A Modest (Moot) Proposal

So Adrian Beltre is going to cost the Texas Rangers $16 million a year for six years, and Derek Jeter is going to cost the New York Yankees $17 million a year for three years (maybe more).

Did the Yankees ever consider the financial madness, or the lack of quality control, that represents? Or, to phrase it more correctly, how many times will they be forced to think about it in the next three years, as Jeter continues his descent from impact player to easily-jammed to liability to living statue?
If it seems asinine to consider asking Alex Rodriguez to move back to shortstop after seven years at third base, it certainly isn’t much more so than is expecting Jeter to suddenly regain the range that deteriorated so noticeably last year, or to do that and be a productive shortstop on his 40th birthday.
All greatness comes to an end, and usually a year or two later, so does all sentimentality. The Yankees released Babe Ruth in 1934. They forced Yogi Berra into the manager’s office in 1963 and fired him in 1964. They dumped Casey Stengel days after his 10th World Series in a dozen years in the uniform. They let Reggie walk. They cut The Scooter on Old Timers’ Day. They marginalized and then released Bernie Williams in 2006. They cashiered Joe Torre.
If you are horrified by the thought of the Yankees simply throwing away Jeter, how horrified are you by the image of seeing him benched for Ramiro Pena or Cesar Izturis or somebody while the 2012 Yankees are chasing Toronto for third place behind the Sox and Rays, and you’re sitting there thinking “they could’ve had Adrian Beltre for a million less?”


  1. nealdraznin@gmail.com

    Some of us are looking forward to the Yankees wallowing in an era of mismanagement. Whine to me in 102 years.
    Another Cubs fan

  2. mikelurie

    Sometimes a player can provide something to a team beyond the tangibles of his skill set. And if any player’s mere presence fills a greater role, despite his deteriorating skill set, than Derek Jeter’s, I’m hard pressed to think of his name.

    I’m no Yankee fan, in fact I despise the Bronx Bombers as much (or more) than the next non-Yankee fan, but even I can see that.

    I suppose this is the very same reason Brett Favre has been allowed to linger for so long while holding not one, but two franchises hostage while his skill set continues to deteriorate to the point of comedy. And yet even that example doesn’t quite compare to Jeter’s situation, because at the very least Jeter will not be a liability to his team. He may not be a game changer anymore, but his presence is not a liability.

  3. mantlewasarockstar


    If his performance on the field is not up to snuff, Jeter will be indeed a liability. Period. No one gets paid to inspire if they’re floundering on the field. (Just ask Jason Varitek.) While he has given the Yankees a HoF career, Jeter’s declining ability and his new bigger-than-warranted contract now put him in a position to prove himself worthy in the next three years. Trust me when I tell you he will otherwise hear his fair share of boos in The Bronx. If his public displeasure with the way his contract negotiation went down can motivate him make it happen, then I hope he can. But I’m not holding my breath.

    Oh, and Keith: the AL East looks to get better and even more competitive in the next couple of seasons but predicting a 3rd place shootout btwn the NYY and the not-quite-there Jays, behind an improved but not bulletproof Red Sox and debilitated Rays is a bit far-fetched.

  4. historymike

    Keith, an error of fact and an error of assumption.

    Factual error: the Yankees didn’t “force” Yogi into the manager’s office. He had been mentioned for several managerial job before the Yankees made their move. Ralph Houk moved up to GM–to put it uncharitably, in time not to be blamed for the team’s decline, and he was involved in the Yankees deciding to bring in Johnny Keane before Keane managed the Cardinals to victory over the Yankees in the 1964 World Series.

    Assumption error: your confidence in Jeter’s decline is based on a lot of useful information, but saying that something WILL happen does not mean that it has happened or is inevitable. I tend to share your politics, though not your approach to expressing it, so I will just say: you are sounding like a font of certitude in too many places.

  5. skikola

    I don’t think anyone expected Jeter to not get overpaid.
    I don’t think he’ll be the type of player to hurt the organization in his declining years, either. He’ll step aside or take a reduced role when it’s time.

    I just find it funny that, in Adrian Beltre’s entire career, there are only TWO years in which he kinda looks like the type of player deserving of that contract he just got. Both were free agent years and one was 6 years ago. His baseball reference page is kinda funny to observe….

  6. 1948braves

    Hey Keith, I just saw your tweet re: Steve Buckley. He is without a doubt my favorite sports writer and radio talk show host/guest. I have zero patience any longer for sports radio up here, but Steve was one that I loved listening to for many many years. I had no idea you two were friends. He is a really good guy who knows the history of baseball about as well as anyone. So it isn’t a shock that you two would be friends the more I think about it. He has a wealth of history on just about any given subject. Whenever I see him on tv, I always pause to listen to him. As I said, he’s a really good guy who remains popular and well respected after all these years.

    As far as the Derek Jeter situation, I know I started waiting/hoping for his decline around 1996. And I knew I would have to wait years. Fabulous career. The NYY should never have leaked out the negotiation issues if all had promised to remain quiet until it was a done deal. But yes, all teams have to move on if they want to stay competitive. Bill Belichick has a heart of steel when it comes to that stuff.

  7. kwsventures@gmail.com

    ‘Did the Yankees ever consider the financial madness, or the lack of quality control, …’

    Have they ever took this stuff seriously? The Yankees can afford to make many, many errors and overcome them because they have the cash flow. Most other MLB teams can’t do the same.

  8. jwin214

    Keith, I’m still a little bit mad at you for not giving the Giants more respect last season (hardly any, in fact, other than your Posey post and the colors you wore on Countdown on Game 5 night). Bad enough I come from a family of Rangers fans, but your silence in lieu of accolades was quite disappointing. However, I have to say that doling out some criticism to Jeter is a step in the right direction. I’m sure I’ll forgive you soon. I always do.


  9. giantsteps

    Well, JW, Keith wasn’t alone in his deafening silence on the Giants, so I’ll cut him a bit of slack.

    As for the Jeter situation, it’s better to let a player go a year too soon than a year too late. The Giants have been through several seasons where they held onto players perhaps a year or two past their prime in the hopes they’d regain their former glory. Now, it’s possible that Derek was just having an off year and will have a resurgence, but at his age it’s unlikely. And he’s not even a good enough power hitter to convert to a DH with an occasional stint in the field for interleague play in NL parks.

    We’ll see if age and infirmity has finally caught up with the Yanks, or if they can get beyond both and regain their AL East form.

  10. wolftab@comcast.net

    Hey Keith,
    If I were the Yankees, I’d also balk at Beltre. Being a Seattle resident, I had the dubious pleasure of seeing Beltre compleely not live up to his potential in pitcher’s park. As his numbers here show
    TEAM? G? AB? R? H? TB? 2B? 3B? HR? RBI? BB? IBB? SO? SB? CS? AVG? OBP? SLG? OPS? GO/AO
    2005 SEA 156 603 69 154 249 36 1 19 87 38 6 108 3 1 .255 .303 .413 .716 0.94 136
    2006 SEA 156 620 88 166 288 39 4 25 89 47 4 118 11 5 .268 .328 .465 .792 0.74 136
    2007 SEA 149 595 87 164 287 41 2 26 99 38 2 104 14 2 .276 .319 .482 .802 0.95 136
    2008 SEA 143 556 74 148 254 29 1 25 77 50 10 90 8 2 .266 .327 .457 .784 0.93 136
    2009 SEA 111 449 54 119 170 27 0 8 44 19 1 74 13 2 .265 .304 .379 .683 1.06

    Hoever, he is a helluva 3rd baseman but he won’t bring the pop that the Yanks need. Having a great season in Boston was a no brainer with the Monster in left. It would’ve been a huge waste of resources IMHO.

  11. nutballgazette

    KO, normally I agree with you, but I would not sign Beltre to anything but a 1 Year Contract,Mark my words, he will stink till the last year of his Contract

  12. boricuajoe@gmail.com

    everyone knows that the Jeter deal is a bad one and that no other team would have gone close to 11 mil at most, but here is what makes no sense…. as a die-hard Mets fan, I am utterly baffled at all the moves they DID NOT make! They do realize they are in New York and that pretty new stadium will not pay itself. Plenty of talent out there and Sandy didnt lift a finger. This is the first season where I will be able to watch the whole thing and not be deployed (i’m in the military) and I get Johan at the break, K-Rod beating up old men, Bay playing like he’d rather be in Pitt and Castillo still there, why is he there? Oh well… still cant wait to go to spring training and watch some games!!! Woo Hoo!!!

  13. goodnightcafe@gmail.com

    hi keith,
    look, everyone knows we’ll never know what lurks in the minds of madmen, and the yankees are no exception. it may be the fact that having all the money in the world still can’t buy you cliff lee has sent them over the edge. but anyway, in a related story on espn online this morning, there is a piece about michael young becoming the DH for the rangers now that beltre has signed on, and about the DH rule in general. i looked but cannot find if you have ever written on the subject of the DH. i’d love to know your opinion about whether it should be changed or kept or etc. i hope you’ll write about it on your blog sometime.
    love the blog. the pics!

  14. benchrosemorgan75

    Keith, great to see you back in action. You’re just as entertaining in sports as you are in politics. As for the Yankees obtaining Adrian Beltre, I’m glad they didn’t get him. I’m a Cincinnati Reds fan, but find it difficult to stomach in the past the way all the good expensive free agents have always sought to sign with the Yankees (until now). The tide is turing in the AL east. Now Boston is the place the big stars want to be (AGon, Carl Crawford, etc.). Sorry but all great teams eventually fall into decline.

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