Keidel: Jeter Meter

By Jason Keidel
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Fans and media are strapped in courtside, watching the verbal volley between Derek Jeter and the Yankees. And like all things New York, it is essential to take sides, even if both sides are at fault.

Casey Close, Jeter’s agent, is doing what agents do: feigning indignity while scoffing at the team’s 3-year, $45 million offer to its captain. Brian Cashman urged Jeter to test the market, listen to the crickets in the shadow of an offer no one else will approach.

This isn’t about the inequity of athletes making more in one game than a schoolteacher makes in a year. Derek Jeter is worth whatever the market will pay him. In this case, the Yankees are the market. As always, the Yankees bid against themselves in the vacuum of nearly infinite income. It is, as they say, a nice problem to have. Just remember that there are no victims in this tussle.

Everyone knows Jeter is being offered a de facto legacy contract, an opulent slap on the behind for having the team and the town’s back since 1996. It is the prerogative of legends.

You want to calculate how much money Jeter has generated for the Yankees, which is impossible. Part of Jeter’s genius is making us think he plays solely for the love of the game, and since he has been so good and so quiet for so long we assume he has done it for so little. But Derek Jeter is a very rich man, in many ways.

It is his agent’s job to tell us that Jeter transcends numbers, which is very convenient right after he hits .270. Jeter’s defenders are asking us to feel sorry for an icon who has made $200 million before his 37th birthday, dates supermodels, has a fistful of World Series rings, and has been the captain of the New York Yankees for eight years.

“You can’t put a dollar sign on what he means to the team!” you shout. But we must. We keep score in all matters. Jeter’s prior contract was based on the physical, while his next contract will be based on the metaphysical, things like pride and symbolism and tradition. And, to some extent, it should. Baseball, more than any other team sport, trades on nostalgia. And if the Yankees pay Jeter double rather than triple what he’s currently worth, we’ll all just have to survive.

Hank Steinbrenner inherited his father’s penchant for poorly worded sentiments. But he is correct when he says the Yankees have made many of their employees rich, richer than they would have been with any other employer. The fact that it came from the mouth of a man who was born rich should not negate the truth of his assertion.

The mistake the Yankees made is in making this public and, therefore, inelegant. Let Jeter’s people make the noise and all you have to do is make the offer, a rather reasonable one at that.

Some will point to third base and wonder why Alex Rodriguez gets a $300 million contract while the emblem of Yankee Pride toils for a few extra million. Pointing to one bad contract doesn’t justify another.

The Yankees will probably tack another $10 million onto the offer and Jeter will sign, thus making him (by far) the richest shortstop in baseball history. And in two years, when Joe Girardi has to hide Jeter somewhere in an otherwise volcanic lineup, you’ll wonder why they paid him so much to do so little.

But for some reason if you feel Jeter or his people are wrong then you are wrong; worse, you are ungrateful for the fifteen years of service and sweat he has given. It is possible that someone who appears perfect is actually imperfect, that Jeter has not handled this negotiation as smoothly as he has so many summer double plays.

And you’ll notice the greatest reason for the greatness of the Yankees over the last 15 years, Mariano Rivera – the best Yankee since Babe Ruth – is negotiating his contract in virtual silence, with the surreal humility that has defined his indefinable career. Perhaps No. 2 can learn from No. 1.

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pixy Keidel: Jeter Meter
  • A-Rod

    They should see what it would take to get Hanley Ramirez away from the marlins. They probally will do it for joba, ian kennedy, and a few other minor leaguers that dont cost too much. Then give Hanley the money Jeter is insulted with and let the “captain” scramble to find a team that will spend more than 5 million for him.

  • SteveB

    I think that Jason has come up with a pretty good posting. Time is not an athlete’s best friend, and it’s the fans’ fault for forgetting that Jeter is human after all. Derek Jeter in 2010 was an average shortstop on his best day, and a below-average shortstop the rest of the time, and I am talking about his hitting AND fielding. Jeter himself has always said that winning is what it’s all about & the fact is, Jeter mostly hurt his ballclub’s chances to win games in 2010. I bet he knows it too. That said I believe he will come back stronger and better in 2011, & at least for 1-2 years. And that said, he knows and we need to remember that Time is still continuing to work against him. I expect the Yankees & Jeter to work something out at 3 yrs with a 4th yr option and at closer to the $18.9 average value he was making in his previous contract. There are a select few ballplayers who deserve the additional value to their contracts in their later years not because of what they’ve done in the past (they were already paid for that), but for the intrinsic value they will bring to the ballclub in the future.

    Pride of the Yankees Blog at

  • Tim B. Neuhaus

    Jason, you make some good points on Mr. Jeters life with the New York Yankees, but I think you have really missed the point of Mr. Jeter, the Baseball player. I want to compare some very important stats with some very great Hall of Famers to what Mr. Jeter has accomplished. Life-time batting Average for Jeter is 314, and did he not just receive yet another Gold Glove, Dave Winfield, life-time batting average 283, how about the great George Brett 305, Rickey Henderson 279 and lets mention the hit king Pete Rose 303. You see Jason, Mr. Jeter is not only a wonderful human being and great role model for our children, but he is one hell of a baseball player who never misses a game and gives 110% on the field at all times, can we really put a price on all of this as we all know he will go down in New York Yankee history as the most popular, most consistent, most respected New York Yankee in the history of the game

  • MK

    Let’s try to put this in it’s proper context. This man is a baseball player. He hits a ball with a piece of wood, and he has just come off a contract paying him 180 million dollars. His former employers are offering to pay him 45 million for three years and this is a problem? Look at the unemployment rate to see how many people cannot get a job, and how may more have to choose between medicine and food. Let’s get real people. This guy is as greedy as the rest of the athletes out there. Don’t complain when the bleacher seats cost $150 a game and hot dogs are $15 each.

  • Jeri

    It amazes me how Cashman raves about Jeter and his importance to the team as a Captain, how he encourages the players thus making them remember that they are the symbol of New York, while at the same time has picked up his game in home runs, has not embarrassed the Yankees or it’s fans ( no drugs , alcohol, dwi)and has given more that Rodriguez or any other player to the sanctity of the Yankees. He should get what he’s worth and I think it’s triple what they are offering. If Jeter leaves, the Yankees will be just like the Cubs after Sosa, NOTHING! Why? Because the majority of Yankee fans are die hard Jeter fans and watch the game and support the Yankees because of him.

  • ks

    give the man his due since you know you will anyway,besides whats a few million in a cache of a few billion anyway!

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