Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Comparing Jeter to Tulowitzki; Like Apples to Rocks

Troy Tulowitzki just signed a seven-year contract extension which will take him through the year 2020 when he will be paid a base salary $14 million with escalations of $6 million in his final year---at the age of 35.  If the tight-fisted Colorado Rockies can expect to spend $20 million on a 35 year-old Tulowitzki who currently has zero World Series Championship rings on his fingers, why can't the New York Yankees fatten their offer for Derek Jeter?

Jeter's agent, Casey Close, met with Yankees brass yesterday and Hank Steinbrenner said he is "confident that Derek will remain with the Yankees."  In an unconfirmed meeting in Tampa, Close met with Hank and Hal Steinbrenner in which could be the start of positive negotiations.  Does the Tulowitzki contract have anything to do with the two sides finally playing nice?

The 26 year-old Tulowitzki's career is on the rise and the Rockies feel they are investing in their future.  He will get $20 million a season from 2015 through 2019. If Tulowitzki is earning $20 million at age 34, what is Jeter's value?

Jeter, understandably,  is coming off his worst season as a Yankee and the 36 year-old is asking to hang around for another four or five years at $23 million per.  Could Tulowitzki's contract set up the framework for a breakthrough in the Yankees/Jeter impasse?

The Yankees shouldn't gauge their offers on Tulowitzki's numbers and Close has to push his client's intangibles and the public relations disaster that would follow if Jeter is released.  Unceremoniously dumping the face of the Yankees would rock George Steinbrenner's over-sized face from his Monument Park plaque.

Let's look at the comparisons.  The Rockies shortstop plays in Coors Field--a hitter's paradise.  Tulowitzki's OPS of .949 dwarfed Jeter's .710 but Tulowitzki--considered the best overall shortstop in baseball--drops to .863 outside the confines of his friendly home field. Fair enough.

Jeter has bling on five fingers and you can't dismiss the fact, even in decline, no one brings as much of a winning pedigree and professionalism to the ballpark like the boy from Kalamazoo does.  His effect on teammates and even opponents is difficult to put into dollars.  It's hard to remember a time you saw Jeter just languishing in the dugout.  He's always at the top of the stairs watching the game--looking for an edge or pushing a slumping player.  Priceless.

Let's review the facts.  Derek Jeter has to face a few realities.  First--cue Bob Sheppard--Now, batting No. 2,  as the third most important piece of the New York Yankees championship puzzle, Derek Jee-tah.  That's right, the life-long Yankee shortstop is the third priority of the team's off-season's acquisitions behind  signing Cliff Lee and re-signing closer Mariano Rivera.

Rivera is still near the peak of his game and Lee is going to come as close to breaking the deep Yankee bank account as anyone can. Did somebody say $3500 seats premium seats?

Jeter was told by the Yankees to test the free-agent waters and he found the pickings were slim.  Even rivals like the Boston Red Sox expressed no interest--even if it was only to rock the Yankee boat.  A slumping 36 year-old shortstop is not desirable even one with Jeter's credentials. 

Second, in 2014,  a 40 year-old Jeter will not be playing shortstop.  He might not be at Robinson Cano's right side in three years.  Strategically, he could move over to third while Alex Rodriguez fills the DH spot.  Could Jeter ever fill the DH with 15-18 HRs a year--I doubt it. 

The Winter Meetings open next week in Orlando and the Yankees want to concentrate on Lee.  The Rangers hurler is the big present the Yankees want under their Christmas tree and Jeter has become a bothersome lump of coal.  Its a shame.

Look at the money the Yankees threw at Nick Johnson last year.  They paid a fortune for A.J. Burnett and have gotten piles of losses in return. Think of what that $16.5M could have done.  The Yankees only in-house shortstop is inexperienced Eduardo Nunez, so the Yanks are in a precarious position.

Compromise.  Hal and Hank, remember what Jeter has meant to the team and the backlash if he doesn't return.  Derek, think of finishing in pinstripes and what you can accomplish next year with Lee.

Simply. Jeter's 11 All-Star appearances, 5 rings (so far) and 5 Gold Gloves should mean something.  He  has a proven track record and should be worth at least 3 years at $18 million per season.  

Tell me what Tulowitzki has accomplished by 2020.

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