Will Derek Jeter's slump seriously impact his next contract?

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Buster Olney runs down how Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, while not having terrible seasons, are off their typical pace.  With respect to Jeter, Olney offers the following:

And for Jeter, there is more at stake here beyond the Yankees’ dream of
winning back to back championships. Jeter’s 10-year contract is set to
expire at the end of this year, and a significant diminishment of
production will ultimately be read as the inevitable manifestation of
time, and could have a great impact on the offer he gets from the
Yankees. Right now, his OPS is 128 points lower than his career average,
and if that stands, it’s hard to imagine the Yankees offering him a
four- or five-year deal at one of the highest salaries in the majors.

I think it will be the press who reads a bad 2010 for Derek Jeter as “the inevitable manifestation of time” and it will be the press who suggests that his contract should/could be lower as a result. The Yankees themselves will probably acknowledge the manifestation privately, conclude that it is irrelevant in the case of Derek Jeter and offer him a top contract regardless.

It has been said so often that it approaches cliche, but Jeter really is different.  I think the Yankees will gladly overpay as an investment in fan loyalty, marketing, historical continuity and all manner of things like that.

I was a tad skeptical of that, actually, but then I saw the whole Ken Griffey thing go down in Seattle. As soon as people started going after him a couple of weeks ago Mariners fans came out of the woodwork to defend the guy and attack anyone who dared to suggest that he didn’t deserve to still be on the team. Even if Jeter suffers a production decline like Griffey’s, the army supporting him will be 100 times larger and more ferocious.

The Yankees don’t want any part of angering that crowd. They’ll give Jeter his contract. If and when he becomes a Griffey-size millstone, they’ll figure it out then. For now, however, his millions are safe.

Another interestingly named player is promoted by the Pirates

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When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.

The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.

Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.

It’s also worth mentioning that Gift and Neverauskas were arrested together in a bar fight last August in Toledo, so there is already a good basis for some bonding here.

Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.

Manny Machado teaches us to never give up

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The Rays beat the Orioles last night, but the play of the game belonged to an Oriole defender.

Evan Longoria was batting and he chopped a ball foul down the third base line. At least it started out foul. As we all know, however, it doesn’t matter where the ball starts, it matters where it is when it crosses the bag.

Manny Machado knows this and didn’t give up on the ball despite it starting several feet in foul territory. He watched it come back, stayed with it and threw out Longoria who, unlike Machado, did give up on it, assuming he’d merely get a strike and another hack. Watch:

Longoria would get Machado back, however, fielding a ball Machado smoked to third base in the ninth inning, recording the second to last out of the game.