Derek Jeter’s New Yankee Contract Should Be 10 years – $200 Million

January 31, 2010

Johnny Damon was discussing his divorce from the New York Yankees to any media outlet who wanted to listen. On the WFAN radio show in New York, Damon discussed his Yankee divorce with host Mike Francesca. I want to say that I did not hear the interview live, but listened to the podcast and read its excerpts in the New York newspapers.

It is not the first divorce in Damon’s professional, or even personal life. One of the reasons bandied about Damon wanting to play solely for more money is that he lost millions in the divorce from his first wife. Then he supposedly lost even more in the Florida-based Allen Stanford $8 billion investment scandal.

Damon might have been better off marrying Stanford and investing money with his first wife.

During the interview Damon said, “Hopefully this doesn’t happen with Derek next year. I say there’s no way Derek can go anywhere else.”

While Damon did acknowledge that Jeter’s situation is completely different, he hopes Jeter doesn’t encounter similar negotiating difficulties with the team when the franchise’s all-time hits leader becomes a free agent next winter.

“… I hope he’s not offered a 40-45% pay cut. But I know Derek’s going to go out and produce this year and I know they will treat him with respect.”

I guarantee, Johnny, that the Yankees will treat Jeter with respect, and that Jeter will treat the Yankees with respect, too.

Jeter is the home grown winning Yankee star of my 12 year old son’s generation, just like Thurman Munson was of my generation and Joe DiMaggio was of my father’s generation. Those three players were our childhood heroes of three generations of Joseph DelGrippo’s. (Wow, three generations of opinionated sports fans is just way too much.)

All three of those Yankee greats were private individuals who won back to back World Series titles. Munson was the consummate family man, ultimately dying because of his desires to see his family during the season.

Jeter was more similar to DiMaggio. Both single, classy, and New York City savants who owned the Big Apple – if they so wanted, but both usually stayed behind the scenes loving their privacy.

Jeter knows his Yankee history, knows his place in that history as the leader of the late 90’s dynasty and the latest in the short list of Yankee Captains. He respected the Iron Horse when he broke Lou Gehrig’s All-Time Yankee hit record, he respected the Yankee fans with his great impromptu speech after the last game at the previous Yankee Stadium.

And he will respect the great DiMaggio by leaving the Yankees the same way the Yankee Clipper left the team (and the game) after the 1951 season, by retiring when he felt he was beginning to embarrass himself on the field, and “the game was no longer fun.”

Speculation has run over the last several years what the Yankees will do with their current icon. With all the money spent over the last three seasons on Jorge Posada, Alex Rodriguez, CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett and Mark Teixeira, the Yankees have doled out many future millions to these star players.

Will Jeter want or get similar money? Yes, he will.

That is why the Yankees will re-sign Jeter to an approximate 10-year, $200 million contract extension before, during or immediately after the 2010 season. Same length as his current deal with a little bit more money, so as not to have that Damon “pay cut” situation. Derek will then be a Yankee forever, and the long contract will eliminate all speculation about his future.

Why would the Yankees sing an aging (albeit very productive) 35 year old player to a 10 year contract?

The key to this deal is that the Yankees will not even have to pay the entire contract.

According to the MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement, if a player is placed on the Voluntary Retired list, he forgoes his contracted salary. It happened recently with Salomon Torres, who retired from the Milwaukee Brewers after the 2008 season, leaving almost $4 million on the table.

Jeter will retire well before that entire new contract will be over, and the Yankees will not have to pay the entire $200 million.

Jeter is the type of Yankee hero and dignified person that he will not let his career spiral downward to that of Willie Mays or even Mickey Mantle, guys who every else knew was done well before they retired.

Mays was a shell of his former self his last two seasons (ages 41 & 42), and should have retired after the 1971 season – on top. Mantle often said the one regret he had was he did not hit .300 for his career (he hit .298) because he held on too long. Jeter will not let that happen to him and, similar to DiMaggio, will leave well before it begins to get embarrassing.

Lets say Jeter signs that type of big contract, gives the Yankees five more good to great seasons and, while beginning to shows signs of declining productivity he reaches age 40 with about 3,700 career hits. He will be on the precipice of becoming the third player to garner 4,000 hits.

With the Yankees penchant for milestones, they will allow him to get to 4,000….if Jeter wants. If Jeter is productive enough, he will continue to play to get that number or if begins to “not be fun” Jeter will elect to bow out of the game gracefully – while on top.

Jeter has always wanted to be the shortstop for the New York Yankees and will be able to play that position as long as he wants. But if Jeter begins to decline significantly, he will not let milestones or even millions of dollars affect his decision. And he will not go to any other team, ever.

And that type of spending is different to what Damon went through with the Yankees.

First, Jeter is a home grown Yankee icon, and paying him that type of future money is a bonus as much for his past heroics and it is for future production. This is similar to how the Baltimore Orioles overpaid at the end for Cal Ripken’s services and the Chicago Cubs overpaid for Ryne Sandberg.

At that time in 1992, both Ripken’s and Sandberg’s contracts were the highest ever in baseball.

Second, Jeter is not the greedy soul that Damon appears to be, and will not stay on just to collect the money.

He has too much class for that. Grace and class like DiMaggio playing the game on the field and exiting the same game moving off the field.

Jeter will leave the game before his career has a chance to end.

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The New York Mets Signed RHP Clint Everts! Yes!

January 12, 2010

When news broke last month that the New York Mets, led by GM Omar (the Maniacal) Minaya, signed Clint Everts, a minor league pitcher for the Washington Nationals, most of the reaction by the Mets faithful was ho-hum.

At least this signing wasn’t another back up catcher like Chris Coste and Henry Blanco.

The Mets did say this off season was going to be spent looking for a left fielder (Jason Bay – check), catching and pitching. What Met fans did not realize that by pitching, they meant the career minor leaguer Everts.

Who ever heard of this guy, a Washington Nationals reject?

Actually, I have and wrote about him  (although he was a spare part to the story) on several occasions.

Clint Everts* was the first ever draft pick (5th overall) in 2002 by Omar Minaya when he was GM of the (then) Montreal Expos. Coupled with the acquisition of Jason Bay, it appears Omar really loves to have his old chums back in the fold.

Minaya chose Everts over such also rans as Zach Greinke (6th – one pick later), Prince Fielder (7th), Jeff Francis (9th), Jeremy Hermida (11th), Joe Saunders (12th), Scott Kazmir (15th – Mets), Nick Swisher (16th), Cole Hamels (17th), James Loney (19th), Denard Span (20th), Jeff Francoeur (23rd), Joe Blanton (24th) and Matt Cain (25th).

*Interestingly, Everts played HS baseball with Kazmir. Imagine two high school players both chosen that high in the draft? (That also happened in 2007 when Mike Moustakas was taken second overall by the Kansas City Royals and his teammate Matt Dominguez was taken 12th overall by the Florida Marlins.) 

Kazmir was traded away to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, a trade which cost the job of GM Jim Duquette. Minaya then replaced Duquette as Mets GM. 

See how everything comes full circle in baseball? Minaya has very few of his drafted players which have made the majors, with virtually no players making an impact. Mike Pelfrey is the best Minaya draftee thus far.

For all his supposed scouting prowess, Minaya is a terrible drafter.

I wonder if all those ex-Expos guys like Bay, Everts, and Orlando Cabrera (Why not Omar?, Cabrera is Latino and once played for you in Montreal) are making the 360 degree turn and coming back. Why does Omar insist on bringing back all his former players that he once rid himself?

Because Omar never has, is not now or never will be a good General Manager.

A little refresher course on how Omar became a MLB General Manager. He was assistant GM of the Mets and interviewed for several GM jobs which had opened up.

Minaya interviewed with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1998, then interviewed with the Colorado Rockies, Seattle Mariners, Anaheim Angels, Pittsburgh Pirates, Texas Rangers (his old team which gave him his start).

All for their open GM positions!

And no one wanted him, as John Houseman would say, the old fashioned way…by earning it! Even the lowly Pirates, probably the worst managed organization in baseball did not want Omar to head their team, to be the face of their franchise!

Looking back at this past season, with all the terrible press conferences he held where Omar had a terrible UZR on the English language, most likely did not help him in the interview process.

Despite all the people throughout baseball who thought Omar was a great guy and terrific ambassador type for baseball with the Latin community, he still did not impress enough to warrant a real, earned job.

But in December 2001, MLB wanted to contract two teams from its “roster.” One targeted team was the Montreal Expos (the other was the Minnesota Twins). MLB wanted to appease the Expos owner Jeffrey Loria so when the Boston Red Sox franchise became available, MLB allowed Florida Marlins owner John Henry to buy them. Then the Marlins were purchased by Loria and MLB assumed the ownership of the Expos.

A nice, tidy, three way swap.

But since MLB was desiring to have their first Latino GM, it was a great triangle for MLB as they get to kill two birds with one stone. They would rid themselves of two undesirable franchises and hire themselves MLB’s first Latino GM, something Bud Selig was being pressured to do.

All involved knew that contraction was NOT going to happen due to the Minnesota lawsuit, and the likely result was that both teams, but primarily Montreal, were going to switch cities. Even though the franchise would  remain viable, MLB allowed Minaya to make terrible trades as Montreal GM which continues to ruin the franchise even today after the team moved to Washington.  

And now Minaya has continued his trend of ruining teams by running the New York Mets into the ground. His total lack of player development has put the Mets into a Ponzi scheme type hole of continuously needing to sign big money free agents to fill needs.

With his job on the line Minaya continued that trend by signing Jason Bay and Everts, of course.

 Why would Mets ownership continue to put their future into Minaya’s hands knowing he is desperate save his job? Desperate men do desperate things, which is detrimental to the future of the organization. If Minaya fails this season and gets fired, he will NEVER get another top job within baseball.

But at least Clint Everts will still be working.


Mack Brown’s Conservative Nature Cost Texas in BCS Title Game

January 8, 2010

Immediately after Texas quarterback Colt McCoy was lost to a shoulder injury (I initially thought McCoy broke a rib), I texted a buddy and said that Texas needs to immediately start throwing the ball downfield with the freshman quarterback Garrett Gilbert coming in.

The rationale is that with the freshman quarterback in the game, the big and fast Alabama defense will only look for Texas to run the ball except for obvious passing downs. After running the ball (usually unsuccesfully) against an eight man front on both first and second downs, these passing downs will be like sending the Christians to the lions.

When it was learned that McCoy was gone from the game for good, the game was over UNLESS Brown decided to open up the downfield passing game. Bama was stopping basically every run, especially those on first and second down. Many times on those early downs, the corner was playing a very strong inside position on the wideout, inching in to stop the run.

When you can’t run the ball against a defense like Alabama’s, you need to throw it, but not those short dumpy passes that bring the safeties up to massacre the receivers coming over the middle. A non running team put into the situation like Texas was demanded to throw the ball long often. Even if you throw mostly incompletions, consistently throwing deep brings the linebackers, safeties and corners away from the line of scrimmage. Then a little later you can run the ball.

If you are not moving the ball at all with the short stuff and early down runs, might as well throw it deep and if you get a completion, it will be a big gain. Or you can seek out some pass interference penalties downfield. The more you throw those types of passes, the more chances you get at getting the big gain or the penalty called. At the beginning it appeared the only way that Texas was going ot move the ball.

Do what the other teams is not expecting you to do.

As a Dallas Cowboy fan, one of the biggest moments of the Jimmy Johnson era was in their first NFC title game against the San Francisco 49ers out in Candlestick Park. In that January 1993 game, the Cowboys had a 24-13 lead in the 4th quarter when Steve Young hit Jerry Rice with a 5-yard touchdown pass with about three and a half minutes remaining.

When the Cowboys received the ball after the Rice touchdown, the 49er defense and everybody else was thinking run Emmitt run, with the Cowboys trying to waste the clock. Everybody but Jimmy Johnson. San Francisco moved the ball too well that last drive and their defense was getting energized, so Johnson (who wasn’t wearing headphones) grabbed a pair and yelled into the microphone, “Norv, get me a first down!” Norv was Dallas Offensive coordinator Norv Turner – now head coach of the San Diego Chargers.

Turner called a play action pass and Troy Aikman hit Alvin Harper on a slant to which Harper galloped all the way inside the 49er 10 yard line. An Aikman TD pass three plays later to Kelvin Martin and Cowboys were NFC Champions.

I truly believe that if Johnson went conventional late in that game, then the 49ers would have won that game.

Now, I know that we are talking Troy Aikman, an NFL Hall of Famer versus Garrett Gilbert, college freshman, but the premise is to do what the other team is not expecting.

Like the key play in that NFC title game, play action passing would have been good for Texas, too, after the McCoy injury. Play action works when your team is running the ball well since it brings the linebackers and safeties up.

But play action also works when you can’t run the ball but the defense thinks you will still run it anyway with a freshman QB in the game.

The many times Texas did go deep later in the game, they were successful. It was something they should of done from the beginning with young Gilbert.

Prognosticators and arm chair quarterbacks will blame the McCoy injury (duh!), but like this SI blowhard especially the interception return for a touchdown at the end of the first half as reasons why Texas lost.

But the real reason is that Mack Brown went conservative when he knew his freshman QB was not going to move the ball against the Alabama defense and decided to pull the reins in even further.

It is doubtful that Jimmy Johnson would have been conservative like that…and he does have a National Championship under his belt.