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April 06, 2007

Time For Jeter To Follow A-Rod & Nomar - And Move Off Short

Last night, during the YES broadcast of the Yankees game, Joe Girardi said (unless I was dreaming) something along the lines of "Every player has a hole in his game. And, in Derek Jeter's case it's that he doesn't go to his left very well."

Yes, no pun intended, it's gotten to the stage now for Jeter where even a member of the YES crew is willing to call him out on his fielding shortcomings.

Now, don't get me wrong here. I think Derek Jeter is a great player. In fact, I think he has a shot at 4,000 hits in his career. Look at the cumulative hit totals for Jeter and Pete Rose through the same ages:

JeterRoseThruAge32.jpg

However, even I have to start asking this question now: How many days in a row do we need to hear "Past-a-diving Jeter" during a Yankees broadcast before Joe Torre and/or Brian Cashman decide to do something about it?

Granted, I know this season is only two games old for the Yankees. And, it was a cold night last night. But, anyone who wants to use those facts as a reason to ignore Jeter's increasing lack of range at short is wearing blinders.

The interim solution to this is simple: Move Derek Jeter to first base this season (with the behind-closed-doors promise that he can play third - if that's what he prefers - once that position is open on the team). Then, call up Alberto Gonzalez and tell him that all he has to worry about this season is catching the ball (and that he should not be concerned over what he hits). This would also allow the Yankees to improve their roster flexibility by then cutting one of the three first basemen currently on the roster.

Of course, I realize that Derek Jeter will never go for this - because of his pride. Therefore, all the Yankees can do is ask him with the hope that he will surprise them with a favorable answer. But, if Jeter does decline the request, it's time to get dirty. The Yankees brass should then start a smear campaign on Jeter's defensive rep. Actually, it would not be a smear campaign - since it's not like the Yankees would have to make up stories here. More so, it will be a 'truth' campaign of sorts - where the Yankees (behind the scenes) share data and/or video with the local print media that shows how many balls are getting past Jeter that an average shortstop would catch. And, the Yankees should allow the guys in the YES booth to start calling Jeter more often on his defensive shortcomings.

If the media keeps harping on this enough, eventually the fans will start to pick it up, and the pressure will be on Jeter to respond - by accepting a move away from short.

I used to be fine with living under the conditions of Jeter letting a ball slip through once a week or so (where it could have been turned in an out by an average shortstop). However, now that it appears we're going to hear "Past-a-diving Jeter" on a daily basis, it's time to stop the madness.

Posted by Steve Lombardi at April 6, 2007 09:52 AM

Comments

I believe Girardi qualified his statement and said something along the lines of "Jeter is great at going to his right, but not as good as going to his left."

The 1B idea is certainly an interesting idea; but will never happen. The move to 3B after A-Rod opts out is much more likely.

Posted by: CraftyLefty [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 6, 2007 11:07 AM

It's not even just the 'past-a-diving Jeter' either, he's had two balls hit right at him the last 2 games, only to make errors on both (one throwing, one fielding). i dont want to throw him under the bus, but he's a guy that may have to have a DR (Agon?) take over in late innings of close games. even my wife (who's a huge Jeter fan) said he's lost a step.

Posted by: Travis G. [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 6, 2007 11:14 AM

~~~I believe Girardi qualified his statement and said something along the lines of "Jeter is great at going to his right, but not as good as going to his left."~~~

Yeah, I heard that too. I think Joe was being kind. That whole "Jeter's the only one who can make that jump-pass throw from the hole" thing is part of the cover-up. Most SS can plant and throw from the hole - because they don't have to play as deep as Jeter. Jeter makes that "play" because he has too - it's the only way for him to get the ball to first (whereas a normal SS makes that play from the hole with less effort).

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 6, 2007 11:21 AM

Steve,

I'm stunned...

If Jeter's reading this (which I doubt) I imagine this might be akin to Nixon watching Kronkite turn on the Vietnam War... "If I've lost Was Watching, I've lost Yankee Nation."

Ugh, I hate that phrase too.

Posted by: SMinDC [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 6, 2007 11:29 AM

SM, hey, I still love Jeter the hitter. But, as a SS, well, it's time for "Project <Avg.6" or something - to get him off short. It's getting painful to watch. And, that's because I like him.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 6, 2007 11:37 AM

I know, and I keed, I keed.

I always held out hope he'd follow the Robin Yount path to Cooperstown, but that seem unlikely.

Posted by: SMinDC [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 6, 2007 11:42 AM

SM - There's always the Ernie Banks route to Cooperstown.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 6, 2007 11:50 AM

True enough.

BTW Steve - I'm working on the annual BTF Yankee preview and was hoping you'd participate. If you could email me - seanmmcnally (at) gmail (dot) com, I'd appreciate it.

Posted by: SMinDC [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 6, 2007 11:54 AM

Most likely, Jeter will have to move off eventually -- but he doesn't need to right now. And while Jeter doesn't have the greatest range in the world, I think people are overreacting to a few bad games.

One thing I can guarantee: he's not just going to mosey on over to first THIS YEAR. No way, no how -- NEVER happening. When he has to move, it will be a huge off-season production with every Yankee HoFer coming out of the woodwork to massage his ego.

The other thing I object to is this insistence that Alberto Gonzalez is some sort of gloveman nonpareil. I'm sure you never even heard of him before he was traded to us. All we've seen of him is his time in spring training, where he was not flawless. We have to see a lot more of Mr. Gonzalez's glove before we see that he's good enough to make the team just because of his defensive skills. He'd have to be an absolute vacuum over there for that. So he has something to prove before we make him the next shortstop.

You're reluctant to believe the scouts on our other young players -- and question their potential -- but you believe them when it comes to Gonzalez, to the point where you'd bump Jeter off of short for him.

This team can survive another year or two with Jeter at short. But inevitably he will have to move. No one stays young forever.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 6, 2007 12:24 PM

I'm in agreement that Jeter is losing range. I guess I could see Jeter at 1st although I think that takes away some of his athleticism. 3rd might be better since he does have a pretty strong arm and wouldn't have to cover as much ground.

The only thing I don't like is how you're advocating the team to throw him under the bus as a means to get the fans to turn on him at SS. Jeez, you're one Machiavellian (sp?) guy, aren't you?

Posted by: MJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 6, 2007 12:29 PM

I've been called that before in comments, MJ, FWIW.

baileywalk, also FWIW, I've read from many, many, different sources that Alberto is the goods with the leather - too many for it to be wrong.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 6, 2007 12:56 PM

But, Steve, you don't want to see it with your own eyes before you hand him the shortstop position over Jeter?

What if he's good but not great, and his bat is simply average? He's going to have to be a legit GGer to justify playing there (unless he has a terrific year with the bat at SWB).

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 6, 2007 01:08 PM

I believe that his bat will be average, at best.

But, I don't need to see him - because I repsect the opinion of those who say he's GG quality with the glove. Like I said, too many have said it, from different sources, including those who have nothing to gain from saying it, for it not to be true.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 6, 2007 01:23 PM

Steve, I hope you know I didn't mean it in an insulting way. I feel kind of bad for writing that because it doesn't sound complimentary. I may not agree with your tactics but I definitely don't want you to think I'm insulting you. Hope you know that.

Happy Easter to those that celebrate.

Posted by: MJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 6, 2007 02:03 PM

I read Maxim and Perfect 10 on my time off, Steve reads about Alberto Gonzalez's "you're with me leather". Go figure!

Anyhow, watching last night's game was bad for Jeter and not because of the errors but because of what Steve stated above. Now it's becoming so bad that almost anyone can tell that Jeter lacks in range. When my brother made such a comment then I knew it was bad. He rarely speaks negatively about anyone on the Yanks, he doesn't believe in the numbers and is perfectly content with letting his eyes deceive him.

I don't think a change with Jeter will happen anytime soon; however, the organization should start to at least figure out a way to address the situation for 2008. It's not going to get better, only worse.

Posted by: Garcia [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 6, 2007 02:47 PM

On the smear campaign, it made me think of the remarks by various YES voices about Arod, both last year and a week or so ago. This was discussed by Bob Raissman in his column, and he says they were planted. Bob also gave the details about the smear questions Kim Jones used to be told to ask Joe Torre. Which is why Torre doesn't have a separate post game show with her anymore. The YES Network comes in handy for so many things.

Posted by: susanmullen [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 6, 2007 03:38 PM

~~~Steve, I hope you know I didn't mean it in an insulting way. I feel kind of bad for writing that because it doesn't sound complimentary.~~~

Chill amigo. I took no offense. It made me laugh.

BTW, I ditto the happy holiday wishes to all.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 6, 2007 04:34 PM

I agree, Jetes needs to retire as a SS.
It will take a full year to get his D up to par at a new position, so the soon the better.
I agree, Alberto Gonzalez is not considered good with the leather, but one of the best.
I disagree that our lineup can support his weak bat. Not until our SP improves greatly.
I disagree who should play 3rd. The Yankees NEED to tie up ARod for 6 years. Look at our offense in 2009. Jetes will decline, Posada will be league average, Damon might not be walking, Giambi will either be gone or a lot less than he is now. 2 years older on our current 'great offense' will not look pretty.

We NEED ARods bat for the future.

Posted by: singledd [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 6, 2007 09:45 PM

Before Arod came to New York, was he better defensively at short than Jeter?

Do you think at this point in time if Alex were to move back over to short and after a few months of adjustment, he could be the shortstop he once was? He has trimmed down his size this year.

Posted by: ChrisXS [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 8, 2007 09:06 AM