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Can we please remember for a second that Derek Jeter is, first and foremost, a baseball player?

Nov 5, 2010, 11:29 AM EDT

Image (1) jeterap2.jpg for post 3593

I’m not sure what to make of Derek Jeter’s total value. That is, his value as both a baseball player and a piece of marketing and good will and all of that. And those are the terms in which his current contractual situation are being played out.

There’s just so much uncertainty there. I think those who say that Jeter is irreplaceable or that he’s worth tens of millions as a personality alone are frankly deluded. There’s a value to that stuff, sure, but I don’t think it’s that great.  At the same time, anyone who completely discounts the notion that Jeter has some value over and above his OPS and defense is loony too (not that I’ve seen anyone totally discount it).  It’s just that unless you’re privy to all of the numbers the Yankees and Jeter’s representatives have along those lines, you can’t know this stuff. And even those people then have to take a leap of faith because the numbers don’t tell the whole story.

Still, I think we can recognize baloney when we see it, and there’s some baloney in this morning’s article by Bob Raissman, in which he quotes an alleged expert on sports marketing who thinks that Jeter would be valuable to any team who is launching a regional sports network like YES.  The example he uses is the Astros, and he drops this beauty:

“Jeter’s presence at a fledgling regional sports network has value,” said Lee Berke, president of LHB Sports, Entertainment & Media Inc., a company that advises sports and entertainment properties on network start-ups. “Jeter’s leverage is this: Suppose he goes to a team that’s just developing a network, like the Astros.

“You’re out there trying to sell the network to cable systems for the first time,” Berke said. “When a team doesn’t have a record of recent success, you’ve got a real advantage saying (to cable operators) ‘We’ve got Derek Jeter. We are committed to excellence.’”

Really? Does a Derek Jeter signing and a one-day press conference that would accompany it really signal to smart business people and the viewers who pay for their services that the Astros are “committed to excellence?”  Depending on the contract price, it could mean that they’re committed to delusion. Depending on how he hits between Opening Day and May 11th it could mean that they’re committed to paying for the shadow of a once-great player. How much did Hank Aaron mean for the 1975-76 Brewers’ bottom line?
Which isn’t to say that Jeter is done. He may bounce back remarkably. It’s just that trying to value him separate and apart from what he actually brings in terms of baseball production is silly.  Even the Yankees have to weigh his average and OPS over his Q score.  He’s a baseball player, after all. He’s not hosting a talk show.
  1. Jonny 5 - Nov 5, 2010 at 11:47 AM

    Hey, what are you talking about? Don’t you know he’s on the top ten list of FA’s this season? I still fail to see how that’s possible, but it isn’t my list either….. His War is kinda bad, and his dwar is downright bad. Money aside, Is his defense ever above a negative?

  2. Chris Fiorentino - Nov 5, 2010 at 12:01 PM

    That is complete BS from Raissman…sounds like something coming from Jeter’s agent. The fact is that while Jeter is valuable to the Yankers…the Yankers are just as valuable to Jeter. If he went to any of the other teams, he wouldn’t add much value to them. It’s not as if he has an ironman streak…or a home run record on the horizon. He’s a great Yanker, and that’s where his value ends. Anyone who thinks any different is wearing Yanker pinstriped underoos just a little too tight.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 5, 2010 at 12:24 PM

      The one “milestone” he has is being the first Yankee to get 3000 hits solely with the Yanks. That’s really it. Most of the other all time records, Arod is right behind him within a year or two tops.

      However, and this is huge, a lot of Yankee fans are really dumb and think the crap that guys like Wally Matthews, Ian O’Connor, Rob Parker, etc write is correct. For instance, say the yanks offer jeter a 3/$60M deal and he declines it. Those writers will talk about how the Yanks are disrespecting Jeter, the Yankee Icon, blah blah blah. But in reality, a $20M/yr deal is probably double what any other team would offer. Unfortunately, all those fans who follow those clowns, can have an affect on the Yankee bottom line by not going to games, buying merchandise, etc.

      The same thing happened to Torre a few years back. The yanks felt he wasn’t worth his ridiculous salary, gave him an offer that kept him as highest paid manager but added incentives to get back to a previous level, and he walked. The media blasted the Yanks, and still defends him even after writing that hack job of a book. The yanks are in a bad spot in these negotiations. They are going to come out the worse regardless*. Offer a long term deal, bad for years 2015+. Offer a ton of money but short term deal, hampers FA signings. Low ball Jeter and he walks, bad for the Yanks.

      *the only way this looks good is if Jeter takes a short term deal with a higher salary than he’d get on the open market, but well below the CC/Tex/Arod levels (3/45 to 3/60 tops). Then, and this is important, Jeter praises the team for getting it done. If he insists on getting paid at the Arod level, he should rightfully get criticized for it. The Arod deal was terrible, but he’s a far better player than Jeter.

      • Jonny 5 - Nov 5, 2010 at 12:41 PM

        COPO, I agree. I think if Jeter was as great as everyone pretends he is, he would take a salary slightly above his worth on the market, Thank the Yankees, and put this to bed NOW. If he were asking for a reasonable salary, this would be over yesterday. It’s not like any other teams are even sniffing him as A FA anyway.

      • Adam - Nov 5, 2010 at 1:09 PM

        Church -

        How on Earth, when referring to the Yankees, can you say that paying him will hamper FA signings? Have you really not realized that money isn’t what holds them back?

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 5, 2010 at 1:19 PM

        Because the Yanks are running into serious problems with future money. Check out this Cot’s link*. The Yanks payroll for 2010 was listed at $213M (more like $225M). Now look at future obligations. In 2011, they have $144M tied up to 24 players out of a 40 man roster which doesn’t include Pettitte, Rivera, Jeter or the 4 arb eligible players. Then look at 2012, $107M tied up to 17 players. This dwarfs most TEAMS, and this is less than half the roster. It’ll get worse if Arod gets healtier and starts hitting his HR milestones.

        In a vacuum, the Jeter contract and money isn’t an issue; however, it can severely hamper future FA/arb negotiations. The bank of steinbrenner maybe akin to scrooge mcduck’s bank, but if the spending continues, eventually the cost of business will far outweigh the benefit.

        http://mlbcontracts.blogspot.com/2005/01/new-york-yankees_111398168678860040.html

      • Glenn - Nov 5, 2010 at 10:53 PM

        The Yankees made 400 million above costs. They can burn a million dollars a day and still make a ton of profit each year.

  3. Jason @ IIATMS - Nov 5, 2010 at 12:20 PM

    Craig: you can delete this if you wish (because of the link below) but I noted yesterday that both the Yanks AND Jeter are worth more together than separate. For the now and the long term. Both sides know this is true, yet there will be a painful birthing process to go thru until both sides agree on a deal that will keep the two together ad infinitum. For better or for worse.

    Sorry, for this Yanks fan, this is already getting painful: http://itsaboutthemoney.net/archives/2010/11/04/we-get-it-jeter-yanks-worth-a-lot-to-each-other/

  4. Charles Gates - Nov 5, 2010 at 12:32 PM

    The off the top of my head comparison of Jeter going to a different city is when Sammy Sosa went to Baltimore in 2005. Granted Jeter will probably outperform what Sosa did on the field, but in so far as marketing is concerned, Sosa brought a buzz to the offseason. Billboards. Promotions. T-shirts. (Can’t remember anything about season ticket sales). It got the sports radio guys off the Ravens for a segment or two. BB-Ref.com has the attendance that year at 2.6MM (5th out of 14) though it was down slightly from ’04. And Jeter is a much bigger start than Sosa. If Jeter went to Houston, the 4th biggest city in the nation, and if the Astros market it/him right, the impact could be very substantial. Jeter, as a player may not be worth the money, but as long as that increase in revenue is invested into baseball related activities, it might yield some improvement.

    • Charles Gates - Nov 5, 2010 at 12:39 PM

      To clarify, I agree with Jason. The Yankees and Jeter are worth more together than separate. However, I think there is an incentive for another team to pay him more than what his stats say he’s worth because there is value in the aura/mystique/intangibles/good looks/milestones/marketability etc. How much is it worth? Well, it’s team specific and definately more art than science.

      • yankeesfanlen - Nov 5, 2010 at 1:00 PM

        Jeter will just plain not leave the Yankees bacause of the things Jason has related. There’s still not enough money in Houston or anywhere else. The Tri-State Ford dealers (not FoMoCo the parent company) probably have sufficient funds to keep Jeter here. No “proposed” regional network will start as a reasonable alternative.
        Bottom line: Jeter will be overpaid, and the Universe can afford it.

  5. hackerjay - Nov 5, 2010 at 12:57 PM

    I think that the Yankees are way more importent to Jeter then Jeter is to the Yankees. Does anyone seriously think that the Yakees would lose any attendance if Jeter walked? Yeah a lot of people moan and complain and all the local sportswriters would get their underwear in a twist, but at the end of the day the Yankees would still be the #1 attraction in baseball.

    I think the Yankees will keep Jeter, and I think they will overpay, but not by a huge amount. They know that Jeter will make more money as a Yankee then with any other team, no matter what his salary is.

  6. diamondduq - Nov 5, 2010 at 1:30 PM

    To make the most relevant analogy for Jeter, you have to look to another sport, college football. Derek Jeter is to the current iteration of the Yankees as Joe Paterno is to Penn State or Bobby Bowden was to Florida State. Those programs existed before them and will continue to do so after them but as long as they are with their respective teams recruiting is better, attendance is better and overall the product on the field is better, whether they’re contributing anything tangible or not. Jeter’s even better than that because he still does contribute something tangible and even with the jaded glasses the Yankee/Jeter haters look through to evaluate him, he’s still, at 35, an above average SS in MLB. Even in the worst year of his career this year, he wasn’t as bad as the stats appear to show, just as Edgar Martinez wasn’t as good a hitter as the stats appear to show. Stats help but they’re not the end all/be all of player evaluation. When did we start valuing what we see on a piece of paper over what we see on the field?

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 5, 2010 at 2:06 PM

      He’s 36 and will be 37 next June. And the fact that he was still above average is more of an indictment against how terrible SS were this year than a compliment to Jeter.

      When did we start valuing what we see on a piece of paper over what we see on the field?

      Because there’s no bias in [most]statistics. Either something happened, or it didn’t. However, even the most enthusiastic fan can’t watch every single play of every single game. So you may have seen every inning of the Yanks this year, but no way you watched every play for the Rangers to judge Andrus vs Jeter, or the Rockies to see Tulo vs Jeter, etc.

    • Adam - Nov 5, 2010 at 5:39 PM

      “just as Edgar Martinez wasn’t as good a hitter as the stats appear to show.”

      Are you kidding? Edgar Martinez was a hitting machine, whether you watched him in person or looked at his stats. The man was born to swing a bat and make pitchers look foolish.

      In the 12 full, healthy seasons he played, Edgar had an OBP of less than 400 a grand total of TWO TIMES. Once, when he was 27, he had a 397 OBP and the other was when he was 41 and he still managed a 341 OBP. Also, during those healthy years he only hit under 300 twice, at the age of 40 and 41. And at the age of 40 he hit “only” 294.

      He wasn’t a guy who was going to go out and hit 40 home runs or anything, but he was a guy who was going to go out, get hits, drive in runs and be what a DH should be, a really good hitter.

      So I don’t know what metric you’re using to say he wasn’t as good a hitter as people believe, but it’s a brutal metric if Edgar doesn’t make the cut.

  7. Glenn - Nov 5, 2010 at 10:59 PM

    I should add that as a Red Sox fan, I hope Jeter is the Yankee shortstop and lead-off hitter for the next four years. I have never enjoyed watching anything grow old more than the Yankees. Their off-season goals are to resign a bunch of guys my age, and I’m dreading the pain I will feel tomorrow after a day of yard work.

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