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


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.

In the playoffs, the Yankees’ weakness has become their strength

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Two weeks ago, when the playoffs began, the idea of “bullpenning” once again surfaced, this time with the Yankees as a focus. Because their starting pitching was believed to be a weakness — they had no obvious ace like a Dallas Keuchel or Corey Kluber — and their bullpen was a major strength, the idea of chaining relievers together starting from the first inning gained traction. The likes of Luis Severino, who struggled mightily in the AL Wild Card game, or Masahiro Tanaka (4.79 regular season ERA) couldn’t be relied upon in the postseason, the thought went.

That idea is no longer necessary for the Yankees because the starting rotation has become the club’s greatest strength. Tanaka fired seven shutout innings to help push the Yankees ahead of the Astros in the ALCS, three games to two. They are now one win away from reaching the World Series for the first time since 2009.

It hasn’t just been Tanaka. Since Game 3 of the ALDS, Yankees pitchers have made eight starts spanning 46 1/3 innings. They have allowed 10 runs (nine earned) on 25 hits and 12 walks with 45 strikeouts. That’s a 1.75 ERA with an 8.74 K/9 and 2.33 BB/9. In five of those eight starts, the starter went at least six innings, which has helped preserve the freshness and longevity of the bullpen.

Here’s the full list of performances for Yankee starters this postseason:

Game Starter IP H R ER BB SO HR
AL WC Luis Severino 1/3 4 3 3 1 0 2
ALDS 1 Sonny Gray 3 1/3 3 3 3 4 2 1
ALDS 2 CC Sabathia 5 1/3 3 4 2 3 5 0
ALDS 3 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 7 0
ALDS 4 Luis Severino 7 4 3 3 1 9 2
ALDS 5 CC Sabathia 4 1/3 5 2 2 0 9 0
ALCS 1 Masahiro Tanaka 6 4 2 2 1 3 0
ALCS 2 Luis Severino 4 2 1 1 2 0 1
ALCS 3 CC Sabathia 6 3 0 0 4 5 0
ALCS 4 Sonny Gray 5 1 2 1 2 4 0
ALCS 5 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 8 0
TOTAL 55 1/3 35 20 17 20 52 6

In particular, if you hone in on the ALCS starts specifically, Yankee starters have pitched 28 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on 13 hits and 10 walks with 20 strikeouts. That’s a 1.61 ERA.

While the Yankees’ biggest weakness has become a strength, the Astros’ biggest weakness — the bullpen — has become an even bigger weakness. This is why the Yankees, who won 10 fewer games than the Astros during the regular season, are one win away from reaching the World Series and the Astros are not.