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What are the Yankees going to do with Jeter, Rivera and Girardi?

Feb 9, 2010, 9:28 AM EDT

The New York Post says that the Yankees aren’t talking extension with Jeter, Rivera or Girardi.  This is not a surprise, really, as the Yankees have a pretty solid track record of not negotiating with their own free agents until their deals actually expire. Such an approach makes perfect sense for them, of course, because the one reason you try to lock up guys before they hit the market — to keep from having to fight off higher bidders — is not exactly a concern in New York.

Of course the Post does its damndest to try and make it an issue by slapping a quasi-inflammatory headline on the story and playing a breathless what-if game, but what else do you expect from the Post? The day they stop trying to make mountains out of molehills is the day I start worrying. But setting aside the timing and dramatics of it all, what do you do with these guys if you’re the Yankees?

I think you have to treat Girardi like a cog. Sure, if he manages another nice no-drama year and the Yankees make a good showing of it you offer him another year or two in the interests of consistency. But I’ve not seen anyone argue that the difference between success or failure in Yankeeland is whatever managerial genius Girardi possesses.  Is he really telling Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez anything they don’t already know about how to play baseball? He’s Ralph Houk to Joe Torre’s Casey Stengel, isn’t he? Some people may argue that having him as a lame duck manager is a distraction. I think that locking him up for multiple years would create a much larger distraction later when the team wants to fire him.

Rivera is a toughie.  He’s still awesome. He’s the best ever at what he does. He’s also 40, though, and while we all want to see him pitch forever, he won’t.  If he’s still dominant this year I think you’re obligated to give him a contract with some risk attached (i.e. multiple years), knowing that you may eat most of it, because how do you say no to a legend who’s still got it?  Likewise, if the wheels fall off in 2010 it’s not going to be too terribly hard to say “Look Mo, we love you, but this is probably it.”  The real hard thing is going to be if he falters this season but is still generally OK. Like, if he becomes Bobby Jenks or Chad Qualls or someone like that. Superficially he’ll still look like an elite closer, but in reality he won’t be worth that kind of commitment.  Such a dynamic could make for a very, very thorny fall and winter.

Jeter is kind of a no-brainer. He’s going to get a big fat contract that pays him just as much if not a little more than the $21 million he makes now over fewer years. Everyone will know the moment it’s signed that the back end of it is going to be ugly and no one will really care because he’s Derek Jeter.  If a situation presents itself in which he’s making $22-25 million and can’t hit his weight, he and the team will get creative and turn his money into some lifetime contract, he’ll retire and become the greatest ambassador the Yankees ever had.  The details aren’t important. What’s important is that both the Yankees and Jeter have zero desire to see the Captain in any other uniform, and no matter how it’s dealt with, it won’t happen.

Ultimately there will be an inverse relationship between the amount of ink that is spilled over these three guys’ contract status and how difficult the Yankees’ decisions with respect to these guys ultimately will be.  We’ll hear about Jeter’s contract all season, but that gets done quickly. There will likewise be tons of hand-wringing “lame duck” articles regarding Girardi, but his deal (or termination) will only take about ten minutes more consideration than Jeter’s thing.

It’s Rivera’s situation that I’m planning on watching the closest, because if things break just wrong, it could be royal pain for the Yankees and Rivera and a total field day for the Post.

  1. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Feb 9, 2010 at 9:33 AM

    Ultimately there will be an inverse relationship between the amount of ink that is spilled over these three guys’ contract status and how difficult the Yankees’ decisions with respect to these guys ultimately will be.

    Nothing to add, this just needs to be repeated ad infinitum

  2. Old Gator - Feb 9, 2010 at 9:43 AM

    Like anything owned by Rupert Murdoch, the post is a right-wing tabloid slime rag disguised as a newspaper. It started going downhill the day that Aaron Burr shot its founder and with maybe a brief respite when the uncannily lucid Jimmy Wechsler was running it, it’s been going downhill ever since. All Murdoch did was administer the coupe de grace with his own special brand of dumbdumb bullet. I bet the only thing that Dennis Potter regretted was dying first.
    The Borg. I keep waiting for Mariano to have that critical old fart injury (and speaking of old farts, god damn it, dog, why the hell did I have to feed you that piece of Italian turkey sausage last night? Please stop that). The big question for me will be, will he have the simple dignity to say, you know, I can’t function at the level at which I’ve already earned my first-ballot induction, so I’m going to take my millions and resolve into legend, or will he hang on and on, getting smacked around until he winds up pitching for the Feesh on an ILC (Incentive Laden Contract) and making all fifteen Feesh fans in Macondo forget Kevin Gregg? The horror, the horror.

  3. BC - Feb 9, 2010 at 9:55 AM

    Sign Jeter to a 4 year extension at $20 mil per. Sign Rivera to a 1-year plus 1-year team option for huge bucks (assuming he stays healthy this year and is near his usual self). Wait until after the season on Girardi, and if they make the playoffs, give him 2 more years.

  4. Moses Green - Feb 9, 2010 at 9:57 AM

    I think the Yanks and Mo should go on the Wakefield plan. Mo’s rich, he should pick a number they can both live with and do a forever series of one year deals.

  5. Charles Gates - Feb 9, 2010 at 10:11 AM

    Gator: I feel your pain. I found out the hard way my GSP is lactose intolerant. So now, purely on dog food without the influence of Polly-O String Cheese training aids, she emits something not so unlike the smell of oversteamed asparagas, which, oddly enough, seems to bring a smile to her jowls as she curls up next to me just hoping I leave my pint glass unatteneded for a nanosecond.
    What will make the Post go totally bonkers is if/when Mo’ gets an old fart injury, the need for a closer becomes immediate. ‘Joba to the pen’ arguments galore. Not because it might be the right decision, but because it makes 500 words before the deadline unthinkably easy.

  6. Old Gator - Feb 9, 2010 at 10:22 AM

    I appreciate your sympathy. I just kicked Belushi outside to dodge the Burmese pythons and fire ants until he gets his intestinal methane factory under control. Yes, it’s my fault for throwing him that Italian turkey sausage last night, but it was a moment of weakness – do I have to pay for it all goddamned morning when I’m trying to pack for Albuquerque? Anyway, I though dog flatus made for a nice counterpoint to my gift of Gillian to the CT…er, sorry, HT readers yesterday, you know – especially since Craig can’t seem to appreciate worth a rat’s – much less a bagle hound’s – ass true poignant exquisite beauty in lieu of kitsch celebrity packaging.
    You’ve definitely taken the pulse of the Post writers, except that getting those semi-literate puds to expectorate as many as 500 different words in one spasm would probably take dosing their Budweiser with mescaline.

  7. Evan - Feb 9, 2010 at 10:33 AM

    I don’t see a downside to signing Rivera to a 3 year big money deal. The concern about his health and age is a concern that applies to nearly all baseball players over 30. Worst case scenario, he sits in the bullpen and becomes a mentor to everyone else. Being the “best ever” affords him more consideration than a Bobby Jenks or Chad Qualls.
    I think its funny that people regard Girardi as a lame duck. Does Phil Jackson deserve any credit for having Jordan/Kobe/Shaq deliver him championships? Does Torre deserve any credit for having multiple Cy Young awardists in his rotation? I think judging a coach/manager is very difficult. So far, Girardi has done EVERYTHING right by winning the World Series. He’s also a manager of the year award winner while in Florida. I think he’s EARNED the benefit of the doubt.

  8. Bill - Feb 9, 2010 at 10:39 AM

    Bananas, row boats, and robot beef. That makes as much sense as writing this article in the first place.

  9. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Feb 9, 2010 at 10:41 AM

    The comparison to Torre is fair, but not with Jackson. He and Tex Winter(?) brought in a new [Triangle]offense to the Lakers/Bulls which helped both win multiple championships. Girardi, as others have mentioned, can basically sit back and let the stars do their jobs and reap the rewards.

  10. Rick - Feb 9, 2010 at 11:38 AM

    Mariano might be able to pitch three more seasons. Jeter will get another huge contract paying him big bucks until he’s 41 because Jeter is baseball. He’s class and professionalism personified, not to mention he’s chasing Pete Rose. Now for Girardi. The guy is a great coach. He studies the numbers and reacts from there but he isn’t so rigid that he only plays by the numbers. For instance, going into the playoffs with a three man rotation doesn’t have tremendous success these days, especially when one guy is in his late thirties. Point is, a coach has more to do then say “hey, go out there and let’s hope you play well today”.

  11. moreflagsmorefun - Feb 9, 2010 at 11:59 AM

    Again with the Post, I guess they need at least one person to admit to reading it.
    Jeter will get a 3 year deal @ 62 million.
    Mo will probably go year to year, he did thatbefore when a long term
    couldn’t be agreed to.
    Joe is a very important part as manager and I think they appreciate
    what he does, he could probably get a three year deal.
    Jeter and Mo will never wear anything but the Pinstripes, like Bernie Williams they will walk away.

  12. moreflagsmorefun - Feb 9, 2010 at 12:07 PM

    Joe hardly ever is seen sitting on the bench, he is often seen leaning on the rail peeping thru his shades with his side kick
    Tony Pena not too far.

  13. tank74 - Feb 9, 2010 at 1:36 PM

    Craig, please, talk about the pot calling the kettle black! You smear the Post (and not that I disagree with that) for doing exactly what you do — make a mountain out of a molehill! You say it’s a non-issue and go on for seven more paragraphs. LOL

  14. alyce Iavarone - Feb 9, 2010 at 2:02 PM

    Let’s not have too much drama. Realistically, they should all be signed. Jeter will be signed because he can do no wrong even if he has difficulty with his fielding (ha ha); Mo is still okay and deserves a great deal of attention and Girardi, he is very important to the organization. He has a good reputation with the press and most people seem to like him. I understand that people do not want to see Jeter or Mo in other uniforms, and they shouldn’t, but agents have a way of tempting even the most loyal athletes. Here’s hoping for another impressive season and another World Series. Go Yanks!

  15. BaseballFan2 - Feb 9, 2010 at 2:06 PM

    To anyone who follows baseball or knows anything about anything, this is not news. The Yankees are consistent in this policy toward contract negotiations. But I guess you have to write about something, right?

  16. Evan - Feb 9, 2010 at 2:28 PM

    The triangle offense was invented like 50 years ago. Jackson wouldn’t have won a single championship without Jordan. Jordan probably could have won multiple ones with a halfway decent team.

  17. Damn Yankees - Feb 9, 2010 at 3:05 PM

    Think for Girardi it is more than make the playoffs. They need to win another WS or it is bye bye Joe. That is life in the Yankees org. Jeter and Mo need to sign on as hitting coach and bullpen coach they are way too old at this point and need to realize this. 20 million a year for 4 years for jeter I heard someone say…All I have to say to that is ARE YOU NUTS?! Bad enough the Steinbrenners signed A-Rod to a 10 year 30 million deal at the age of 33.

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