What Went Wrong: Derek Jeter


The 2013 season is over and now it’s time to review all aspects of the year that was, continuing today with the captain who wasn’t around to go down with the ship.

(Jonathan Daniel/Getty)

(Jonathan Daniel/Getty)

This was the season Derek Jeter was never supposed to have. He’s Derek Jeter. Things are always supposed to go his way, and if they don’t, he proves people wrong and makes them go his way. Last season was a perfect example. The Cap’n was supposed to be finished, a washed up former star who was losing a fight with Father Time. Instead, he led the big leagues in hits (216), at-bats (683), and plate appearances (740). Thirty-eight-year-old shortstops aren’t supposed to do that.

Jeter finished that remarkable season on a down note, playing through a bone bruise in his left ankle during the month of September before it finally gave out and fractured in Game One of the ALCS. He had surgery in late-October and although the rehab timetable meant things would be tight, it appeared he would be ready in time for the start of Spring Training. Unfortunately, Father Time started started to win the war after losing the battle in 2012.

Derek JeterThe offseason was full of gossip stories about Fat Derek Jeter and reports that his rehab was right on schedule. The Cap’n emphatically said he was working hard and would be ready in time for camp. Ultimately, that was not the case. Jeter’s rehab had slowed down at some point and he was far behind the other position players in Spring Training. He didn’t play in his first Grapefruit League game until mid-March and only appeared in five total, as many as Cito Culver. It was clear he would not start the season on time.

Jeter opened the 2013 campaign on the DL as he continued his rehab from the ankle surgery. In early-May, right when everyone was expecting him to return to the lineup, the Yankees announced their captain had suffered a major setback — there was a new fracture in the ankle, a smaller hairline crack that would nevertheless keep him out until the All-Star break. New York was getting nothing offensively from Eduardo Nunez and Jayson Nix at the shortstop position, so the setback was a big blow.

It wasn’t until July 11th, four days prior to the All-Star break, that Jeter joined the team. He played in only four rehab games and was rushed back to serve as the DH when Travis Hafner‘s shoulder started barking (again). Jeter was in the lineup for the series finale against the Royals and his return lasted all of eight innings. He legged out an infield single in his first at-bat of the year but felt tightness in his right quad when he tried to do the same a few innings later. The Yankees kept Jeter active over the weekend and through the All-Star break to see if he’d feel better, but that didn’t happen and back to the DL he went.

The second DL stint was shorter, only 17 days total. Jeter rejoined the team one day prior to a West Coast trip through two NL cities that would force him to play the field. That (second) first game back from injury resulted in one of the most memorable moments of the season, a first pitch solo homer off Rays left-hander Matt Moore:

Jeter played a total of four games at shortstop (the game against the Rays and three on the West Coast) before his right calf started acting up. Tests revealed a Grade I strain and just like that, the Cap’n was right back on the DL. This stint lasted 24 days. When he returned on August 26th, the team’s 131st game of the season, the Yankees were seven games back in the division and six games back of the second wildcard spot.

Following the third DL trip, Jeter stayed healthy for approximately two weeks. He wasn’t all that effective, going 9-for-48 (.188) with one extra-base hit (a double) and ten strikeouts while playing ten of 13 games at shortstop. After missing so much time due to injury and only playing in seven rehab games — that’s seven rehab games total: four coming back from the first injury, zero coming back from the second, three coming back from the third — it was no surprise he showed considerable rust at the plate. The problem was the Bombers were slipping in the standings and couldn’t afford the lack of production.

Jeter’s season came to an end on September 7th, when he exited a game against the Red Sox in the sixth inning with soreness in his surgically repaired left ankle. Tests came back clean but he was going to sit a few games before returning to the lineup. The team didn’t want to risk yet another setback. Four days later, with the Yankees sitting ten games back in the division and three games back of the second wildcard spot, Brian Cashman announced Jeter was being placed on the DL to prevent him from pushing too hard to come back after the doctor said he needed to strengthen the area around his ankle before returning. Jeter’s fourth DL stint of 2013 ended his season.

All told, the Cap’n hit just .190/.288/.254 (48 wRC+) in only 17 games around the various leg injuries this past season. He made four separate trips to the DL this summer after making four total from 1999-2012. The Yankees never really came out and said so, but the team and their doctors gave indications the leg injuries were all related — Jeter was compensating for one injury but putting extra stress elsewhere on his body. Certainly sounds reasonable, especially with leg injuries, but at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter. Jeter missed all that time and it hurt the team dearly in 2013.

Rather than wait for him to exercise (or decline) his $9.5M player option for next season, the Yankees re-signed Jeter to a one-year contract worth $12M about two weeks ago. They reportedly agreed to the increased salary (and luxury tax hit) in exchange for avoiding a repeat of their contentious negotiations from three years ago, which only makes sense if Jeter’s camp indicated he was prepared to decline the player option and ask for more money. The Cap’n had no leverage following his self-proclaimed “nightmare” season but the Yankees gave into his demands anyway. Jeter is a total unknown heading into next season but the team paid him as if he’ll be a big time contributor because hey, he’s Derek Jeter and things are always supposed to go his way.

Categories : Players
  • JB

    i’m still pissed that he had the balls to demand more money,considering he earned nothing in 2013 but was paid handsomely. how much has he made over the last 20 years that he needs to squeeze another $2.5M out of the Yanks, when they’re trying to get under $189M. would it really have been an “ugly” negotiation considering his year?! I guess he’s just DFJ. i just don’t get it and have lost alot of respect for him (I haven’t had much respect for Hal anyway..).

    i know its not my money, but it still bothers me.. that’s just not a very gritty move..

    • Dalek Jeter

      …you realize a lot of the 1 year deal was because it has less of an effect on the payroll and therefore how much money the Yankees have to spend. Sure he’s making more than he was originally going to in 2014, but due to how much he made 2011-2013 the AAV of the last contract was higher.

    • qwerty

      He didn’t demand anything, as far as I can tell, they simply gave him the money and he accepted it.

      • hogsmog

        Yeah, you can read it in the full-disclosure negotiations report we all have access to…

        I don’t want to come off as aggressive, but we really can’t speculate at all to the tone of the talks behind those doors.

      • Ed

        Or more likely, they gave him more money because he said he was going to opt out of his deal, and they preferred paying a little more over having to negotiate with him in public.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I think you’re trying to fill in the blanks a bit too much there. It’s very possible there was little squeezing does and that the team approached him with the raise.

      My take is that I really don’t give a shit unless they tell me they can’t afford another guy they could reasonably attain later.

  • Dalek Jeter

    This made me sad and reminded me why 2013 was so fucking depressing. Sure we weren’t a great team…and didn’t make the playoffs but I have to think that having a healthy Jeter (which we were supposed to have from Spring training)and a healthy Granderson and Teixeira…it would have made things a little better when it came to the Youk injury, the Nunez injury, and Ichiro/Well’s being what they are.

  • william wipperdink

    if he had any class he would donate $15 million of his salary from 2013 to charity.
    he should not make so much money doing nothing while so many people are working their behind off for $8 an hour.

    I am sure most won’t agree with me but thats their issue.

    • Dalek Jeter

      I’m off today and my sister is home sick…should she have to give her day’s salary because she’s home doing nothing?

      • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

        I’m going to guess at his answer: if she makes anywhere near $15,000,000 and nowhere near $8, that would be nice of her to do.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        And, really, who needs child labor laws, while we’re at it? We were doing just fine when kids were in the coal mines 18 hours a day.

        • Dalek Jeter

          And minimum wage! Who needs it! The market shall decide what a fair wage is!!

          • Robinson Tilapia

            I enjoy the occassional fondling by the invisible hand of the market. I just close my eyes and pretend its Katy Perry instead of the corpse of Ayn Rand.

            • Dalek Jeter

              Her Zooey Deschanel persona>>>>>>>>her Katy Perry persona (They are clearly the same girl.)

            • Nick Social

              Would you rather be fondled by a living Ayn Rand or the corpse of Katy Perry?

              • trr

                Have you ever seen a photo of Ayn Rand? Her face was uglier than her philosophy.

            • bpdelia

              Actually that’s Milton Friedman’s corpse which might be one of the only corpses less sexy than Rand’s

      • Dale Mohorcic

        If she was only able to show up for 10% of her work days, I would say that might be appropriate.

    • mitch

      I’d be pretty surprised if Jeter hasn’t already donated more to charity than most of us will make in our entire lifetimes

      • bpdelia

        Color me skeptical but I’m willing to bet his donating is done by his accountant and stops when the tax incentive stops. There is no getting around the fact that the type of ostentatious wealth jeter has and spends (his Florida home is a monument to the garish excess of American Californian) is gross and IMO immoral. But I’m admittedly an extreme liberal who thinks communism without stalinism might work soooo….

    • Robinson Tilapia

      In principle, I obviously agree, but this is a baseball blog’s definition of a dead-end conversation every time it happens.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Wait…..I actually don’t agree. Sick pay is sick pay.

      • Dalek Jeter

        I don’t get it though…it’s not his fault that we’ve placed such a premium on entertainment that he gets payed handsomely for what he does. Nor is it his fault he was injured. I could understand if he broke a rule and was on unpaid suspension that he wouldn’t get paid or if he injured himself in anyway outside of his contract parameters. But his contract was written that he get paid X amount of dollars in 2013, he is entitled to that money.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Plouffy, we’re not headed down the salary rabbithole. We’re just not. I’ve learned my lesson.

          I didn’t take the injury part into consideration at first, then I thought about it. You’re sick, you get paid. That’s the end of it. A lot of people busted their ass for folks to get those rights and, whether he makes $8 or $15 mil, he’s still labor.

          • I’m One

            Indeed. And he was injured on the job, causing hm to miss an entire year of work. Maybe he should hire an ambulance-chasing attorney. We’ve got a guy here in Southern Colorado that advertises as “The Strong Arm”. He seems like a fine choice for this type of action. :-)

            • Robinson Tilapia

              Better call Sa….

  • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

    Wow. I thought there was some magical luxury tax savings. Wish they’d just told him no.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Proof we’re all fucking mortal. Now go drink.

    • Dalek Jeter

      17 more minutes baby.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        3 hours and 14 minutes.

        • Dalek Jeter

          Yuck. I’m just waiting for the socially acceptable 5 oclock.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            Still have to close the office on Tuesdays.

            • I’m One

              What, no “secret stash”?

              • Dalek Jeter

                Oh man, you gotta have a “secret stash” at work. If not you gotta work…near a liquor store.

  • Grover

    Don’t be surprised by a last season retirement announcement by Jeter if his body doesn’t hold up with the resulting road show, increased ticket sales and merchandise. Though they would never admit it, I’m guessing it might have been a piece of the negotiation.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      It wouldn’t surprise if it happened before we got a chance to see whether he even holds up or not.

  • http://msn Janice

    You cant believe he had the balls to demand anything, REALLY!!! so I guess 2o+ years of DEDICATED, STELLAR, lets just use (2!!!) service to the NEW YORK YANKEES should mean nothing because an injury he never asked for happened. The nerve of all you NAYSAYERS!!!


  • Darren

    Word the fuck up, Janice. I’m with you. People like JB would probably be talking shit about Lou Gehrig and how he should have given back his salary cause he could barely play first base anymore. The disloyalty, jealously, selfishness and stupidity is pretty sad.

  • bpdelia

    Woah. ^^^^^

  • iconoclast

    Jeter lost me as a fan of his as a person, as opposed to a fan of his as an offensive only shortstop when he didn’t even consider letting Rodriguez be the shortstop when he first joined the team. Whatever Rodriguez’s other problems may be he is not a selfish team player. He didn’t make a fuss, even though he was a far superior shortstopp.