I'd like to begin this post by stating how big a fan of Derek Jeter I am. He's been a very good-to-great player for the Yankees since he broke in with the 1996 championship team-the first title for my generation of Yankees fans. We've grown up with Jeter at shortstop every day and have trouble imagining the day when he, and Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada, aren't wearing pinstripes. This isn't about what Jeter has been. This is about what Jeter is and what is about to become of him. First will start with three things you may or may not know about No. 2:
1. Jeter is the captain of the Yankees.
2. He's been a Yankee his entire career.
3. He makes a lot of money.
Now that we've gotten everything out on the table, the Yankees and their fans know what 2010 means: it's the last year of Jeter's contract that paid him $21.6 million from 2007-2009 and $22.6 million this season. So I'd like to introduce a new segment here at Offbase entitled It's Time for Yankees Fans to be Honest With Themselves , brought to you by The People to Convince Delusional Yankees Fans in 2005 that Alex Rodriguez is 75 billion Times Better Than 75 Billion Scott Brosius' Stacked On Top of Each Other.
$22.6 million is an absurd figure for any player, including people like Albert Pujols, but for Jeter it's almost laughable. While a very good player for many years-.314/.385/.454, 120 OPS+ career through Sunday's games-and a great player in six different seasons (1998, '99, '00, '03, '06 and last season)-Jeter is not worth twenty-two million dollars per season. His 2010 numbers are really down, but I'm not piling on the NY shortstop because he's having his first bad season (.716 OBS, 97 OPS+). But it does present a problem the Yankees organization is going to have to deal with in three months when Jeter becomes a free agent: either over-pay Jeter, again, or see him GASP! go to another team for much, much, much less than he would make with NY.
Do I want Jeter to finish his career for another team? No. I do not. I think Derek Jeter has meant a great deal to the Yankees organization, on and off the field. He deserves to get to 3,000 hits and try to win more championships with the New York Yankees. But it's going to come at a huge cost and I just don't think anyone, in his age-37 year coming off a sub-par season, is worth tens of millions of dollars.
"But Derwood, the Yankees can afford it! Money is no object to them!"
Settle down, Anthony in Poughkeepsie. Despite the Yankees' high payroll, money IS an object to them. OK, it apparently wasn't an object when they signed Kei Igawa, but we all make embarrassing mistakes. This may sound ridiculous coming from a team that is going to have to pay Alex Rodriguez until he's 83-years old, but money is an object when, instead of giving $21 million to Jeter, they could give Jeter $5 or $6 million and take the other $15 million and
1. Improve the pitching staff
2. Improve the bench
3. Give me some
I'm not trying to say that Jeter isn't worth retaining for the remainder of his career. I'm not here to condemn Jeter for his rough 2010 and send him packing once free agency hits. The point of this post is to try and put some rational thoughts into certain Yankees fan's heads. A man with a 1.1 WAR who can't field a ground ball to his left and is closer to 37 than 36, isn't a $22 million-a-year player.
Louie Fatchabroote in White Plains, and millions of his closest friends, including dozens of dumb broadcasters and commentators, think the Yanks should just give Jeter whatever he wants this off-season because he's a true Yankee and he shouldn't wear another jersey and his mom and dad are always shown in the crowd cheering. Apparently, Jeter is the only player in the history of baseball who played for the same organization his entire career and has parents.
Tim McCarver said on a FOX broadcast earlier in the season that if Jeter didn't sign with the Yankees after the 2010 season it'd be a "travesty." But this isn't about how much of an idiot Tim McCarver is. That's tomorrow's post. No, this is about the Jeter situation: a career Yankee who has all of these invisible contributions like "clutchness", "leadership" and "intangibles" and has put himself in a situation where he can basically name his price and if the NY organization doesn't oblige, they'll have to listen to fans who only listen to Tim McCarver. You wouldn't want to be in that room. And I don't blame Derek Jeter at all. He's the most-famous baseball player on the richest team in the most-famous city in the world. Good for him for getting as much money as he can, but the Yankees are in a situation where they have to pay Jeter Pujols money-times-two for the next two or three years, and I don't think that's the right move for my favorite baseball team.