Rob Neyer– I’m sure the Steinbrothers would love to see Derek Jeter wearing
pinstripes forever, but I believe they’re even more infatuated with winning,
and in two years it’s going to be terribly obvious that spending $20
million on a 37-year-old shortstop who can’t play shortstop may be
tantamount to losing. So I think we can dispense with the
speculation, because I’m ready to tell you right now: It’s just not
going to happen. The Yankees will have a younger and better shortstop
The inevitable ending. The ending that involves Derek Jeter and the New York Yankees ending their incredibly rewarding relationship. An ending that will almost definitely leave mixed emotions, and leaving some crushed emotions all over the table.
Is Derek Jeter a 20 million dollar player at this stage of his career? No. In all that is quantifiable, Jeter is no longer that caliber a player. Derek, however, is still a capable player. So with that being stated, Derek Jeter will be worth even less when his contract is to be renewed. He will fall well short, and will not be worth even close to that $20 mill, when 2011 arrives.
The unfortunate aspect of this is that what is the best for the club, will be very disheartening to the fans. The Yankees have to do a better job cutting ties with aging veterans than they have in past seasons, either that or not signing so many extra long deals when they bring a player in. Because what they end up with is a few overpaid players running around, players that the Yankees would gladly move, if someone else would absorb their salaries.
But Neyer’s conclusion is that the Yankees don’t have to necessarily let Jeter walk, if they and Jeter could come to reasonable terms on a deal. But is that likely? Does Jeter want to take a significant paycut to stay within an organization that he has does so many great things for?
This is when some fans may feel differently about their favorite player. Maybe the Yankees offer him a reasonable contract for the value that Jeter actually has, and maybe Jeter doesn’t feel that offer is enough. Maybe he feels that the offer is underappreciating all that he has accomplished wearing pinstripes. So maybe Jeter leaves, goes to another team. Some fans will always love Jeter. But some fans will probably turn on him, at least with their minds, saying he was greedy, saying it was all about the money.
But maybe, MAYBE, in Jeter’s mind it was about how the Yankees valued his dedication to the team all those years. Maybe it wasn’t too much to do with the extra 3-4 million dollars, but more to do with the fact that Jeter feels like his “family” wants to move in another direction. In a direction where their shortstop can actually get to balls up the middle, and can still hit with the best SS’s in the game.
Remember this is 2011. Right now, Jeter can still swing the bat with a lot of the top SS’s in the game, outside of a few truly great ones. But in 2011, after Jeter’s bat speed declines a little more, when his range becomes unbearable, when his body aches a little bit more, then all of that will add up to Derek Jeter probably being a liability at SS. And can anyone blame the Yankees for not wanting to spend an insane amount of money on him? Can anyone defend that position?
I have repeated myself numerous times on how much respect I have for Jeter. And to be honest, it isn’t painful at all to praise him even though he does in fact wear Pinstipes. To reiterate, it does not pain me at all, as it does a very large part of the Red Sox fan base. But this situation has the making that maybe it doesn’t end fan friendly. Is everyone in Yankee-land prepared for that? Because there are few players that I have watched in my day that it would be more difficult to part with than Derek Jeter, from a fan and organizational standpoint. A player that has been a more than an “adequate” piece to four World Championships. A more than “capable” player during a run of 12 straight postseason appearances.
But don’t think purely pessimistic thoughts. There is a possbility that the Yankees and Jeter agree on a deal. That Jeter accepts his ability and/or the Yankees pony up the money.
Jeter may very well be in the same city in 2011 also.