If Jeter continues to hit so poorly, the short term rational decision for the Yankees to make would be to offer Jeter a far smaller contract after this year, but there is a certain myopia in that as well. The Yankee mystique may be nonsense, but it is lucrative nonsense; and Jeter represents a big part of that mystique. Keeping Jeter in pinstripes for his entire career therefore takes on a measure of import beyond simply immediate baseball questions. Jeter, the greatest Yankee since Mickey Mantle, is expected to join Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig and a small handful of others as all-time great players, which will also probably include Mariano Rivera, who spent their entire careers with the Yankees. If this does not happen, many casual fans will be angry with the team, but if the only way to do this is by overpaying for a poor fielding backup infielder, the Yankees will have no good options.
The dilemma exists for Jeter as well. He is worth more to the Yankees than to other teams, but he also benefits from spending his whole career with the Yankees. This suggests that there is ample economic space for the Yankees and Jeter to come to an agreement. The baseball questions, however, are not so simple. Jeter has carefully created an image for himself as the consummate team player, but this will be rapidly undermined if he spends the last part of his career chasing milestones and records while collecting a big paycheck while hurting his team. Moreover, if the Yankees feel compelled to play Jeter due to his fame and big contract from 2011-2013, despite what may be seriously declining offensive skills, the team will be weaker for it.
(Thanks to Primer for the link.)
[Photo Credit: Boston Sports Pulse]