Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Derek Jeter will use Yankees stand in negotiations as fuel to prove Brian Cashman and others wrong

By John Harper
The Daily News
Wednesday, December 8th 2010, 4:00 AM

TAMPA - After Derek Jeter had said his piece, after he'd made it clear how furious he was that his contract negotiation sold so many newspapers over the last few weeks, perhaps his most telling comment involved his view of the future.

Jeter admitted that getting the fourth-year player option in his new deal was vital to him, not so much for the money, he said, but to put off another contract negotiation as long as possible.

"For me it was the longer the better on this one," he said, "so I don't have to deal with this."

"So you're going to have another one of these negotiations?" he was asked.

"Four years from now," Jeter said. "And I promise you, you won't hear about that one."

If you want a snapshot of Jeter, that's it. After all the debate over his declining range and whether his poor offensive season is the start of a significant decline, Jeter is convinced he'll be playing for the Yankees in 2015 and beyond.

He didn't say he'd still be playing shortstop at that point, but then again, he didn't say that he wouldn't be either.

If nothing else, you have to figure that Jeter is more driven than ever to prove his point. He has always taken any perceived slights to heart, looking for and finding criticism in the media to use as motivation, but it's clear now that he will be fueled by anger directed mostly at GM Brian Cashman and the Yankee front office.

He blames them for not only turning his negotiation into a public spitting contest, but also for the perception that his contract demands were unreasonable.

"The perception was greed," he said of his position, "when it's really just a negotiation."

What Jeter didn't say is he is likely miffed, as well, that he had to give much more than the Yankees did to get a deal done. He didn't like settling for $51 million over three years plus the option year when he fully expected to be paid $20 million-plus for four or five years because of all he has meant to the franchise and because he believes he can play until he's 45.

The bottom line is that the Yankees made Jeter face reality - they're paying him more than his market value as a shortstop who will turn 37 next June and they weren't going to make the same mistake they made on Alex Rodriguez's contract.

And that probably made the captain as angry as anything.

Jeter, as has been well-documented, can be very unforgiving when he feels he has been betrayed. And though he wouldn't single anyone out Tuesday, he clearly feels that way about Cashman challenging him during the negotiations to go get a better deal from another team if he didn't like the Yankee offer.

But here's where it gets sticky. Cashman surely overreacted to agent Casey Close's comments to the Daily News, when Close called the negotiations "baffling," but Jeter can't stand there as he did Tuesday and say that his agent wasn't speaking for him.

"He can have his own opinion," Jeter said. "My job is to play baseball. His job is to negotiate."

Sorry, it doesn't work that way. The agent speaks for the player, so in that sense, Jeter has to take at least some responsibility for the negotiations getting out from behind closed doors.

In any case, it seems clear that some harsh words were exchanged when those doors were pulled shut again and a deal was finally struck. There was the five-hour meeting in Tampa and then Cashman, Hal Steinbrenner, and Jeter met on Saturday in New York.

"Any issues I've had with anyone, they've been addressed," was the way Jeter put it. "We've moved on."

Jeter had a right to be angry, and for someone who has been so guarded throughout his career, it was refreshing to see him reveal some true emotions.

On the other hand, he was being unrealistic if he thought he could ask for a five-year, $100-plus million contract at his age, coming off a subpar year, and think the negotiation wouldn't get messy, to use Hal Steinbrenner's prophetic word from a month ago.

Now the question is where the reality lies on the ballfield for Jeter. And, really, that's what is important here. Tuesday he said he considered his 2010 season "a hiccup," but admitted, "It's my job to go out there and prove that it was."

Jeter has more motivation than ever to do it. And after all the ugliness of the negotiations, that can't be a bad thing for a man who is convinced he has another contract negotiation ahead of him.

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