Mar
21

Jeter’s setback could be final straw for Yankees

By
(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Spring Training has not gone well for the Yankees on the health side of things, and things have only gotten worse these last two days with the news of Derek Jeter‘s setback. Of course the team hesitates to call these things setbacks, but the Cap’n had to be shut down from baseball activity to receive medical treatment (including a cortisone short) as part of his rehab from ankle surgery. It’s a setback. Brian Cashman acknowledged yesterday Jeter might have to start the season on the DL because he simply may run out of time to prepare for Opening Day.

Along with Mark Teixeira (wrist) and Curtis Granderson (forearm), the Yankees have now lost three of their four (five, at worst) most important offensive players before the season even begins. Sure, Jeter may heal up in time for Opening Day, but they would be foolish to consider this a one-time blip on the radar. He may seem immortal, but the Cap’n is going to be 39 years old this summer and he won’t heal as well as he did earlier in his career. There’s a very good chance he will have to deal with similar nagging soreness and stiffness and inflammation all year long.

The Yankees should plan for this. They sought out Spring Training upgrades in the outfield by signing Ben Francisco and Brennan Boesch, but plugging a shortstop hole is much more difficult. Cashman acknowledged that Eduardo Nunez will take over as the everyday shortstop in Jeter’s stead and … I mean fine, whatever. They obviously love him and if they’re ever going to give him a chance to play shortstop everyday, might as well do it now to see what happen. That said, they can’t hedge their bets with Jayson Nix and Gil Velazquez. They’ll need to dig up a better backup plan.

(Chris Trotman/Getty)

(Chris Trotman/Getty)

Veteran John McDonald would have been nice — mentioned him in this post last week — but he was traded by the Diamondbacks to the Pirates yesterday. Ronny Cedeno was released by the Cardinals earlier this week and he’s someone the Yankees should look into bringing in for depth. The 30-year-old put up a surprising 107 wRC+ in 186 plate appearances for the Mets last year, but otherwise he has no track record of hitting at the big league level (68 wRC+ in nearly 2,500 plate appearances). Cedeno can legitimately play shortstop though, and he’d instantly become the team’s best defender at the position in the upper levels. In a way he’s a better depth option than McDonald because he can go to Triple-A (on a minor league deal). Stashing a guy like him in the minors will be important in case Nunez’s throwing issues continue (as they probably will).

The bigger issue is Jeter’s lost offense. I’m not sure he will repeat his .316/.362/.429 (117 wRC+) effort from a year ago — heck, there’s a chance he will reverted to his .270/.340/.370 (93 wRC+) form from 2010 — but that’s what the Yankees will have to try to replace. They’ve already lost Teixeira and Granderson (and Alex Rodriguez!) on top of the Nick Swisher and Russell Martin free agent defections, so taking Jeter away means they’re down to one right-handed hitter (Kevin Youkilis) who poses a real threat to the opposition. Maybe Francisco or Juan Rivera will have a surprisingly productive year, but I’m not going to hold my breath.

There’s a chance, maybe even a good one, that Jeter will be ready and healthy enough to join the team on Opening Day. That would be outstanding. The Yankees should still consider this latest bout of inflammation a warning shot though, a harsh little reminder that the 38-year-old coming off major ankle surgery might not remain in one piece all year. Nunez is an okay backup plan, but his defensive issues mean they’ll need a backup plan for the backup plan. Cedeno is just one player who is available. The fact that Jeter’s and Teixeira’s injuries may linger should have the team looking intently for replacements before the season even begins.

101 Comments»

  1. Darren says:

    Final straw…that does what?
    If Jeter isn’t ready for the first week, so what? Isn’t that a very small sample? So what if they go 1-5?
    It’s more of the ridiculous Yankee-fan mentality. DER, WE NEED AN ALL STAR STASHED IN AAA IN CASE ONE OF OUR ML ALLSTARS GETS HURT.

    Also, Jeter will be playing Opening Day. Just watch. It’s not even up for debate. Cashman thinks it his, because he has no guts. Jeter’s toughness is WAY underrated.

    • SEHumphrey says:

      Nothing better than a player choosing to force himself into the lineup to prove how tough he is … I mean, there has never been a situation of a player playing before he was really healed, thus dragging the team down with his poor play.

      But Jeter has “guts” and is “tough”. That makes up for the fact that his ankle is screwed up and he won’t have the correct balance to actually hit the ball solidly.

    • jjyank says:

      You had a decent point, albeit a bit forcibly stated, until the end there. You lost me at “Cashman thinks it his, because he has no guts.”

      Yes, because being cautious about playing a 39 year old coming off of ankle surgery means that he has no guts. Makes perfect sense.

      • Darren says:

        I don’t mind Cashman being cautious with Jeter; that’s not where he’s gutless.

        He’s gutless when it comes to doing things that could benefit the team, even if it makes him look bad (not giving Bernie more than an invite, which bit us in the end…. not begging Posada to come back)

    • David McCann says:

      I could not agree more. If we want to doom the Yankees long term go ahead and panic.

      I choose to wait. Let’s see what Eduardo does in a forty game try out. Let’s see whether Pettite and Kuroda have another year of magic in their arms . Let’s wait and finout if Hughes, Nova and Phelps have a Ny future.

      If all goes bad let’ s see whether a team comes to us for Granderson or Cano. NY killer Michael Jordan use to say that he played better when he let the game come to him rather than when he tried to force the issue

      • Barry's Gift Basket says:

        “Let’s see what Eduardo does in a forty game try out”

        Him breaking somebody’s eyesocket with a throw flyin’ into the stands sounds probable to me.

    • Barry's Gift Basket says:

      “DER, WE NEED AN ALL STAR STASHED IN AAA IN CASE ONE OF OUR ML ALLSTARS GETS HURT.”

      That sounds good to me, bring them on, plus this is not an “in case” situation… It´s happening.

      I DO prefer Joey Votto over Juan Rivera, I DO prefer Giancarlo Stanton over Melky Mesa or Musty, I DO prefer J. Upton over Ichiro. Sorry for that.

  2. Cris Pengiucci says:

    Saw the Ronny Cedeno article a couple of days ago and thought he might be an upgrade over Nix. While he hasn’t been strong offensively in his career, he does provide defensive flexibility and, as stated, is good insurance in case Nunez has defensive issues.

    Definitely agree the Yankees should be looking at options and I was really hoping you’d say that Hal has decided to open the check book and was looking to make a significant upgrade. Oh well, Cedeno would be a nice addition if they can get him. Depth is a good thing.

    • jjyank says:

      Yeah, that was my first thought as well when I saw the title of the post. Ah well.

      • Cris Pengiucci says:

        The good thing is that if Jeter does start the season on the DL, based on what we know today, it should be a short stint. I’m hopefull he’ll still have a strong offensive season.

        I do believe that the team should start considering what their long term options/solutions are for this situation. I expect that, even when fully healed, Jeter’s range will be deminished.

        #statingtheobvious

  3. Justin R says:

    I believe the Yanks can probably tread water / remain in the race for the first 2-3 months until their major guys return. What concerns me is that certainly age and nature of these injuries (wrist, forearm, hip, etc.) will mean their marquee players will return and really struggle, especially in the power department – and we won’t have the offense to make a run in the second half.

    I look forward to the watching the Yankees face this challenge – and while I think Cashman should’ve done a few things to solidify the team (mostly retaining Swish & Martin), there really wasn’t any other moves he could’ve made based on our current roster construction.

  4. Sam says:

    Man this could fast become a team of inadequate minor leaguers and everybody else’s rejects. The injuries are disappointing first for their effect on the team, but also because the FO will use them as an excuse for their poor offseason performance. Can’t get too upset though, Robbie Cano can do all.

  5. JLC 776 says:

    And THIS is why I’ve felt justified throwing down 4′s on the confidence poll for the last two months! But I honestly think if it’s going to rain, we might as well let it pour. Let it be one really bad season and go from there.

    • jjyank says:

      I don’t understand wishing for a really bad season. I hope they do the best they can and see what happens. The season hasn’t even started yet.

      • LK says:

        There’s only one way this sentiment makes sense. If you think the Yankees are going to miss the playoffs for sure (I think it’s likely but far from a certainty), then a true disaster season may force Hal to reinvest more money into the team than a season where they miss the playoffs by a game or 2. I don’t really agree with that position, but it’s not completely indefensible.

        • jjyank says:

          If I knew with 100% certainty that the Yankees would miss the playoffs by a large enough margin to not give the fans a competitive race to watch, sure I could see signing up for a complete disaster (as opposed to a middling one). Like you said, it might convince ownership to scrap the budget, and the team would also get a better draft pick.

          That said, nobody knows anything with 100% certainty, so I don’t see how anyone can wish for a bad season before the games are even played.

          • LK says:

            Yeah, I don’t agree with the position myself. I think Vegas has the Yanks’ over/under at 86.5, so you wouldn’t have to be *too* much more bearish on them than that before the playoffs start looking like a longshot. I’d take a longshot over a disaster any day though.

        • Jersey Joe says:

          Actually, I agree with you. I mean a successful team is great, but the FO needs a wake-up call.

          • jjyank says:

            So you would prefer a disaster season in the hopes that the FO gets a wake up call over a successful season? Am I interpreting you correctly?

            • Jersey Joe says:

              I definitely prefer a successful season, but a horrible season will make the FO make some changes in how they do things.

              • dhurandar says:

                What exactly does “differently” really mean? Does it mean spend more money? Do you see all these FAs really going for the money that the Yankees used to throw around earlier?

                Would a plan in which the Yankees work on long term farm development and trade away some of the superstars for more AAA talent satisfy you or the millions of fans out there who want instant gratification?

        • TomH says:

          If you think the Yankees are going to miss the playoffs for sure (I think it’s likely but far from a certainty), then a true disaster season may force Hal to reinvest more money into the team than a season where they miss the playoffs by a game or 2.

          My reading of Hal’s comments, in yesterday’s NY Times makes me doubt that anything will cause him to change his mind about the austerity plan.

      • JLC 776 says:

        Don’t get me wrong, I’m not wishing for a bad season by any stretch of the imagination. Not only did this team make it to the ALCS last year, they were absolutely fearsome for the first half of the season!

        So it’s more of a theoretic point – if this is the year that injuries and age cause the team to sputter, I kind of don’t mind if they fully fall off the cliff. I’d have an easier time rooting for a bad team with lots of youth as opposed to a bad team with veterans and rejects.

        If that makes any sense…

        • JLC 776 says:

          And by veterans, I’m referring more to the one-year stop-gap signings (not the core players). I don’t want to give the impression that I’m rooting against Mo, Jeter, et al.

        • jjyank says:

          Fair enough. I don’t think we’re going to have a bad team with lots of youth either way though. The prospects to look forward to aren’t ready yet. If the team sputters, it’s most likely going to sputter with the veterans. I still think this is a competitive team.

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          That’s how I read your original comment. No worries.

          I wouldn’t have a hard time rooting for a team struggling because great players are encountering baseball mortality and forcing lesser and younger players into their roles. I’ve been emotionally preparing for that for about ten years now. It was coming at some point or another.

          • JLC 776 says:

            It really is remarkable how this team has been ‘on the cusp of old-age’ for about ten years now. I’m right with you there!

            I’m prepping for the worst but hoping for the best.

            • LK says:

              They really haven’t been on the cusp, they’ve been an old team for 10 years now. They’ve managed to re-load on the fly over and over, which speaks both to the acumen of the front office and the massive financial advantage they’ve had.

  6. Yankee68 says:

    Lets embrace the new lower spending Yankees. Cano is going to require a mountain of money. The MVP of the World Classic is set for a Huge payday. Boras will make sure of it. Time to trade for cheaper, younger players while saving money. Time to let some of our prospects a chance to shine. Trade Granderson at mid season and let Mesa shine. Embrace small ball! Maybe the Yankees will reward their fans with a cheaper experience at the ballpark. Maybe I could afford to put my butt in those comfortable seats down front! A good marketing person could make the new Yankees on a budget work. Isn’t New York the advertising capital of the world.

    I bet the Fan Poll on Monday still is at 6! Lets get real people.

    • LK says:

      “Maybe the Yankees will reward their fans with a cheaper experience at the ballpark.”

      LOL

      • Yankee68 says:

        Yeah, one can hope. Remember when a Dad would treat you and your friends to a game. I make a decent wage and can not afford to do that now. Very sad commentary on all sports today. But I guess the whole world has changed.

        • jjyank says:

          The point is that the budget isn’t tied concession prices.

          • Dooley Womack says:

            It’s amazing how people remain blissfully ignorant about how capitalism really works. As if supply and demand actually determines price. There’s a reason every university has 2 separate economics departments: one named Economics, the other Business. The same people who extol the free market system are the ones who complain when monopolists rig the market to fix prices regardless of consumer “sadness”.

          • Yankee68 says:

            Look we all have budgets! As fans we have let the whole fan experience get out of hand. We all got excited over the latest free agent. Most fans were excited about the billion dollar ballpark. We all can list the prospects given up for “name” players. Winning at all costs. Pricing had to go up, right? Now the Yankees have revenue streams unheard of in the past. How much higher can concession and ticket prices go? Just like the Yankees have to control their spending so do we. MLB’s telling us we will get every game then blocking out fox games or ESPN games but not discounting their monthly fee is crazy. I live in Alabama now and lose 6 to 8 games a year. To block Yankee games on Internet radio is unfair. If I can listen to the Yankees on local radio and that same station blocks it when their station is simulcasted is nuts.

            I want the Yankees to make money. I want the Yankees to win year after year. I want the players to make good money. But I want little kids to be able to go to more games in person. I don’t want my cable bill to be over $100 dollars a month. I don’t blame all these issues on the Yankees. I do blame all these issues on us, the consumers who let it happen.

            • Jim Is Bored says:

              I pay $65 dollars a month on cable with MLB Extra innings and ESPN included.

              • Yankee68 says:

                Must be nice. I am not so lucky to get whatever discount you get. Maybe it’s your area, is the house next door available? I think we would be great friends.

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          Get a better job, then.

          I’ll still be at a 6 next week because my long-term outlook hasn’t changed, not because you’re yelling at me to change it.

          • jjyank says:

            I mean, it’s more expensive than I would prefer, but even my weak-ass budget can afford a seat in section 420ish with a beer and a hot dog.

            • Yankee68 says:

              Good for you. I have a family and I guess a very weak budget, sorry. My grandfather had a weak budget yet took his sons many times during the year. Oh well.

          • Yankee68 says:

            Sorry that I can not draw a picture for you so can understand. No poll can have the same result week after week. There are too many factors that change. I suggest you consult a 6th grade economics student for an explanation you could understand.

            After following your comments for a while I wouldn’t expect you to understand my points, but thanks for trying.

            I agree I should get a better job. Can I get one at the University with you?

  7. Eddard says:

    I think there’s this pipe dream out there that the Yankees are magically going to land an impact player before the season starts. It’s not going to happen, folks. You all wanted Chase Headley, he’s out for a month. The lineup will be just fine. The sky isn’t falling on March 21st.

  8. Tom Zig says:

    If Jeter misses opening day, what does the line up look like? I’m terrified to even think.

    • Jersey Joe says:

      (Vs. Lester)

      1. Gardner CF
      2. Nunez? SS
      3. Cano 2B
      4. Youkilis 3B
      5. Hafner DH
      6. Rivera 1B
      7. Boesch RF
      8. Cervelli C
      9. Ichiro LF

      :( :( :( :( :( :(

      • Count Zero says:

        I just threw up a little in my mouth…

        • Darren says:

          I just threw up in your mouth too!

          That’s pretty ugly. Would like to see a kid or two in there, Musty or Mesa.

      • AndrewYF says:

        (Vs. Sabathia)

        1. Ellsbury CF
        2. Pedroia 2B
        3. Drew SS
        4. Napoli DH
        5. Victorino OF
        6. Middlebrooks 3B
        7. Gomes OF
        8. Overbay 1B
        9. Saltalamacchia C

        You know, this actually made me feel a lot better.

        • Jersey Joe says:

          Hmmm, this is actually preferred IMO. Much more upside in this lineup.

          • DC says:

            There is only more “upside” in that line up as opposed to NY’s if you choose to think that way.

          • AndrewYF says:

            The reason there’s “upside” at all is because most, if not all of these players sucked, big time, last year. So really, “upside” here means “nowhere to go but up”. Although of course, each of these players could very possibly be even worse than they were last year.

  9. Paco Dooley says:

    Just keep thinking about how much this team is going to miss Swisher this year, and possibly Chavez. The rest of the guys that left won’t be missed in my opinion (I have no faith that Martin will be very good this year). Chavez was a lost cause since he wanted to head closer to home, but Swisher will be a problematic hole to fill. Would be a great option 1B at the moment…

    • Chris says:

      What about chone figgins…he was released again..his versatility might help us out..

    • Jersey Joe says:

      Given the injury bug that seems to be making its way around the clubhouse, I think it’s safe to assume that Chavez would’ve been injured already.

      But I am still fuming about the decision to let the more versatile Swisher go (switch hits, has experience in 3 positions), than to just turn down Grandy’s option, the far less versatile player (can’t hit righties, ML experience in only CF). I loved everything Swisher brought to the table, and right now with the injuries…

      AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

    • herby says:

      perhaps this year, but next and the year after? It wasn’t going to be just a one year deal. It’s not particularly a given that he’s going to age well either. Would’ve been nice to have him back, but over the long term it’s probably better that he’s not.

  10. trr says:

    This article is a tough, but honest assesment of where this team is at right now. It’s a far cry from what we were looking at on this date last year. This is not to say we can’t be competetive as currently comprised, but there is a very real downside to this team caused by age, injuries, and ruinous contracts. We must be ready to pull the trigger on any REASONABLE trade options that will improve us, both this year and beyond. I hope Derek is ready for opening day, and can put up a similar season to last year; but I am ready to embrace this team for 2013, always (ALWAYS!) with an eye to the future….

  11. Robinson Tilapia says:

    Answer to Mike’s original post: Yes.

  12. Broll The American says:

    Going nowhere in the next few years as long as the Yanks have aging, broken down, over paid veterans. ARod, Tex, and Jeter are now huge liabilities. Don’t over invest in maintaining this aging team. Trade what we can now (Cano, Granderson, Hughes, Joba) and get back something to build towards around 2016. Once we have a new core of young athletes, then open up the purse and fill in with a mega-signing.
    I’ll have no problem watching a rebuilding process… it would be more interesting then the revolving door of veterans they parade through here to prop up the perpetual motion machine.

    • Jersey Joe says:

      I think you’re overestimating the power of rebuilding. Very few teams have been able to completely tear down their team and be back in the race within 3 years. The Nationals are one exception to the rule, but rebuilding can go horribly wrong.

      • jjyank says:

        Absolutely. The problem I have with rebuilding is that too many people seem to think of it as a sure thing. Rebuilding is a huge gamble. Just ask the Cubs. They’ve been rebuilding forever.

        Also regarding your example, the Nats got to draft Strasburg and Harper. I doubt the Yankees will be bad enough in the foreseeable future to get a shot at guys like that.

      • Jim Is Bored says:

        And it’s not like the Nationals were a WS team 3-4 years ago either.

      • Broll the American says:

        Few teams have the financial resources to sign any free agent that’s available… or to absorb a contract that becomes unmanageable to another club.

        The way I see it, as ARod, Jeter, Tex (& eventually CC) wear down and age and their contracts remain high, the Yanks are allocating a hugely disproportionate amount of money towards unproductive players. The farm system is relatively bare, although I like the organizational premium on catchers. There’s not enough left over to invest into enough high-priced in-their-prime type free agents or resign players like Cano.

        Right now all they can do is keep bringing in journeymen and has-beens to patch the wholes. I’d rather stockpile some young depth, let them mature then purchase the parts that are needed with the available funds as these other contracts expire.

        • Jim Is Bored says:

          Relatively bare is waaaaay overstating it. We’re in the top half of the major leagues in farm systems, by every ranking.

          Relatively(to the rest of the league), we’re average at worst.

  13. Herby says:

    Doom and Gloom Axisa strikes again…could be the final straw…this really isn’t much more than what was probably expected…first rounds of heavy exercising coming back from an injury your going to have some setbacks, have to take some breaks, take a few days of rest. I’m sure the doctors advised him and the team of this. It’s just the media and then fans that take it and run screaming. To call it the possible final straw in the Yankee season is just over the top, and bad reporting.

  14. JRod says:

    I mean, the fact that a soon to be 39 y.o. shortstop probably won’t be out there all season is only news because it’s Jeter, right? Basically whatever else he does for this team is gravy. His brilliant rebound season last year was red-eye gravy. I just want to soak up and savor the final playing years of a great Yankee.

  15. Mike HC says:

    I’m now banking on a career, all time great year out of Cano. Over .1000 OPS!

  16. Vern Sneaker says:

    I don’t think it’s doom-and-gloom to suggest that the team try to pick up a defensive shortstop right now who would be an upgrade over Nix, given the reasonably predictable likelihood that Jeter might frequently be unavailable and that he and Nunez will be just adequate(or worse)at this critical position. No doubt it should have been done earlier, but Jeter has a way of fooling you into thinking he’ll always be okay.

    • herby says:

      I’ll stick with Nunez and see what he can do this year. I think you’ll get better out of him then past years. It is doom and gloom though when you say it could be the final straw, and suggest he’s not going to be playing for long term.

  17. TomH says:

    The aggravating thing is that with Tex and Granderson out, with ARod out (who knows for how long, if Selig gets in on the act), etc. and with this rag-tag collection of castoffs, intended to replace them, Cash insists on saying that he expects the team to be competitive against Toronto, Baltimore, and TB. They’re going to be competing with Boston for 5th (as in LAST) place.

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