With Steinbrenner Gone, What Happens to Derek Jeter?

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If you've just gotten out of a cave, today's big news is that Yankees owner George Steinbrenner died this morning. He was 80 years old. Wow, Sunday Bob Sheppard, today Steinbrenner.

With the orchestrator of the latest Yankees dynasty now gone and his two sons in control, what will this mean for Derek Jeter and the way he will be treated going forward? Do the Steinbrenner kids feel the same allegiance to Derek as their father did or will they run this strictly as a business? They've certainly shown that they can play hardball the past few years and aren't afraid to let even the most popular Yankees go (Joe Torre, Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon).

This past off season we spoke about Derek Jeter's assault on Pete Rose's All-Time Hit Record. Derek came into this year in 49th place on the All-Time hit list with 2747 hits, 1509 hits behind Rose. In the first half of 2010, Derek has exactly 100 hits bringing his total to 2847 leaving him trailing Rose by 1409 and in the process he's moved up to 43rd place.

The pack between Jeter and Rose is pretty tight and Jeter is going to start jumping guys virtually every week from here on out. Sometimes more than two in a day..... One more hit ties him with Brooks Robinson for 42nd, three more with Jesse Burkett, nineteen to catch Harold Baines, twenty six to run down Babe Ruth (think they will celebrate that one at the stadium?), twenty nine to gets him to Mel Ott.... On and on Derek will be passing a virtual who's who of Hall of Fame personalities.

At this pace Jeter will probably end up this year somewhere between Rogers Hornsby (34) at 2930 and Barry Bonds (31), 2935 - Frank Robinson (30) 2943 [Are we dropping names here or what?] roughly 1300-1325 hits behind Rose.

Jeter is on pace for 186 hits this year which by most MLB players standards would be considered a good season, however by Jeter's standards, it's subpar. Derek's had over 200 hits 7 times in his career and including 2003 when injuries limited him to only 119 games; he's averaged over 195 hits per year.

What will happen with Derek Jeter's now that George Steinbrenner is gone? The Yankees refused to enter extension talks with Derek Jeter last offseason because, they insisted, it was their policy to wait until a contract ended before negotiating a new one.

That was a good excuse, but it was not the real reason. The Yankees did not look to re-up their star shortstop early because they saw no advantage in talking money with Jeter, not with him coming off of one his best seasons at age 35. They decided to make him do it again at 36, and so far Jeter is having arguably the worst season of his brilliant career.

His average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and stolen bases are down dramatically, his numbers on the road and against righties reflect a below-average player, and he hardly has honored his clutch reputation. His defense is steady, but lacking some of the range he renewed last year. He hardly looks like a player deserving a four-year, $100 million extension for any reason other than he is the beloved Derek Jeter.

At this point, if his name were not Derek Jeter, would anyone even give him a one-year, $10 million contract when this sure looks like late-30s decline?

If this continues, the Yankees do have to make some tough calls to make. Without George Steinbrenner there to "pay him for what he has meant to the franchise," will the Steinbrenner boys "do the right thing?" I'm certain you will hear lots of talk about the next Derek Jeter contract in the second half. - Josh Bolan

Josh is a retired AP baseball reporter and now works as a freelance writer in Fresno California. Josh has been contributing to baseball publications as a writer since 1996.

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