Taking a lesson from Cal Ripken

From the mailbag: the Barry Bonds question
Wang tabbed for Opening Day

As Cal Ripken neared the twilight years of his Big League career, he grew to recognize his defensive limitations. A career short stop, in 1996, during his age 35 season, he played a handful of games at third base before moving there permanently the next season. He moved over with the recognition that 23-year-olds are better equipped to handle the demands of short stop than 36-year-olds.

In the Bronx, the Yanks’ short stop will soon undergo similar growing pains. Derek Jeter has played 13 years at short, and during an injury-plagued 2007, it seemed that he had lost a bit from his already slow first step. The rumblings, as we’ve discussed over the last few days, for Jeter to move from short have grown louder over the last few seasons.

Derek, however, will have none of that talk quite yet. As Mark Feinsand from the Daily News reports, Derek wants to stick it out at short:

he plans on playing shortstop through the final three years of his current contract, and on remaining there for however many years he plays beyond 2010.

“That’s the plan,” Jeter said. “I haven’t really thought about how long I’m playing. I take it one year at a time; I don’t sit down and say, ‘Well, I hope I’m playing in two-thousand whatever.’ It’s a tough question, because I haven’t really thought about it much.”

Could Jeter, who has been named to eight American League All-Star teams in his 12 big-league seasons – four as the league’s starting shortstop – ever see himself playing another position?

“Right now?” Jeter said, “No.”

Now, Yankee fans will be up in arms over Jeter’s quotes. “He’s being selfish,” they’ll say. It’s not for the good of the team for him to stick it out at short.

But that’s just silly. No baseball player will ever admit to the media that they’re losing a step or two at their natural position. No one will say that age is catching up to them, that they’re slowing down and that, yeah, they probably shouldn’t be playing short stop. It just doesn’t happen.

Right now, the Yanks need Derek Jeter as short stop. While people can fantasize about A-Rod‘s moving back to short, in reality, he hasn’t played there in 2003, and there’s no guarantee that he would still be a solid short stop.

When the time comes, I believe Derek will take a page from the Cal Ripken book and recognize when it’s time to move from the demands of short. It’s not going to happen yet, but it will.

From the mailbag: the Barry Bonds question
Wang tabbed for Opening Day
  • Brian

    If there is any “consensus,” is first the best spot? And if so, would Teixeira or another option be more preferable? I just can’t imagine us without Jeter…he’s not Bernie yet, so I would say no.

  • TurnTwo

    the problem is, Cal had room to move to 3rd where Jeter has someone there who blocks that natural transition.

    he’s also said he doesnt envision himself in the OF, and the fans could argue that he doesnt produce offensively enough to make a Carlos Guillen-type move to 1B.

    and then there is the issue of who you are replacing the captain for… Alberto Gonzales is apparently as slick as they come defensively at SS, but is he really going to be the one to push DJ? We could all dream about Carmen Angelini, but he’s got 3 or 4 years of development, at the minimum. The Salcedo kid might be a better prospect than Angelini, but he’s only 16, and word has it his final choice is between the Yankees and the Indians.

    its been mentioned that the best place for him would be 2B, because he does go to his right much better than his left, but you’ve got Robby there for the foreseeable future. However, scouts have said that Robby could eventually grow out of the position, and maybe he’s the one who transitions to LF?

    You could slide Robby to LF to take over for Damon and Matsui for 2010, see Jeter at 2B, and hope that Alberto Gonzales proves he can hit enough to be an everyday SS, or you’ve got to take some of that young pitching and make a move on the trade market or FA market.

    I think Furcal is a FA after 2008, but i cant see any scenerio where Jeter is moved from SS the first year in the new stadium…

    how about some of the other young positional players; Sublett? Snyder? Can these guys play SS as a stop gap for a season or two if need be?

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

    The problem is that if he moves to say, centerfield or even first, he loses some offensive value. He’s a great offensive shortstop, but he’d be an above-average offensive CF, and possibly even a below average 1B. The profile of each position changes.

    Is it better to have Jeter’s bat and defense at short with a replacement level CF, or to have Jeter’s bat and D at CF with a replacement level SS?

  • LiveFromNewYork

    My biggest concern for moving Jeter is who plays SS. I think he would be best in LF but I don’t see him there any time soon. I don’t see him at first, I think Arod would be better at first. I think Arod is not going to short. They need a young, Jeter-esque guy at Short. The real problem with his moving is who moves into his spot.

  • maximumpotential

    TurnTwo and Mike A., perfectly puy.

  • maximumpotential


  • Marcos

    Jeter and Cano should just swap positions.

  • E-ROC

    Given Jeter’s recent comments about what he worked on this past winter, I think he understands he can’t play shortstop for the rest of his career. At least he acknowledges it and worked on his quickness and explosiveness to try to fight aging. I think he’ll bounce back defensively this year. Go Yankees!

    • Sciorsci

      Bounce back to what? Below average instead of horrendous?

  • E-ROC

    Also, I like the future outfield of Tabata, Jeter, and Jackson.

  • Adam

    i am sick and tired of hearing about derek jeter being a team player who is only concerned with winning. over the last few years, he refused to give shortstop to a clearly better defender in alex rodriguez when he first came over, then he stood idly by while alex rodriguez was crucified by the media and fans, and now is clearly refusing to consider changing positions even though he cost the team 30+ outs in the field last year.

    derek is a great hitter and maybe even a nice guy (although i doubt it), but how on earth can he be considered unselfish and a great leader???

    • ac

      How many of you have given up your job, willingly to the new guy? Or to a friend {and I use that word loosely in this example} who doesn’t even seem to respect you and what accomplishments you had achieved? Jeter wasn’t asked to give up his SS job and he would have been crazy to say to Arod-man, take my job here in New York, after your trade to our adversary the Red Sox fell through. You may be the highest paid SS ever in history and MVP once but you are may have my job….well just because. Come on, some of you are just out in left fields yourselves. As much as the media plays up how bad his defensive skills are, we all truly know, he is still better than most of the SS still playing. He’ll go to another postion when he and the team think he has no further option at SS. The Yankees have never had problems letting players know they are no longer needed at certain places or on the team.

      • Whitey14

        It’s not a fair comparison to ask John Doe if he’s given up his job willingly to someone else. Sports are completely different. This situation involves a team and everybody should do what’s best for the team. There is a lot of money involved here and continuing to win can only help put more in each guy’s pockets.

        I’ll reserve comment on whether or not jeter should move. That’s for you yankee fans to argue, but I will say Red sox fans will probably cheer if he does move. Even if he has limited range and quickness, he has an uncanny ability to be where he needs to be in important situations.

      • Adam

        ac, to answer your question, i wouldn’t willingly give up my position, but then again i probably wouldn’t be praised for my team-first efforts either.

  • kunaldo

    adam, i couldnt have said it better myself

  • playballnyy

    Why fix something that ain’t broke? Because he’s a Yankee he has to be the best short stop in the league? And they would move him to open the position for who? Just answer this– is he still effective and productive? Of course. My opinion is that the handful of jeter articles on the different yankee blogs are getting a bit ridiculous, there has not been a significant decline in abilities…even last year, an “off” year defensively, he was one of the best in the league. Only about 6 of the everyday shortstops had a better fielding percentage and out of the top 10 SS with most innings played only 2 had less errors than jeter.

    Seems to me the issue shouldn’t even be up for discussion yet….

    • Sciorsci

      Errors and fielding percentage only take into account the balls that a fielder gets to. Anyone who understands Jeter’s defensive deficiencies knows that his primary weakness is that there are a ton of balls, up the middle to Jeter’s left, that he does not get to at all. Now, those are not factored into his FP or E, so Jeter looks good by those limited metrics. But in terms of being asset or liability defensively, Jeter is a huge liability at a position like SS where there is such a significant priority placed on defense.

  • Brian

    Perhaps this option seems plausible: Jeter moves to third and A-Rod moves to first. Surely, A-Rod’s offensive numbers are sliiightly better than league average at first.

    • Sciorsci

      When you consider that Jeter’s biggest weakness is moving to his left, it seems that switching him to 3B doesn’t really fix the problem. If anything, Jeter needs to move to LF, 1B or CF. CF is an issue because he eventually be blocking AJax there, and if Jeter doesn’t handle one position switch well, moving him twice might not be realistic.

  • Rich

    At least the issue is being raised.

  • Ron

    This shouldn’t be an issue at this time because a) Jeter is still an offensive force and b) there is no obvious replacement. As Ben points out, Alex hasn’t played the position in 4 years, and the Attorney General’s line from last year is .266/.319/.379. Ouch! If fans are upset w/ Jete’s defense, imagine their ire w/ that kind of offense.

    I believe this will become a real issue when Jeter’s offensive production starts to decline and/or when an obviously better option is major league ready. But until that time comes, sit back and enjoy watching one of the best shortstops to ever play the game, and, barring injury, the first Yankee in history to amass 3,000 career hits.

  • Jeff

    Two years ago he almost won an MVP… this year we shouldn’t put up with him at short. Great fans we’ve got.
    If you think you can replace him – go ahead you don’t deserve him.

    • David

      He almost won the mvp because of his offensive season. He is a poor defensive shortstop. Anyone who doesn’t admit that has their head in the sand.

      • playballnyy

        Look at the numbers he’s not #1 but he’s not just average either.

        • David

          Yep. He’s below average defensively. All the metrics have him in the bottom quarter.

        • Sciorsci

          Which numbers? Are you still going with FP and E as relevant metrics? If you look at some advanced defensive metrics (admittedly, these are probably the least reliable statistics in baseball, but they’re still far better than FP and E), Jeter is at best, among the worst defensive SS in baseball. At worst, he is, defensively, the worst position player in baseball relative to his position.

  • Mike D

    The problem with moving Jeter to CF is it’s probably too late. This would have been a good idea when Jeter was a few years younger. Remember, Yount made the move at 29. Let’s say that Jeter and the Yankees get religion on this issue and decide to move him to CF in 2009. He’ll turn 35 mid-season. Bernie Williams had already lost his range in CF by that point, so it’s unreasonable to assume Jeter will be all that good out there, especially since he’s lost a step at short because of leg injuries. LF might be a better option and it just so happens there could be an opening there next year.

    The obvious solution is the toughest. They should flip Jeter and A-Rod. Jeter has a strong arm, and he won’t have to range too far at 3B, so he might actually be a very solid defender. If A-Rod still has decent SS range, the Yankees would be a better defensive team. Yet, for obvious political reasons, I don’t see it happening. LF seems to be Derek’s next stop.

  • Steve S

    I think this is ridiculous. The guy is an average shortstop defensively. And everyone is hanging on to that as if he is a detriment. Guess what they scored 900 runs last year thats why they made the playoffs. But that offense wont keep up- Bobby Abreu is all but gone next year, Jorge Posada is 37 years old (and if were talking about defense- Jorge is clearly below average and he cant call a game), no one here thinks Melky is better than a 4th outfielder, Johnny Damon and Matsui are on their last legs, so the offense comes down to Jeter, Arod, and Cano. Guess what, your not giving up that bat at shortstop, his defense shows up bad on paper, but how many times for those of us who actually watched the games did we say Derek Jeter’s defense just caused that L.

    Ill tell you this much, find out if one of the “big three” work out, then find out who is going to be in the bullpen (that should take a while), then find out who can play first base for them, then find out how many games Jorge can catch this year, then find out how many innings Mike mussina can actually throw, then lets see if Joe Girardi can do more then get people run and lose weight, then figure out who takes over in rightfield and leftfield next year…then we can debate on whether Derek Jeter is a legitimate problem at shortstop.

    And for those who say Derek Jeter should have moved in 2004. Im skeptical whether he was even asked, Im also skeptical if he could have made the transition to third like Arod did (which is a testament to Arod’s athletic ability not a knock to Jeter). Just like Joe Torre he is a human being, he isn’t as infallible as the media and the fans have painted him. But there is no one else on this team that I feel hurts as much as we do when this team loses. And there is no one, including Arod, who could have been put in his position in 1996 at age 22 and kept a level head and maintained his game (Exhibit A is Jose Reyes in 2007). So yes he isnt perfect, but with all this he is the Captain and he is a true blue Yankee, and for those of us that ripped the people who mistreated Arod or booed Mariano in 2005, this is even more embarrassing.

  • David

    He’s not average defensively. As to your point about the offense we’ll be losing, we’ll have money to replace some of those bats and some very good young offensive players on the horizon. Austin Jackson and Tabata are on the way. All our young pitching gives us payroll flexibility to bring in some big bats as well.

  • Steve S

    All our young pitching hasnt accomplished anything yet so its hard to bank on them. As for his defense, I asked a question that you failed to answer, which is how many times did those balls up the middle cost the Yankees a game. And the answer is there on paper as well. The guy was second in the AL at shortstop with 24 win shares. Which includes defensive statistics, so in his grand detriment the team, the guy was the second best shortstop in the AL and tied for fifth in the MLB. So name the replacements that you want. Do you want Mark Texiera, whens the last time the Yankees committed big dollars to a first baseman, how did that work out. And if they do get him where does Posada next year which is the real imminent position change? What about Jesus Montero, where does he play in two or three years?

    And now Jeter is expendable or can moved because of Austin Jackson who has had possibly one half of a good season in AA and a good winter league. Tabata is 19 and just came off a hand injury and still hasnt shown any power in the minor leagues. How about we see some things before we start replacing or displacing the guy who contributed the third most win shares of any player on the team last year.

    • steve (different one)

      win shares are not a valid defensice metric.

      they are not based on play by play data so they have little to no value.

      your entire premise is misguided.

      Jeter HAS cost the yankees games by not turning batted balls into out that an average SS would have.

      why is that so hard to accept?

      • Steve S

        But win shares as an overall metric to a player’s value is pretty accurate, in that it takes into account both offensive and defensive skills. And as for defensive it accounts for what zone rating and other things dont account for, ballpark, actual rotations, and everything that as gene Michael pointed out is not accounted for in other sabermetric calculations, which also have inherent deficiencies. And as far as actual results, it does demonstrate that Jeter is below average, but that his overall value makes him better than 80% of the leagues other shortstops. Put it this way Tony Pena Jr. and Jack Wilson had nearly double the amount of defensive win shares but did that make them more valuable to the team? Would the Yankees have been better off with them at shortstop? No, his defense is average to below average but his overall ability justifies maintain him at shortstop. He maybe overrated defensively (the gold gloves) but that doesn’t mean his defense is enough of a detriment to be having this conversation without any logical replacement on the team or even on the horizon. The orioles had Mike Bordick, who actually made sense. Who takes Jeter’s place? Answer that question and then start having this conversation. In the mean time some people should try maintain some level of appreciation for what this guy does. And the real issue is behind the plate, as Jorge is awful as a catcher- cant block the plate on relays, he cant call a game, and he is average on blocking balls in the dirt.

        • steve (different one)

          it does demonstrate that Jeter is below average, but that his overall value makes him better than 80% of the leagues other shortstops

          i am not arguing this fact.

          i completely agree that Jeter is still a better overall player than most of the SS’s in the league.

          my point about win shares is that they are not based on play-by-play data, so their value is extremely limited.

          they are really just a souped up version of fielding %:

          “Essentially, James has selected four defensive statistics to evaluate positions. Here they are by position, listed in order of importance:

          Shortstops: Assists, Double Plays, Errors and Putouts ”

          that was my point. not really useful at all, b/c it doesn’t really tell us anything about range. that’s really all i was saying.

          your follow-up clarifies what you were trying to say, and is pretty reasonable.

          i apologize for the snarkiness in my comment further down the page.

          • Steve S

            never a need to apologize, this is what makes this stuff fun. I think there is difference to saying Jeter’s defense is below average and saying that him playing shortstop is a detriment to the team. Like I said Ben is right there will come a day when they have to move him. But at this stage were probably two or three years away from that.

  • David

    Oh no. Their not proven. Its time for Yankees fans to get away from this mindset if not relying on young players because they aren’t proven. I’ll bank on Hughes and Joba becoming very good starting pitchers. Ian Kennedy as well and there is a lot more on the way. I’ll also bank on a bunch of position players on the way. Tex is certainly an option and there will be other bats out there as well. Jeter moving to left field will improve our defense up the middle. We gave up 20 more runs than the average shortstop because of Jeter’s defense. I don’t know what that translates to in terms of wins, but its something that needs to be improved upon. And it will only get worse as Jeter gets older.

    • Steve S

      Im not the one saying they shouldnt rely on their youth but thats a distinct thought then rushing out some of the reliable veterans who were largely responsible for 94 wins last year. And its fine to have high hopes for the big three but reality tells you that perhaps one of them will be able to contribute what Derek Jeter does in his diminished capacity. As for relying on kids like Tabata and Jackson, thats great and they should develop them but Ricky Ledee and Ruben Rivera might lend some support to holding on to a guy like Jeter, who in his age 33 season managed to be a vital part of the team.

      And for those who criticize stats and for those who embrace them, explain how Jeter contributed more win shares last year than Jimmy Rollins and then tell me he needs to get moved.

      Ben is right that at some point, probably at the conclusion of this contract, Jeter needs to give up his position. But that debate should come up when there is logical replacement and when its actually necessary. The question of status in NY, newspapers are still scared to death of attacking him as evidenced by the follow up article to the UPENN analysis piece. And more importantly, the fact that Arod moved happened, its no longer a point of contention. And I dont think the Yankees failure in the first round had anything to do with Arod playing third and Jeter playing short.

      • Steve S

        i meant more defensive win shares than Jimmy Rollins.

        • steve (different one)

          because defensive win shares are not a valid stat. that’s why.

          you should do a little research about the numbers you are using to prove your points.

          • steve (different one)

            see my comment above.

  • bkight13

    There is no way Derek Jeter can be called a defensive liability under any rating scale. I’ll admit his range up the middle in below average, but the overall package is solid. I guess the plays he makes to his right don’t count. Or the pop-flys that he runs down. Or his relay throws. He doesn’t boot many routine plays and doesn’t have any Knoblach issues throwing the ball. He isn’t Ozzie Smith, but he isn’t BJ Upton either.

    Oh yeah, he can hit pretty good too.

    • http://www.overheardinnewyork.com NC Saint

      Actually, he certainly can be called a defensive liability, which I know because he is. Pick your metric, and if it’s any more sophisticated than Errors/FP, it identifies him as a liability. You can deny the conclusion that he should be moved, but you’re just flat out, factually wrong to deny this. Some of the metrics show him putting up some of the worst defensive seasons ever. I love Jeter too, but that’s just something you’ll have to deal with.

      • bkight13

        It’s not a love affair thing. I’ve watched 75% of the Yankees’ games over that last 10 years and I know what I see. He is not a defensive liability. It doesn’t always have to be a best or worst thing. He made a few “bad” errors last year, but I don’t think he was 100%. According to my balls that should have been fielded by an above average SS rating, Jeter scored a +6.

  • Big Blue

    Anyone who chooses to use a stat like Zone Rating to make their point really needs to take some time to understand how it is calculated. By definition, Zone Rating doesn’t consider the hole between SS and 3B (zone G) to be in the SS’s zone. Therefore, any SS who is stronger going to his right than his left is going to penalized. ZR favors Shortstops who are better going up the middle. Also, Zone Rating only looks at ground balls. It doesn’t consider a player’s ability to handle line drives or pop ups. So a shortstop who cheats up the middle – like Vizquel and Furcal – and has absolutely no range on pop ups is going to have a higher ZR than a shortstop who tends to play towards the 3B hole – like Jeter and Michael Young.

    A statistic like Range Factor/9 innings also has it’s limitations. It’s really no better than Fielding % because it gives more credit to players who play on teams with groundball pitchers. It also doesn’t take into account the length of the inning. A shortstop who let’s two groudballs sneak by him while handling two easy ground balls will have a better RF than the shortstop who makes a great play on the only ball hit to him. Over 162 games, it will probably even out, but a good statistic shouldn’t rely on things evening themselves out.

    Like most fans, I agree that Jeter is below average on balls hit up the middle, but he is above average on the other skills needed by a shortstop – tracking pop ups, positioning on relays, charging balls, not making errors in key spots, etc. Until there is a metric that effectively captures those activities, it will be impossible to truly quantify any player’s defensive contribution.

    • Eyal

      This is an important point.

      Be careful with how you use statistics that have have dependencies. The reason a stat like OPS+/ERA+ works is because you factor out park and pitcher/league dependencies. These stats also aren’t perfect, but they’re a hell of a lot more reliable for objective comparison than fielding statistics.

      I’m always highly skeptical of fielding statistics. For starters, a lot of them don’t have their methodologies posted, or are too convoluted to realistically use. Second, almost all of them rely on the game situation, the team’s pitchers (ground ball vs fly-ball), or park conditions. I don’t see how you can objectively use these metrics, even over 162 games.

      Is Jeter sub-league-average defensively? Probably. What is the actual cost to the team in wins or even runs? My guess is little-to-none, and my guess is going to be as good as yours.

  • Spike

    Let’s not forget his much below average arm in terms of accuracy. His throws are rarely right on target, and those lazy sidearm tosses are usually bad throws.

  • Barry

    I still think all you stat heads are reading into things too much.

    • Whitey14

      Me too! Baseball is a game that revels in statistics and for over a hundred years the fans were happy with the ones that were available. Then the sabermatricians got involved and created a few stats that we began to rely on, OPS being just one of them, now it seems like people just want to overanalyze the game and will come to rely on any new stat that comes along. As Steve (a different one) has pointed out, some of the new measurements just don’t hold water in this argument.

  • Matty

    Let’s just trade Jeter so we don’t have to worry about his defense anymore. I’m sure that’ll make most of the stat-heads happy.

    • Sciorsci

      It’s that type of reaction to genuine assessment via statistical analysis that makes any reasonable discussion on the matter impossible. Suggesting the idea of trading Jeter to appease those who are comfortable seeing baseball in statistical terms is ridulous, even in jest. I’m pretty sure that even those who have criticized Jeter’s defensive skills, as have I, are all die-hard Yankee fans just like you are.

      • Matty

        It was 100% pure sarcasm. I’m with you for the most part.

        • Sciorsci

          Fair enough – I just didn’t pick up on the sarcasm. I guess the sad part is that there are some fans who would jump to that conclusion in complete seriousness.

  • http://yankeesetc.blogspot.com/ Travis G.

    watching 140+ Yankee games/year, i would classify DJ’s D as such:
    Arm accuracy – below average
    Arm strength – average
    Range to left – well below average
    Range to right – below average
    Charging in – average
    Fly balls – above average
    Turning the DP – average
    Making a relay throw – above average

    this adds up to about a below average SS. that seems right to me. i really dont think DJ is a horrible SS.

    to all who disagree with the above ratings, it would be fun to see others rate him.

    moving DJ is very complex. it shouldn’t be seriously posed to him until, 1) a decent replacement is found, and 2) there’s a spot for DJ elsewhere where he doesn’t block someone better. i really dont see that coming anytime soon, so it’ll be interesting to see what ultimately happens.

    • Barry

      you much not watch any other games then because I’ve seen Jeter make more big plays in one season than any other shortstop inthe league may make in his career.

      • Sciorsci

        Part of the problem with judging Jeter on the basis of “big plays” is that he makes a lot of routine plays look tough. For example, the trademark Jeter play of tracking a ground ball to his right, backhanding the ball, jumping, throwing, pumping his fist – well, aside from the fist pump, it all looks better than it needs to. If Jeter had a better first step, he’d be more likely to field that grounder square to the ball; if he set his feet, pivoted and threw to first, his throws would be more likely to be stronger and more accurate. Almost because Jeter is able to overcome his own defensive weaknesses in making that play does it become memorable. Would we laud an outfielder that has to make diving catches when others can get to the ball without diving? I guess most of us probably would – but if it’s happening on balls that he shouldn’t have to dive for, those memorable plays are not really a good thing.

        • Whitey14

          Not to go off subject for too long, but your premise of players making routine plays look difficult has been my argument against Jim Edmonds for years. He is the master of one thing and one thing only and it isn’t defense. It’s the catch and dive and I’m sure you all know what I mean. It’s timing the ball just right so you can intentionally make a routine, or even a moderately difficult play, look incredible. I’m not saying that’s the case with Jeter, it’s more likely his lack of range, but as a Red Sox fan, I’ll never forget the dive into the seats along the third base line a few years ago. It was definitely one of the best plays I’ve ever seen. Every player loses some range as they get older and that’s the case with Jeter as well. I’ll be very curious to see what happens 2-3 years down the road if all of their youth pans out. Will there even be room for him on the team?

          • Sciorsci

            Jim Edmonds definitely came to mind as I was writing about someone who made plays look even harder than they should have. Contrast that with a younger Andruw Jones that got to everything with such ease that it looked as if it was hit right at him.

  • Chip

    I don’t care if A-rod was a better shortstop in 2004 when he came, Jeter is the great Yankee shortstop. He’ll always be that even if he does change positions but that’s obviously not needed yet. I really don’t care if Jeter’s D gave up 30 runs last year (supposedly) because I will bet you that his bat gave us much more than 30 runs over anybody else we could have paid to play the position better. The fact of the matter is if he were hitting .267 with no power and D like that, he’d be moved (or more likely released) but he’s obviously not to that point.

    Once Jeter stops producing at such an elite level (as far as shortstops are concerned), I’m sure he will get moved to a less difficult defensive position such as third or first where his bat will be either average or below average. If I were a betting man, I’d put him at first where he’d probably shine defensively even though his bat might not play there. The only reason I say that is that this is the Yankees and the outfield will be stocked with power bats plus some more power at 2nd (Cano), 3rd (A-rod should keep it up for awhile) and Catcher (one of those guys has to turn out) so they can let Jeter continue doing what he does which is get on base and hussle. I guarantee you that it won’t happen until there’s another obvious solution at shortstop however

    • Sciorsci

      Elite SS production is Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, even Jimmy Rollins. Jeter is very good offensively, but not elite. You do make a good point about Jeter generating more runs offensively than he costs the Yankees defensively, and there really aren’t any holes in the lineup that make sense for Jeter to switch to, at least without a clear replacement at SS, even if it were just a defensive specialist that could provide league-average offense.

      I think many people, myself included, wonder if A-Rod could play a better SS than Jeter (if I’m being completely honest, I doubt it – A-Rod seems to have lost a step himself since the days when he was considered an excellent defensive SS), defensively speaking. And even if he could, what does that mean for Jeter? A move to 3B (not necessarily a big improvement given Jeter’s defensive skill set, but at least it’s a less significant defensive position), or could a Betemit/Ensberg platoon take 3B and then move Jeter to 1B? That’s a lot of position switches.

      • steve (different one)

        i disagree that Jeter is not elite offensively.

        an OBP-heavy OPS+ of around 120-125 is certainly elite for a SS.

        he had a little bit of a down year in 2007, but he is certainly a better offensive player than Jimmy Rollins. one season does not make Rollins better.

        his defense at SS is clearly below average, but Jeter’s bat is good enough to play almost anywhere on the field.

        this notion that Jeter can’t play 1B or the OF because his bat isn’t good enough is nonsense.

        Jeter career: .317/.388/.462
        Mattingly: .307/.358/.471
        Tino Martinez: .271/.344/.471
        Mark Grace: .303/.383/.442

        Jeter’s bat plays anywhere on the field unless we think Tino or Mattingly weren’t good enough to play 1B.

        Jeter doesn’t hit as many HRs, but he also doesn’t make as many outs.

  • David

    If his bat stops producing, he won’t be able to justify playing him at an offensive position like first or left field. The fact that’s he’s such a good hitter is why you put at him at first now. Get an average hitting guy who can field and move Jeter to first and its a net positive for the team.

    • Chip

      It won’t be a net positive for the team if the guy taking over shortstop is considerably less skilled offensively than whoever Jeter is pushing off of first, that’s the issue here. I also like the comp to Tino and Mattingly but the fact is those are career numbers. If he goes over there and hits .290/.345/.385 then he’s hurting the team offensively unless his heir can put up a line at least close to what a firstbasemen should.

      • steve (different one)

        yes, but if he hits .290/.345/.385 while playing his typical defense at shortstop, he’d be a terrible player at SS too.

        • Chip

          I don’t know if I’d say he’d be terrible but he would not longer be above average for sure. I agree that if someone is behind him just tearing up the minors batting .290/.345/.385 would look horrible but if there’s nobody showing promise behind him then you might as well keep him. It’s not like elite shortstops often hit the free agent market afterall

  • Sciorsci

    Another thing to consider, I suppose, is the connection between IF defense and the types of pitchers employed by any team. As Wang has emerged as the Yankees’ ace, Jeter’s defensive flaws have become more exposed. Part of that is due to a natural progression – Jeter is getting older, after all – but part of it is tied to pitching. 2007 was Jeter’s worst season in years, defensively. Atop the rotation? Wang and Pettitte – two guys who force a lot of ground balls. Even Mussina is at the point where he’s striking less people out.

    I guess my point is, as bad as Jeter is defensively, the emergence of the big three, and hopefully an increasing focus on strikeout pitchers going forward, will do a lot to help hide Jeter’s defensive weaknesses.

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  • eric from morrisania


    Jeter continues to deny all thoughts of moving off his SS position. When asked, he insists that he’s the Yankees shortstop and that he’s looking forward trotting out to short on Opening Day of the new stadium next year.

    After 2009, when Damon and Matsui’s contracts are up, Jeter moves to LF. ARod stays at third, stating that he doesn’t want to keep bouncing around and that he’s happy with the way his defense at third is improving. Carmen Angelini continues to impress at Trenton, and the Yanks set an ETA of mid-2010 for his ML debut. To fill the gap, the Yankees sign Jack Wilson to a two-year deal.