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Jeter at 35

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Happy birthday, Cap'n.

You're owed $21.6M this season and $22.6M next season.

You have 2623 hits, and if everything goes right you'll be a few dozen hits shy of 3000.

You've got some decisions to make DJ; you've talked so often and so sincerely about being a Yankee that it would a shock if you ever wore another uniform.  

But you might have to take a pay cut to stay in pinstripes.  There's not really a precedent for the downward negotiation of the second richest contract in free agent history.  But when you look at the deals handed out to Jorge Posada (30% raise for age 36-39), Mariano Rivera (40% raise for age 38-40), and Alex Rodriguez (10% raise for age 32-41) you might be thinking raise.  How pissed will you be if the Yankees give you the Andy Pettitte treatment?

You're the Yankee shortstop.  You're playing the best defense of your career through better positioning and off-season focus on movement.  You're going to be remembered as the Yankee shortstop the way people think of Mickey Mantle as the Yankee centerfielder- no one really talks about 404 games at the corners and at first from '64-'68.

But you're 35.  Of the 7 shortstops in the Hall of Fame who played most of their careers after WWII, they played 58.6% of their games at short from their age 35 season on.  You'll argue that those numbers are skewed by the switches of Ernie Banks and Robin Yount, but you were never in the defensive class of Ripken or Smith.  The change is coming, can you live with it?

If I were the Yankees, I'd have started negotiating a contract extension already.  Then the blame is on you if we can't get it done for rough $18M through age 40, bonuses for breaking the Yankee hit record later this season or early next season, for 3000 hits, for breaking Rickie Henderson's Yankee record 326 SB, Gehrig's 534 doubles, and Ruth's 1959 runs.

Once the new deal is signed you start shagging fly balls in the outfield.  I'm not ordering the switch until I'm sure we have your replacement, but when you move it'll be permanent.  Once Ripken moved to 3rd he didn't bounce back and forth.  I watched the Mike Piazza first baseman experiment, and you're not going to do that.  The move will be final.

Happy birthday, Cap'n.  It's going to be an interesting year.