My guess is that I have around 45 minutes of audio from today’s Derek Jeter press conference. Some of it is about Cliff Lee, and a lot of it has already been published, but there’s a lot of leftover Jeter notes.
The length of the contract
Jeter said a fourth year was important to him, if only to keep him away from free agency as long as possible.
“Just like the first time around. The longer, the better,” Jeter said. “You don’t have to deal with this or answer questions. The first time around, I didn’t know what it was like, but now that I know what it was like, the fourth year was important so I don’t have to answer these questions for quite some time.
Brian Cashman had publicly discussed his concerns about Jeter’s age and 2010 struggles, but he said that was taken into account. He suggested he never had a problem with committing to four years.
“I didn’t sign him to a 10-year deal or a seven-year deal,” Cashman said. “The deal we’ve done, we’re comfortable with what we’ve done. I think this contract takes into account everything we said publicly.”
How long Jeter will stay at shortstop
Cashman said the question was never discussed with Jeter during these negotiations.
“I don’t need to talk about that now because that’s not an issue now,” Cashman said. “That doesn’t mean we haven’t had constructive conversations about how to get better and things that need to be improved in his game, no different from any other player on our team. But I don’t feel the need to talk about him about a position change in the year 2011 when that’s not something that’s best for the New York Yankees, and he hasn’t played himself off that position. I don’t need to cover that in these negotiations. We’ll cross that line whenever that happens, if that happens.”
Is Jeter still a top-of-the-order hitter?
“We’d like him to,” Joe Girardi said. “We’d like him to have a big season for us next year. Score over 100 runs, hit .300 and just play great baseball. That’s what we expect from Derek every year. This year when he didn’t hit .300, we were all a little shocked. One year is not going to be as good as the previous one, or you might have a great year the next year and then the following one might not be so great. I do believe Derek has a lot of great baseball left in him. I do. And we need him to be very productive for us.”
Girardi at least made it seem as if he’s open to change, but basically said he’s made no decisions about next year’s team. If he does make a drastic change, like bumping a player of Jeter’s status to the bottom of the order, the decision will come after a conversation with the player himself.
“Those are things you have to evaluate, and sometimes they can be tougher than others, those conversations,” Girardi said. “When I look at our clubhouse, our guys want to win first and foremost. Usually when you have discussions with players, they have an idea where you’re coming from and they want to win.”
Bouncing back from last season
“You’d like to think that last year was a hiccup, so to speak, but it’s my job to go out there and prove that it was,” Jeter said. “I understand any concerns that anyone has, especially from an organizational standpoint. I’m sure they have concerns about a lot of people throughout the year, so they’re entitled to those concerns. It’s my job to go out and change that opinion.”
Girardi said the public scrutiny that came with these negotiations won’t necessarily serve as a motivating factor for Jeter.
“I think that first drive comes from within,” Girardi said. “But sometimes players hear things, (and) they want to prove to themselves that they’re still great players that can play at an extremely high level. Some players relish in proving naysayers wrong. I’m not sure that’s necessarily Derek, but I’m sure there’s a little of that in there.”
Would things have been different with George Steinbrenner still alive?
“That’s unfair,” Jeter said. “I had some disagreements with The Boss, too. I don’t know if you could say that. We got into it a couple times. Probably more than you’d think.”
The importance of last week’s face-to-face meeting
“I think it helped a lot,” Hal Steinbrenner said. “No. 1, I think we got to air our frustrations, how big the media part of it had become. We just talked and talked about feelings, and talked about what we thought and where we thought we needed to end up. And it all turned out for the best. But it was absolutely imperative, I think, at that point that we sit down face to face and kind of not leave the room until we get closer and closer and closer.”
Cashman, Jeter, Hal Steinbrenner, Casey Close and Randy Levine were all in that Tampa meeting. Cashman, Jeter and Steinbrenner met again in New York on Saturday.
“The perception is that this has been a month-long negotiation,” Jeter said “But the negotiations pretty much started last week. Once everything got started, it really didn’t take that long. People were assuming what was going on, that I was making salary demands. Some of them were pretty funny, what people said I was demanding. It just wasn’t true.”
Associated Press photos