Talks between Jeter and Yankees already looking problematic

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When it comes to matters of Derek Jeter, the Yankees and free agency, everyone seems to agree on one thing: it’s best that the negotiations do not turn ugly.  Unfortunately, that may no longer be possible.

Yankees managing partner Hal Steinbrenner told a New York-based radio station Tuesday that Jeter is wanted back, but also that he’s running a “business” and that the Yanks aren’t simply going to hand the 36-year-old shortstop a blank check because he’s loved and revered.  It was a sensible comment, given that Jeter has fallen off considerably both on offense and defense and finished the 2010 season with an OPS of 710 — a good 127 points below his career average of 837.

Jeter knows that he’s not the player he once was and his agent, Casey Close, knows that just as well.  But Close also knows that the Yankees will face a PR nightmare if they let their “captain” walk this winter and go with Eduardo Nunez at shortstop instead.  There’s no denying that Jeter has major leverage in this situation and it certainly sounds like he plans to use it.

SI.com’s Jon Heyman heard from industry sources Wednesday that Jeter could be seeking a six-year contract that would take him into age 42.  And now Jeter’s agent is telling AOL Fanhouse that his client’s value to the Yankees “cannot be overstated” and that “no athlete embodies the spirit of a champion more.”

Contract talks probably haven’t even started yet and the two sides are already battling it out publicly. Jeter wants to end his career in New York, the Yankees want him to end his career in New York, but there’s a clear disagreement as to how much he deserves to be paid over these final few years.  And for how long he deserves to be paid.

Jeter isn’t going anywhere.  He will be back with the Yankees in 2011 and for a few years beyond that, but the path toward a peaceful pact this winter looks to be a rocky one.

Dodgers plan to tab Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of World Series

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MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports that the Dodgers plan to tab ace Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of the World Series. Nothing is set in stone yet ahead of Tuesday’s Game 1 of the World Series. In the event Kershaw can’t start Game 1, Rich Hill would start. Otherwise, Hill would start Game 4.

Kershaw, started Game 1 and Game 5 of the NLCS against the Brewers, then closed out Game 7 with a flawless inning. He was hit around to the tune of five runs (four earned) over three-plus innings in Game 1, but rebounded for seven innings of one-run ball in Game 5. He struck out two en route to sending the Dodgers to the World Series in the ninth inning of Game 7.

Kershaw also tossed eight shutout innings against the Braves in Game 2 of the NLDS. Overall, he has a 2.37 ERA in 19 innings this postseason. There was no doubt who would be the Dodgers’ first choice to start Game 1, but it’s a relatively recent situation where the ace of a team also closed out the final game of the previous series.

Hill has put up a 2.61 ERA in 10 1/3 innings this postseason. While he doesn’t have Kershaw’s pedigree, the Dodgers would be confident having him lead off the series. Hill was excellent down the stretch last year, helping the Dodgers reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Astros.

The Red Sox plan to start Chris Sale in Game 1 now that he’s recovered from a brief stint in the hospital due to a stomach ailment. The lefty has a 3.48 in 10 1/3 innings in the playoffs this year. He’s among a handful of candidates for the AL Cy Young award after posting a 2.11 ERA in the regular season, but his lack of innings (158) may hurt him.