Editor’s Note: NESN.com Red Sox reporter Tony Lee will examine one hot-button baseball topic each day in December. On Thursday, he looked at the best shortstops in the game.
When you are the most central figure on the most hated and most successful professional sports team in the country, your actions and words tend to attract plenty of attention. The fact that Derek Jeter has not attracted much in a negative manner says something about his ability to say and do the right thing at the right time, regardless of what he might do in the comfort of his own home (probably a lot of Bonsai).
Now that his contract squabbles are the stuff of afternoon TV, Jeter has a bull’s-eye on his back. So, too, does his team, as observers line up on both sides of the debate to offer opinions as to who is handling the situation well, and who is not.
In the interest of limiting our focus, we ask just one question: Are the Yankees mistreating Derek Jeter?
For the most part, no, they are not. New York’s front office is doing its due diligence and holding the line on a guy with a limited number of years left, performing the same act performed by countless organizations with aging stars in the past. The fact remains that the Yankees have loads of ammunition in this fight, knowing that their initial three-year, $45 million offer is more than Jeter would ever find elsewhere. Surely the star shortstop recognizes that.
What is a bit surprising is the fact that the negotiations turned into a public spat, two obstinate parties seemingly more willing to use the media to posture than to meet in the middle. One can see the Yanks sticking to their guns but once they recognized that the bridge between them and Jeter’s camp was so wide, they filled the gulf with backhanded barbs, taking an approach that caught some off-guard.
But only some. Most everyone else applauded, and since then Jeter has taken grief for asking for the world (as much as five years, $24 million per). Frankly, however, he should ask for the world. He knows his age, he is aware of his 2010 numbers and he has to know the market he would face in the event of an unlikely divorce with the Yankees, but Jeter also knows that perhaps no player in the sport has had as much of a lasting impact on a franchise in the last 20 years. That includes every one of his higher-paid teammates and every other player on every other team in Major League Baseball.
Why shouldn’t he milk that for all it is worth?
He would be doing a disservice not only to himself but also his colleagues. Every franchise player out there, whether 27 or 37, would want to know that the ultimate franchise player did all he could to get all he could in his final contract push.
Thus, Jeter has a leg to stand on as well, and he has reason for his extraordinary demands. Surely, the Yankees recognize that.
When the two sides do come together, the result will look a lot more like the team’s first offer than it will Jeter’s first request. But it will be more than fair for the 36-year-old Jeter. So, too, was his treatment by the front office, aside from a few Bronx cheers from the guys who sign the checks.
Do you think the media is blowing the Derek Jeter negotiations out of proportion? Leave your thoughts below.
On deck: Which active pitcher would you want starting Game 7 of the World Series?