Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Jeter Situation, One and Done

When thinking about the many ways a post about the Jeter situation could be directed right now, the reality is a lot of them would probably be a waste of time. When you have two sides as juicy as the Yankees and Jeter, the media is going to run wild. That's going to result in a lot of false reports, which means that most of the discussions we could have right now will end up being a waste of time. I'm really not interested in that. So I'm going to throw out a few thoughts now and leave it at that - meaning likely not devoting another post to it - until something actually happens in this situation in terms of a resolution.

First things first, I want Jeter back. I see him producing somewhere between his '09 MVP-type year and '10 worst-year-of-his-career in 2011, which will be good for one of the better shortstops in the game. This will help the Yankees win. Having Jeter back will also be good from a continuity perspective. It will save approximately 1 million questions before Spring Training, during Spring Training, before Opening Day, after the Yankees' first losing streak, and when they make the playoffs for the first time without him, about if not having Derek Jeter is the reason or is going to be the reason for X, Y, and Z. These questions will be directed at anyone with even a remote connection to the team. This will be a distraction, and will not help the Yankees win. In all seriousness, the Yankees' are Jeter's team, and have been for a long time. He's may or may not be the player he once was in 2011 but he will still be who he is to the rest of the clubhouse from a leadership perspective. When the eventually lose him, there will be some things that need to get adjusted and figured out, especially from a leadership perspective. Not having to figure those things out this year will help the Yankees win. I'm all about things that help the Yankees win, and Jeter is just that. He's also my favorite athlete of all-time in any sport, and it would be nice to see him get his 3,000th hit and finish his career with the Yankees, hopefully with a few more World Series titles.

After that, Jeter really has no leverage. The Yankees current offer is somewhere around 3/$45, and despite being a pay cut, would still make him the highest paid middle-infielder in the game. Since he is not the best middle-infielder in the game, it is difficult to imagine another team going to even that level to sign him. There is nothing he can call on, besides perhaps retirement, that would make the Yankees go higher. Because his only other option would probably be to leave the Yankees for similar or less money, and that is not going to be good for his image, career, or legacy in all likelihood. The Yankees could and probably should go a little bit higher to sign him and bring back some good feelings, but beyond that have little reason to.

On that note, something that is sort of silly to me is the idea that the Yankees really need to pay Jeter for everything he's done for the organization. Um, what exactly was the $205,430,000 they paid him the last 15 years for? Listen, I understand Jeter has made the Yankees a lot of money. But the Yankees have also paid him more than most any player has made from any combination of teams in a single career in the history of the game. It isn't like he's been underpaid for his contributions on and off the field. It isn't even like he's been underpaid relative to performance and the rest of the league, like you could argue Rivera was before his last contract. I understand that some sort of "continued consideration" for all that he's done should probably be factored into the next contract. Key word here is "continued". It isn't like this is something that is starting fresh right now, and the Yankees now need to compensate him for everything he's ever done in his career. That's been ongoing for a while now, most notably since he signed the $189 million contract 10 years ago. Some people are making it seem differently, and it just not the case.

One interesting theory that I had thought about and have heard a few other people mention. the 09-10 falloff was precipitous. Not unlike anything we've ever seen, especially given Jeter's age. But he was SO GOOD in 2009 and SO BAD in 2010 in makes you wonder if there wasn't something going on. We know Jeter plays injured, and we know he does not like anyone knowing about or talking about those injuries because then that opens the door for excuses for poor play. His ability and desire to play through injuries is one of the great attributes of his career. He played the 2004 playoffs with a broken thumb and people didn't really find out about it until the Joe Torre book came out almost five years later. For any of us that have ever hit a baseball with two good thumbs, we know how painful it can be. Never mind with a broken thumb, and being able to rack up 12 hits, 3 for extra bases, in two playoff series all the while. So, with that in mind, is it possible that Jeter played injured for most of the year, that the Yankees aren't really factoring that in, and Jeter feels a little bit of "I stayed in when you needed me and now you're pretending like that didn't happen"? It's a little conspiracy-theory-ish, but given the history I don't think out of the question. You might say if this was the case, why doesn't camp Jeter just put it out there for the public to know. But that goes against everything Jeter stands for, so it would make sense if it was the case for it to stay quiet.

I think this thing will end up getting done for 3/$60 or 4/$70. I have no fancy rationale for either of those guesses, only that the Yankees want three years, Jeter seems to want more, and his last salary was around $20 million. So I figure the Yankees either get the years they want and continue to pay him around what he was making, or Jeter gets closer to the years he wants and the Yankees pay a lower salary. One thing I find interesting is that, no matter what the contract, I see this contract ending up being one that neither side is thrilled with. Rarely do you see that happen in negotiations. Usually one or both sides feels really good about the deal. I could see this ending up with both the Yankees and Jeter not being in love with the deal but also not totally disliking it. They'll just do what it ultimately takes to get it done, because they both know it's in their best interests to continue this relationship. For the winning and for the legacy.

10 comments:

Ross Kaplan said...

Pat I agree with you that Jeter shouldn't be paid for past performance. You of all people should know past consideration is not permissible consideration for a valid contract. That being said, I feel for Jeter in that for the first time after decades of overpaying scrubby free agents, the Yankees are suddenly tightening the purse strings on the Captain, face of the franchise, most marketable player in the game, whatever you want to call him.

Unfortunately, this is just the latest in a long line of Yankees actively pursuing and overpaying outside free agents while being frugal with their own free agents. I can't see Jeter just sort of fading off into the sunset like Bernie Williams so we will probably end up with some sort of compromise. I'd probably prefer overpaying Jeter over 3 years for say 65 million with bonuses for reaching certain milestones, then giving him a fair market value deal over 4 years for 80 million.

Either way at the end of the day I can't see Jeter being too upset with whatever he gets since he still has several hundred million dollars in the bank and gets to come home to Minka Kelly. Not a bad life at all.

the gm at work said...

Tank,

Where you been? Your first two paragraphs are exactly what I wrote last Sunday morning from Philadelphia. I know that you were probably too busy awestruck by the other crap I was doing last Sunday morning in Philadelphia, but come on.

Pat,

I similarly expect a significant bounceback, agree regarding his lack of leverage, and think your second sentence of your fourth paragraph says all you need to say. "What exactly was the $205,430,000 they paid him the last 15 years for?" You're usually in the "pay the guy" camp, and this is a refreshing moment of clarity.

Patrick said...

ross -

agree that it has to be somewhat perplexing to pettitte, posada, rivera, and now jeter that to varying extents the yankees have seemed to tighten up on them when they never would for a sabathia, teixeira, etc. ultimately most of these situations have ended with the homegrown yankees getting paid, but there is definitely a hesitancy to do so.

i totally agree that paying jeter more for less years is the way to go if it comes to that. i also think the milestone bonus(es) you reference is a great way for the two sides to move closer. 3,000 hits is likely coming up this year after all, and at 3,200 and change jeter will have the most by hits by a right-handed batter in the american league ever. however, i'm not sure 4/$80 is any sort of fair market value deal. that is way more than he would make on the open market.

dv,

i am definitely in the pay the guy camp. some people are just taking this particular situation too far. first, they are making it seem like this contract should be all about compensating jeter for everything he's done for the yankees, as if they haven't already been doing that. second, they are not really acknowledging that 3/$45 continues to do that. 3/$45 is a big contract for someone of his age, position, and production. it's bigger than any other middle infielder in the game. the only reason it doesn't seem that big is in comparison to his last contract. but it's likely over his market value, and every dollar over his market value is a dollar that considers all that he's been and continues to be for the organization. i'd say there is probably a good $10-15 million worth of that in this present offer. there shouldn't be much reason for the yankees to go much beyond that, although milestone bonuses might be a good way to get that done, keeping money off the original value of the contract but also putting more money in jeter's pocket in the end. both sides can spin it their way. the yankees can say they got a deal at 3/$45 with bonuses and jeter can just say he got a deal at a a maximum value of $3/60 or something like that.

the gm at work said...

Tank and Pat,

I would venture to guess that the Yankees don't want to uphold an image of being so steeped in tradition that they're allowing their own veteran players to bully them around. Which is reasonably legitimate. Sabathia and 0-14 really couldn't bully the Yankees because there was no history, no nostalgia, just production before they signed. But Jeter can, and that's what he's done.

The $189 million ten years ago was extremely generous, and he was arguably overpaid for a lot of that tenure. You were talking about how Jeter revealing injuries was not something he would do. I find it surprising that squabbling about dollars is something he would do.

Anonymous said...

Ross

Anytime we can squeeze in a legal reference is a good time.

PF/DV

I'm still surprised that the Yankees have been so blunt about their situation with Derek Jeter. Not because they owe it to him--for all the reasons you've both pointed out, they don't. But rather because it could cause them to take an unnecessary media hit. If offering him 3/$65 would do the job and save all this anguish, why not do it? What's the point? Do they really care about that extra six million dollars per season? I can't imagine that they do. The Yankees have more control over the situation than Jeter does, if they wanted this circus to end they could and I'm surprised they haven't done it yet.

--the Gunn

Anonymous said...

Pat,

If Jeter were to leave and pursue free agency, would you view him in the same light that you viewed Lebron James? In other words, that it's the players perogative to do what he wants and you can't fault him for it.

TimC said...

In kind of a roundabout way of agreeing with everyone here, I think money is better spent on retaining guys like Jeter than on free agents. Smart teams, I think, build their way to championships and then spend the money to retain the most important components of those teams. The Yankees, for a long time in the 2000s, spent money in an effort to win championships and could not do so. Prior to that, their vaunted championship teams did not spend wildly, instead building, and used their payroll to pay those guys and retain the core of those teams. So, to me, it breaks down very simply: sign the damn guy and stop wasting our time because there is no better use for that money than paying Jeter.

Patrick said...

gm -

we won't know at all, if ever, until this is over what jeter and his camp's thought process is/was. but i agree, if they are squabbling over dollars it is somewhat surprising. you do expect jeter to go after whatever he can get. anybody would. you just wouldn't expect him to go after more. that's what we'll have to find out, whether or not he was doing that.

gunn -

i agree with that, but i do think there's a limit. a good contemporary example is rivera. he wants 2/$36. the yankees want one year, but assuming they go two you have to figure it will be at least 2/$30 (same annual value as his last deal). if they are $6 million apart over two years, i think you just do it. rivera has shown few signs of decline, and he's earned the right to dictate his own terms to a certain extent so long as they are within reason. even if the yankees think that exceeds his value, it's worth the $6 mil just to get it done with a player like that. obviously, i am saying this without it being my $6 mil, which is easy to do.

with jeter, $6 mil a year over 4-5 years is a bit different. with the luxury tax that will be more like $10 mil a year. at the salary you are already paying him, $40-50 extra mil out of pocket is a lot. not something the yankees can't handle, but also not something you just do to get it done. that's not a lot of money, like $6 mil. that's an insane amount of money. even the yankees aren't just going to throw that around. it's not up to me to decide where the line gets drawn, but i'd say it's safe to say it's somewhere between $6 and $40-50.

bandi -

on its most general level, yes. ultimately, if jeter left he'd have his reasons and that is his, like all free agent's, choice. but beyond that it's entirely circumstantial. lebron james left for the same/similar money to go to a place he perceived gave him a better chance to win. this is completely understandable to me. jeter would quite possibly be leaving for less money to go to a place that gave him less of a chance to win. this would be a bit more difficult to understand, especially considering that jeter's relationship, history, and accomplishments with the yankees are 100x different than lebron's was with the cavs. they are not close to being the same situation so it is difficult to compare. but on its most basic level, yes i would. it's just that jeter's reasons would likely be he thought the yankees were undervaluing him, so he took less money instead of being insulted. that's a bit tougher to comprehend then just leaving for the same/similar money to go somewhere else. especially after already signing a huge FA contract with the team and winning 5 championships there vs. leaving during the initial free agency after 0 ships. these situations are just so different.

the gm said...

Way too much agreeing going on today.

Five Time Guy said...

Agreed.