared not to relent. If Jeter wants to retire a Yankee and only play for this team his entire career, he’s going to have to adapt to the changing needs of the team and the changing level of his performance.
Of course, Jeter isn’t vacating his shortstop position ANY time soon. There’s noone to replace him (right now) at short. There’s no natural Yount-like transition to the outfield on the horizon. The DH will be clogged by Posada as well as giving other aging guys like ARod extra time off). So if Jeter is in pinstripes the next few years, it will be at shortstop.
So the only issue is…. (drumroll please)… MONEY! Shocking, I know. Hal Steinbrenner is now firmly at the helm of this conglomerate. He’s reportedly more savvy businesswise than his father and most certainly moreso than his older brother Hank. Hal and Cashman seem to be operating in a less sentimental manner (looking at you, Johnny Damon) than The Boss used to operate. And we all know how Hank handles high-profile staring contests (one of my first postings ever).
Will Hal and Brian lay out a multi-year plan (not just a contract) that has Jeter making above-market dollars for the next four years ($60m?) followed by a senior role within the organization? Or will they be colder and more analytical, offering to pay Jeter closer to market value, enabling some other team to tell Jeter: “we love you more than your old team does?” Will some team jump high enough to pay for a legend? Will Jeter even want to go somewhere else? I can’t see it, either. Jeter loves NY, the Yanks and everything that brings. His 2010 performance is almost irrelevant to me. He will be overpaid for his productivity, whatever it might be, until he retires, but he’s our Derek Jeter and we’re going to have to deal with that. And since he’s never done wrong by us, I’m OK with that idea.
Jeter is a “clear cut number one,” says Premier Partnerships President & CEO Randy Bernstein. “Derek is so marketable due to his likability, passion, hard work, leadership and most of all, his humility,” Bernstein said. “He is a proven champion and has led his one and only team to multiple championships while also building up exceptional Hall of Fame statistics.”
The ball will completely be in Jeter’s court glove: If he insists on the foolish money being paid to ARod, then I think he’s making a mistake in terms of assessing his own abilities.
I don’t see it happening. Jeter gets his 3,000th hit in pinstripes and eventually retires that way.
I now feel old, just for the mere fact that we’re talking about Jeter’s retirement. Wasn’t he a young kid a few years ago. Time flies. Jeter endures.