Olney: Jeter a better fit for first than LF

Where have you gone, Derek Jeter?
The kid they wouldn't trade for the best pitcher in the world

In his latest blog post, Olney offers up a tidbit on our topic du jour, Derek Jeter:

Heard this: Derek Jeter spent the offseason working on improving his first step, making it more explosive. He looks strong and maybe this will help his offense, but the greatest practical impact may be on his defense. Jeter, who turns 34 this summer, has reached the stage of his career where he will be evaluated year to year at shortstop, and if he regresses from how he played the position last year, he may well be asked to move, to first base or the outfield. Personally, I think he would be better suited at first base than in the outfield, whenever he makes a move off shortstop, and could become an excellent first baseman.

Interesting assessment from someone who’s seen Jeter play over the years.

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Where have you gone, Derek Jeter?
The kid they wouldn't trade for the best pitcher in the world
  • nolan11

    Wouldnt it make more sense to move jeter to 3b and Arod to 1b? Arod is a biiiigggg guy…a good target for fielders (and the media) and hes got great hands. Jeter seems to me, more mobile and definitely better at charging slow rollers. They both have strong arms and great hands… I just think Arod…who is a Yankee for the NEXT 10 YEARS….unbelievable…will benefit from the switch more. Also who do the yanks install as the next shortstop?

    • J.R.

      No way, Arod has better hands anyways and the yankees need him at 3rd or short. Moving your beeter infielder to 1st has no practical reason.

  • mg

    One problem there and that’s that Jesus Montero is starting to look like the first baseman of the future and it would be a shame to have him blocked by Jeter.

  • Tripp

    Replace Abreu with Jeter next year. Problem is who’s going to replace Jeter at SS? Alberto Gonzalez? Carmen Angelini is a while off if he develops to his potential.

    Is Cano an option at SS?

  • Colin

    Jeter’s offense plays better in LF. Our offense would be alot better in the future with Jeter in LF and a guy like Teixiera or Montero at 1b rather than Jeter at first and someone like Melky or whomever in LF

  • http://breakingballs.riveraveblues.com Tommy

    In light of your earlier discussion of Jeter’s place on the all time hits list, doesn’t the prospect of Jeter at first seem eerily similar to the tail end of Pete Rose’s career, where he turned in year after year of below average production at first base in pursuit of the hits record?

  • pounder

    If all the young hotshots prove to be the real deal,I can see Jeter moving on to another team.Heresy you say….,not if he opts to go to a team of his own choosing….at a hefty salary!

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      Hank has already said that the Yankees will take care of Derek Jeter. He’s not going anywhere, and he shouldn’t.

    • LiveFromNewYork

      Never happen. Jeter is a Yankee for life.

  • http://footballstu.blogs.sportsline.com/ Stu H

    Jeter doesn’t move well to his left. That makes him useless at third. It would potentially allow him to still be an asset and well above average at first, though.

  • Currambayankees

    I think Jetes would do just fine at first or left.

  • Currambayankees

    Have feeling Eduardo Nunez is about to have a breakout year and just might be the heir apparent to Jetes. I love Angelini too but he’s farther off where’s Nunez will be at High A or AA this year. Watch him break out.

  • Jon

    I would give him a shot in CF to be honest. Defensive shortcomings aside, he does go into the OF as well as any infielder I’ve seen, and he does have speed. A Yount/Mantle-like move should be considered.

    The main reason that 1B is a horrible idea, as others have mentioned, is that he does not have the bat to play there. Sure he’d do fine, but the difference between him playing there and a Giambi-type is many, many fewer runs per season than his bat in CF and a (current) Cabrera-type.

    • LC

      I think it’s probably too late to move Jeter to center field. Melky gets criticized for his range, but I can’t see Jeter, at his age, being much better, and it’s hard to imagine he’d throw as well as Melky. I’d rather have the position open to give Austin Jackson a shot out there anyway. I think left field would work out better than either center or first base.

  • maximumpotential

    I agree CF is probably the best option. It’s easier to find corner OFs then a CF. Plus as was said, we have 1B prospects. I realize we also have CF prospect, bu they can easily move to RF or LF. Let Jeter follow the hallowed CF tradition of the Yankees.

  • Clay
  • Clay

    1st base that is

  • Count Zero

    It’s an interesting thought. I think most people see Jeter moving to the OF because of the way he plays popups. Honestly, I’ve never seen any IF make the over the shoulder play as well as Jete does. Ever. But if in fact it’s his knees that are causing his problems on D, then maybe 1B is the better long term option.

  • Rob

    I can’t see Jeter being above average in CF. He’s just not that quick anymore.

    In LF, he’d give average offense for the position, and above average defense for the foreseeable future. At 1B, his offense would actually be worse relative to what’s out there at 1B. For instance:

    – Of 20 qualifying 1B last year, Jeter’s .840 OPS last year would have ranked him tied for 15th with Casey Kotchman. Of course, the AL is very weak for 1B with one only player (Carlos Pena) above an .850 OPS.

    – By contrast, of the 16 qualifying LFs last year, his .840 OPS would have put him at 8th just behind Matsui.

    The point is: The Yanks would have an easier time finding a better bat for 1B, than for LF. That best dictates were Jeter should go – where he will help the most by filling a need that’s not as easily filled. Furthermore, if there’s a need to ever move A-Rod to first, he better fills the offense at that position than Jeter.

    My guess, Jeter starts 2010 as the starting LF. It will be the first year without Matsui or Damon, and the last year in his current deal.

  • Dustin

    Can any of you imagine this happening? Can you imagine Jeter with a first baseman’s glove on and tossing a grounder to pitcher covering first? Or, racing towards the 399 sign to prevent a double from turning into a triple. I just can’t see it happening. A-rod back to short is not an option. His range is probably equal to Jeter’s these days.

    Jeter has never been strong going to his left, this we all know. The Yankees know that he is royalty and I doubt they will ever ask Jeter to change positions. Jeter will need to look inside himself and do what’s best for the team. I just don’t see that happening for at least 3 more years and I’m comfortable with that.

    It’s sad because if Jeter switches positions, it will really hammer down how long it has been since we last won a WS.

    • brad k

      Dustin,

      Your the only post that makes any real sense. Well done. Jeter is Jeter and his defense was never his strong suit (gold gloves aside). He is Yankee royalty and he will give short only we HE is ready to give up short. Besides, defense does not win championships, offense does. All this Jeter stuff is much to do about nuthin

      • Count Zero

        So you’re saying Jeter should play SS until he doesn’t want to? Regardless how bad he gets at it? You’re saying Jeter > Yankees?

        If Jeter is half the team player many of you give him credit for, he will give up SS as soon as his ability declines further below what it was in 2007. (Take off the rose colored spectacles — defensively he was friggin’ awful in ’07…possibly worst in MLB awful.) If he doesn’t give it up, then he was never the team player so many people worshiped him as for so many years.

        Defense may not “win Championships” but neither does anything else all by its lonesome. You won’t find too many Championships among teams with the worst defensive SS in baseball either. Tell it to the 1970 Orioles — who won 108 regular season games and a WS with Mark Belanger posting a 56 OPS+. LOL

        I believe Jeter should be the starting Yankee SS this year. No doubt. But if he declines further defensively from ’07, any reasonable man has to say: He’s a liability.

        • kunaldo

          ah, finally, some sanity

        • blah

          Cal Ripken made the switch from SS to 3B at the age of 35. Robin Yount stopped playing SS at 29. Paul Molitor stopped playing IF positions and switched exclusively to 1B/DH at 34. George Brett moved from 3B to 1B at 34.

          Jeter will turn 34 this season.

  • kunaldo

    they say that alberto gonzalez is a wizard at short…and he’s starting to hit a bit

  • kunaldo

    gold gloves dont mean jack…raffy palmiero won one….enough said

    if we get a better defensive SS, the team will do better, period….jeter is proud/stubborn, that’s why it’s hard to suggest a pos change to him…but think about how fast he is, and his ability to track popups/flyballs…if you move him to center, he moves to another glory position, and i mean, robin yount moved to CF too eventually, and did well….if it’s for the better of the team, it’s his obligation as a CAPTAIN to do what’s best for the team…unfortunately he probably will never believe the reports that he is the worst defensive SS in the league

    and about arod…he’s slimmed down significantly 06, so i doubt his range is so bad…yeah, he hasnt been amazing at 3rd, but SS is his natural position…i’d bet he’d be better than jete’s right now

    you know we’re going to have to pay overpay jeter b/c of arod in his next contract, so i think it would be better to utilize him in an efficient manner, rather than losing 14 runs a year b/c he’s at SS

    disclaimer: i am not a jeter hater at all, i just feel that the team would be better off w/ a change at short

  • Dustin

    I’m 24 and grew up with Jeter at short. The man has pride. How many times can you remember him looking foolish? I remember last year in boston when he did his fist pump and twisted his hat in the process. Other than that, I got nothing. My point is that I can’t imagine him moving to the outfield of first base and watching him struggle. He can track down pop ups better than anyone, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to the outfield. A fly ball and a pop up are completely different. From his childhood, he was always a short stop. We have no way of knowing what would happen if he played outfield. Third base would be a natural progression. Do you think alex would switch positions again?…that’s a joke.

    We can’t automatically annoint him as the CF of the future. He’s going to be 34 this summer! Let the man do what he has to do this year and the next couple. Remember that the man has pride and will not give up easily. He spent the offseason improving his agility. He recognized his lack of range and did something about it.

    Someone suggest Cano can play short. I’d like to be the first in line to say that it’s a bad idea. Cano’s range isn’t strong to his backhand. His first step is slow. On top of that, he not mature enough to handle a change. We just paid him for now and his progression into the future. Let’s not mess with that. I think trading melky would have also had a major impact on Robbie.

  • Chip

    I’m sorry but Jeter doesn’t leave until we have somebody else to hold down the position and Alberto doesn’t cut it

  • Lanny

    I think Jeter can play any position he wants to. Hes a baseball player. Not a shortstop.

  • J.R.

    Totally agree, you need power production from your corner infielders. Moving him to LF in 09 or 10 when Damon and Matsui come off the roster makes alot of sense. Then get Texiera or maybe Montero to play 1b in 09.

  • blah

    Rod Carew switched from 2B to 1B at 30.

  • Barry

    You put Jeter in the outfield and he’s going to wear down quickly. Theres no way that Jeter wouldn’t be more than fieldable at 3rd and his offense would plug in fine there if you put ARod at 1st that would actually make the most sense. Jeter in the outfield is going to wear him down quickly breaking down his legs.

  • maximumpotential

    with Jeter’s def (or lack there-of) at SS, does Melky, Henn & Igawa to PITT for Jack Wilson & DeMaso Marte make sense? move Jete to CF…

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      Wilson’s got a career OPS under .700. He’s 30 and he’s not getting any better. Plus, Derek Jeter’s been a short stop forever. What makes you think he can play CF? Doesn’t make sense.

  • Mike D

    Flip Jeter and A-Rod, moving Derek to 3B and Rodriguez to SS. A-Rod was a solid defender at short. We don’t know how he’d handle the position four years removed, but he’d probably show more range at that position than Jeter. Meanwhile, 3B for the Captain would minimize his weakness on ranging to his left. 3B is a pure reaction position where anything more than a step or two to the left goes to the SS.

  • Babe’s Ghost

    If only… while I’m glad we kept the big three… I really wish we’d gotten Santana. To the extent it was about money, I would have far preferred to kick Arod to the curb, use the money on Santana, move Jeter to third and either bring up the AG or if he’s not ready yet, trade for an offensively challenged glove-man (Jack Wilson?)to keep the spot warm. Or pretend to bring up Eric Duncan for third and bluff the White Sox into releasing Joe Crede to keep 3B warm for a year or two until Jetes is ready to move there. Would we be a statistically better team? I’m a little too tired to figure that out right now, but in my book Jeter, Po and Mo are the heart of this team. I’d rather give up Arod’s offense and provide a graceful way for the veterans to age together where their defensive decline hurts the team the least (Jeter to 3B and Po to DH eventually) especially if there was a way we could have kept Hughes, IPK and Joba as our pitching nucleus.

    But given the way things went, I’ll be pulling for Arod to rake and Jeter to show us he still belongs at short. Hopefully, the ‘lateral explosiveness’ stuff pays off, but if it doesn’t I expect that he will eventually volunteer to move to another position for the good of the team. Alhough his pride and stubborness will make that happen a little later than optimal, I think it is a small price to pay.