The Captain

We all know that Derek Jeter's contract is up after the 2010 season. He'll make $20mm in '09 and $21mm in '10. I've heard people talking about how the Yanks shouldn't bring him back. People argue his declining defense is going to hurt the team. People argue his offense won't stay at the high level it has been at his whole career. But seriously? I mean he's Derek Jeter. He is the New York Yankees. At the last game at Yankee Stadium the fans weren't cheering "A-ROD, A-ROD," they weren't cheering "Pett-itte, Pett-itte," they weren't even cheering "MA-RI-A-NO, MA-RI-A-NO." They were cheering "DE-REK JE-TER, DE-REK JE-TER." He is such a Yankee icon, I just don't see how they could possibly let him go. I hear so many people talk about how overrated he is, but he really isn't. His career OBP is .387. That's a great on-base percentage. He hasn't had an OBP under .360 since 2004. In 08 he only slugged .408. But he slugged .450, .483, and .452 in 05, 06, and 07 respectively. He's had double digit homerun totals every year of his career (well not including his 15 games in 95). No, Derek isn't the best player on the team. But, he is the best Yankee on the team. Derek gives 125% game in and game out. He's won four world series. He has tons of post-season experience. He gave the farewell speech at Yankee Stadium, which won moment of the year. He never says stupid things to the media (A-Rod and Hank Steinbrenner should take some lessons from him). He is the face of the franchise, and letting him go would be a bad decision. Could fans really root against Jeter when we face his new team? Could the Yanks make the playoffs without their captain? Jeter needs to stay with the team for his whole career, no matter the price. Sure, maybe Derek will switch positions at some point. He could move to the outfield or to second base. But, that has to be Derek's decision. It has to be DJ saying "This is best for the team, and that's why I'm doing it." Derek won't want to move, but I think he'd rather move and win a World Series then not move and miss out on another ring. Derek is 34 now, his contract expires when he's 36. He should get a 4 or 5 year extension, starting with the 2011 season. He can be slow, or even worse with the glove, or maybe his batting average will slip down to .280. But, his presence on the team. His professional demeanor, his post-season experience, his ability to come through in the clutch, his "Yankee-ness" won't diminish. Jeter has 2,535 career hits to date. That means he's 465 hits away from 3,000. Is there anyone that would want him to reach that milestone in a different uniform? I didn't think so. He won't get those hits over 2 years, so he has to be under contract through the time he gets them. The Yanks currently have three staples from the championship teams of the late 90's still on the team: Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, and Derek Jeter. Mo's contract is up after 2010 as well, and you can expect him to retire then. Jorge is signed through 2011, but he isn't the fan and media favorite that Jeter is. Jeter needs to be with the team for as long as he plays pro baseball. They simply can't afford to lose him.

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