Derek Jeter and 7 Stars Changing Their Games to Stay Relevant

Nathan PalatskyCorrespondent IIMarch 21, 2011

Derek Jeter and 7 Stars Changing Their Games to Stay Relevant

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    SARASOTA, FL - MARCH 07:  Infielder Derek Jeter #2 of the New York Yankees warms up just prior to the start of the Grapefruit League Spring Training Game against the Baltimore Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium on March 7, 2011 in Sarasota, Florida.  (Photo by J
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    There comes a time in every athlete's life when he must adapt or retire. Some players stubbornly fight on, maintaining the same style and insisting it still works.

    We feel sorry for them (I'm looking at you, Mr. Favre).

    These are players who are at this point in their careers. And we plead with them to change. 

Jason Bay: Please Sacrifice Power for Average

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    NEW YORK - AUGUST 28:  Jason Bay #44 of the New York Mets looks on from the dugout against the Houston Astros on August 28, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Jason Bay hit 36 home runs while playing 151 games for Boston in 2009. He hit six in 95 games for the Mets in 2010.

    Citi Field is a power sap. It hurt David Wright for one year before he figured out the alleys. At 32, Mets fans would rather see .280, 15 and 85 as a stat line than .250, 20, 80. 

    Bay needs to stop being the home-run hitter and be happy as a doubles hitter who sometimes hits home runs.

Carlos Beltran: Please Play a Corner Outfield Spot

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    NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 18:  Carlos Beltran #15 of the New York Mets in action against the Atlanta Braves during their game on September 18, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Ima
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Another Met veteran finds himself at a crossroads. 

    Beltran doesn't have the speed he once did. Angel Pagan enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2010, and the Mets found the way to keep him in the daily lineup. 

    He will have to get used to being called off. As the centerfielder, he had the right of way.  

    Also, without the speed, he will bat lower in the lineup. 

Michael Young: Be Happy as a DH/Utility Guy

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    SURPRISE, AZ - MARCH 02:  Infielder Michael Young #10 of the Texas Rangers during the spring training game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Surprise Stadium on March 2, 2011 in Surprise, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Michael Young has told the Rangers he wants to play the field everyday. He doesn't like being the DH.

    But with Ian Kinsler at second, Elvis Andrus at shortstop, and newly signed Adrian Beltre at third, there just isn't room.

    Young can do himself a favor and be happy.

    He will probably get two or three days per week filling in for one of them getting a day off, but he should consider it a blessing to stay healthy and do his damage in the batter's box. 

Carlos Zambrano: Please Grow Up

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    CHICAGO - JUNE 25: Starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano #38 of the Chicago Cubs reacts after giving up a three-run home run in the 1st inning to Carlos Quentin of the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on June 25, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois.  Zambrano wa
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Carlos Zambrano was sent down to the minors in the middle of 2010 to get his delivery—and his attitude—right. He came back and was 8-0 with a 1.58 ERA in the second half of the season.

    We didn't see the tantrums, or the on-field meltdowns, or the near fistfights with umpires that we've come to know and love. 

    If Zambrano is changed for good, he could actually fulfill his enormous potential. 

Chipper Jones: Please Retire

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    KISSIMMEE, FL - MARCH 01:  Chipper Jones #10 of the Atlanta Braves looks on from the dugout during a Spring Training game against the Houston Astros at Osceola County Stadium on March 1, 2011 in Kissimmee, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    He's one of the more likeable players in baseball. He was the first rookie card I ever owned. He's been a class act since coming into the league in 1995.

    But it's time to go.

    Martin Prado has established himself as a reliable third baseman. Jones probably has a very nice job waiting for him in the Braves organization or in broadcast. 

    His home runs, runs batted in, runs scored and slugging percentage have gone down four straight years, and now he is trying to return from major surgery.

    Ride off into the sunset, also known as Atlanta Braves immortality. You've earned it. 

Tim Wakefield: You Are No Longer a Starter

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    BOSTON - SEPTEMBER 08:  Tim Wakefield #49 of the Boston Red Sox sends the ball to first base in an attempt to catch Ben Zobrist of the Tampa Bay Rays leading off on September 8, 2010 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
    Elsa/Getty Images

    The modern era's most popular knuckleballer has made 15 or more starts every year since 1995. But it looks like that streak will end this year.

    He has been in and out of the bullpen for the last two or three seasons, but this year the move looks permanent.

    With a solid rotation of Lester, Beckett, Buchholz, Lackey and Matsuzaka, the Sox don't him to fill the same role.

    It's time for Wakefield to accept his new role in the bullpen. It's a new ballgame with that mindset, and he could flourish. 

Derek Jeter: You Are No Longer a Leadoff Man

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    TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 20:  Derek Jeter #2 of the New York Yankees takes batting practice during the first full team workout of Spring Training on February 20, 2011 at the George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    Derek Jeter is the prototypical No. 2 hitter. He is a lot like Dustin Pedroia with his high average, double-digit steals and home runs. 

    Jeter is the perfect gap between the lightning of Brett Gardner and the thunder of Alex Rodriguez, Mark Texeira and Robinson Cano.

    But Jeter insists on batting leadoff, and Joe Girardi seems willing to let him run the team.

    The Captain will hit. He will be around .300 this season, but we might never get to see the awesome potential of Gardner and Jeter batting 1-2 ahead of that powerful lineup.