For Derek Jeter, the end of innocence
Derek Jeter agreed to terms on a three-year deal with the Yankees, and in the days ahead, everybody will make nice for the cameras and Jeter will continue to live out his lifelong dream of being a Yankee. But this negotiation was a turning point in the relationship between the shortstop and the team.
For all of George Steinbrenner's bluster, there was a sentimental side to him as well, and if he had been around, Jeter might've gotten much closer to what he wanted in this negotiation -- tens of millions of dollars more, perhaps. But the father is gone, and now Hal and Hank Steinbrenner run this team, advised by Randy Levine and Brian Cashman. Now, the line in the sand drawn in these talks is only the first with Jeter.
If Jeter rebounds in the summer and gets back to hitting the way he has for most of his career -- he batted .334 in 2009 -- he will remain at the top of the Yankees' lineup. But if he struggles again in 2011 the way he did this past summer, when he posted a career-low .340 on-base percentage, the Yankees probably won't hesitate any longer to drop him in the lineup.
We know this now, because the Yankees have made it clear with the way this negotiation played out: There will not be any preferential treatment for the captain.
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