Monday, November 22, 2010

Contemplating Derek Jeter, Part I

Whatcha gonna do,
sign with the Giants
or something?
The New York Yankees are currently confronting their version of what I call the Cal Ripken Dilemma: They have a franchise icon clearly in decline whose pride won't allow him to admit that, while he's still useful, he's not worth his current salary.

In this case, the icon is Derek Jeter, officially a free agent. The Yankees have reportedly offered The Captain a three-year contract at $15 million a year. This would be about a 25 percent pay cut, and Jeter (through his agent) ain't buying:

Derek's significance to the team is much more than just stats. And yet, the Yankees' negotiating strategy remains baffling.

Thus speaks Casey Close.

Jeter is indeed deeply entwined in what a marketer would call the Yankee brand (and baseball's brand in general;  an image of Jeter in triumph is so ubiquitous in MLB promos that I suspect it's mandated by some obscure clause of the labor agreement). And the Yankees are deeply entwined in Jeter's brand. Think he'd be so prominent in ad campaigns if he played for Houston?

The problem in these increasingly testy negotiations is that Jeter is more valuable to the Yankees than he is to anybody else, because he's simply not the player he was even three years ago, and the Yankees know it. The Yankees also know that the second Steinbrenner generation established themselves as soft touches by caving in to Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada in previous talks, and they want to prove otherwise.

In the end, Jeter will have to accept the Yankees offer, because nobody else is going to offer as much. And if his pride is wounded by knowing that A.J. Burnett makes more per year, for a longer term ... well, that's Jeter's problem.


  1. i expect something like this from a twinkies fan.
    how's the mauer contract looking ?

  2. *Laughing my ass off at the Skankee fans who can't decide if the great Jeter is actually just another greedy ballplayer who thinks he's entitled to be paid twice what his talent is worth or whether their front office is a bunch of ungrateful dicks.

  3. it's a bit ironic that the yankees have a contract dispute when they buy their team year after year by offering big name players amounts that are obscenely larger than the rest of the league. too bad it had to be jeter (one of the only big-name players that was actually drafted and not bought) but it serves them right nonetheless.

    regarding the first comment, are you really judging joe mauer on one injury-hampered year in a new stadium that (thus far) favors pitchers? he still put together a great season offensively and defensively when you judge him against virtually every catcher out there. you must still be bitter that mauer turned down hundreds of millions more because he didn't want to sell out. have fun with posada.