Correction: In an earlier version of this post, a quote attributed to Marc Carig of The Star-Ledger was inaccurately transcribed by that source. Carig provided Cashman’s corrected quote (“He should be nothing but a New York Yankee, if he chooses to be”) via his twitter feed.
The Yankees’ negotiations with Derek Jeter have finally turned a little ugly, and all of the blame falls on the ill tempered tongue of Brian Cashman.
Speaking to reporters today, Cashman lobbed several verbal grenades in Jeter’s directions, despite earlier vows by the Yankees that the contract would not be negotiated in the press. At ESPNNewYork.com, Wallace Matthews quoted Cashman almost antagonistically daring Jeter to test the open market, while questioning his shortstop’s age and “recent performance of the last few years.” Even if Jeter didn’t have one of his best seasons in 2009, it would be bad form to so openly question the future ability of a player with whom you are supposedly negotiating with in good faith.
Meanwhile, several sources quoted Cashman as saying that while the Yankees have made several offers to Jeter, only one proposal, for more money and years, has been sent in reply. So much for not negotiating in public?
Even if everything he has said is correct, Cashman’s comments this afternoon were way out of line. After all, over the last 15 years, Jeter has not only provided Yankees fans with countless thrills, but also been the epitome of what the organization is all about. Does that mean he should be given a blank check? Of course not. But, it does demand that he be treated with the utmost respect, even if it seems as if his side is being unreasonable in its demands. Comments that either denigrate Jeter or have the potential to antagonize him are not only counterproductive, but blasphemous. If the Yankees make a fair offer and Jeter refuses it, then they’ll have no need to defend their actions. However, if they continue to conduct the negotiations with a tone similar to the one taken by Cashman today, they’ll be no defense.
Whether or not you believe Jeter deserves a “life time achievement award” or compensation for “intangible value” built into his contract extension, I’d like to think every Yankee fan agrees the Captain deserves to have the negotiations handled in a respectful manner. More importantly, I’d like to think Cashman, Randy Levine, Hal Steinbrenner and the rest of the Yankees’ brass are also on board with that sentiment. Up until this point, they haven’t seemed to be, but here’s hoping they return to a more dignified posture going forward. Otherwise, a failure to do so could wind up being the only thing that prevents a deal from getting done.