Nobody's Right in the Derek Jeter Negotiations

Both sides continue to dig themselves into intractable positions

By Josh Alper
|  Monday, Nov 22, 2010  |  Updated 6:15 PM EDT
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Nobody's Right in the Derek Jeter Negotiations

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Derek Jeter has his eye on the ball.

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When you break the wishbone this Thursday, be sure to wish for a quick and quiet resolution to the contract impasse between the Yankees and Derek Jeter.

There are certainly bigger issues in the world worthy of an idle Thanksgiving Day wish, but let's aim for something that actually seems doable. It doesn't have to be a grandiose wish, just a simple request that the two sides stop posturing in the press to try in an effort to win the PR game instead of simply getting a contract done. Everyone wants Jeter to be here for the rest of his career, although both sides are doing plenty to make you rethink that deeply held belief on a daily basis.

The Yankees have fallen into the "it's business, not personal" trap that anyone with half a brain knows means that it's personal. They built Jeter into the gargantuan personality that he is today, cultivated his image at every turn and marketed it to obscene levels before trying to turn around and say that this is just about baseball. It's never been just about baseball with Jeter, for better or worse, and you don't get to just start saying that it is now.

What's more, they are now actively trying to tear down this asset that they will go back to selling as a Greek God down from Olympus on the day he signs his contract. What they say might be true, but it doesn't stand up when there's a $15 million offer being proffered alongside it.

Jeter's side isn't any better, however. His agent, Casey Close, spoke to Mike Lupica of the News over the weekend and shoveled some pretty serious fertilizer in an effort to paint the Yankees as an ungrateful party.

"There's a reason the Yankees themselves have stated Derek Jeter is their modern-day Babe Ruth. Derek's significance to the team is much more than just stats. And yet, the Yankees' negotiating strategy remains baffling. They continue to argue their points in the press and refuse to acknowledge Derek's total contribution to their franchise."

Close and Jeter's strategy remains just as baffling. If they want the Yankees to offer more money, they have two choices. They can threaten to sign with someone else or they can threaten to retire. Both of those things are unlikely to happen, at least at any level that changes the Yankees offer, so they are stuck trying to play this bogus card of disrespect a month after a $189 million contract expired.

That's his right, but Jeter should probably think twice about pushing the envelope with this angle. At some point it will infringe on the image he has so carefully maintained over the years as the man who puts winning above all else on the baseball field. Increasingly, he's looking like a man who has no leverage, knows it and tries desperate pleas to get what he wants from the other side. That's his right, but we'd be lying if we said it didn't feel well beneath him.

Jeter's total contribution to the franchise is the only reason why we're discussing the mess for the umpteenth time because a refusal to acknowledge it would mean that he got the same bargain basement offer as every other 36-year-old coming off the worst season of his career. The Yankees, despite their increasing hints of uneasiness about Jeter's declining skills, are prepared to give him an irrational amount of money. 

And that doesn't bother a soul which is the damnedest thing about this whole saga. No one really cares that the Yankees will overpay Jeter because everyone accepts that he has a value to the team that isn't measured on the back of a baseball card. It would be naive to think that value is the same to all parties, but everyone needs to stop wanting to have their cake and eat it too.

Stop the silliness, fellas. It's time to hug, share the cake and get to work on Cliff Lee.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

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