"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Derek Jeter and The Bubble

Anybody see the 30 Rock episode a few years ago where Liz Lemon suddenly realizes that her doctor boyfriend, played by Jon Hamm, is lacking numerous common-sense everyday skills, but has coasted through life protected from this knowledge by “The Bubble” of his good looks and charm?

I always figured Derek Jeter for something of a PR genius. Almost never a lick of bad press or a public misstep; I assumed he’d worked hard at image maintenance and reaped the rewards. But now it occurs to me: was that really due to skill and intent on Jeter’s part? Or is it possible that, instead, being that he’s Derek Jeter, things have simply fallen into place for him along the way?

See where I’m going with this?

Honestly, I don’t think the Jeter negotiations have gotten all that “nasty” or “ugly” yet, despite the headlines; nothing much worse than “I find their stance baffling” has actually been said thus far, and if you’ve never worked extensively with agents, then trust me, that’s nowhere near their standard for nasty. Still, things could certainly be going smoother, and for the first time in a long time — maybe ever — Jeter seems to be making some tone-deaf and… well, for lack of a better word, baffling public miscalculations.

Unlike Jon Hamm’s Dr. Drew Baird, Jeter is in fact talented and good at his job, and he’s certainly no publicity naïf, either. But I do wonder now if circumstance, and Jeter’s very Jeter-ness, conspired to give him an aura of selflessness, or at least business- and PR-savvy, that he didn’t really do much to earn.

Of course this is only relevant in a contract year, and once Jeter and the Yankees have found some sort of compromise and put this behind him, we can all go back to criticizing Jeter’s defense again and, hopefully, praising his hitting technique. There is nothing remarkable about a team and a star athlete playing hardball in the press (see Mickey Mantle and Babe Ruth, for starters). It is only remarkable in this case because we’ve come to expect an ineffable smoothness from Jeter — and now, looking back, I wonder if that may have been in our heads more than it was his actions.

As we saw in 30 Rock, it can be dangerous to pop The Bubble (“Careful, Lemon. You wake a sleepwalker, you risk getting urinated on“). On the plus side it seems safe to assume that whatever happens, unlike Dr. Drew, at least The Captain won’t end up with two hook hands.

(Whether he’ll play shortstop as if he did, though, is another question.)


1 Jeter Asking Reduced : baseballmusings.com   ~  Nov 26, 2010 9:20 pm

[...] Update: Emma Span (no relation to Denard) nails the negotiations. [...]

2 jorgie juiced one   ~  Nov 26, 2010 9:37 pm

Other than the public statements being made, the way these negotiations are going - specifically Jeter's side - is unsurprising. This has to do with the other contracts the Yankees have on their payroll - most relevantly ARod's but also Texeira's [I don't know why the absurdity of that contract in both length and amount is not an issue]. Both of those contracts -especially ARod's - pay exorbitant sums beyond Jeter's current age.

These contracts are relevant in two ways - one is quite frankly ego. But, then there's also Jeter's position that those guys are not the face of the franchise. He is. He's the guy the Yankees promote, market, etc. If that's the case, then he should be paid accordingly in comparison with his teammates. From a business/negotiating standpoint, Jeter's initial contract demand is not unreasonable. It certainly doesn't make him clueless, out of touch, etc.

In giving such huge sums of money for lenghty periods of time, I'm not sure what the Yankees expected with respect to the player most ID'd with the franchise over the past 15 years. Furthermore, I think both they and Jeter should be careful, as they both have much value connected to Jeter's public image.

None of the above is to say that the Yankees should pay what Jeter's asking. I'm thinking about 4 years/80-85 should get this done. That is in part the price the Yankees may have to pay for the way they have conducted their finances over the past several years.

3 Raf   ~  Nov 27, 2010 12:48 am

[2] Jeter picked a bad time to have a bad year.

4 seamus   ~  Nov 27, 2010 10:57 am

[3] i agree. honestly, i would go so far as to say that Jeter is the most valuable player for the franchise (note that is different than being the most valuable for winning world series at this point). I do think his image is important to the franchise and ultimately will leverage him a pretty good deal.

5 seamus   ~  Nov 27, 2010 10:58 am

On another note, reading the Rivera post over at Lohud and I got to thinking about the one thing I want Rivera to do before he retires (besides win two more world series). And that is pass Hoffman on the all time saves list. I know Hoffman is a free agent. Is anyone going to take a chance on him as a closer? Basically, Riveras best bet for passing Hoffman is if Hoffman retires.

6 The Mick536   ~  Nov 27, 2010 2:50 pm

[2] Right on.

[5] The only thing that the record begets is a place on the totem pole in the records room in the HoF. Mo be the greatest without the highest number.

I cannot read the bankbooks of the Steineys. I can only surmise they have tax problems of the highest order. It may be a good idea to also take another look at the financial situation in and around the time they formed and developed YES. Pieces were sold to the real evil empire, G &S, which, if memory serves me correctly, brought A-Rod back after his immature, Borast induced, interference with the World Series. Perhaps they have some say in how much the Yankees can leverage themselves? I dunno.

7 The Hawk   ~  Nov 27, 2010 3:28 pm

I don't have a problem with the way either side is handling the negotiation - from where I sit, which is pretty damn far away, obviously. If any fans are put off by Jeter here, I just don't get it. He wants to get paid as much as he can, and I see nothing wrong with that.

I see why the Yanks would offer what they offered, it's totally reasonable. But ultimately, what's 4 million between friends? Just offer him what he averaged over the last contract for three years. I think at his age, more than 3 years is too much. They'll probably go four though.

Too bad about that A Rod contract. It was a bad idea on principle, it was a bad idea pragmatically and apparently it's a bad idea vis a vis Jeter too. And it's too bad Jeter had such a down year last season with a really good year the previous season. Makes things kind of hard to figure.

8 The Mick536   ~  Nov 27, 2010 6:25 pm

[7] I'll take the bait. What's wrong with it, I'll tell you what's wrong with it. This interpretation comes from one that saw the Yankees keep The Mick around too long. Check the records from 1965- whenever Steiney bought the team. No endless stream of cash. He remained the highest paid player, until he quit. And then, poof, nada. If the Steineys have a budget, it has to be spread amongst several players. The more he gets, the less for the bench and the bullpen. Perhaps it may even affect the negotiations for Mo, another closer, Upton, Andy, a catcher, I don't want another season of Pena and Cervelli. A-Rod ain't going to play 162, is he? Jeter doesn't make errors, right. He also doesn't get to balls. Doesn't that put more strain on the other infielders, one who is hurting and the pitcher. And, as we have seen, when some of these cheap hits put a runner on first, he ends up on second, because whoever is catching cannot throw him out.

9 The Hawk   ~  Nov 27, 2010 6:43 pm

[8] Well, the Yankees don't have to do anything they don't want to or think they should. I wouldn't expect a player to "take one for the team" is all. If both sides can't coem to an accord, then it is what it is. They should each do what they think is best for themselves.

10 williamnyy23   ~  Nov 27, 2010 7:02 pm

[8] The Yankees DID NOT keep Mantle around too long. He retired at age 36. In his last three seasons, he had an OPS+ of 170, 149 and 142. If you think that's evidence of a guy hanging on, well, I don't know what to say.

Also, Steinbrenner didn't but the team until 1973, so there is no connection between the Boss, Mantle and the Yankees payroll.

11 williamnyy23   ~  Nov 27, 2010 7:05 pm

[9] Exactly. Also, all the people throwing dirt on Jeter make me laugh. I know he had a bad season, but why does that now make him a charity case. Before last year, Jeter posted an OPS+ above 120 in four of the previous five seasons. According to fangraphs, which hammers him on defense, Jeter’s value was more than $20mn per season over that span. Is it really so outlandish for Jeter to thinks his value is closer to that level, established over five recent seasons, than the one the Yankees and many fans are using based on only one year?

12 seamus   ~  Nov 28, 2010 9:05 am

[6] umm yeah, so? I didn't say it was critical to Mo's legacy. But it's something I want.

13 Raf   ~  Nov 28, 2010 10:22 am

[11] I may be misreading your post, but fangraphs has Jeter's value @ under $20mn for a few years; 2002-05 then again in 07-08 and again in 2010.

I don't think he's done, but his options are limited; there aren't many contending teams that will pay Jeter what he thinks he's worth. If I'm wrong, so be it. It would be nice to see both sides come to an agreement, but if they don't it's not the end of the world.

14 The Mick536   ~  Nov 28, 2010 3:55 pm

[10] You take me too literally.

He batted .255, .288, 245, and .237 in his last four year. He averaged 20 homeruns a year and drove in 56 or less. I don't know what the stats you refer to actually mean to this discussion, though I realize they are part of the present day way we evaluate our stars. The Mick pinch hit some and played only first base during this time, hardly Mickey Muscles anymore. Pained me to watch him strikeout. He couldn't have led if he wanted to and if he wanted to, he had a weak supporting cast.

I know when Steiney took over the team. I also remember the Mike Burke years. The Mick continued to earn his salary, the highest on the team. He shouldda quit at 14, like Joe.The yanks finished 20 or more out each year, yes. Houk had them going in the early 70s, but not enough. It seemed to me, living in NYC from 1969 on, that they could have done more to build a team. The farm ceased to produce any useful talent, Thurm being an exception. I just feel that he brought team down, draining some salary that could have been spent elsewhere. And, he could not have been fun to play with, as a teammate.

15 joejoejoe   ~  Nov 28, 2010 7:47 pm

Casey Close probably told Jeter he'd get 2 years and $90M dollars more than the contract he'll ultimately sign. If you fail that big with a client it can kill your career as an agent. What's baffling is why Close would tell Jeter he was worth 6 years/$150M when the market says he's worth a dollar more than what the next team will pay him. And Cashman gave Jeter an above market offer!

Casey Close, former Jeter agent, coming to a theater near you.

16 williamnyy23   ~  Nov 29, 2010 8:50 am

[13] It could have been written better! What I meant is that before last year, Jeter's value averaged to about $20mn over the previous five seasons. So, you have two standpoints: the Yankees, who look at Jeter's 2010 and say he is in decline, and Jeter, who looks at his previous five seasons and says last year was the fluke. I think both are reasonable. I tend to agree more with the Yankees assessment, but think Jeter is well within his right to begin the negotiations where he has (and certainly not deserving of the derision).

17 williamnyy23   ~  Nov 29, 2010 8:58 am

[14] I took you literally because it was a very strong statement not supported by facts. Granted, OPS+ wasn't considered back then, you also have to be careful not to judge the counting stats by modern standards. For example, Mantle's 22 HRs in 1967 were good for 8th in the league. Also, he finished fifth and third, respectively, in OBP for 1967 and 1968, and the value of getting on base was always understood.

Even in his diminished form, Mantle was still one of the most productive players on the team. There is absolutely no evidence to support the notion that he was a drain in anyway. I really have no idea what your ultimate point is, but the premise (that Mantle was a burden) is simply unsupported.

18 williamnyy23   ~  Nov 29, 2010 9:04 am

[15] Two points:

1) The $150/6 year figure has been discredited. Also, we don't know what Close told Jeter, so it make no sense to blame him. In fact, he should be commended, from an agent's perspective, for not settling for a lower offer off the bat. That is not how you negotiate.

2) Market value is all well and good, but that the Jeter/Yankee relationship should be about more than that. Also, just because other teams can't pay a certain amount, doesn't mean that determines the value he provides to the Yankees. In other words, the Yankees' position shouldn't be that we are only going to pay you a certain amount above what others can match, but instead a number commensurate with the value he provides to the team.

19 DDavis   ~  Nov 29, 2010 9:14 am

I believe Jeter painted himself into a corner several years ago.

The Yankees acquired the best shortstop in the American League, a player many thought was the best player in the game -- and Derek would not even consider a change of positions. So, A-Rod moved to third base, and now Jeter is too slow to adequately cover shortstop, blocked at third, too old to consider trying centerfield. The fact that no one seems to remember his petulance when A-Rod was acquired surprises me.

Jeter has been a wonderful, clutch player, but his legacy is at risk if he becomes the reason why the team isn't winning. My guess is that he rebounds for a good offensive season in 2011, with the following years being mostly about decline and the cashing of checks. His play at shortstop is likely to get worse.

Jeter ought to counter with an increase of 5% over the Yankees' offer and get it over with.

20 williamnyy23   ~  Nov 29, 2010 10:40 am

[19] Petulance? Can you cite one source to support that statement? Maybe a quote, on or off the record?

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