Sunday, November 21, 2010

Whose Reputation Hurts Most?

It's been almost three weeks since the conclusion of the World Series and perhaps the biggest surprise of this offseason so far is the fact that Derek Jeter has still not re-upped with the Yankees. Rumors over the season said he's looking for a lot of money, but it's almost unanimous that the team and player are going to end up back together - the most logical place.

The real question, and something a lot of people disagree with me on, is whose reputation takes a bigger hit if Jeter goes to, say, the Mariners, Braves, Mets, or Orioles. A lot of people think it's Jeter. I think it's the team.

I understand the Jeter argument. He'll look like another greedy player who doesn't know his place in team and baseball history. After a frankly generous $180 million contract signed ten years ago and more endorsement deals than smoking-hot girlfriends, he wants even more. After being one of the two guys in the entire Joe Torre book painted as a sympathetic character, he goes up against that. Instead of being the opposite of Arod, he's the same. I get it. It will hurt his reputation incredibly.

However, it hurts the team's much more. Think about the circumstances of this team. Jeter is the face of the franchise and Jeter in the Yankee uniform is the face of baseball. It has been for a long time. And after fifteen years of resurrecting the Yankee brand after the strike, after George's suspension, and after thirteen years of futility, the Yankees are going to nickel and dime a still-productive player primed for a huge bounceback year on the field.

The Yankees appearing cheap on such an important figure in their franchise history is especially bad because they outbid themselves for the centaur, bid aggressively for Teixeira and Damon, were very generous with Rivera and Posada when the old owner was alive. When the old owner (who, Hall of Famer or not, changed baseball specifically by doing this) dies, they start pinching pennies with the face of the franchise, letting Ramiro freaking Pena play shortstop for a team trying to win the World Series every year? Unacceptable.

Jeter's value in New York is much more valuable (in terms of a Vince Gennaro term "marquee value") than anywhere else. The fact that it's extremely possible if not probable that he's going to bounce back from 2010 just adds to it. In November 2009, the 35-year-old (then) Jeter was coming off of a season where he finished in 3rd in MVP voting and in some eyes, including my own, got robbed. He hit .334, stole thirty bases, hit 46 extra-base hits, and walked seventy times. This was an atypically-good year against his career norms, but not by much. The next year, 2010, was a large deviation from the norm. The Yankees can probably expect another 190 hits from Jeter if he is used responsibly. Money, while it may be a thing, shouldn't be that much of a thing when it comes to Jeter. Pay the man. Not Arod money, and not even $20 million a year. But give him four years at fifteen. It's for your own good, both on and off the baseball field.

11 comments:

the gm at work said...

I just realized that the actual grammar in the title is inaccurate and awful. For that I apologize. Hopefully, given the timestamp (5:30 AM on a Sunday morning) will make it more acceptable.

Let me just also say, for the record, that I'm surprised by the barbs going back and forth between these two parties.

Patrick said...

gm -

a very well thought out and interesting post with a strong conclusion. i do happen to disagree with it, but i'm not just taking the other side. if these two sides don't get a deal done they both lose. i do think jeter loses slightly more, however, and here's the most important reason why.

there are a lot of similarities and differences between mariano rivera and derek jeter. but the only one that matters is that they are both currently free agents at the same time. rivera is basically saying he wants to go a year or two at a time, that he doesn't want to be in a situation where he has a contract where he plays longer than he is able to perform at a high level. you could make the case he is coming off of the best 3 year block of his career, as the last 3 years have been his lowest 3 year era at 1.64. at the same time it seems like jeter expects to be paid years and dollars well beyond what his ability is likely to be. this coming off the absolute worst season of his career.

bad timing? very possible. as you pointed out, this is an individual who finished 3rd in mvp voting just 12 months ago, and it is certainly withing the range of possibilities that he performs at least somewhere between 2009 and 2010 next year. but that's part of the game, and even jeter is not above that. if he was a free agent last off-season, his market rate would have been higher. probably at least in jason bay territory, as he's a more valuable player than jason bay. that's 4/64. if jeter had been a free agent a year ago, it wouldn't be crazy to see another team willing to pay him at least that, maybe even a little more.

it's impossible to know exactly what jeter's market is right now, because all it takes is one team besides the yankees to create a market, and you never know what one team might do. but i think it's a fair assumption that if the yankees declared themselves out of it for some reason, that some team would offer at least 3/$30. i would also see it as unlikely that his market would go too far beyond 3/$45. so assuming that his market is roughly in those ranges, the yankees have STARTED negotiations at the high end of what could reasonably be predicted to be jeter's market, perhaps higher than any other team would be willing to go. a big part of your position is that the yankees are pinching pennies with jeter when they haven't in other instances, and because of this point i don't think that's the case. if the yankees are starting at the high end or even above his market, they understand that, like most negotiations, they will likely go higher. which means they might end up in your 4/$60 range, which is not that far away from where they are now. that would more than compensate jeter for all he's done for the franchise, something i think he should get. i think the yankees have made a solid good faith effort towards reaching that end.

we don't know what is really going on, but jeter's camp has seemed pretty non-responsive, saying they don't understand the yankees' strategy here. if the yankees really have offered 3/$45, and that really is the jeter camp's response, then he is the one that looks bad here. that is not an insulting offer. it's exactly what rivera got at a similar age coming off a similarly "down" year by rivera/jeter standards in his last contract. and now jeter stands next to rivera, in the same position, and seems to want treatment that rivera doesn't. that does not play well for jeter, whether it's fair or not. and it may not be fair. jeter is a shortstop, has more public popularity, is slightly more of a yankee icon in some people's eyes, and, importantly, is also 4 years younger. maybe he should get paid more. but it's still the reality of the situation now that does not make jeter look good by comparison to rivera.

Patrick said...

and i say all of this with jeter being my favorite athlete ever, any sport.

Patrick said...

also, we discussed this briefly last week, but i loved amare's comments, thought they were justified, and defended them last week (for all of the reasons i mentioned). sure enough, since those comments the knicks have gone back to running things through him and won 3 in a row with him getting 27, 26, and 39 with double figures in boards in all 3 games. more importantly, he is freeing things up for everybody else with gallo getting 27, ray getting 35, and gallo getting 31 respectively in those 3 games, which is the type of support performances that are going to win a lot of games. they still can't defend anyone and that is why they ultimately won't be more than a middle-back playoff seed, if that (which is still a big improvement and something i'd sign up for right now). but they should get to that level with the talent on the roster, and the way you get there is by going through your best player who also happens to be one of the better players in the league. good for amare for speaking up in an effort to get them back to that.

the gm at work said...

PF,

I was looking through some headlines in the New York papers this morning at the convenience store and I saw the word "ambushed." Didn't have a chance to actually read the article, but it sounds like things are getting worse between Jeter and the team.

Good for Rivera for going 1-2 years at a time. But as you said, Jeter has a reason to not go 1-2 years at a time because of his age.

I don't see any other team going above 3/45 unless they have a specific axe to grind against NY.

TimC said...

From my point of view, without getting too deep into the details of this specific negotiation, it just seems like a classic case of two sides trying to create leverage out of thin air when there is no leverage to be had, on either side.

The Yankees can't really low-ball the guy for what he's done and what replacing him would do to the psyche of the organization while Jeter can't really demand a massive contract since he's no longer the elite guy he was and has a lot to lose by chasing a big offer elsewhere. It is really just one small step past a holdout from what I can see and I expect that it will be resolved soon. It reminds me of the Wayne Rooney negotiations with ManU about a month ago- a big enough story that it somehow made 6pm Sportscenter- the short version is that he was DEFINITELY on the way out before signing a massive extension. I expect the same to happen soon here.

Patrick said...

dv -

i'm not sure which would be worse to allow to guide your perception of how things are going: blog comment sections or new york paper headlines. it's the height of sensationalism, they are always going to try to create a story. sometimes there is one sometimes there isn't. i don't get the sense that these negotiations are going swimmingly, but two sides rarely just agree, there is always positioning and bargaining. i doubt that it is as bad as it is being made out to seem.

Patrick said...

timc -

good call. we haven't definitively heard from jeter's camp, but from the nyy perspective i don't really see them trying to create leverage out of thin air. i think they are trying to be somewhat reasonable. if they really have offered 3/$45, that is a fair first contract offer as it is likely above market, thus already acknowledging that he should be paid for his iconic status. since they are already likely above market, every dollar they go up from here is only furthering that acknowledgement. since this is only an opening offer they are very likely to go higher. i don't think they are trying to leverage or lowball him at all. i think they are trying to enter a legitimate negotiation where he gets well-compensated for his past without letting it get out of control considering his present ability/age/etc.g

Anonymous said...

DV/PF

No question Jeter stays in New York. I bet he'll get like 3/60 or 4/75 or something like that. And why not? The Yankees have more money than they know what to do with anyway. If he ends up sucking, they just turn him into a utility guy or whatever. This is a much bigger deal than it should be, probably because there isn't much going on in sports right now--football hasn't hit playoffs/bowl series, the NBA only 15% gone, and no baseball games, so the media has to get excited about something.

DV

It sounds crazy, but if he could be had on a Beltre-type of deal (the one the Sox signed him to, not what he's going to get), wouldn't you have to at least THINK about bringing back Manny Ramirez. I realize the bad blood makes it nearly impossible, but think about it. He can still hit, maybe bat fifth/sixth (check out his OPS+ last year--it was 138, a huge upgrade over JD Drew/Kalish/Nava/Cameron/Hermida, to say the least) and if he's in left field it's not like he's going to kill you defensively. Two good things come out this. First, you avoid paying for Jayson Werth and have money to bring back Adrian Beltre. Secondly, you can fill that outfield hole until next year when presumably some better options will be available on the free agent market than just Carl Crawford and Werth.

--the Gunn

the gm said...

Pat,

Sadly I don't have any inside sources in these negotiations, and I just happened to see the Daily News while on my way to pick up nine (sarcastic) copies of today's Boston Herald. As the people at Cumberland Farms probably frown upon people reading articles in papers they're not going to buy, the headline's all I got. Either way, as a baseball fan, I just hope this gets done cleanly and soon.

3/$45 is reasonable.

I'd rather Kalish than Manny. There are just things that are philosophically wrong with the Manny idea. He was in a contract year last year - how'd that work out?

TimC said...

Perhaps Manny is the Moss of baseball and therefore should find a team with the veterans in place to steer him in the right direction- I'm not so sure the Yankees are not that team, and it would be scary.