Saturday, December 4, 2010

2 comments Mike Lupica Thinks the Yankees Should Just Give Derek Jeter As Much Money As He Wants

The title of the column that Mike Lupica has written is, "Only Hal Steinbrenner can fix the disconnect between the Yankees, Brian Cashman, and Derek Jeter." Really, the column isn't about that. It's about Mike Lupica believing Derek Jeter deserves as much money as he asks for. I believe the Yankees should re-sign Derek Jeter, if only because he wouldn't look right in another uniform, the Yankees don't currently have a backup option at shortstop and he is a fantastic marketing tool for them. The Yankees should not low ball him, which I don't believe they have done, but they also shouldn't back up the Brinks truck to his doorstep.

This is the way the Yankees want the conversation about Derek Jeter to go: They have arrived at what they think is a fair contract for Jeter and if he doesn't accept it, he's being greedy and unreasonable and unrealistic and should go test the market.

It's called negotiating and this is how the Yankees have chosen to do their negotiating. I don't know if anyone would publicly call Jeter unrealistic, but I am not sure the Yankees would low-ball Jeter out of spite. Generally, the Yankees set the market for a player and don't try to undercut the market.

What he is really saying to Jeter about the Yankees' offer to him - $45 million for three years - is take it or leave it.

Again, this is negotiating. If the Yankees made an offer and then said, "Derek, we can give you more money if you just ask for it," that would not be very effective negotiating. Making a contract offer and then telling the person being offered the contract that it is still even more negotiable doesn't seem to make too much sense.

You wonder how long Hal Steinbrenner - does the front office work for him or is it the other way around? - lets this go on.

My guess would be until Derek Jeter signs with another team or agrees to a contract with the Yankees.

As one American League East executive said Tuesday, "Out of all the guys in sports, they're going to take this kind of hard line on Jeter?"

I am sure another American League East executive would have no personal stake in whether Jeter is re-signed by the Yankees. Being a rival in the American League East I bet he would love to see Jeter not play for the Yankees next year. Notice how this executive feels free to criticize the Yankees, but his team doesn't appear to be rushing out and signing Jeter. The Yankees rivals in their division probably want to cause as much controversy as possible in a situation like this, so any criticism of the Yankees bargaining tactics can't be taken too seriously.

Over the past few days the Yankees seem to have lost their minds because Jeter's agent, Casey Close, told me Saturday night that he finds the Yankees' negotiating strategy "baffling."

Has Mike Lupica ever negotiated a contract? Or does he just jump up and down on a chair and throw things when he doesn't get what he wants? Part of negotiating is pretending the offer you received is not fair, at least initially, and making the other party seem like they are being unfair. This is how agents make more money by getting a contract offer increased.

Not stupid. Not cheap. Not arrogant. Not insulting. Baffling.

Does Mike Lupica expect Jeter's agent to state the Yankees are acting rationally and claim Jeter doesn't deserve more money than is being offered? Really, could we expect an agent to act any other way in a situation like this?

You know when the rhetoric really started on this thing? When Hal Steinbrenner said a few weeks ago that the Jeter negotiation "could get messy" before it ever really began.

I am not one that likes defending Steinbrenners but it is completely possible that Hal knew Jeter was going to ask for more money than the Yankees were going to be willing to offer. Sure, it isn't a great way to start off negotiations, but if George Steinbrenner had said this he would be seen as shrewdly negotiating before the actual negotiations began.

And you know who's the only one who can fix this now? Hal Steinbrenner.

(cue overdramatic music)

Close and Jeter probably want a lot more than three years. And a lot more than $45 million. If you were Jeter, so would you.

But is this realistic? Carl Crawford may want a 8 year $300 million dollar contract and thinks he deserves this, but that doesn't make it realistic or mean he actually deserves this much money. Jeter is a vital part of the Yankees tradition and history, but any smart sports fan knows the first steps to mediocrity often begin with overpaying players or paying players longer than they are worth paying.

Contrary to popular belief, The Jeter is not God. At some point, he will start declining and no amount of hyperbole or gushing over his legacy can stop the reality he may not be worth $20 million per year at some point during a 4 year contract.

Nobody can say he's been stealing money over the last decade.

But this isn't a logical reason to give him a chance to steal money in the future. The Yankees can't give Jeter a long contract worth a lot of money simply because he was worth his last contract. I think Jeter is worth $15 million to the Yankees, but I am not sure how much more than that amount of money he is worth per year. $20 million per year? Maybe from a marketing perspective, but no amount of marketing can help the Yankees if this year wasn't an aberration and his performance is truly declining.

But how about this as an idea for both sides to look at, before this whole thing becomes more viral than it is? How about you take the average that Jeter just made over the last 10 years - it would work out to $18.9 million a year - and make that the three-year offer.

Reportedly The Jeter wants a longer contract than that. Does it make financial sense to pay The Jeter $19 million at the age of 39? He isn't like Mariano Rivera in that he still has to play the field and play in 150+ games per year.

And if Jeter is still hitting .300 at the end of that, a fourth year, for the same money, automatically kicks in.

Let's tie Jeter's fourth year option at $19 million completely into an arbitrary batting statistic like batting average. Why not? How about if Jeter walks 50 times AND hits 30 doubles in the fourth year then the fifth year, at the same amount of salary, automatically kicks in? How about if during the fifth year if The Jeter plays in 150 games and sells concessions before 50 home or away games then the sixth year, at the same amount of salary, automatically kicks in?

You know what the difference is between $57 million for three years and what the Yankees are offering Jeter? It's just a little more than the Yankees paid Javy Vazquez last season.

This fact is completely and utterly irrelevant. It doesn't matter what the Yankees have paid players in the past, specifically pitchers that were on the last year of their contract, when judging the length and amount of the contract Jeter should receive. Simply because the Yankees wasted money on Vazquez in the past doesn't mean they should pay another player that same amount of money.

The $45 million the Yankees are offering Jeter for three years? It happens to be $1 million less than the $46 million they paid to a scrub pitcher named Kei Igawa.

This is terrible logic to base how much The Jeter would be worth on how much the Yankees paid a starting pitcher. Not to mention they paid $26 million to negotiate with Igawa and his contract ran for 4 years. So there is almost nothing comparable to the Igawa contract because Igawa actually got $5 million per year and it was a four year contract...oh, and he is a starting pitcher.

Compare Jeter's contract to another mid-30's shortstop who got a contract recently and that's fine. Say there is no comparison to a shortstop who is going to be in the Hall of Fame and has been the anchor of five championship teams. That's fine too. Don't compare what his contract should be worth with two starting pitchers and what the value of their contract that were signed 4+ years ago.

It was no different with Igawa than anybody else: The Yankees are always greedy when they want somebody. Only now Jeter is supposed to be the greedy one if he doesn't take what they're offering.

Because offering Jeter $15 million until he is 39 years old and coming off the worst year of his career is just so unfair. Maybe The Jeter will bounce back this year. Maybe he won't. The bottom line is that the Yankees are probably going to be the team setting the market value for Jeter until further notice. So what they offer him is his market value at this time.

Test the market, Cashman says.

Come on. Brian Cashman knows better than anyone that the market is always different here. Especially here. Always here.

What? So Mike Lupica thinks the Yankees should increase their offer to Derek Jeter, essentially bid against themselves simply because they have outbid other teams in the past for free agents? This can't be true, because it doesn't make logical sense. The Texas Rangers bid against themselves for Alex Rodriguez in 2000 and people still mock them for this.

The top market for CC Sabathia a couple of years ago was $100 million. That means the top market outside of the Bronx. Cashman paid him $161 million.

The Yankees did not make this offer to Sabathia because they felt like paying $61 million more or felt that because they were located in New York they should pay more. They made this offer to Sabathia so that no team like the Angels or Dodgers would up the offer from $100 million and secure Sabathia's services. There isn't that threat here.

As great as Derek Jeter has been, he has great value only to the Yankees at this point. Sure, the idea of him going to the Red Sox would be interesting, but I am not sure of another team willing to offer a 36 year old shortstop over $15 million dollars for 4+ years. It just doesn't seem like it is happening. So while the Yankees blew the market away to get Sabathia, they did so to prevent another team from putting in a high offer...there isn't as much of a threat for this to happen here. Even if it did, there is a reasonable chance The Jeter would probably offer the Yankees a chance to exceed or match the offer.

Now the implication is that Jeter is in decline after his .270 year, even though he hit .334 in 2009 with 212 hits and the Yankees won the World Series.

Possibly I am naive, but I don't know if there is an implication Jeter is in decline. The implication is the Yankees won't get enough value at ages 36-38 out of a 4 year $80 million contract to justify paying a 39-40 year old shortstop $20 million dollars per year. The implication I am getting is The Jeter isn't worth that much money that late in his contract.

As one former major-league player said the other day, "What, (Jeter) has one bad year and now it's going to be straight downhill from here?"

Oh yes, the majority opinion of one person. Is this former major-league player planning on helping the Yankees out when Jeter is hitting .260/.324/.365 at the age of 38 with another year left on his contract? Anyone who thinks the Yankees are taking a short-view of this situation is mistaken. The Yankees are taking the long-view that if they give The Jeter four years and nearly $20 million per year they may end up regretting it.

Funny how the same people who chastise the Yankees for reckless spending when it comes to Kei Igawa, Carl Pavano, Jaret Wright, and Jason Giambi are quick to call the Yankees assholes for not giving a 36 year old shortstop (albeit Hall of Fame shortstop and an important part of the team) a four year contract worth nearly $20 million per year.

Always in this negotiation, of course, the elephant in the room is Alex Rodriguez. He opted out on the Yankees at the end of the 2007 World Series, but it appears that wasn't nearly as offensive to the Yankees as the word "baffling."

I am sure it was offensive to the Yankees. A-Rod was a hitter in his absolute prime. I would argue at the time he was irreplaceable to the Yankees. So I am sure they were annoyed he opted out of his contract, but A-Rod had the leverage at that point. They didn't have anyone on the free market or on their team that could replace his production.

Not long after that, the Yankees gave him an insane contract extension, justifying it at the time by telling themselves of the marketing possibilities of his growing home run totals.

It was an insane contract extension, but if they had not made the offer to him he probably would have gotten a lot of money elsewhere.

Then A-Rod turned out to be a juicer in an era of juiced home run hitters and the Yankees were shocked.

I am sure the Yankees inability to predict the future serves a point of mockery for all the other MLB teams who also had juicers they weren't aware of.

Now they want to talk about anything except A-Rod's contract. Jeter wants to talk about it, though. He saw what everybody saw last season, that A-Rod hitting his 600th home run didn't exactly set the big town on its ear. Jeter is also smart enough to know it will be a little different this season when he gets near 3,000 hits. There are a few legitimate milestones left in baseball. And legitimate stars. Derek Jeter is one of them, even at his current age.

Absolutely. The Jeter is worth more to the Yankees than any other team and the Yankees are worth more to him than any other team. The Yankees will increase their offer. I just don't think they should let Jeter hold them hostage over this issue and the Yankees shouldn't just give Jeter however much money he wants.

We now know, in great detail and absolute clarity, how much the Yankees think Jeter is worth. You just wonder how much all this will cost them in the end.

Three years from now, if Jeter re-signs with the Yankees and is performing poorly, the first person in line to criticize the Yankees for re-signing him to a 4+ year deal at nearly $20 million per year will be Mike Lupica. You can bank on that.


Anonymous said...

Lupica is such a biased asshole.

Hu uses this column to praise Jeter and bash A-Rod. He says A-Rod "turned out to be a juicer" after signing that insane contract after opting out. This makes it sound like A-Rod has been a failure and a disappointment since re-signing with the Yankees after 2007.

Then he uses the 2009 world championship to sort of justify giving Jeter a massive contract (even though Jeter had his worst year ever in 2010).

Someone needs to let Lupica know that A-Rod was the main offensive force behind that championship run in October 2009. He was insanely awesome that month and carried the Yankee offense while also getting several of those clutch hits that people like Lupica always claimed he would never get. So according to Lupica's logic, the 2009 championship justifies paying Jeter whatever he wants...but ARod is just a juicer on a stupid contract. This is such a contradiction. Jeter was certainly awesome in 2009 and he was very good in the playoffs as well. But if he should be rewarded with a massive contract because of that, then why is Lupica so critical of A-Rod's insane contract when A-Rod was even more important in October 2009 than Jeter was?

There is no explanation other than Lupica likes the sensation of Jeter's balls slapping against his chin.

Also prior to the 2009 championship Lupica spent many years bashing the Yankees for excessive spending without a world championship to show for it. He said things like 200 million will get you nothing if you don't spend it wisely. So now he is saying fuck spending it wisely, just spend it excessively without any regard for the ROI on that spending. As one Joe Morgan might say, that's not very consistent sir.

And finally, what the hell does Lupica mean there are few legitimate stars in the game? Maybe he is like Joe Morgan and only watches one game a week and doesn't realize that the game is full of young stars. Just because a player wasn't around in 2003 or 2004 doesn't mean he can't be a star right now. You don't need to be 30+ years old to be a star.

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, Lupica is a biased asshole. I noticed in his previous writing that he doesn't like A-Rod.

He's just the type of guy who isn't happy no matter what the Yankees do. If they spend too much then they aren't getting their money's worth. If they don't spend enough money they have changed their plan. If they re-sign Jeter then they are spending too much money on aging players (just wait, it will come) and if they don't re-sign him then they are making a mistake.

Interesting point about how he uses the 2009 WS championship as justification for giving Jeter the huge contract. It is interesting he thinks Jeter should be rewarded for it, but A-Rod's contract was too large. It is a contradiction to believe A-Rod signed a bad massive deal but Jeter needs to get paid. I think it may go back to the whole "Real Yankee" thing.

He thinks spending money on Jeter is smart spending I guess. It may be, but I know if A-Rod had a down season there is no way Lupica would want him to get a new contract. He would say the Yankees need to stay away from him.

Re-signing Jeter was a good move, no doubt, but I just think they shouldn't have thrown money at him. They have to be smart and get ROI like you said.

There are a ton of young stars in the league right now. I like ATL in the NL East and the East alone has young guys like Hanson, Heyward, McCann, Zimmerman, Strasburg, Mike Stanton, Josh Johnson, David Wright, Ike Davis, and plenty of other guys. I didn't mean to leave anyone out, but these are guys who will be or are already becoming stars. That's just in the NL East.