No Yankee fan in their right mind would say that they prefer anyone else to Derek Jeter at the shortstop position for the 2011 New York Yankees. No Yankee fan would also say that they think Derek Jeter is the same player he was three, five or 10 years ago.
But amidst all of the speculation that Jeter will be moving to the Yankees outfield within the next few years, there is logic to be sorted out as to why this does not make sense.
Jeter’s numbers were well below his standard of a good season. He hit .270 with an equally underwhelming on-base percentage, and a below average slugging percentage. He is no longer able to make many of the plays in the hole between third and short, and regularly misses plays that a great shortstop would make. His arm is weak, and he has become a liability.
Though I bleed blue and white, Yankee fans need to stop sipping the Sunday morning New York Post cool-aid, and start thinking in real life baseball terms.
Derek Jeter is a cornerstone of everything true and honest that the Yankees have done since he arrived in 1995. Nobody denies that he has a lost a step, but the idea of putting him in the outfield is not only ludicrous, it is offensive.
Imagine this scenario…
(John Sterling on the call)….
Lined like a bullet, base hit right field. Carl Crawford rounding third, Jeter up with the throw…play at the plate isssss not in time. Jeter three hoped the throw from mid right field, and the Red Sox take a 4-3 lead.
I intend no disrespect to Mr. Captain, but his weak arm will not improve with a move to the outfield. His accuracy will not become that of a skilled marksman. We will not need to turn our heads and wonder if we are seeing the second coming of Paul O’Neill.
Furthermore, can we see Jeter diving all over the field, making sliding snow cone grabs, and leaping to make acrobatic catches, while stealing home runs? You cannot teach an old dog these kind of new tricks.
History also shows us that players move from the outfield to the infield because of the wear and tear it has on their bodies. Every time that there is a ball hit in the gap that requires chasing down, Jeter would be running more than any other play that he makes in the infield.
Also, the Yankees love Jeter in the infield for all of the things he does that cannot be taught. Think about all of the smart plays Jeter makes such as “the flip” in Oakland or turning flawless double plays with Cano.
We would be kidding ourselves if we thought that Jeter would be as productive as he was 10 years ago, but who will play shortstop when he leaves? Yankee fans have a sometimes-distorted view that every player the Yankees bring up out of their farm system will be like Jeter. They will play for 15 plus seasons, make All-Star teams and lead them to the World Series year after year.
Who will come in to replace him? In order to replace a legend, one would assume the Yankees would fill this void with only the best. Will they acquire a big name free agent or pick a young buck off of the farm? I don’t know the answer, but for the Yankees to take this power out of Jeter’s hands is foolish.
The Yankees would be downgrading at the shortstop position, and eliminating one of their power positions (outfield) for an average hitter, whom they think is on the decline.
Another half-baked plan for a divided front office (see Rafael Soriano) might be on the horizon. I am not in support of giving Jeter a rocking chair at shortstop. I believe the answer is patience and a little dignity for a guy who is still the best shortstop the Yankees have and will ever have.