It’s de rigeur for anyone covering the Yankees to write about how different Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez are. One is the Yankee Captain. He knows winning. He has intangibles (and a, um, $189 million contract). The other is a paid mercenary who pads his stats and just wants to be the center of attention. He hurts the team and is a pox on New York.
One of those players has his contract coming up for renewal at the end of next year, and while the Yanks probably wish they could dump Alex Rodriguez in 22 months, it is Derek and his contract who will be at the eye of that storm. That this decision is still two years away isn’t impacting anyone from writing about, and the latest reporter to opine on the situation is Ian O’Connor. Let’s see what he had to say:
This franchise player can’t be trusted with the franchise. It has nothing to do with a hip that could bench A-Rod until who knows when, and everything to do with a lack of leadership skills and common sense that would allow him to use steroids, to tell all sorts of tall tales about his drug use and to wish out loud that Reyes played for the Yanks.
Just another circle of reasons why the Yankees should extend the contract of A-Rod’s most conspicuous ex-friend, Jeter, whose deal will expire at the close of next season. They need to keep Jeter beyond 2010, if only to serve as an A-Rod deodorant…
Jeter should be anywhere from 65 to 100 hits shy of 3,000 at the end of his current deal. The Yankees can’t possibly finance A-Rod’s hollow home-run derby while denying the face of their last dynasty — and the face of all drug-free players — his chance to become the first man in franchise history to clear 3,000 hits.
The captain will be 37 in the summer of 2011, the first season of a potential extension. He will need to rely on his intangible grace more than ever as his physical skills decline.
But if any golden oldie is worth the gamble, Jeter’s the one. The Yanks gave him $189 million for leading them to the four championships. They should offer him another $45 million over two years for helping them build the new palace across the street in the Bronx.
O’Connor’s justification for an inexplicable raise is that it would be his last contract no matter what. The Yankees would be giving Jeter a gracious send-off by overpaying one of the richest athletes in New York. Brilliant!
If this is the type of argument writers are going to make until and unless the Yankees lock up Jeter through the end of his career, I dread the next two years. When the time comes, the Yankees will have to evaluate their commitment to Jeter not through some nostalgic lens of a World Series last won in 2000 but rather through one that judges what Derek can do for the Yanks in 2011 and beyond.
There will be a spot on the team for the Captain if he is willing to take it. He’ll be 37, and he won’t be a viable short stop. He also won’t earn $20 or $22.5 million a year. Intangibles aren’t worth the farm, and those covering the Yanks shouldn’t sound so naive about Derek Jeter.