Thursday, November 12, 2009

Yanks shouldn't make Jeter wait

The most frustrating thing about the Yankee brass has always been its reluctance to deal fairly with their own players while moving heaven and earth to get another team's player. They bucked that trend and did the right thing signing Derek Jeter to his current 10-year deal in the 2000-01 offseason before he hit free agency, but they could have had him cheaper if they had signed that much-discussed 7-year deal the year before.

I still believe that Andy Pettitte would never have left the Yanks for Houston after the 2003 season if the team made him a fair offer, instead of making him wait and then coming in with a monster contract offer only after the Red Sox went after him. Here's hoping Brian Cashman & Co. don't make the same mistake with Jeter.

Everyone knows Jeter wants to finish his career in pinstripes, but he is also a proud guy and would not just take any deal from the Yanks. Why wait until he is a free agent and risk the possibility of Jeter being convinced by his former manager Joe Torre - who Jeter adores - to finish out his career in Dodger Blue? Imagine the uproar, all of it directed toward Yankee ownership, given Jeter's iconic status in New York. It's not worth the risk. Make him a fair offer now (one that does not involve a pay cut) and ensure Jeter will reach the Hall of Fame clinching magic number of 3,000 hits and chase Pete Rose for the all-time record while still wearing pinstripes.

While they're at it, the Yankee brass should also extend Mariano Rivera's contract. If there's one thing the powers that be learned during the playoffs, it's that the Yanks are not remotely ready for life without Mo. If he is serious about continuing to pitch, than the Yanks should extend his deal and focus on grooming a set-up man who could be transitioned into the closer's role (though I wouldn't want to be the guy who follows Mo in that job). Five years may be pushing it, but that's what Mo said and since he's Mariano Rivera I wouldn't bet against him.

Thanks to Keith Allison via Wikipedia for the photo.

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