Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Jefferies Gets E-3 for Kicking Deal

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Jefferies Gets E-3 for Kicking Deal

Article excerpt

Last month, during an informal conversation, a top Cardinals executive challenged me with a tough question:

If you were calling the shots, he asked, how much money would you offer Gregg Jefferies?

Uh, well, gee, I dunno. . .

The (negotiating) tables were turned on the reporter. What, do I look like Marky Mark Lamping?

I gathered a few thoughts, then blurted them out:

Jefferies.

Good guy. Hustles. Gets his uniform dirty. Gives a damn. A pepper pot.

Fans love him. Ozzie Smith's successor as the team's most popular player.

Switch-hits. Youthful at 27. Should finish with more than 2,000 hits in his career.

Had 46 stolen bases last season; total was way down this year. Why? An aftereffect of the creaky back that bothered him last season?

Singles hitter. Doesn't drive in a bunch of runs from the No. 3 hole.

Not a slugger.

Mediocre, if not terrible, glove. Put him anywhere but first base, and he flops around like a hockey goalie. Can't throw.

Questionable body. He's insecure, needs a manager to nurture him. Tends to be self-absorbed about his personal stats.

Makes $4.6 million this year. That's a lot of jack, especially when you see so many impact players at first base in the National League: Jeff Bagwell, Fred McGriff, Andres Galarraga.

How can Jeffy realistically expect to command much more than $4.6 million in the open market? The owners obviously are in the mood to lower salaries. And once a player crosses that $5 million barrier, he enters the land of the giants - the monsters who vanquish baseballs, swatting 35-40 homers and driving in 100 runs.

Preliminary analysis: Jefferies was probably worth about $5 million a year. That seemed fair, especially after hearing his mantra about his love for St. Louis, the warm and caring city that calmed his soul after his traumatic rumble with New York's tabloids.

But I figured this guess was irrelevant; I didn't believe that the Cardinals would make a competitive bid on Jefferies.

Wrong. …

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