Girardi: Jeter is “a little bit of a question” for Opening Day

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Point/Counterpoint with Rafael Soriano
(Al Bello/Getty)

This seemed inevitable, but I’m surprised we’re hearing about it so soon. While speaking with reporters at a charity event yesterday, Joe Girardi told Dan Martin that Derek Jeter‘s fractured left ankle might not be fully healthy in time for Opening Day. Here’s the quote…

“He’s still basically non-weight-bearing, I believe, so, I really believe it might be a little push,” said the skipper. “Just because of the rehab and you have to get the full strength and maybe you’re not able to start doing the things you normally would in January … So I think there’s a little bit of a question, but I think he’ll find a way, because that’s who he is.”

Jeter, 38, suffered the fracture in Game One of the ALCS after playing on a bone bruise (that may or may not have contributed to the fracture) for more than a month. He had surgery to repair the break and miscellaneous ligament damage about a month ago, and his recovery time was expected to be 4-5 months. That put him on target to return either at the outset of Spring Training or a few weeks into camp. Remember, players will have to report a little earlier this year due to the World Baseball Classic.

I have two concerns here, the first being Jeter’s age and the potential for a slower than expected recovery. Older players tend to stay injured longer, it happens. Secondly, I’m worried about a setback during the rehab if he pushes himself too hard to come back, similar to what happened with Andy Pettitte and his leg this summer. The Yankees are already seeking a utility infielder upgrade so they obviously want to prepare in case the Cap’n isn’t 100% ready to go on Opening Day. Even if he is, they’d be wise to take it easy on him for the first few weeks of the season anyway.

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Point/Counterpoint with Rafael Soriano
  • Cano fan #1

    Oh god. here we go

  • Frank

    Forget the backup, Yanks really need to come to their senses and start looking for a replacement for Jeter. I love Jeter- he’s been a great Yankee and a sure HOFr, but the fact is very real- his time is coming to an end. An almost 40 year old SS, who already had limited range, coming off ankle surgery is not a good formula moving forward. His contract and ego aside, he and the Yanks need to start seriously thinking about making the change.

    • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

      I agree that at age 39 coming off ankle surgery that’s going to completely limit his offseason conditioning work for a player who’s range is already barely adequate is very concerning.

      There is a definite possibility that the Yankees are gonna need someone else to play quite a bite of SS in 2013 and beyond.

    • Darren

      Ding ding. We have a winner for dumb comment of the day.

      Come to their senses? What does that mean? That they have been acting irrationaly? How? You don’t get it. Jeter is irreplaceable. I mean, yeah, you can stick someone out there, but he’s not gonna replace Jeter’s numbers. Basically, the only guys who could have matched Jeter’s offense at SS while still playing even an adequate shortstop are Honus Wagner, Cal Ripken, ARod and about 5 other guys.

      So…..stop thinking that guys is out there. Jeter is going to be the man until he clearly is washed up and the last 3 years proved that even one and half bad years doesn’t mean he’s done.

  • Rich in NJ

    It’s probably going to be Nunez.

    • thenamestsam

      You know what? I may be the only one, but I believe in Nunez. The glove is an obvious concern, but I still think that if he can just get a little stability he can be okay over there. Playing shortstop every day will definitely help him, and he’s still pretty young…

      *Starts to cry*

      • Rich in NJ

        You’re not; I don’t disagree. If they are willing to stick with him and live with his errors while he (hopefully) gains confidence (even if the fans and the media diss him unmercifully), I think he will be fine.

        The OF is my primary concern.

        • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

          Nunez could be the complete opposite of Jeter in the field. Much better range and he’ll get to a lot more balls but he’ll make far far more errors too on the routine stuff that Jeter makes in his sleep.

          • Tom Swift

            And so he’ll be criticized for being a bad fielder, since his errors will be obvious. Poor range is less visible.

            • Darren

              But the criticsm will be deserved, no? I mean, obvious errors are AT LEAST as bad as hits that are a result of bad range, right? Please don’t tell me you disagree.

              • JAG

                Only if they’re to the same degree. I grant that Errors have a chance to produce more than one base while a rangy single probably won’t, but then we’re trying to quantify whether Nunez’s throwing problems or Jeter’s range problems are worse.

                • Mikhel

                  Qualify, we’re trying to qualify (because “how bad” or “how good” is something is a quality and not a quantity).

                  To quantify errors vs bad range is pretty prety easy, all you need to do is check how many times the ball was hitted towards Jeter (pulled by RHB, opposite by LHB and down the middle for both RHB and LHB), check how many balls he got to and the percentage of times those resulted in outs and errors.

                  Now, check the American League totals (you can’t, or well, you shouldn’t compare it with the National League because pitchers bat in 90% of their games).

                  From the American League totals substract the Yankees numbers, because we’ll compare how Jeter did compared with the league average, which shouldn’t include him.

                  Now, check those same stats but calculate the percentage for the Yankees third basemen.

                  Compare the NYY 3Baseman to the Ameriacn League’s totals without the Yanks numbers.

                  That will show you if our 3rd basemen were getting to relatively the same amount of balls compared to the average, were below or higher.

                  A higher percentage will affect Jeter, because a good fielding 3rd baseman like ARod when he is healthy, takes grounders and soft liners away from Jeter.

                  From what I’ve been checking the past 5 to 8 seasons prior to 2011 and 2012 was that Jeter was getting less balls hits towards his perimeter because Yankees pitchers were inducing more balls hit towards 2nd and 1st base than the average American League rotation (not including their numbers), so Jeter seemed to have less “range” which is sketchy because UZR and similar SABRMetric stats use quantities but it never takes into consideration the type of rotation the yanks have.

                  I already told the guy who “invented” UZR and few more things and was reluctant to accept his stat is highly flawed, instead he says his numbers already take into account that and that it is normalized, but it isn’t.

                  Now, calculating for those balls hits in the middle and a bit towards 1st base is harder because ‘in the middle’ considers a few degrees but you’ll need raw location data to discern and discriminate balls that were hit, say 20° towards 1st base.

                  But at least these easy calculations will give you an idea of how “bad” or “good” is Jeter taking into account the way his pitchers induce balls hitted.

            • Slugger27


        • gc

          Sadly, the reaction from fans and the media cannot be so easily dismissed in this town. If the errors pile up, and he winds up costing them some games in the standings, it’s bound to get ugly for him and the team. Who knows how much that could have an impact on his confidence? I’d like to think he’ll be fine, but it could get out of hand in a hurry with the fans and media surrounding him.

          • Rich in NJ

            That could be true, but if this team is serious about what would effectively be a $178m or so payroll for 2014 and perhaps a season beyond, they are going to have to show patience with young players, whether it’s Nunez, and/or Austin, and/or Wiliams and/or Sanchez. If not, it’s the Ibanez types who, for all his heroics, played poorly defensively and was near DFA-able for a portion of the season, especially based on his road stats.

            So, speaking only for myself perhaps, it’s time to risk taking a step back in order to take two (or more) steps forward in the future.

            • gc

              I don’t disagree. But you know how easily these things can get out of hand when the fans and media start rolling. Just sayin’s all…

  • jg233

    I would resign Chavez and let Arod play 50+ games at SS if he can stay healthy. Arod needs to do whatever he can when he is making that much dough even though he is no where near worth it at this point.

    • gc

      In what universe would splitting time playing shortstop AND third base be better for A-Rod to stay healthy for more of the season??

      • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

        With his bad hip and the fact that he’s a lot thicker than he used to be when he played SS most recently 9 years ago, you’d have to think he’d have about as much range as Sylvester Stallone has as an actor.

  • Kosmo

    1) Nunez

    2) trade (Lowrie ?)

    3) Drew or Keppinger ?

    • Mikhel

      Lowrie is not very good, sure he can field a bit but can’t even hit in the Astros’ Homerun Field (0.262 AVG / 0.343 OBP all year long, 0.227 / 0.273 OBP in the road).

      Núñez is a good bet, though I’d love to watch the Yanks give an opportunity to Adams, the guy can hit, has a high OBP, gap power, makes contact and can field, it is a matter of “can he play SS?”, to which I think he can, if not, then at least play him 3rd base.

      Drew/Keppinger? WOW you’re obsessed with low OBP players who can barely hit in hitter friendly parks, good defenders, very very good (specially Jeff) but their low OBP in neutral and pitcher parks, say: stay away, because it is not a guarantee they will hit and get on base in NY.

  • The Real Eddard

    So we’re finally coming to my side on Nuney. We saw what he can do in the postseason. He brings speed, contact hitter and he’s even got a little pop in the bat. His D will get better with experience. There are balls Nuney can get to that Jeter can’t even if he’s fully healthy. If Jete has to sit for a week or two we’ll be just fine with Nuney.

    • Get Phelps Up

      2/6 and Nunez is now a postseason hero?

    • Slugger27

      is your side: If Jete has to sit for a week or two we’ll be just fine with Nuney. ?

      cuz i believe everyone already was on that side.

    • Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle AKA True Yankee(TM)

      “If Jete has to sit for a week or two we’ll be just fine with Nuney.”

      That is true, but if he had to play everyday for say, 2-3 months I think his numbers would resemble Eric Almonte’s more then this idea you have about Nunez.

    • Robinson Tilapia


      • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

        Are you finally coming around on the Knicks?

        Only 76 games left-look out 95 Bulls!

  • RetroRob

    My concern is not that his ankle won’t be ready, but that he won’t be able to do his normal conditioning in the offseason, which could impact his in-season performance. Jeter keeps himself in top shape, and I don’t see how he’s going to be able to do that leading into 2013.

    Yet it is what it is. I can live with Nunez for a month. He seems to play better knowing he’s playing reguarly and at SS, at least judging by his three-week run in 2011.

  • I am not the droids you’re looking for…

    OT Melky to Jays 2/$16mm wow that’s a huge freaking gamble IMO.

    • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

      I disagree.

      All he has to do is be worth around 2 WAR per year and he’ll earn his money and that’s just about a league average player.

      • Need Pitching & Hitting

        He’ll likely be worth it, but 2 WAR is a level he didn’t reach (at least in terms of fWAR) until 2011, when he presumably was using PED’s. Some of that performance was likely a result of better conditioning and normal development of a player, but he had plenty of sub- 2 WAR seasons before that. I think he’ll probably be at least a 2 win player, but it’s far from a lock.

        • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

          He’s been an 8.8 WAR player over the last 268 games so he’d really have to drop off dramatically and I really can’t recall any of the players busted for PEDs falling off a cliff when they returned.

          Unless he reverts to the player that he was with the Braves, the Jays risk in this deal is low and the ceiling is high enough to make it more than worthwhile IMO.

          • Need Pitching & Hitting

            I definitely think it’s worthwhile. I think the most likely scenario is he plays at a level somewhere between 2009 Yankees Melky and 2011 Royals Melky, making it a very good deal for the Jays. The reason I’d have more concern about a Melky off PED’s drop off would because he suddenly got substantially better in 2011, an indication that pre-2011 might be more reflective of what to expect from an all-natural Melky (presuming he will now be off PED’s, which I suppose could be a naive thought).

            • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

              If you were Yankees GM, would you rather have Melky at 2/$16 million or Ichiro for 1/$8 million?

              • Need Pitching & Hitting

                I’d take the chance with Melky.

                • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

                  Me too.

                  If Melky had hit a bunch of homers these last 2 years, I’d be far more concerned that he’d drop off dramatically after being caught for PEDs.

              • Bertin Lefkovic

                Ichiro for 1/$8MM

      • thenamestsam

        Yeah, don’t see how you can conclude that it’s a gamble at all. He was easily, easily worth $16M in each of the last 2 years taken individually even with the suspension. Unless he was 100% a steroid mirage you’re going to come out at worst close to even. Anything on top of that is found money.

    • Slugger27

      really? i thought he settled.

      $8M is nothing this day and age. teams are rich across the board. and a 2 year commitment is hardly anything. considering 30 teams are available to bid on him, i expected a lot more than $16M guaranteed.

  • Bertin Lefkovic

    Am I the only person who thinks that the Yankees should have tried to make the same deal with the Marlins that the Blue Jays made? Nova, Hughes, Nunez, Cervelli, Mason Williams, and other prospects should have been able to bring back Johnson, Buehrle, Reyes, Buck, and Bonifacio. Once Jeter was ready to come back, he could have become the Yankees 3B if the Yankees were able to trade A-Rod to the Dodgers for Carl Crawford.

    • DC


      • Darren


    • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula

      Yes. You’re delusional if you think the Dodgers are gonna trade Crawford for ARod not to mention the fact that the Yankees could never had made that deal with the Marlins and stay under the luxury tax threshold.

      • Bertin Lefkovic

        Why? The money between Crawford and A-Rod is basically the same and they both have tons of question marks. The Dodgers need a 3B more than a LF and they would probably prefer to bring back Shane Victorino to play LF anyway.

        I don’t think that this deal would have impacted the Yankees 2014 payroll dramatically as I do not expect that Kuroda and Pettitte would still be on the team by then. Crawford’s contract would replace A-Rod’s and Reyes’ contract would replace Granderson’s, since Gardner could move to CF in 2014.

        If money was truly an issue come 2014, the Yankees would probably be able to trade Buehrle and replace him with a cheaper alternative, but I think that one way or another, they would be able to make the money work.

        • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula

          There’s a much better chance that Crawford earns the rest of his contract compared to Arod since he’s much much younger.

          • Bertin Lefkovic

            If you compare their ages, that is true, but if you compare their performances over the last few years, then I think that the scales are balanced somewhat. It is possible that the Yankees would have to include someone like Brett Gardner or take someone like Josh Beckett to sweeten the deal. If so, I would do that to get a deal like this done.

    • JAG

      Why would they have wanted to, though? Buerhle is easily worse than Hughes and probably Nova as well, Buck is close to worthless, Bonifacio fills a hole that the Yankees don’t have. Reyes and Johnson are the only appealing pieces, and Reyes is only appealing if Jeter isn’t 100%. I mean, I guess I can see the two of them splitting time at SS, but that doesn’t seem like it would go well for anyone, especially not since Jeter has another year in the form of a player option that is a mere formality. If Jeter didn’t move off SS for in-his-prime A-Rod, do you really think he’d be giving up SS to Reyes while he still has 2 legs?

      • Bertin Lefkovic

        I think that Buehrle, especially in Yankee Stadium, would be better than both Hughes and Nova. Buck would be better than Martin offensively and worse defensively, but net-net, he would be a good enough bridge to Romine or Sanchez. A super-utility player like Bonifacio is always valuable. The time has come for Jeter to move to 3B and I think that if Cashman and Girardi approached him and told him that they had the opportunity to acquire Reyes, but wanted to get his blessing for a move to 3B, he is enough of a team player to give it, especially considering how important it would be for the Yankees to have someone to replace A-Rod if the Yankees were able to trade him.

    • Steve (different one)

      The Red Sox were so paranoid they literally wrote it into Crawfords contract that if he were traded, that tem could not trade him to the Yankees

      So that’s the first reason why is plan would never work….

      • Bertin Lefkovic

        That is the first that I have ever read about that. Obviously, if that is true, then this deal could not happen.

        Where have you read this?

    • Herby

      nope, no way, no thanks…don’t really see any team taking on A-Rod’s contract, and I don’t really think he’s washed up. I also don’t think the trade the Jays made was as great as it’s being made out to be, don’t need more bloated contracts and injured players…let the ones we have now play themselves out before they start taking on new ones. I do think they made a mistake in not taking a chance on Melky for the deal he went for…

  • And in merrie olde England

    Oddly I think that having to rehab might help Jeter. He’s shown he can do it with a point to prove, if his ankle heals nicely who knows.

    That said he could be as lame as my dog called Tripod…

  • tommy cassella

    my dog tootie can probably play shortstop better than nunez.