Jeter's contract is up next year. Any chance he bolts?

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The New York Daily News ponders whether, in the case of Derek Jeter, the Yankees will break their longstanding rule of not entering into contract negotiations with current players until their current deal is up.  The Captain is entering the least year of his ten-year, $189 million deal.  The most interesting question raised by the article is whether Jeter would actually take the bait from another team if he’s allowed to become a free agent:

Would the Captain test the market to punish the Yankees for stringing
him along? And if he did, is there a team out there with enough
resources – and guts – to try to put Jeter in another uniform to finish
his career? . . . With most teams looking to reduce payroll, it’s unlikely to think that
any other franchise would commit the kind of money it would take to
lure Jeter away from New York – assuming that money exists. But as one
GM pointed out, “All it takes is one team.”

I would place the likelihood of the Yankees letting Jeter go elsewhere — or Jeter wanting to go elsewhere, even for more money — at approximately .000000001%, and the only reason that number is above zero is to reflect the probability that a meteor strikes New York while Jeter is out of town between now and next fall, thereby eliminating the Yankees as a possibility.

The Yankees overpay for everyone, so there’s no reason to think that they won’t overpay to keep their most significant player since Mickey Mantle in the family for life. If they didn’t ask themselves whether or not Alex Rodriguez would still be a useful player in 2017, they sure as hell aren’t going to be too concerned if Jeter is going to be useful in, say, 2013 or 2014.

And is there any player in baseball who strikes you as more mindful of his legacy and place in history than Jeter? He more than anyone knows just how much him wearing a Giants or White Sox jersey would screw with the space-time continuum.  He will realize singular post-career value — actual value, historical value and psychic value — if he retires a life-long Yankee, and he knows it.

My prediction: unless Jeter utterly falls off a cliff in 2010, his contract negotiations next winter will take approximately ten minutes (if he falls off a cliff it’ll take 20 minutes). He will leave those negotiations with a contract that probably pays him a bit too much and probably pays him a bit too long.

And absolutely no one in the universe will be bothered a bit by it.

Major League Baseball needs to make an example out of José Ureña

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We’re about an hour and a half separated from the first pitch of Wednesday night’s Marlins/Braves game that featured Marlins starter José Ureña hitting Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña on the elbow with a first-pitch, 97.5 MPH fastball. The benches emptied, Ureña was ejected, and the game went on. Acuña left the game not long after to tend to his injured elbow.

After the game, when the Marlins speak to the media, they will almost certainly deny any ill intent towards Acuña, who had hit leadoff home runs in three consecutive games against them. When they do so, they will be lying. Watch how catcher J.T. Realmuto sets up on the first pitch.

ESPN Stats & Info notes that Ureña’s 97.5 MPH fastball was in the 99th percentile in terms of velocity of the 2,125 pitches he has thrown this season. It was also the fastest pitch Ureña has ever thrown to begin a game. Ureña put a little extra mustard on this pitch, for some reason.

Ureña has a 6.8 percent walk rate, which ranks 37th out of 95 starters with at least 100 innings of work this season. The major league average is eight percent. Control isn’t typically something with which he struggles.

Furthermore, Acuña isn’t the only player who has drawn Ureña’s ire:

Ureña wanted nothing to do with Hoskins — even though Hoskins has yet to get a hit off of him — in his August 4 start at home against the Phillies, walking him twice which included a few up-and-in pitches.

Ureña will almost certainly be fined and suspended for his actions on Wednesday night against Acuña. But will his punishment be enough to deter him and others from wielding a baseball as a weapon? Probably not. On June 19, when Marlins starter Dan Straily intentionally threw at Buster Posey, he received a five-game suspension and manager Don Mattingly was suspended one game. If you look at Straily’s game logs, you can’t even tell he was suspended. He started six days later on June 25 against the Diamondbacks and again on July 1 and 6. Because starters only pitch once every five days, it was like he wasn’t even suspended at all.

Major League Baseball needs to levy harsher punishments on players who attempt to injure other players. A 15-game suspension, for example, would force Ureña to miss at least two starts and it would inconvenience the Marlins enough to more seriously weigh the pros and cons of exacting revenge. The Marlins couldn’t work around it the way they did Straily by pushing back his scheduled start one day.

Major League Baseball also needs to make a legitimate effort to do away with this culture of revenge against players who are just a little bit too happy. Batters get thrown at when they flip their bats, when they yell at themselves in frustration, and even when they’re just hitting well. Baseball’s stagnating audience is very old, very white, and very male. It is not going to bring in fans from diverse backgrounds by keeping this antiquated culture that prevents baseball players from showing their personalities and being emotive. In the event Acuña needs to go on the disabled list for a couple weeks, that’s two weeks that Acuña isn’t on SportsCenter’s top-10, isn’t on the front page of MLB.com, and isn’t in articles like this. The culture of revenge is actively harming MLB’s ability to market its bright, young stars. If ending this culture of revenge doesn’t hit MLB from a moral angle, it should absolutely hit home from a business angle.