Friday, February 5, 2010

Jeter's value beyond dollars and cents

Hank Steinbrenner is focused on the New York Yankees repeating their 2009 World Series championship. But Jr. Boss knows there is a potential storm brewing next offseason: the expiration of Yankees Captain Derek Jeter's contract.

How do you calculate Jeter's value in terms of dollars and cents? That's a tough one. Jeter's in the final year of a 10-year, $189 million contract. Looking strictly at stats, some observers would conclude that he's not worth that kind of money. But let's look at those stats: .317 career batting average, 2,747 hits, 1,574 runs, 224 home runs and 1,068 ribbies. He was the 1996 Rookie of the Year, a 10-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove winner. And, of course, the only number that really counts: 5, as in five world championships.

But Jeter's value has never been about just stats. It's no coincidence that the Yankees started winning titles again when Jeter took over at shortstop. He and Mariano Rivera were the heart and soul of the most recent Yankees dynasty. And they have a strong chance of starting a new one, surrounded by good, young players such as Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia. But it always starts with Jeter's leadership. Take that out of the Yankees and there's no way they do as well.

Maybe I'm naive, but I don't believe Jeter would ever leave the Yankees nor do I believe the team would ever allow him to leave. The brass can strong arm other players as much as they want, but try to pull the same with Jeter and Mo and they risk a mass rebellion. I think Jeter will be reasonable in his contract demands. I don't know what his request would be, but I would guess a four or five-year deal at about $20-$22 million per year. That's a lot of money, but given his value to the Yanks, it's a steal.

Thanks to Keith Allison via Wikipedia for the photo.

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