Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Some Final Thoughts on Jeter and Werth

Derek Jeter has been the focus of a million stories the last three weeks or so. People wrote daily speculations based on every shred of rumor imaginable. There were some writers that scolded the Yankees for treating Jeter so coldly. But most focused on Jeter not facing reality and for asking for too much. As the Jeter story came to a resolution, then the Washington Nationals signed Jayson Werth to a mega-contract and all heck broke loose. The Nationals and their GM have been under intense condemnation on the deal, its length and its terms.

Let's take the Werth signing first. The Fan can't help but agreeing that the Werth deal is too long and for too much money. It is understandable for other GMs to be outraged. But at the end of the day (and the end of the bandwagon), this Fan can't blame the Nationals for making this deal either. In order for a culture like the Nationals to turn around, you have to turn to people who have been on winning teams. That sounds simple, but when a group of players has never known winning, how would they know how to get there?

Werth has been there. He has been right in the thick of pennant races, playoffs and the World Series (twice). Accepting losing or even expecting to lose will not be a part of his thought processes. The Nationals are making an extended effort to turn their fortunes around. They have drafted strongly (Strasburg, Storen, Harper, etc.) and are building a core of talented young players. There is a definite feeling that Ryan Zimmerman should have been in the MVP conversation after his 2011. He's probably the second or third best third baseman in baseball right now. So the Nationals are building a young core. You need guys like Werth to show the way. He will be the example they all follow.

Jayson Werth is not a superstar. He was paid like one, but he isn't one. But he's a darn good player that will make a difference in Washington.

As for Derek Jeter, this Fan has to admit that there is joy in the fact that it is over and that Jeter will remain with the Yankees. This Fan doesn't fault the Yankees for being tough with negotiations (they had all the leverage) and there is no fault to Jeter for having a figure and parameters that he wanted. But the Fan does take issue with how the Yankees went public with two very inflammatory remarks. The first had to do with the "go explore the market to see if you can do better" statement. The second was the reality pill statement.

Now it's perfectly fair for the Yankees to tell those things to Jeter's agent. But when it is told to the media, it leaves no choice for the fans but to think that Jeter was a jerk who was asking too much. Those statements rightly irked Jeter and never should have been made publicly. It was grandstanding in the worst kind and something that Scott Boras would do. The worst part is that it might have been a calculated move to force Jeter to capitulate knowing that Jeter couldn't take his name being mopped around in the press. And that's pretty low.

The other Fan peeve here is the stupid rule not negotiating with potential free agents until the player's contract is over. The Yankees guarantee extra stress and tension in such situations by having such a strategy. There is no reason why the Yankees and Jeter's agent couldn't have been working on this quietly during the 2010 season. The Yankees can claim such a strategy gives them the best picture of what a player is worth, but that's a bunch of hooey.  If this deal had been worked one earlier, none of this Broadway Musical production would have occurred.

Oh well, all's well that ends well, this Fan supposes.

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