Over the weekend the Yankees answered this question with a resounding, unequivocal yes.
Although Jeter will surely be a first-ballot Hall of Fame shortstop, he is no longer a crucial piece of the Yankee puzzle. Although it is impossible to measure the effect of losing a big name like Jeter on a team’s psyche, the Yankees seem to have been unaffected by Jeter’s absence.
Since the captain was placed on the DL last Tuesday, the Yanks have won six of their last seven games, bringing their recent total to nine wins in their last 11 contests.
Before leaving for the disabled list, Jeter was batting only .260 with 20 RBI in the leadoff spot. Seven players in the Yankees starting lineup have had better OBP than Jeter this season (Martin, Teixeira, Cano, Rodriguez, Gardner, Granderson, Swisher).
If anything, the Yankees are going to have to make a tough decision when Jeter comes back about whether he is the best option for the leadoff spot for the Yankees. Yankees manager Joe Girardi has experimented with both Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner in that role since Jeter’s injury.
It seems obvious at this point that the Yankees would benefit from moving Jeter down in the lineup. But if Jeter isn’t batting first for the Yankees, where does he fit? It seems unlikely that Girardi would move Granderson, who is having an MVP caliber season in the two spot, and he certainly would not move either Teixeira, Rodriguez or Cano at the three, four and five spots.
If Posada took himself out of the lineup for being batted ninth, Yankees fans have to wonder how a very proud Derek Jeter might react if he’s asked to bat sixth when coming back from his injury.