Let me start by saying that I am one of the biggest Derek Jeter fans ever. I grew up watching my favorite player become a legend for the most storied franchise in American sports. Seeing Derek Jeter play is something that I will tell my children.
However, this season has not been going as well as we have come to expect from "El Capitan".
It is hard to criticize a team with a .641 winning percentage, but there are a few players that have not exactly "sparkled" for the Bronx Bombers. For the first time in many years, Derek Jeter falls into that category.
There are many things that are given or granted, before someone can even begin to criticize the Captain of the New York Yankees this season.
Last season, Derek Jeter won the Silver Slugger and Hank Aaron awards. He also passed Lou Gehrig as the all-time hits leader in New York Yankees history. In the field, he collected his fourth Gold Glove award at short stop. All of this was capped off by the Yankees capturing the 2009 World Series in six games over the Phillies.
Off the field, Jeter was awarded the Roberto Clemente Award along with being named the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year. DJ's 2009 season was one of the best all around seasons that any professional athlete could ever hope for.
The statistics and awards from his career are already enough to ensure that Derek Jeter will be enshrined into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame after he retires. However, none of that matters right now. The main question for the early part of 2010 is, where is that Derek Jeter?
While other players, like Brett Gardner and Francisco Cervelli continue to produce for the New York Yankees, there are some players that have not been on their game. Everyone knows the story of Mark Teixeira's slow starts and Alex Rodriguez's numbers, but what is going on with Jeter?
In 168 at bats this season; Jeter has collected 45 hits, while scoring 26 runs and driving in another 23. He has been walked nine times, already struck out 23 times, and only stolen four bases out of five attempts. As of today, Derek has a batting average of .268 and an on-base percentage of .315.
For anyone else, these would be very good numbers at the 1/4 mark of the season. For Captain Clutch, the 2010 season has not gone according to plan yet. Mired in a horrible slump, Jeter fans have put an APB or BOLO out for him.
There have been numerous times when "Derek Jeter" would have gotten a clutch base hit, driven in the runners with two outs, or at least kept the inning going. Those times, seem to be few and far between in 2010.
The main point, as Mariano Rivera has also looked uncharacteristically human these past few games, is that Derek Jeter is at the end of his contract.
At the beginning of the season, everyone continued to ask questions about when the Yankees would re-sign the superstar short stop. Jeter said that he was okay with waiting until November to think about it, but should he have pushed for a new contract this past off season?
After having such a stellar 2009 season, DJ was guaranteed to get another blockbuster, multi-year deal. He was ready to be signed to be the Yankees captain for another five plus years. He was going to make another $100 million dollars and nobody was going to have a problem with that.
Will the Yankees give him a huge contract based on his legacy? Can they really afford to pay that much money to a guy hitting just above .250? Are they going to lock-up a player who has seemed to have lost a step on some plays in the field?
What happens if he continues to have a, by his standards, lackluster season? Derek Jeter has always been about winning first, but this may be a time for him to be a little bit selfish.
Will average numbers in the 2010 season make the Yankees twice before they re-sign their beloved captain and short stop?
No way...! Right?