Does Jeter’s 2010 performance *really* matter?

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 first class, prideful, immensely proud, ridiculously popular, the face of the organization, the most marketable:

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.

About @Jason_IIATMS

IIATMS overlord and founder. ESPN contributor. Purveyor of luscious reality.

40 thoughts on “Does Jeter’s 2010 performance *really* matter?

  1. And this is why Derek Jeter annoys me more than anything. I mean, if the Myth of Jeter is accurate, this is all beside the point anyway isn't it? I assume that if he finishes out this season and has a bad year, he'll simply refuse to be overpaid, and certainly wouldn't let the team give him too many years, for the good of the team, amirite?

    It's not Jeter's fault, of course, but I can't stand the way the character survives.

  2. "To be honest with you, I didn't even know (Sheppard's) funeral was (Thursday),'' said Jeter. Sorry, Jason, but I fail to see how that act qualifies as "first class," considering that the guy insists on having Sheppard's voice continue to introduce him before his plate appearances.

    And agreed to what Brien typed above.

  3. I just hope he isn't Boras'ed like Damon;  with any sane agent, Johnny could still be in pinstripes.  If all of a sudden Derek wants and lays claim to A-Rod money, it could get ugly.  Fast.


    I hope Jason is right, and everyone uses common sense.   But there isn't a lot of precedent for that happening.

  4. I didn't want to bring up the funeral, because I'm not really comfortable with things that personal, but I agree with what someone else (don't remember who) said; if Jeter didn't know when the funeral was, it means he didn't care to know. And if that's the case, then all of his "tributes" and what not to Shephard ring unbelievably hollow.

    A really fun game to play with things Jeter does is to imagine what the media would say if A-Rod did it. Right down to that made-for-Gatorade fist pump.

  5. You know what else would be nice to see? Someone pointing out that Jeter's current contract is the 3rd largest in baseball history, and he signed it before he was even eligible for free agency. The Yankees have taken care of Jeter, and don't owe him any favors financially.

  6. And why is this the only year to look at?  What about the fact that he finished 3rd in the MVP voting and had a great postseason last year?  That shouldn't factor into the discussion?



  7. @Brien: I agree, the Cult of Jeter is a powerful one. I can't say I'm a member, but I can't say I am not, either. 

    You're spot on about not owning Jeter anything and I agree. This isn't about owing, per se, it's about keeping our guy in our laundry.  Right or wrong.  And the Yanks don't give "hometown discounts"; they give "hometown premiums".

    If there was a CarFax for MLB players, you'd have to check lotsa extra boxes for Jeter, which boosts his resale value. Rings? Check? Good citizen? Check. Leader? Check (mostly). 3000 hits? Check…. you get the point.

    @JE: I still don't understand the whole funeral mess.

    @Jon: We can hope for common sense, but I'm not optimistic for that.  What I am hoping for is a reasonable enough common ground that won't hamstring the team.  I also say that tongue-in-cheek because nothing really hamstrings this money-maker.

  8. I'm just shocked by everything surrounding this.  For starters, if this is just about MONEY, and there's no salary cap.  And Jeter brings in a tremendous amount of money because of who he is, where is the problem?

    If the issue is he can't cut it as an everyday player that's one thing, but I don't think anyone thinks that.  If the issue is just "money", THERE IS NO ISSUE.

  9. @Brian: My last two sentences in my previous comment say pretty much the same thing: If it's only money, there's no problem. Sure the Yanks budget/payroll will go up again next year.  And the sun will again rise in the East.

  10. We can hope for common sense, but I’m not optimistic for that.  What I am hoping for is a reasonable enough common ground that won’t hamstring the team.  I also say that tongue-in-cheek because nothing really hamstrings this money-maker.


    Bingo.  You're only concern is to not "hamstring" the team, but then in you're next breath you acknowledge that due to the lack of the salary cap and this team's financial power, there's no such thing


    And I say again, where's the issue.

  11. Has any player ever signed a contract that stipulated a base salary plus incenetives in  perpetuity?  That is to say, could the front ofice convince Jeter to accept something along the lines of 7.5 mil per year with bonuses for career milestones, world championships, season performance etc. until the time that he's ready to hang it up?  They might still be overpaying, but given the unpredictability of future performance at this stage in any athlete's career, would it make more sense than comitting 10 mil or, heaven forbid, 15 mil a year over the next 5, or even 3?  I agree that the Yankees owe Jeter very little at this point, both sides seem to have taken pretty good care of each other, and I only hope logic prevails in the end. 

  12. @Brian: there is no cap but what if there's a self-imposed budget that is very real? We don't know.  It's an allocation of resources problem/discussion.

    but, you are right, it doesn't matter much if the Yanks overpay $5m per year.

  13. I'm glad we agree.  I can't say I'm shocked at the number of idiots who are acting like this is the NFL and there's some hard cap with no exceptions.  It's the internet.  Anything goes.

  14. Jason, it's a fair point.  But Hal can end that with one statement.

    "This is one contract that I'm happy to pay, I can't say that about every contract we've handed out over the years, but I can about this one"


    Boom.  The end.  Jeter gets his money.  We get our guy for a few more years.  The whining fades out.  Everyone lives happily after.

  15. I don't really have a problem paying a premium for Jeter. I think 3 year/$45 million is probably fair, but if that goes to 4 years/$60 million or even 3 years/$50-60 million I won't really care. It's the rumors floating about a 4 or 5 year, $80-100 million contracts that would worry me. Those are just crazy. And, for the record, as far as I know there's no reason to think Jeter is going to hold out for something outrageous either.

    beyond that, I just don't like the notion some mediots float that the Yankees have to "take care of Jeter" or "pay him for past performance." They already did that with a very large contract, a contract so large only one other person in all of baseball history has ever gotten a bigger one. But that point is about the media, not Jeter.

  16. @Sam: I believe, and I'd have to check the language (which I won't do, sorry), that the RedSox and Wakefield have a mutual $4m option. Not sure if it's in perpetuity or not, but it's a mutual option.

    And if I were Jeter's agent, I wouldn't sign below market, either.  Or even AT market. Above market for the biggest market… WITH kickers for milestones.

  17. jason said "What I am hoping for is a reasonable enough common ground that won’t hamstring the team."


    and therin lies the rub.  wouldn't it suck, if we had to miss out on a good middle reliever, or bench player (or, even someone like Damon) just because we gave Jeter an extra 5 mil or so?  And even that wouldn't be so bad, if he could fill the shortstop position.  But that's really my worry – not the money – it ain't mine anyway – but the fact that 3 years from now we either have a slow shortstop or a light hitting DH.  Or a highly overpaid utility infielder/spokesman for the team.  Nobody will be well served if, at the end of his next contract, we get to see pictures of Derek snoring in the dugout between innings.

  18. Nobody will be well served if, at the end of his next contract, we get to see pictures of Derek snoring in the dugout between innings.


    Anyone who thinks that could happen doesn't know ANYTHING about Derek Jeter

  19. To point out the obvious, no one knows anything about Derek Jeter. We know a lot about his carefully crafted public image, but you know nothing about Jeter as a person.

  20. At the end of the day, it's not my money, if the Yankees force Jeter into a paycut and he's ok with it, that's fine.


    For me, it's the years.  I don't want Jeter to receive a 3 year deal and then 1 year passes by before we have to start hearing about his contract and "uncertain" future all over again.  I want him to get 5 years so we can all just shut the f up about this and let the man do his thing.

  21. We know a lot about his carefully crafted public image, but you know nothing about Jeter as a person.


    This is silly.

    Jeter has been at the top step of the dugout and the first person to congratulate a teammate after coming through his WHOLE CAREER.  Yeh, it's partly to craft that winner image.  But maybe it's more simple than that.  Maybe Jeter just LOVES to play baseball, LOVES to win, and LOVES to be a Yankee

    Jeter's "reputation" wasn't handed to him as the haters want you to believe, he earned him because when Nomar was sulking in the dugout, he was busy flying into the stands (that's one example of millions)


  22. Well sure, it's entirely possible that the image is legitimate, at least to some degree. It's also possible that it's completely manufactured by his PR reps or Yankees media people, and that Jeter's a very good actor. My point wasn't that it's obviously a lie, my point was that you don't know, because you don't actually know Derek Jeter.

  23. Brian R – I really didn't expect to see Ken Griffey Jr doing that either.  Did you?  Was there something in his makeup that told you he'd be snoozing his last season?


    I don't know anything about anyone; but after discovering KGjr was human, I can't say I'd be surprised to find out that the Captain was too.

  24. I disagree.  Griffey was one of my favorites, but come on, he ALWAYS gave off a bit of a lazy, i care but i'm not obsessed type vibe.  It's a big part of the reason he didn't age gracefully.

    Ditto Andruw Jones.

    Jeter's a different breed.

  25. @ Brien J

    Do you seriously believe Jeter is such a robot that he has been able to put on a false front public face that has fooled EVERYONE that's ever dealt with him for his almost 20 years in professional baseball?  Seriously, has anyone ever heard anyone say anything bad about the guy?  Even his ex-girlfriends have nothing but glowing things to say about him.  He's not perfect but I can't remember anyone other than Cal Ripken Jr. that was as universally well liked for this long and Ripken never had to deal with the scrutiny of the NYC media.

  26. I don't think its entirely contrived, no. I think he's basically probably a good guy, a good teammate, etc. But there's also certainly some elements of his image that are contrived. The guy's a celebrity who sells a certain image after all, it's just absurd to think there's isn't at least some acting going on. Either way, there's just no way to know what he's going to do this off-season, so making bold predictions about how you "know" Derek Jeter is just stupid. I'd imagine none of us have any idea what it's like to have someone offer you $1 million, let alone $50 million+, let alone have any idea how that sort of money affects a person's thought process.

  27. Don, it's a good post, but I don't to turn this debate into a "personal" evaluation of Jeter


    This is a business.  I believe it's in the best interest of the Yankees to pay Jeter his money and not go down the road of playing hardball to save 5 million a year.


    The Yankees have a multi BILLION dollar brand to think about.  Jeter bolsters the brand.  An ungly parting damages the brand.  The Yankees need to think big picture here and I believe they will.

  28. Regardless of what happens, I just cannot WAIT for Jeter to sign the contract (whatever it winds up being) so we can all move on.



  29. Brian R, we get it: you are a big fan of Jeter.


    As are 99% of all other Yankee fans.  And there's a reason for that.

  30. By the way, how did Torre's messy departure from the Yankees damage the brand? (Hint: it didn't. Losing damages the brand more than anything else.)

  31. By the way, how did Torre’s messy departure from the Yankees damage the brand? (Hint: it didn’t. Losing damages the brand more than anything else.)


    Please don't compare a manager, ANY manager, to Derek Jeter


  32. "Please don’t compare a manager, ANY manager, to Derek Jeter."

    Right you are. Torre was willing to accept a two-year deal or a modest raise on a one-year contract!

  33. Not sure what that means.  But whatever.  The truth is, I understand some of the backlash against Jeter, it's human nature.  But to go as far as to say he "annoys you more than anything else" (i know that was not you), I mean, that's just straight up sad.


    The end.  Leaving work everyone have a good night.

  34. I have nothing against Jeter per se, just those who claim that he walks on water. Get home safely.

  35. I'd love to see a 3 year deal in the 12-17 (hopefully 15 works) range and then 2 years of options –  a player option for 7.5 and a team option for 12.5 no buyout for both years – any chance that happens?

  36. Brian R., nice job trying to keep the doubters and haters at bay yesterday.  I have to admit I took one look at this post and knew I didn't have the energy to try and sway anyone who doesn't understand Jeter's value to the Yankees now, all the way to Cooperstown and to all those Old-Timer games to come.  He is our generation's Mickey Mantle and the single most recognizeable, and therefore marketable, player in all of MLB today.   

    Let's just hope that class, dignity and common sense rule the day, and Jeter and the Yanks come to a mutual agreement that everyone can live with.  And that goes for the Great Mariano as well. I think they owe it to us, the fans, to make it happen.

  37. Jeter is the biggest phony in NY sports. If this guy really cared only about team, he would stop playing SS and move to a different position (corner outfield, maybe?) where he would not kill the team with his increasingly limited range. Listen, he has been a great player for a lot of year, but he has also been compensated accordingly. How many hitters in the #1 or #2 slot earn 20 mil a year? To be fair, and if we are only looking at numbers, Jeter has never been a #3, 4, or 5 hole guy. But he gets the attention and dollars that other teams' best hitters could only dream to get. He has meant a lot to this team, but now he is becoming a liability, and will especially be so in 2 or 3 more years, when the Yanks will still be too intimidated to move him out of the 1 hole or the critical SS position defensively. If he was the ultimate "team first" guy, he would move on down the lineup, let Gardner hit first, and start working on his corner outfield skills, because THAT would be best for the team.

  38. id honestly give jeter something like 3/70, because lets remember he's coming off a deal that averaged 18.9/yr. and now alot of yankees are making at least 22/yr.  you lose jeter, you will tick off ALOT of Fans