Contracts Can Kill: Derek Jeter

Derek Jeter was expected to show his age this year but Girardi had that under control.  His declining bat would be protected by Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and the rest of the second-most potent offense in baseball last year.  Instead, he’s batting .404 with 13 RBIs and four homeruns.  A-Rod and the boys on the other hand, couldn’t find first base with a GPS.  The Yankees, even with Grandpa Jeter, were expected to contend for the AL East championship.  The Baseball Prospectus PECOTA projection was 95 wins for the Yankees this season.  Instead, they are on pace to win only 87 games.

With only 140-some-odd games left, I recommend that Yankee Universe commence 1970s- Creature Feature-style, street-rampage- panic.  The Yankees’ injury roster looks like the railroad tracks lined with Confederate wounded from Gone with the Wind.  If present trends continue, in the near future, it will be difficult for the grounds crew to get the correct personnel off the field in time for the regularly scheduled game on Old Timer’s Day, and next year, the Yankees have $78 million committed to four players, two of whom will be 38 years old!

Indeed, we have entered a new phase of Yankee baseball; one in which the “Flush Four” has supplanted the “Core Four” and in which the MLB luxury tax DOES matter.  It is natural, under the circumstances, to want to hang on for as long as possible to the halcyon days of yore.  Derek Jeter is our link with immortality, or nexus with divinity.  With that in mind, there is no way in HELL, or in a league dedicated to the proposition that all men are considered “old” after they hit 33 years of age, that a player “deserves” a 3 year, $47.7 million contract with an $8 million player option for 2014, at age 35.  Unless, of course, that player is Derek Jeter, and the team paying him is the most storied franchise in the sports history of the Western Hemisphere (in my humble opinion – the best hemisphere ever!).

Professional check-writer and Scott Boras foil, Brian Cashman was correct to re-sign Derek Jeter in 2010 at more-or-less the player’s asking price without much in the way of “negotiating”.  It’s not that Jeter might actually have continued his career elsewhere, or (ROFL) entered the Hall of Fame donning anything other than pinstripes.  Rather, it’s that the man ranks 11th all time amongst Yankees with the most World Series finger-bling (5-2).  He ranks dead even with Joe Collins , and just behind Tony Lazzeri.  He’s the Joe DiMaggio of generations X, Y, and Millennial! And, to be completely historically accurate, he was re-signed one season before it was anticipated that he’d be the first Yankee to get 3,000 hits.

But wait, what more does Steinbrenner et al. owe Jeter now that they’ve already paid him more than the GNP of Croatia?   For the low, low price of $287 million total, the Yankees have purchased 75.7 wins above replacement (WAR), a career regular season slash of .314/.384/.450, and a career ultimate zone rating per 150 game average of -5.8 (ranking him at best slightly below average at shortstop in terms of range).  These numbers in and of themselves are nothing short of phenomenal.  But in the playoffs, he has been transcendent.  His post season slash-number-averages are .307/.374/.465. This, of course, is over 16 post-season appearances – no one else in baseball (outside the Core Four) can post a similar resume.  During his seven World Series appearances, you can make the following generalizations:

  1. They don’t call him the “Captain” for nothing.
  2. If baseball teams had only five players, Michael Jordan would be known as the “Derek Jeter of Basketball.”
  3. If A-Rod and Jeter had starred in a circa-1970s Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup commercial, we’d still be keeping our peanut butter and chocolate quite separate.

Jeter commands loyalty and respect from his teammates.  B.R. (Before Rodriguez), Jeter’s Yankees won six pennants and four rings in nine years.  P.R. (Post Rodriguez), or the past 8 years, we have one pennant and one ring, four ALDS exits, one post-season absence (2008) and consecutive playoff exists by A-Rod strikeout.

Here are his numbers:

Derek Jeter World Series Statistics

YEAR

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

HR

1996

361

409

459

868

1

1998

235

328

294

622

0

1999

375

434

542

976

1

2000

317

427

571

998

4

2001

226

275

290

565

1

2003

314

385

471

586

2

2009

344

432

563

995

3

Here are A-Rod’s numbers:

Alex Rodriguez Post-Season Statistics

YEAR

Slash

HR

2004

320/414/600

3

2005

133/435/200

0

2006

071/133/071

0

2007

267/353/467

1

2008

NA

NA

2009

365/500/808

6

2010

219/316/281

0

Clearly, Jeter is worth a lot more than A-Rod, and yet, it’s A-Rod’s declining services we’ll be paying for through 2017.

Currently, the Yankees rank third in the number of Hall of Famers (14) by franchise behind the Giants (23) and the Cardinals (15).  Derek Jeter assures us a tie with the Cardinals for second upon his eligibility.  And yet there is a dark side to the Derek Jeter phenomenon.  Namely, as is the case in the military, the Captain outranks everyone else in the dugout – including the manager.

He wants to play shortstop despite a declining ultimate zone rating (UZR).  This actually has two negative effects on the franchise.  In the first case, while he remains an able fielder with balls in his range, his DPR (double play ratio) and his UZR are below average. Though at the present, his .404 BA produces more runs than his glove is allowing. The question is whether or not he can maintain this pace (or something remotely close), at age 37, over the next 130-plus games.   In the second, the Yankees have tended to prioritize elsewhere regarding his positions on their farm teams.  As many critics note, the Yankees lack an internal option at shortstop.   Eduardo Nunez is clearly not the heir apparent at shortstop.  Eric Chavez is a promising fielder who got off to a strong start at the plate, but whose bat is not historically his strong suit (that is, until his concussion earlier this week), and who is at best a “replacement player”.  The Yankees cupboard pretty darn bare when it comes to shortstops, let alone, Jeter’s replacement.

But I digress.  Derek Jeter, within the economics of baseball, let alone the economics of Yankee baseball, is well worth the money.  In fact, Mr. Cashman, if you are still reading my column, I recommend another extension after next year – perhaps year-by-year, for as long as he can play.  After all, he’s only 866 hits away from four thousand.

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6 Responses to Contracts Can Kill: Derek Jeter

  1. steve says:

    $118 million for 4,wow your way off

  2. DirtyWater says:

    " And the Yankees traded Romero Pena, leaving the cupboard pretty darn bare when it comes to shortstops, let alone, Jeter’s replacement."

    Do you mean Ramiro Pena? They still got him. Though my guess is they'd love to get rid of him.

  3. NY TAMMY says:

    NEVER EVER TOUCH JETER♥HE IS NOT EXPENDABLE,WHEN YOU THINK OF YANKEES~WHATS THE 1ST NAME THAT POPS IN YOUR HEAD?DEREK JETER THATS WHO! I AGREE WITH THIS BLOG TO THE FULLEST AND 866 IS NOT MUCH FOR JETER THE WAY HE;S HITTING~ !! JETER IS THE YOUNG BOY WE ALL WATCHED GROW =UP AS WELL,IS A HOUSED HOLD NAME IN MY HOUSE AND A MILLLION OTHERS ~♥JETER HAS TO RETIRE A YANKEE ,WHEN HE'S READY,UNTOUCHABLE,AND UNFORGETABLE♥
    @NYTAMMY1 ~ @ I LOVE MY NY YANKEES ~[PAGE] http://www.facebook.com/N.Y.TAMMY SHARING YANKEE LOVE ,ALWAYS~

    • Bullshark says:

      Jeter is definitely a franchise player and well worth the bank roll! The Yanks won't rush him and my money is on an extension after '14. I would remain cautiously optimistic about hit 4K, even though I suspect he gets there. He will still retire a Yankee when he decides to, but at some point his viable replacement at SS needs to be discovered.

  4. Tumbleweed says:

    ARod has incentives in his contract amounting to $30Million for reaching HR milestones…660…714…etc
    How about Jeter's contract? Are there incentives for reaching 3400 hits…3500 hits…etc
    At the end of Jeter's present contract (end of 2014) he could be in the top five all-time in hits…fans will pay big money to see Jeter reach those milestones…and it would be a great baseball story…all the great hitters will be mentioned as Jeter passes their total. All the best Derek Jeter!

    • No incentives in Jeter's contract like that and MLB has actually banned similar clauses in the future. A-Rod will be the only one who has such clauses in his contract.