First let’s see what Keith Olbermann has offered this week on the state of Derek Jeter -
As the fine folks at Baseball Prospectus noted before the 2010 season began, Derek Jeter was in new territory. Even with eleven .300 seasons notched into his bat, there just wasn’t any indication that any shortstops aged 36 or over – unless their names were Honus Wagner – were going to produce anything but a long walk off a short pier. The nearly 400 ground balls Jeter generated in 2010 were not a statistical anomaly. They were the expected outcome of a lifetime of swings and stats and the ravages of time.
That was the point one of the umpteen coaches and advisors who worked with Jeter during the season tried to get through to him. That was the hard undeniable fact that he was so deftly sidestepping with the answers about insufficient upper body strength. Age, not laziness on the weight machine, adds that half-second to your swing. Age, not sloth, turns those little flares over the heads of the second baseman and shortstop into smothered balls skittering into their gloves. Age, Mr. Jeter, comes for us all.
And think about $45 million over three years, which is the Yankees’ offer my friend Joel Sherman is hinting at in the newspaper, and what the latest set of grisly projections from Baseball Prospectus is suggesting (you’ll only be able to get 301 plate appearances in the third year of that prospective deal), and think of the market out there for 37-year old shortstops and realize that it is not an insult and not lowball and is in fact predicated on mutual loyalty and respect and the nauseating possibility of having to say “Now batting for Pittsburgh, the first baseman, Derek Jeter…”
Ouch. Next, let’s look at some stats of recent players (meaning seasons since 1996) to find someone who was “like” Jeter last season. First, via the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia:
Seasons from 1996-2010, where AGE BETWEEN 36 AND 37
PLATE APPEARANCES >= 600 and RCAA <= -10
PLAYER YEAR ISO PA RCAA OWP 1 Joe Carter 1996 .222 682 -14 .428 2 Marquis Grissom 2004 .171 606 -12 .432 3 Joe Carter 1997 .165 668 -21 .375 4 Craig Biggio 2002 .151 655 -11 .440 5 Paul O'Neill 2000 .141 628 -16 .412 6 Cal Ripken 1997 .132 686 -10 .442 7 Miguel Tejada 2010 .112 681 -12 .428 8 Derek Jeter 2010 .100 739 -15 .426
And, here’s some more from B-R.com -
The name that jumps out the most here to me is Craig Biggio. But, then again, that’s what I said in August as well – that Jeter’s season in 2010 was a lot like Biggio’s season in 2002.
Now, in terms of “image” value, you can make the case that Biggio and Jeter have a lot in common too. Both were/are the “clean boy/leader” poster-children of their organization and are/were well respected throughout the game. And, both – Biggio in 2002 and Jeter in 2010 were/are “nearing 3,000 hits and certain Cooperstown induction” icons for their teams – and, yeah, they’re both “home grown” talents who never played for anyone else but the teams who drafted them. Oh, and, for the most part, both manned the keystone in the infield. Therefore, to me, these two really are perfect comps.
So, how did Biggio do after 2002? By most sabermetric measures, he was a “league-average” performer (thereabouts) for the next three seasons – and that’s it. And, while he was still playing past that, at ages 40 and 41, mostly to get 3,000 hits, he should have hung them up after the 2005 season. And, I’m sure this is what the Yankees are thinking about when it comes to Jeter – and that’s why they don’t want to offer him more than three years on his next contract.
Now, will $15 million a year for three years be enough? I doubt it. Not when the team is paying A.J. Burnett $16.5 million a year and they paid Javier Vazquez $11.5 million last season. We all know that Jeter has a ton of pride – maybe too much – and will not take a salary that close to what the Yankees paid too crap pitchers last season.
And, this is where it gets tricky. Derek probably wants closer to $20 million a season – especially if the Yankees are only going three years on an offer. But, no other team in baseball will pay him that much – or can afford to pay him that much. So, Jeter has very little leverage here. And, in my opinion, he’s probably going to be lucky to get the Yankees to come up to $18 million a season, in any offer.
Man, this thing could take a long time to get done…and, wouldn’t it be something if it does turn out, in the end, to be something like Olbermann suggests? Granted, I don’t think it will be the Pirates. But, what if a team like Red Sox, Mets, Angels, Orioles, Tigers or Cubs offers Jeter a “pillow contract” like the one Boston gave Adrain Belte last season – say, one year for $19 million. Would Jeter take it? And, if he did, what would that mean to his relationship with the Yankees in the future?