Throughout the season, just how much Derek Jeter had left in the tank was constantly questioned. During the offseason, the Yankees decided whatever Jeter had left was worth $51 million.
It wasn't as much as what Jeter felt he was worth, but it was enough to keep Jeter in pinstripes, which in the end was what both sides wanted.
But coming off the worst statistical season of his career, and although the ink on Jeter's new contract has long-since dried, it was impossible not to imagine this team without Jeter on it.
There were younger options; there were better options. And for a team with as many AARP applicants as the Yankees, youth was a valued commodity.
But to speak of fielding a team that didn't include the face of the franchise was sacrilege.
Sure, general manager Brian Cashman mentioned a move to the outfield, and some fans spent more than a few hours talking about Jeter as more of a charity than a baseball player, but not having Jeter in the lineup?
Well, since Jeter landed on the disabled list two days ago with a strained right calf, the Yankees have played two games against the Texas Rangers, the same team that had beat them some handily last season in the ALCS.
Since then, the Yankees have outscored the Rangers 24-8, smashing seven home runs.
Is this what the Yankees can do without Derek Jeter?
For those who felt the Yankees should've taken such a hard line with Jeter over the offseason that they shouldn't have brought him back, these last two games serve as a sort of vindication.
For those of you who were afraid to even conceive of what this team would look like without Jeter, you might have enough confidence now to walk a tightrope across the Grand Canyon.
It's not just the number of runs this team has scored in two days, it's where the production is coming from.
Since replacing Jeter at shortstop, Eduardo Nunez is 4-for-8 with a home run. He has driven in a run and scored a run in each of his last two games.
The last time Jeter had back-to-back games with at least two hits? May 21-22 against the New York Mets at Yankee Stadium.
Nunez has already driven in half as many runs in two games as Jeter had this month.
Not to mention Nunez is far superior to Jeter defensively at this point in his career.
It would've been nice to see a youth movement within the Yankees happen out of desire, rather than necessity, but the Yankees still have to love how their team has stepped up in Jeter's absence.
But are they winning because Jeter isn't in the lineup, or in spite of it?
It's hard to say after just two games, but we can say that Jeter's stint on the DL hasn't yet had any negative aspects.
After two weeks, we'll know for sure.
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