Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cashman must work to rebuild bridge with Jeter

Brian Cashman may think that all is forgiven when it comes to Derek Jeter's tense contract negotiations, but I doubt the captain of the New York Yankees feels the same way.

Jeter insisted that he is happy to be back with the only team that he has ever played for and content with the deal he signed to remain a key cog in the Yankees machine. I believe him even though I also believe that he probably would have held out for more money if the dispute hadn’t become so public and nasty. But that doesn't mean Jeter can easily let go of the bad feelings created by the Yankees in handling his negotiations. He didn't point any fingers directly at Cashman, but he didn't bother to hide his disdain over the way he was treated either and it’s clear that he sees Cashman as a key culprit.

Is it important that Cashman work to rebuild the bridge with Jeter? Absolutely. The last thing the Yankees need is a player of Jeter's stature and influence holding a grudge against his own team. Remember, how tense things were between Jeter and Alex Rodriguez for years and how that infected the clubhouse? Cashman was said to be frustrated by the cold war between the two superstars. If he wants to avoid a repeat of that situation, he’s going to have to work hard to repair his relationship with Jeter.

Interestingly, Cashman said that he has already asked Jeter for input on player moves, as he did before the negotiations became so contentious. Perhaps that was his way of letting Jeter know that he still considers the captain an integral member of the Yankees hierarchy despite his blunt comments about Jeter's future on-the-field performance.

Will it be enough to sooth Jeter's hurt feelings? No. Anything short of a private apology from Cashman and the Yankees for letting the media circus get out of hand is unlikely to satisfy Jeter. He probably would also like to see Cashman acknowledge that he was wrong to publicly dare Jeter to find a better offer after the captain told him that he would not consider offers from other baseball teams. Jeter probably views that challenge as the ultimate betrayal, as a sign that his loyalty to the team only goes one way. But I don’t think Cashman is willing to make such as a statement so expect to see a cold war brewing between Jeter and Cashman for the foreseeable future.

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