- “Derek’s significance to the team is much more than just stats” This is true. Jeter is the Captain, the team’s moral compass and ever-present driver to achieve. Jeter represents all that the Yankees want the franchise to represent: Class, Respect, Excellence. Yet, the Yankees franchise will live on in the post-Jeter era, whenever that starts, be it 2011 or sometime in the future, just as it succeeded pre-Jeter. The Yanks have paid Jeter handsomely during his incredibly successful tenure, some $205 million so far in salary alone. In return, the Yanks have gotten all they could have asked for from Jeter. His ten year contract has been a boon for both sides, an absolute rarity in professional sports. Each side has thrived during the length of Jeter’s career to date. The team’s success in the 1990’s helped fuel the crazy spending of the 2000’s (in an effort to keep the ‘dynasty’ alive). Jeter is one of the main reasons for the team’s successes, but not the only one. Some have said that it’s Mariano Rivera who has been the most critical component over the last 15 years. Jeter, in occupying the front seat on this bus, has leveraged all the things that he represents into countless more millions in endorsements. This symbiotic relationship should continue unless ego, on either side, gets in the way. The Yankees, I believe, are more than aware of Jeter’s individual significance to the entire organization. But does Jeter (and Close) realize that this organization will go on once his playing days are done? Sometimes, I’m not so sure. The Babe Ruth references are just silly, by the way.
- “And yet, the Yankees’ negotiating strategy remains baffling” Baffling? Really, Casey? What’s baffling to you: the “it’s just business” or the offer that you clearly view as “baffling”? I’ve said for a while now that the public comments are problematic, starting with the initial posturing. Once Randy Levine got involved, it signaled to me that Cashman is not as in control of this process as I’d like (and I am guessing as he’d like, too). The semi-truth is that there is a budget and there are other things to consider. I’ve also often said that “it’s about the money, but the money doesn’t matter.” Overpay Jeter. Do it. Give him more than any other team would even consider. And to me, the initial offer is just that, an overpayment. But it’s also simply an opening offer which also indicates that the team will go even higher to keep Jeter, for all he is, all he isn’t and all he represents. However, despite the Yankees apparent endless revenue streams, there are some very real reasons why these negotiations need to remain somewhat in the realm of reality (ie: not $20m/yr for 5 years). The money does matter, after all. From Larry’s excellent work here:
(1) the Yankees’ cash resources are NOT unlimited, (2) the Yankees need payroll flexibility to address roster requirements arising after 2011, and most importantly (3) with the collective bargaining agreement up for renegotiation in 2011, there are strong tactical reasons for the Yankees to keep their 2011 payroll as low as possible.
- “They continue to argue their points in the press and refuse to acknowledge Derek’s total contribution to their franchise” I’ll bypass the first half of this sentence since I already agreed with Close that the public displays and comments from Hal, Cashman and Levine are unproductive at best, damaging at worst. However, the second half of this sentence has me grinding my teeth. The team absolutely acknowledges Jeter’s total contribution to the franchise. Their initial offer, not their final offer, already includes what the team believes to be a “hometown premium” for all things Jeterian. Close and Jeter may disagree and that’s fine. I encourage them to visit with each and every other of the 29 MLB teams and weigh their offers (if any actually made a legitimate offer) and find any that even resemble what the Yanks will offer in terms of length and sheer dollar amount. If Jeter and Close can actually find a team willing to go higher than 4 years and $60 million (where I think this is going, at least), take it. Seriously, if there’s another team out there who deems that their franchise can extract that much value out of Derek Jeter, so be it. I will be upset and disappointed if that were come to pass, but I don’t believe for one second that there’s a team out there who would ascribe that much value/cost to Jeter.
The problem that I am having is that the Yankee organization helped create Derek Jeter, the image, as much as Jeter himself. What if Jeter was borne of the Pirates’ organization and didn’t grow up in the post-season for the first 14 years of his career? Thankfully for each side, and all the Yankee fans, Jeter was birthed into a franchise on the cusp of a dynasty and that organization had the financial might to not only keep their homegrown stars throughout their careers but also to spend like maniacs to fill the roster with every other team’s talent that became too pricey for them to afford. This was the perfect storm for every other team in MLB. Jeter did not make the Yankees; the Yankees made Jeter. You won’t hear the team saying this but I’m sure they believe it.
So Mr. Close, spare me the feigned shock and astonishment, please. You have little leverage. [Aside from the hit the team might take in brand image, the best leverage Jeter/Close have is the fact that there is a mediocre Plan B if Jeter goes elsewhere. They could start Eduardo Nunez/Ramiro Pena and simply redeploy the alloted Jeter cash and get a guy like Crawford/Werth. What else is there, Juan Uribe?] The battle lines are already being drawn and fans are beginning to view Jeter’s demands as greedy. That selfless, team-first image that Jeter has done such a wonderful job cultivating is being chipped away, ever so slowly.
All that being said, my message to the Yankees organization: Please keep this out of the press. Keep the comments to something short like this:
“The entire Yankee organization desires to keep Derek Jeter in pinstripes his entire playing career and for the rest of his post-playing life. We have the utmost respect for Derek’s contributions to this organization and we will be forever grateful for his service. He is and has been everything we want our organization to represent. We remain optimistic that a mutually beneficial agreement will be reached as soon as possible. We will have no further comments until that time.”
That’s not too hard, is it? Just get the damn deal done already. Please.
Making this mess stick out that much more is the fact that we’re hearing very little from Mariano Rivera and his representation. Mariano knows he will be paid and has not (yet) suffered any real slippage in his on-field performance. And no one knows diddly about him, the person. Mo has not made any comments or has word leaked of contractual demands that are out of whack or based upon others’ contracts. Mo measures himself against himself, it seems. Joel Sherman touched on this today:
I am simply wondering why we are obsessing on Jeter and throwing out how to take care of him financially, when it is not all that difficult to make a case that Rivera deserves no less the attention and dollars?
Spot on, Joel. But it’s certainly fitting.
It’s time for Close and Jeter to sequester themselves with Cashman and hammer out a deal that works for both sides. Letting this drag out and being dragged through the mud by the newspapers does noone any good; it only sells more newspapers. Three years, four years, lifetime? Whatever. Just get it done.