Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Game of Dollars And Sense

Several sources covering the Yankees, are reporting that Derek Jeter and his agent have had additional meetings with the Yankees this week to discuss his new contract. All reports say that the meetings are going well and that both sides feel positive about the final resolution. Good.

However, according to an article in today's New York Post, the Yankees are on the cusp of taking a step back from the "We Value Derek's Legacy" phase of these negotiations, and are prepared to play hardball. Matter-of-fact, during the first round of talks, Jeter was basically told that legacy aside, the team's only mission is to offer him a contract.


Confidants of Brian Cashman tell Post sportswriter Joel Sherman, that "the GM is determined not to have the team get so lost in the past that it destroys the future by giving Jeter a contract that either lasts way beyond his effectiveness and/or overpays him to such a degree that hurts financial flexibility elsewhere."

There is a method to Cashman's madness; he is putting everyone on notice that he is not that GM who will simply buckle to the pressure of satisfying his fan-favorite, media-darling superstars. This is precisely why Cashman chose to have what Sherman terms a "turning -the-page" meeting with Jorge Posada to inform him that he will be the DH in 2011. As Sherman reports, it is also why "[Cashman]essentially played bad cop with Posada’s pal, Jeter, at a meeting that also was attended by Hal Steinbrenner, team president Randy Levine and Jeter’s agent, Casey Close."

This in no way means that Cashman would ever dare believe that the Yankees won't pay Jeter beyond his true value as an aging shortstop; clearly they will. But how far over they are willing to go and for how long is why the negotiations are being dragged out.

Anyone paying attention to all of this can assume that Jeter wants a six-year contract, which the Yankees are against. Six years keeps him in pinstripes 'til age 42, the same age Alex Rodriguez will be at the end of his contract. What's important to note here is that A-Rod will get no less than $27.5 million per for the life of his contract no matter his decline. The Yankees are reportedly looking at no more than three years at $15 million for Jeter. What's at risk here is sending a message to the "face of the organization" that the "bad boy" is of more value to the team than he is. Sherman attempts to back up the Yankees buckling to the "A-Rod mystique" during his contract negotiations, by reminding us that "the emotional Hank Steinbrenner was very involved then and is not now. Plus, Hal Steinbrenner still had his training wheels on as far as replacing his father, George, as the day-to-day decision maker. Hal is more seasoned now, and projects a bean-counter coolness even in dealing with the face of the franchise in Jeter."

Stenbrenner Boys
That all sounds feasible, but still, the Yankees know that they backed themselves into a corner when they sealed the deal on A-Rod's contract. We'll never know for sure, but I can't imagine that Cashman, at some point, didn't realize that this might come back to bite him and the Steinbrenner boys in the butt. If they do decide to play hardball, it gives Close leverage to argue that the team was clearly willing to give A-Rod a big contract based on his past, so why not do the same for the man who pretty much fills the seats at the stadium for all 81 games every year. On the flip side of this, Jeter risks looking like a guy who is more concerned with not being out-shined by A-Rod, than the guy who is supposed to be all about what is best for the team. This is why many believe that the deal will get done, as both sides stand to lose a bit of credibility if this all falls through.

But the question is: When? How much longer will it really take to bring back the man that "owns" New York? I don't think anyone envisioned that Jeter's negotiations would be this dramatic or this drawn out. This is why we fanatics have to always keep in mind that baseball is a business and at some point, even the icons' worth will be re-evaluated in the game of dollars and sense.

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on twitter: @ra_cooper

No comments:

Post a Comment