Via Mike Lupica –
Casey Close is Derek Jeter’s agent and he has never said very much, and maybe it is one of the reasons why he and Jeter have been together a long time. Close has said very little about his client’s negotiation with the Yankees so far and thought the Yankees would do the same. He was wrong about that. So even Jeter and his representative now find out what it is like going up against the company in a company town.
All of a sudden, the Yankees have a lot to say, especially through “sources” close to the front office. It is always a scream reading about them, knowing how few people are actually in the room. At least Randy Levine, the team president, is out in the open when he has something to say.
More and more you get the idea that the people now running the Yankees – Hal Steinbrenner, Brian Cashman, all of them – are the great line from the movie “All About Eve”:
They think they’re the piano that wrote the concerto.
Close thought everybody wanted to handle this negotiation the right way, maybe because his client has done things the right way with the Yankees from the day he ran out to shortstop for good in 1996. Only now you can’t shut the Yankees up.
This is what Casey Close said Saturday night, after a week of reading what the Yankees have to say about everything:
“There’s a reason the Yankees themselves have stated Derek Jeter is their modern-day Babe Ruth. Derek’s significance to the team is much more than just stats. And yet, the Yankees’ negotiating strategy remains baffling.”
Then Close said: “They continue to argue their points in the press and refuse to acknowledge Derek’s total contribution to their franchise.”
Maybe Casey missed the Cashman memo where it said that “Iconic, off-the-field value, doesn’t translate in my world…”?
When was the last time the Yankees were in a spot like this…where a certain future Hall of Fame player and franchise legend was an older gent, coming off a poor season, and looking for that last multi-year contract while on the doorstep of a notable milestone? In some ways, maybe this is like Reggie Jackson at the end of 1981? Granted, Mr. October wasn’t home-grown or had long Yankees tenure like Jeter. But, at the time, Jackson was 35-years old, coming off a bad year, and just 75 homers away from 500. And, he was a former Yankees World Series hero and a future Hall-of-Famer in the eyes of many…
What happened then? The Angels, Orioles, Braves, White Sox, Pirates, Rangers and Blue Jays all had an interest in Reggie – and eventually Buzzie Bavasi and Gene Autry fitted Jackson with a Halo.
At this point, perhaps the smartest thing that Close can do is work up some other suitors for Jeter – if that’s at all possible. Because, without those, the Yankees can, and probably will, hardball Derek and just wait. There’s no Big Stein for Close to call and work over. And, Hank Stein has been neutered since giving A-Rod the house when he could have stonewalled him. Basically, Casey can say anything he wants now, and wonder/ponder things till the cows come home…but the Yankees have all the cards at this moment. And, without some leverage, nothing is going to change that for Camp Jeter.