Reading Jayson Stark's take on Ryan Howard, I was struck by this sentence:
"But the truth is, from the beginning, Ryan Howard never did discounts."
The established baseball agents have philosophies, and players who join them therefore agree to those philosophies. If you choose Scott Boras, it means that you'll be a free agent after six years - no extensions beyond the sixth year - and that you have no reservations about leaving your first team. If you choose Ron Shapiro, it means that you are willing to take less money - and perhaps withstand some dirty looks from the Players Association - to stay where you're comfortable and successful.
Ryan Howard's agent is Casey Close. A general manager once told me - I can't remember the precise wording - that Close is Boras without the bells and whistles.
Close, in other words, won't make entertainingly bold proclamations about his players' value to the media. He won't scorch the earth every time a negotiation doesn't go precisely according to plan. But Close, the conventional wisdom goes, is a barracuda in contract negotiations.
The Howard deal is a triumph of the highest order, for Howard, Close and the Players Association. And Close's next big contract will come after the season, when he speaks to the Yankees about Derek Jeter.
And the truth is, from the beginning - to outright plagiarize Stark - Derek Jeter never did discounts.
It has been so long since Jeter and Close negotiated a contract that his 10-year, $189-million deal has become part of the "Team player! Great guy! Rescues kittens from trees!" narrative. But when you look at Jeter's salary history at Cot's Baseball Contracts, you can see that Jeter never settled for anything. His 10-year deal, which he's now wrapping up, was just as big a victory then as Howard's is now.
And, to make clear, that is absolutely Jeter's right. It's to his credit, you could easily argue.
But it does exemplify why Jeter's extension talks won't necessarily go completely without turbulence. As you know, the Yankees have relied far less on emotion in recent years when it comes to personnel decisions. Just ask Johnny Damon. And when you look at Carl Crawford's career statistics, you can understand why, if the Yankees sign him this winter, it will be because Crawford's market comes down to them, rather than the Yankees going up to the overrated Crawford.
The Yankees aren't oblivious enough to think that they can play hardball with Jeter, and shrug if he takes off. But if the Howard deal ranks a 10 on the Silliness Scale, then I'll say the Yankees - with Brian Cashman calling the shots, backed by Hal Steinbrenner - will be willing to go only to a 5 on the Silliness Scale with Jeter.
It's a 99 percent chance that Jeter and the Yankees hammer out a deal, because Jeter has so much to lose by leaving. His marketing persona would take a huge hit if he put on a different uniform. But the path from first offers to agreement can be tense - all the more so here in New York - and I'm betting that Jeter and Close make things a little tense before re-upping.
Which, again, is absolutely their right.
--Off the Mets' rainout, I wrote about Dan Warthen, the pitching coach whose job is on the line. David Lennon wrote about Luis Castillo. Arthur Staple wrote about Joe Torre. David Wright could rest shortly, Jerry Manuel says.
Have you looked at the standings? If the 10-9 Mets sweep the Dodgers today, and if the 11-8 Phillies lose at San Francisco...the Mets would jump to first place in the NL East. They'd be tied with Florida if the 11-9 Marlins beat San Diego tonight.
--Mark Teixeira was honored to be singled out by President Obama.
--Andrew Marchand pointed out that Obama didn't mention Alex Rodriguez or Andy Pettitte, and I agree that it was no coincidence. Look, if you're advising the President, why would you have him mention those guys, thereby opening yourself up to scrutiny? You can acknowledge only a handful of players, anyway, and there were plenty of other players from which to choose.
--Great breakdown of Javy Vazquez's season so far by NoMaas, here. I was listening to Mike Francesa and his callers discuss Vazquez yesterday, as I drove to Citi Field, and OMG, you'd think that Vazquez broke into their house and stole their most prized possessions.
If you're a Yankees fan, IMO, your biggest concern shouldn't be that something is wrong with Vazquez's heart or head. It should be that something is wrong with his elbow or shoulder.
--Live chat at noon. Can Islander505 defend his Live Chat MVP crown? Will Dennis be on time this week? Drop in, find out and ask questions of your own.