May
06

The Derek Jeter Problem

By
(Al Bello/Getty)

(Al Bello/Getty)

The Yankees have lost four of their last five games and seem to find a new way to give away a game each night. Last night it was the usually excellent bullpen walking five (!) straight hitters with two outs, the last three to force in runs. It was pretty ugly and a new low in a week that has been full of new lows. It’s hard to look much worse than the Yankees have these last few days.

One constant through the recent five-game stretch has been the complete inability to capitalize on run-scoring chances. I don’t have the energy to go back and look at how many times they have had men in scoring position with less than two outs and failed to generate even one run. Last night they had the bases loaded with no outs in the eighth inning of a tie game and didn’t score at all. A strikeout and a double play sent them back to the dugout empty handed.

The double play ball came off the bat of Derek Jeter, who has always had a knack for the unfortunately timed twin-killing. Even when he was at his absolute peak, he was always banging into double plays at inopportune times. It was pretty much his only flaw offensively. Last night’s rally killer capped off a solid 2-for-4 night for the Cap’n, a night that raised his season batting line to an unsightly .250/.318/.290 (71 wRC+). I swear, it felt like just a few days ago that he had a .380+ OBP. Things change in a hurry this time of the year.

Now, obviously there is lot to consider with Jeter. He will soon turn 40 and the history of shortstops that age is basically nonexistent. Jeter is very much unique in that regard. He also missed just about all of last season with some major leg injuries, so timing and rust could be an issue. Maybe he’s worn down already. Jeter has not spent a single game at DH and has played shortstop almost every single day this year. It could just be an early season slump, which happens to everyone at some point. One good week and he’d be back up to 100 wRC+ before you know it.

The facts are the facts though. There are 186 hitters with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title right now and Jeter ranks 160th with that 71 wRC+. His .040 ISO ranks 185th, better than only Ben Revere (.036), who hasn’t hit a homerun since he was in Triple-A in 2011. Among players with at least 50 at-bats, he has seen the highest percentage of fastballs according to Baseball Savant. The Rays are arguably the most well-prepared team in the game, and this past weekend they threw Jeter 31 fastballs out of 38 total pitches. They know he can’t handle the heat anymore, so they exploited that weakness. Jeter went 0-for-11 in the series and killed two rallies in the 14-inning game on Friday.

(Al Bello/Getty)

(Al Bello/Getty)

Jeter doubled down the left field line last night and it was only his fourth extra-base hit of the season. All four are doubles — one legit blast off the wall, one legit blast to the warning track that hopped over the fence, and two ground balls down the line. He was almost thrown out at second on one. Here’s a GIF if you don’t believe me. Jeter has not been able to drive the ball with any authority, at least not consistently. He’s also been terrible on defense, but that’s nothing new at this point. The Cap’n has become an all-around liability.

So, where do the Yankees go from here? The easy answer is to drop Jeter in the lineup. Joe Girardi told Dan Barbarisi he has not yet considered it — “We address our lineup every day, but I haven’t yet. He’s not the only guy struggling,” he said — which is no surprise. Jeter never moved down in the lineup when he struggled through the 2010 season (93 wRC+) and it just feels like it is too early in the season for the team to consider that. Remember how long it took them to de-emphasize Jorge Posada in 2011? Posada actually hit worse than Jeter early that season and, as good as he was, he didn’t have nearly as much clout in the organization. Dropping Jeter to eighth or ninth does not seem imminent.

“There are other guys that are struggling in our lineup and we still put them fourth, fifth, third. We’re still doing that. I think it’s somewhat early to do that,” said Girardi while acknowledging “Derek is pretty easy to talk to. I’ve shared ideas with him before about things that I possibly might do and it’s never been a problem. Derek is about winning. Derek is probably going to tell you, ‘If you think that’s the best thing to do, then do it.’”

This whole mess would be easier if Jeter just volunteered to move lower in the order or into a reduced role like, say, Paul Konerko did over the winter, but I have a hard time seeing that regardless of Girardi’s comments. Jeter has too much pride and the Yankees have always catered to him — remember the raise they gave him this past winter? — and, in his mind, he’s still a world class player. Athletes are never good at admitting when their skills are no longer what they once were. At the same time, Girardi recently said he “wasn’t hired to put on a farewell tour,” and that winning comes first. Well, aren’t we at the point where batting Jeter so high in the lineup and playing him every single day is not giving the team the best possible chance to win? It sure feels that way.

Jeter is not the first aging former superstar to scuffle through a poor final season. I’ll never forget Cal Ripken Jr. dragging himself out onto the field to hit .239 with a 70 OPS+ his final season. He also spent most of that year batting seventh, not occupying a prime lineup spot like he had most of his career. Jeter is an all-time great player and maybe the best Yankee many of us will see in our lifetimes. That has earned him a lot of leeway — I thought he was done before 2012 and he sure proved me wrong — but the team needs to be honest with itself and trust what they’re seeing. He can’t catch up to a fastball, he isn’t hitting the ball with authority, and he isn’t making even the routine plays in the field anymore. The end of a star’s career is almost always messy, but the sooner the Yankees understand and accept they are a better team with Jeter playing a lesser role, the better off they’ll be.

Categories : Players
  • CountryClub

    “I swear, it felt like just a few days ago that he had a .380+ OBP.”

    Not a few days, but very recently. He’s in a slump; it happens. If he wasn’t 40 nobody would be talking about it. But he is, so we are. But I’m pretty confident it’s a slump and it will turn around.

    • Kenny

      Well, maybe. If it’s just a slump, then, at the level of extra-base hitting, it’s been a slump since the beginning of the season. At this point in his career, and his age (“If he wasn’t 40 nobody would be talking about it), the burden of proof falls not on those who are skeptical of Jeter’s present abilities but on those who are confident he’ll come bouncing back, like the Jeter of old, from a poor start.

    • emac2

      What part of AAA in 2011 leads you to believe he isn’t a 40 year old trying to do something that 40 year olds can’t do?

      He’s been done for a while.

      • The Other Matt

        He led all of baseball in hits, just two years ago.

      • jjyank

        If you’re going to mention 2011 as proof as anything, how can you just ignore 2012?

        • The Great Gonzo

          He’s not even sure what he’s trying to prove anymore.

      • JohnnyC

        Slow your roll, sparky, Mike was talking about Revere not hitting a homerun since 2011 in AAA. Revere. Ben Revere.

        • emac2

          Thanks.

          It sounded so right.

  • Kosmo

    I think Jeter fully grasps the situation. If he doesn´t show more say thru the month of May steps will be taken to move him down in the batting order.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Yeah, I agree. If this continues, I do think he bats lower in the lineup without much issue. He’s where he is in the lineup because he’s getting written into it. Do I have a problem with it going a bit too long? No, not really. This is what happens with players like him in the end. I’m glad Mike cited the Ripken example. This isn’t a “Yankees have no backbone” thing.

      The whole offense is in a shitty slump as well. Easy for some to write them off, but the same folks writing them off we’re singing their praises and talking about how “different from last year” they were about two weeks ago. Like Janet Jackson once said…..

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        Were, obviously. Why does the phone insist on some shitty autocorrects sometimes?

      • LK

        Well, Mike mentioned that Ripken batted 7th his last year, so it kind of is a “Yankees have no backbone” thing, at least relative to that example.

        • LK

          Also, should probably be mentioned Ripken batted 7th *and* played 3rd base.

          • JohnnyC

            Where would you have played ARod these past years? Catcher?

            • Jorge Steinbrenner

              He means this season, which is Jeter’s final season. That’s sort of fair game, although I don’t see anything beneficial in Jeter’s moving to third this season anyway.

            • LK

              I’m not trying to say DJ should’ve been playing 3B for years now. Just pointing out that Ripken pretty clearly was willing to do whatever the O’s wanted him to do. Jeter may very well be willing to do the same.

          • Jorge Steinbrenner

            And, I’ve said numerous times in this thread, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if Derek Jeter was batting 7th before this season ends.

            • LK

              I wouldn’t be shocked either. I don’t think any of us knows quite how that whole situation would play out. Right now I’m still hoping he turns out to be good enough where batting him higher isn’t a big problem.

              • Jorge Steinbrenner

                Yup.

  • Pasqua

    I know it’s not exactly apples-to-apples, but the Ripken example pretty much provides the much-needed precedent to move Jeter down in the lineup. That comparison should, in theory, soften the blow to Jeter’s ego, right?

  • Pee Wee Herman Ruth

    Yeah Jeetz!

  • ROBTEN

    “Derek is about winning. Derek is probably going to tell you, ‘If you think that’s the best thing to do, then do it’.”

    Just like when he moved to third to make way for the better shortstop in 2004.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      You were there for that conversation?

    • jjyank

      Not exactly fair. Jeter was the incumbent, the captain, and still in his prime. Besides, how do you know that Jeter refused? Maybe A-Rod volunteered or was simply asked first and said yes.

      • ROBTEN

        1. A-Rod was also in his prime and was the better fielder.

        2. The trade would only happen if A-Rod moved to third. Moving Jeter was, according to all accounts, not considered:

        “‘I’d like to take this time, for the organization, to put this all to rest right now,” Cashman said. ”This move would not have happened unless Alex Rodriguez moved to third base. Otherwise, we wouldn’t even consider it. There is no issue, there is no ‘who’s the starting quarterback?’ here.”

        http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02.....tstop.html

        http://sportsillustrated.cnn.c...../index.htm

        3. There’s some argument that moving Jeter to third would have been more of an overall downgrade defensively than having A-Rod at short, but this is a different argument and, frankly would be a stronger retort than “STEROIDS!!!!”

        I know that for many A-Rod is essentially Voldemort and, to be clear, I am NOT anti-Jeter. However, I do think that Jeter’s “leadership” and “team-first-ness” has been overstated.

    • JohnnyC

      The better shortstop was Nomaaahhh! And don’t you forget it. Better living through chemistry!!!!

    • JohnnyC

      The better shortstop was Nomaaahh. And don’t you forget it.

  • Darren

    Alternate titles for this post:

    “The Carlos Beltran Problem”

    “The Brian McCann Problem”

    “The Second Base Problem”

    “The CC Sabathia Problem”

    “The Hiroki Kuroda Problem”

    “The Brett Gardner Problem”

    “The Alfonso Soriano Problem”

    • JohnnyC

      Best comment of the thread.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        Yeah, I thought Darren nailed it here.

    • Preston

      We’re still in the hunt with all of these problems. We don’t need all of them to get better, just some of them.

      • trr

        I’d settle for any of ‘em right now….

  • http://www.twitter.com/_swarlesbarkley Mark Teixeira – Ghostbuster (formerly Drew) RIP Egon

    When was the last time that Jeter batted not in a top 3 lineup spot? Rookie season? Mid 90′s?

    • Matt Nokes

      I’d have to say his second season.

    • wallypip

      Jeter hasn’t started a game below #3 since 1997.

  • Yangeddard Solarte

    Derek Jeter is not the problem, he’s the solution. Remember a few years back when everyone buried him for having a bad start to the season? That turned out well. I think he’ll still hit. The one issue is with the glove, which is why they should sub for him late in ballgames with the lead. Ryan is back so they can do that late defensive sub now. It’s only been a month and us sabermetricians believe that is too small of a sample size to make judgements.

  • Farewell Mo

    No sense complaining about it, we’re just gonna have to endure it for another 5 months and hopefully enjoy his swan song as much as possible.

    What made Rivera’s farewell tour so awesome unlike pretty much every other one that I’ve seen was that he was relatively great until the very end.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Mariano’s a freak of nature but, yeah, it was fairy tale-like, wasn’t it?

      Legends fall worse than even Jeter is sometimes.

      • http://www.twitter.com/_swarlesbarkley Mark Teixeira – Ghostbuster (formerly Drew) RIP Egon

        Yeah finishing 3rd place in the division with the front office making zero moves to improve the team at the deadline is very much a fairy tale ending.

    • Yan Solo

      Mo was a freak of nature, but he also didn’t have to play everyday banged up and bruised. He didn’t have to be out there for 3+ hours day after day. He came back from (arguably, I admit) an easier leg injury (which he wasn’t rushed by self or team to return from; re-injured and put on the shelf for even longer). Mo was the perfect player for a fairwell tour because blown saves are acceptable and easily forgotten (otherwise he would’ve been run right out of town after 2001 WS Game 7; ok, he had a great track record that begged forgiveness from fans, but the point semi-stands) and you can honor him even if he doesn’t play (Houston, we have a problem). Jeter, aside from being one of the greatest Yankees of all-time has none of these going for him this season. Slumps are exaggerated and scrutinized when you play every day. He’s playing everyday regardless of how well the team was doing (Mo generally only came in when the team was winning; thus the only way he could be was if he, himself, failed; Jeter’s RISP opportunities heavily outweigh Rivera’s save opportunities, or at least I assume they do). The Yankees could’ve gone 30-132 and Mo would have still gotten saves and a great farewell because his farewell wasn’t really dependent on outcomes where it appears Jeter’s farewell tour (at least looking at this post and fans burying Jeter a month into his final season) is going to be largely deemed a success if and only if he’s the All-Star SS he was most of his career. That doesn’t seem fair to me, but it is what it is and the difference between one of the greatest everyday players to ever play the game (or at least in pinstripes) and the greatest relief pitcher to ever play the game. It’s an unfortunate double-standard, but one that realistically defines baseball when you look at the difference between how pitchers and everyday players are treated (not really arguing one being better than the other although my post on these specific two players would suggest otherwise) that is very much a part of the baseball fabric, tradition, and culture from the owners, to the players, the writers, and, of course, the fans. This might be a total pile of BS, but whatever. I think many of the points are legitimate to debate at the least.

      • Darren

        This is a fantastic comment! Super insightful and added a lot. And I’m not just saying that because it indirectly supports Jeter.

        Kudos to you.

        Or as Joe Beningo would say, “kadoos.”

        • Yan Solo

          Thanks. It just seems like Jeter is getting thrown under the bus. I’m not happy with his failures at the plate recently. But give the dude some slack. With that said, Joe “I’m not managing a farewell tour” Girardi isn’t fooling anyone. He needs to consider moving Jeter in the lineup if this trend continues. Funny how easy it was to bench ARod and move him down in the lineup in the playoffs, but when a player is struggling badly and costing his team in the regular season, well, that just seems to me to be the perfect time to move people around and shake things up. And if you don’t, well, Joe Girardi your “farewell tour” comments have no weight to them.

  • Coolerking101

    IMO there is little to be gained by discussing Jeter’s fall-off. There are no viable replacements in the organization who can hit. If the discussion is really about dropping him in the order, then we’re still getting way ahead of ourselves. The guy is the Prince of the NYY. The team wouldn’t dare drop him in the order unless he’s still hitting like this in mid/late July and the Yanks have their hand forced by the media.

    • Poconos Adam

      Someone Axisa made it through the article by focusing on where in the lineup Jeter is slotted and not mentioning a certain FA player who may or not have a four letter last name.

      I think that’s the alternative he wants.

      Watching Jeter slash lousy numbers in his farewell year is still better than watching Stephen Drew slash lousy numbers for the first year of his four year $65 million deal.

      • Need Pitching & Hitting

        Drew isn’t getting anywhere near that.

    • OldYanksFan

      Because we are used to Jeter’s great bat, we forget that SS has always been a defense first position.

      So far, Jeter has -0.1 War this year. My guess is Ryan could hit .200 and still post a positive War because of his glove.

      But I’m not giving up on Jeter yet. Considering his age, last year’s layoff and the cold weather, it’s not too surprising he isn’t hitting well. My main concern is that he can’t his a line drive, and doesn’t get the ball in the air much at all.

      Hopefully Ryan with play SS 25%-33% of the time, against RHP… to give Jetes a rest. I’m not sure Jeter’s bat (even with improvement) plays well enough to even DH against LHP, but I guess that somewhat depends on the alternative.

      The bottom line is we can only hope he’s good for 1.5 or so War this year.

  • emac2

    The team needs to decide if they want to focus on entertainment or winning and then act like they mean it and stop setting the lineup by salary. They can carry jeter lewer in the order and let him start every game but bring Ryan in after 5 innings.

    I think acknowledgement of the new drug situation in mlb via more days off is especially important. Ichiro is being used with lots of rest and doing great. Pick and choose matchups and everyone gets rested and plays better.

    Quit setting the lineup for the last 3 innings. That misses 2/3 of the game and creates a cascade of disadvantages in exchange For an inning or two advantage.

    You could trade the farm for an expensive vet or two but how about trying with every fiber of your being instead of marching down the field in formation looking pretty while a scrappy opponent takes advantage of all of the easy openings provided.

    • Darren

      I LOL’d. You’re worried about Jeter not hitting and you want to replace him with Ryan. You realize Ryan is one of the absolute worst hitters in the league, is coming off of a back injury, and is several years removed from his defensive peak?

      • emac2

        You consider shortstop to be an offensive position?

        Ryan is light years ahead of jeter defensively while now being a comparable hitter who doesn’t cry at the bottom of the order or after being pinch hit for.

        Jeter will also be better with lots of time off.

        Trying with all of your being doesn’t refer to low hanging fruit. It’s about scraping every single grain of advantage from every opportunity.

        • Darren

          When did Jeter say anything about being pinch hit for?

          • emac2

            How often does it happen and why?

            Do you really think the yanks would handicap the team for no reason?

            He’s been far below average for years and is treated like a superstar. I’m not sure how you and Jorge reconcile information but how many possible conclusions can you draw from the available info? The answer is not that he is an elite player. What are the other options you would consider?

            • The Great Gonzo

              It doesn’t happen because we have not had a better offensive SS in ever. Why would you pinch hit for a guy who is your best hitter in the position?

              • emac2

                Because you can pinch hit and then go with a defensive sub.

          • JohnnyC

            He’s talking about Ben Revere obviously.

            • emac2

              Bored?

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      “The team needs to decide if they want to focus on entertainment or winning”

      Clearly, last night’s game showed how focused on entertaining they are. From the looks of the comments on here, it seemed like people had such a good time watching it.

      • emac2

        That’s because a focus on entertainment leads to losing which isn’t entertaining.

        Which is why it’s a bad idea.

        You don’t think jeter starts every game in the 2 hole because management thinks that’s best for the teams chance of winning do you?

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          I’m not engaging in this never-ending argument about why Jeter bats where he does. Read the rest of my comments on this thread. That should tell you what I think.

          • emac2

            What does not engaging mean to you?

            • Jorge Steinbrenner

              It means I’m not getting into “no backbone/he’s selfish” tabloid nonsense. We are where we are.

              • emac2

                Doesn’t it mean you shouldn’t respond to my point?

                Giving me your point is what a child does when they don’t want to engage but haven’t developed any self control yet.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          …and you think that batting Jeter second brings higher entertainment value than batting him somewhere else. Why do you think that? Is your opinion that the average fan coming to the stadium will be more entertained if he’s batting second? I don’t follow that logic.

          • emac2

            I’ve never really experienced you ever following logic and it’s not really possible to break things into small enough pieces for you to understand so why bother?

            • JohnnyC

              I find emac1 more entertaining than emac2. Mike, can we make that change ASAP?

              • emac2

                You can feel free to ignore any comments you have the willpower to skip.

                Maybe if you get a job you’ll stop playing the fool.

                • JohnnyC

                  Playing the fool is your job. You can gladly have it.

            • Jorge Steinbrenner

              Fantastic. I actually ask you to clarify and this is what I get.

              Same old, same old.

              • emac2

                You actually said you didn’t want to engage. Don’t change your mind on my behalf.

    • Preston

      So there are two possibilities. Either the management has decided that Yankee fans come to see Derek Jeter, but don’t have the attention span to pay attention past the first inning, so he needs to bat at the top of the order, and they have sent marching orders down to Girardi ordering him to do thusly. Or Girardi is a human being who played with and now managed Jeter, who during that time has been one of the best players in the history of baseball. And now that he’s struggling for a WHOLE MONTH he is remaining loyal to him and has faith that he can turn it around. Occam’s Razor maybe?

      • emac2

        Struggling for a whole month?

        Are you kidding?

  • The Other Matt

    Another very good article, Mike. All the points you made are spot on and valid, and obviously the numbers only validate them even more.

    We all know that Derek Jeter has been struggling now for the past couple weeks or so. Hopefully, last night’s game is the beginning of him snapping out of his slump, but that remains to be seen. As it has been said, if it weren’t for his age then we wouldn’t be questioning whether he should drop in the lineup. But like my AAU coach once told my team, “if my aunt had balls she’d be my uncle”. He is a soon-to-be 40 year old shortstop, therefore, any stretch where he isn’t playing at a level where most feel is – how do I put this – decent, then the clamoring will come that he should move down in the lineup. But like I said to a few of the commenters during the game thread last night, we all know Girardi isn’t going to drop Jeter in the lineup.

    Now that Brendan Ryan is set to return tonight, I’m interested to see how Girardi will decide to utilize him. I’m sure that he will probably get a chance to play once a week, at least. But what I’m most curious to see is against left-handers (at least on occasion) , might Girardi decide to DH Jeter, play Ryan at SS, and give either Gardner or Ellsbury a day off, with the outfield being some combination of: Soriano, Ellsbury/Gardner, Beltran. Or even Ichiro could be thrown into that mix, since he has seen a few starts this season against left-handed starters.

    As Mike stated, I don’t think Jeter would volunteer to move down in the lineup. At least not in the next month or so. Probably not ever. Not having it being so much of an arrogant pride – though I know Mike didn’t label it as such – but Derek is validated for believing that he will snap out of any slump. Just look back to 2011 when he was struggling, only to turn it around during the second half of the year. I know that was the year he got his 3,000th hit, and he said he was pressing a bit. Blah Blah Blah. Not saying that it isn’t true, but he did turn that season into a respectable one, after looking like chopped liver to begin with. I still think he can hit somewhere around 280/340/340, which certainly isn’t amazing, but it is respectable.

  • Darren

    What a bunch of hypocrites. You talk about small sample sizes until you’re blue in the face except when it doesn’t suit your narrative. Jeter was hitting .298/.385 exactly two weeks ago.

    • Yangeddard Solarte

      I’ve been saying this for months, Darren. If it doesn’t suit their narrative then it’s too small a sample, if it does then it’s just fine to use them. As was the case with Yangervis Solarte. He only had about 80 ABs and people were saying well he’s fell off a cliff. They were using 20 ABs to prove that he fell off a cliff. It’s like they’ve never watched baseball over a long season before. There are peaks and valleys for ballplayers, pitchers and clubs.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      I think you’re confusing who’s talking about what where.

    • emac2

      Too funny!

      You think his one good week in 2 years is the bigger sample size?

      • dexcente

        The last season Jeter actually played in, he had the highest on base percentage and highest slugging percentage of any shortstop in the league. I don’t see where you’re getting the larger sample size where Jeter sucks.

        • emac2

          Because the fact that his last season was 2 years ago and that he is older than any other starting SS in history means more than the fact that he was good 2 years ago.

          Can you tell me the last time a 40 year old came back after missing a year?

    • Preston

      People are definitely over-reacting. That said narratives are strong. They don’t come from nowhere. The Derek Jeter narrative is he’s 40, missed all of last season, and hadn’t been as good as his career numbers the three prior years. Likewise the narrative with Yangervis Solarte is he’s been a below average hitter in the minors who wasn’t even given a shot, and then cut by the Rangers. Those are very strong narratives, in fact they’re more informative than any one month sample size. Doesn’t mean they can’t be wrong. I’m rooting for Solarte, and I’d still bet on Jeter.

    • Pasqua

      Citing the small sample size of Jeter’s numbers after a month of the season by citing his numbers after two weeks of the season doesn’t exactly bolster your argument, Darren.

      Secondly, you’re ignoring context in this case when you call people hypocrites. If Jeter wasn’t a 40 year old SS, the numbers would be chalked up to a slump. Is it possible that this is a slump, and Jeter will be reborn this season? Sure. Is it likely? Nope. Because he’s a 40 year old SS.

      • Darren

        But Pasqua, it’s not the small sample size of the first two weeks that bolster the case that Jeter can recover and start hitting better. It’s his entire career.

        The hypocritical part of the whole discussion is that SABRmetreicians place an extreme emphasis on stats but ignore a crucial fact that Jeter should not be judged based on the career trajectory of the thousands of other shortstops that have played MLB and how they fared as they got older. My problem for the last 5 years is that no matter what Jeter does to prove that he is an insane outlier, people refuse to accept it because it doesn’t match up with the expectations of what he should do as an older player.

  • ChrisS

    The good news is that even though the Yankees aren’t a great team, most of the other teams in the AL aren’t particularly good, either.

    That’s also the bad news because I have a feeling that playoff spots in the AL are going to be separated by like 3-8 games. The Yankees don’t want to be on the outside looking in because they waited too long to fix an issue*.

    *And not necessarily just the Derek Jeter issue.

  • mick taylor

    jeter is the least of yanks worries. if beltran, soriano, mccann and gardner were hitting like they should, people would not be so critical of jeter. jeter needs to rest more, and he will be okay. sabathia has been the disaster. he should go back to throwing more 4 seamers , maybe it will give him greater velocity. gardner has totally sucked. i think ellsbury is in his head. he is trying to hit like him to justify his contract, and he aint ellsbury. maybe they should go with this lineup , jeter, ellsbury, soriano , beltran, tex, mccann, gardner/ ichiro, johnson /solarte, roberts

  • Niko

    Let’s say Girardi opens up to the idea of shaking up the lineup and moves Jeter down. Who slots in? Right now the only hitters you can count on are Tex and Ellsbury. Honestly, as bad as Jeter looks right now, he is rough reflection of most of the team.

    • Kosmo

      I´d bat Beltran 2nd.
      Gardner
      Beltran
      Ellsbury
      Tex
      Soriano
      McCann
      Jeter
      Solarte
      Johnson

      Beltran has hit 2nd before.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        That was one idea that ran through my mind for sure. I also don’t have an issue with going Garnder/Ellsbury or the reverse.

      • Niko

        I agree, looks good. I’ll let Joe know.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      That doesn’t mean you don’t tweak. You don’t stop doing things based on what the past week and a half has looked like.

  • Matt Nokes

    There is a chance his timing is just off on the fastball.

    • maio crescente

      or he’s 40 and can’t catch.. I wonder which one is more likely

      • Kosmo

        Jeter is getting pounded with high fastballs. He has to prove he can still turn on a good fastball.

  • maio crescente

    If they are not going to drop him in the lineup, then bat him first and get his bat out of the way. That way you can have Ellsbury, Tex and Soriano all bunched up together.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Wouldn’t be opposed to this either.

      • pinedamaybegreata (formerly Monterowasdinero)

        Batting Jeter first is ok to stay out of the first inning double play. You can also bat him 3rd behind Ellsbury and Gardy (either order) and make sure those guys get the heck off 1B by attempting to steal… another way to keep “Derek GIDP” from hurting us and us from hurting his pride.

        I do think he will come out of his slump. He’s had some big slumps in his career.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          pinedalikathepinetara?

    • mick taylor

      best solution. because it does not embarass him, and we avoid his double plays somewhat.

  • Vern Sneaker

    We’re stuck. Solarte is no better than Jeter for SS, a bit more range but nothing special at all, and Ryan can’t hit. Dean Anna’s not an upgrade either, a better SS than Jeter but he also won’t hit much (and though maybe overall a better choice for the bench than Ryan it won’t happen because of Ryan’s contract). Of course, we could sign Drew and tell Jeter to go play third, like that’s going to happen lol.
    Hopefully Jeter will get his average back up to 275-280 most of the year though the way he’s getting beat by fastballs is almost painful to watch and makes it hard to believe he can get back there.

    • Kosmo

      I think keeping Jeter fresh and letting Ryan start a game a week and as a LIDR is the way to go.
      Yanks will need to trade for an IF bat sometime. Aaron Hill ?

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      I also think we’ve known this since the off-season. A rested Jeter probably is the best option in 2014 for this team.

      The infield is an issue. We all knew this. Why do so many act shocked when what they thought would be an issue actually plays itself out? Frustrating? Sure. I also think we knew what we were getting ourselves into as fans this season.

      • LK

        “Why do so many act shocked when what they thought would be an issue actually plays itself out?”

        Have you seen anyone acting shocked? Not trying to be a dick, I’m actually wondering. All I’ve seen are people acting pissed, but haven’t really noticed anyone acting surprised.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          My favorite is Lou’s “Why didn’t they get better players?!?! It’s not my problem that there weren’t any! They should have found them anyway!”

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          I don’t want to get into the semantics of “shocked” versus “pissed.” I’m totally fine with saying that I used the wrong word or engaged in a bit of my own hyperbole.

          I’m also blood sugary right now, so the thorns are slightly out. :)

          • LK

            Sure, didn’t mean to nitpick your word choice too much. Perhaps the most amazing thing about this IF is that they found a competent player literally out of nowhere in Solarte, and it’s still an issue. I shudder to think where they’d be without Yangervis.

            • Jorge Steinbrenner

              You’d probably see more Anna and Sizemore.

              They need more than a Solarte, though. We definitely can both agree on that.

  • Jaso

    I am fine with Derek Jeter being a singles hitter. Perhaps its because I am not the typical American(5 ft 11, 150 lbs) but I prefer hitting singles and keeping the order going. Someone like Ichiro and Gardner where they hit and make contact. Home runs are good but that would leave no one on base and no pressure on the pitcher. Hitting regular hits are fine, no need to be infatuated with power. I’d prefer 5 .300 hitters rather than 5 20 home run guys.

    • Lukaszek

      I’m 5 ft 10 150lbs, and I dont quite know what weight has to do in this equation lol. I much prefer doubles and triples.

      • The Great Gonzo

        I am 5′ 10″ 215lbs and I prefer Coke to Pepsi.

        • ROBTEN

          I’m 6’10” and once ate an entire cow. I also hate bunts.

  • jjyank

    It’s certainly possible that this is just Jeter’s victory lap. Still though, I’m giving him a longer leash before I write him off. He’s earned that much. I do think he’ll be better than what he’s shown so far.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      I am fairly confident that, if it’s July, the Yankees are within striking distance of first place, and Jeter is below the Mendoza line, that some tough conversations will be had.

      For now, I think many of us are having too much of a premature moral panic with Jeter. There’s plenty of season left to panic with him.

      • jjyank

        Agreed. The season is barely more than a month old. I don’t think anyone can say he’s truly toast just yet.

  • Preston

    There is a fascination with blaming Jeter. The guy had two hits, including a double, off of one of the best RHP in the league last night, and scored the only run. Yes, he hit into a rally killing double play. If Gardner had been able to do the same we’d have scored a run. Jeter isn’t an RBI guy, he hits the ball on the ground too much. But I think over the long haul he’ll be one of our better OBP guys and won’t hurt too much at the top of the order. I’d probably rather have Ellsbury and Gardner at the top, but right now Girardi likes to split up the lefties and wants Ellsbury in the 3 hole. And given what the other “middle of the order” guys like Beltran, McCann and Soriano have done so far. If those guys heat up, then we talk about moving Jeter down. But maybe Derek heats up and the lineup is better as is.

    • Ron

      Someone who is “not an RBI guy” should not be in the 2 hole. Granted lineup order is not that important, but every study I’ve ever seen suggests that 2 and 4 positions should be best hitters on the team, not someone who can occasionally squirt the ball through a diving infield

      • JohnnyC

        I’d love to read these studies you speak of.

  • Max Fischer

    Interesting article and comments.

    For some reason I do not view Jeter as that big of a “problem” in the grand scheme of things. I guess his impending retirement lessens my worry about him and the overall position. I’ve also learned to bide my time with a player like Jeter. I still remember the media and fans bemoaning his demise as a good ballplayer right before he got his 3,000 hit. Then he hit that homerun and batted like .330 or something the next season and a half. I’m going to hold out hope that he turns it around.

    No, the real problem for the team is the lack of production from players that will be under contract for the foreseeable future (Sabathia, McCann, Beltran, etc.) and the negative impact they will have on our ability to sign other, more productive players.

    But to stay true to my first point with Jeter, I have to give these players time to produce. My only worry is that age (Beltran) and decline of skills (Sabathia) will never allow them to regain their previous forms.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      “No, the real problem for the team is the lack of production from players that will be under contract for the foreseeable future (Sabathia, McCann, Beltran, etc.) and the negative impact they will have on our ability to sign other, more productive players.”

      I think it is pretty safe to assume that a week and a half of production from McCann and Beltran will not be reflective of how they perform through the length of their contract.

      The team will do what it needs to do to compete. They only spent $450 million this off-season to do just that. I don’t think anyone saw this as a finished product.

    • Preston

      I’m not worried about McCann. He’s a still a good defensive Catcher. He’s probably pressing too much right now at the plate. He’s making contact (only an 11.4% K rate) and he’s still hitting for some power (.142 ISO vs. career .195) what he isn’t doing is walking (3.6% vs. 9.4%) which leads me to believe he’s pressing a little bit. He needs to be more patient, work counts and get better pitches to hit. This is an approach problem, not an erosion of skill, he’ll come around. Beltran is different, and not because of the offense. He has looked terrible in RF and he has three years left on his deal. If he plays the field everyday any value he gives at the plate he’ll take back with the glove. If he becomes a primary DH then we have to hope he maintains as an elite hitter through age 39. It’s obviously not a contract that will kill the Yankees, but giving him a 3rd year looks really dumb right now. Sabthia is what it is. He had just come off of one of the best three year stretches of any Yankee starter since Guidry, and he was only 31. There wasn’t a reason to expect his decline this early. That said there are still some positive signs http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs.....it-or-not/ He’s not going to be an ace, but he could still be a solid innings eater.

      • Ron

        The only problem with McCann is that people are expecting him to be something he’s not – which is a cleanup hitter for the NYY. He’s an average hitter – on the very good offensive teams of days past, he would be hitting 7th or 8th with minimal expectation.

        • JohnnyC

          Again, sounds like a fascinating study. Would love a link.

          • Ron

            a link to Brian McCann’s stats? how did you find this page if you don’t know about the internet’s incredible power and vast array of knowledge?

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          He’d be hitting where Posada was hitting. Sorry.

          I wouldn’t call McCann merely average, and the assumption of many is the YS3 would be very friendly to him. This is where some of this is coming from.

  • hogsmog

    Is it cool to yell everything we think about Stephen Drew again? I miss that meme.

    • Preston

      no…

  • Ron

    This team is riddled with problems and does not have the star power to make up for it.

    Trying to pass off Brian McCann as a “star” is the perfect metaphor for this team – big names with average stats don’t produce more no matter how much they are paid.

    • JohnnyC

      So a catcher with a lifetime 117 OPS+ should engender minimal expectations? Gosh, these studies you speak of. Have you published them anywhere? You’re the second coming of Bill James.

      • Ron

        “lifetime OPS”? really? Manny Ramirez has a lifetime OPS of .996… think he could be the cleanup hitter?

        99 OPS+ over the last 2 full seasons

        • JohnnyC

          115 OPS+ in 2013, brainiac.

          • Ron

            which becomes 105 if you include his production from this year and exclude 2012, which is barely above average. If you assume an average team will have 4 above average hitters, 4 below average, 1 average, then he would fit on an AVERAGE team as the 4th or 5th best hitter. So on a good team, like.. for example the 2007 Yankees, the 7th best hitter

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          Manny Ramirez is in his mid-40′s. Come on, now.

          • Ron

            just said that to exaggerate the point… that considering McCann’s incredible age 22 and 24 seasons in evaluation is pointless

            • Jorge Steinbrenner

              I don’t think assuming that YS3 is going to suddenly lead to Granderson-like power is a good idea on anyone’s part. That’s going to lead to disappointment.

              I do think he’s going to wind up being better than what you’re claiming, though. If he’s a 7/8 hitter, that’s because he’s on one hell of a team.

              • Ron

                All I was really claiming is that he is not good enough to be a cleanup type hitter in a major market on a good team.
                Like you just said, and as I said before, on a VERY good hitting team, like some of the Yankee teams of 2000′s, he would hit 7th or 8th – he does not even have Posada’s numbers (granted, without the help of YS).
                Being a cleanup hitter does not mean that you are the 4th best hitter on a team, it means you’re at least top 2 or 3.. McCann, I see as an average hitter on a good team, that’s really all his numbers justify someone saying about him.

  • Jimmy

    From the bottom of my soul…fuck this article

    • Darren

      +2

      +3,000

      + 5

      hopefully, +6

  • Bill M.

    Jeter is the greatest Yankee to play the game since Munson. He can no longer hit or field, and if he wasn’t Jeter, he wouldnt even be playing the game….That said, he is Derek Jeter, and it is his last year. If he wanted to play every game by himself, he should be able to. After the last game of the year, he will retire as one of the greatest people to every play Major League Baseball. We just need to suck it up, and deal it. Let him go out his own way, and hope the pitching and the rest of the offense can pick it up.

    • WhittakerWalt

      That sounds like a great way to totally fuck the rest of the team, and all the fans.

    • dalelama

      He should have enough class to take himself out of the line-up ala Ripken. We shall see.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        “Taking yourself out of the lineup” means two very different things with those two very different players.

  • LK

    I think one conclusion we can make is that Jeter is going to be a pretty bad defender this year. He’s never really been good, he’s looked terrible so far, and he’s 40 coming off a bunch of leg injuries. Not much that can really be done about this, the ship on him moving positions has certainly sailed by now.

    The question is how he’s going to hit, and we don’t know that for sure yet. I think he’s definitely better than he’s shown so far, but it’s an open question as to if he’s good enough to justify playing every day. Which, in the end, is fine; better players than Jeter have been done at age 40.

    Then of course, there’s the matter of *if* Jeter isn’t good enough to play every day, and *if* the Yankees are good enough to be in contention, do they have the balls to bench him during his retirement tour? And I don’t think any of us knows the answer to that.

  • WhittakerWalt

    93 wRC? I’d kill for that level of production from the Cap.

  • dalelama

    “Jeter is an all-time great player and maybe the best Yankee many of us will see in our lifetimes.”

    Not me, I saw the Mick.

    • JohnnyC

      We’re talking about people with normal human lifespans.

      • dalelama

        Greatest all around player I ever saw with Clemente a close second. I will never forget the time Clemente gunned down Brooks Robinson, tagging up at third, from the warning track on the fly.

  • The Guns of Navarone

    I’m really looking forward to the other posts in this series – The CC Sabathia Problem, The Brian McCann Problem, The Carlos Beltran Problem, The Brian Roberts Problem, The Hiroki Kuroda Problem, The Yankees’ Defensive Problem, and of course, only if we’re willing to admit certain truths, The Joe Girardi Problem.

  • dalelama

    Don’t forget “The Farm System Sucks Problem” followed by the root of all problems, “The Cashman Sucks Problem”. When does Cashman’s contract expire? He has got to be toast after putting together the mess of the last 2 years.

    • JohnnyC

      Cashman is in the last year of his contract but I doubt seriously Hal would fire someone who’s practically a member of the family. Cashman’s career is the ultimate proof of the Peter Principle, promoted to his level of incompetence.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Ain’t happening. If he leaves, it’s either further up in the front office or because it’s a mutual parting.

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

      HEY EVERYONE!

      THIS IS WHY “CASHMAIN FAILED” WON’T DIE.

  • Bronx Boy

    Hopefully, you have to eat this thread, Mike.

  • W.B. Mason Williams

    This thread is an interesting intersection between some people who think Jeter is washed up and some people who think a lineup change is akin to panic.

    • Niko

      I don’t get the reticence to changing the lineup. Isn’t it strategic to switch up where people are hitting? Take advantage of hot streaks and what not? If anything, freezing someone into a lineup spot for the sake of pride is quite the opposite of strategy. Adaptation, right?

      • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

        “Take advantage of hot streaks and what not?”

        Hot streaks have been repeatedly shown to be unpredictable. A guy is only hot until he isn’t. You’re just as likely to move someone up in the lineup only to witness them go cold.

        It’s not about pride, it’s about small vs large samples. 1 game vs 162. Brendan Ryan could go 4/4, that doesn’t mean he should be hitting where Beltran does. Beltran could go 0/6, that doesn’t mean he needs to hit 9th.

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

      Or, you know, people who realize the lineup is worth at most .5-1 win during the course of a season, Jeter deserves more than a 2 week sample in late april-early may to show he’s completely done, patience is very rarely a bad thing in an 162 game season, so maybe we’re all just frustrated that the Yankees can’t hit and it’s been a bad week of baseball.

      It’s just not as interesting to read that.

      • Niko

        I know, an article titled “This shit is irritating already” and just filled with complaining just doesn’t really hook people like you’d think it would. That’s what the commentariat is for!

        But seriously, this shit is irritating already.

        • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

          “But seriously, this shit is irritating already.”

          You got that right.

      • W.B. Mason Williams

        Nowhere does it say that he can’t be moved right back.

        Everyone assumes being moved down in the lineup is akin to a slap in the face.

        Posada aside, players don’t always react like divas to a completely reasonable and as-short-as 1 day temporary move.

  • TWTR

    Jeter needs to be a leader and take the heat off Girardi by facing his own decline. If he turns it around with less playing time, he can resume being a full-time player.

    • Jarrod

      This!!

  • Zach

    My bigger fear is that down the line, we are going to look at the past week and realize how throwing away several winnable games hurt us.
    You can’t get knocked out in the fall without losing winnable games in the Spring first.

  • Dick M

    C’mon Derek. Cheat on a frickin fastball for once in your life. That lettin the ball travel stuff doesn’t work so well when you’re 40. For chrissakes.

  • RetroRob

    Too many conclusions drawn.

    I did find it interesting that Girardi used the word “yet” when asked about dropping Jeter in the lineup. He never would have used that word in the past, which means he’s thinking about it.

  • Greg c

    1. He needs to be rested now that Ryan is back. Plus defense and bad bat is better than terrible defense and bad bat, right?

    2. If they are throwing him all fastballs, can’t he adjust to that, since he knows they are coming? Or can he just physically not do it?

    • Pinedamaybegreata (formerly Monterowasdinero)

      You want Derek Jeter to choke up? Too complicated.

      Seriously though, even Mike Trout at his age chokes up with 2 strikes on him. I was impressed seeing that.

  • Tarheel Yank

    “He will soon turn 40 and the history of shortstops that age is basically nonexistent. Jeter is very much unique in that regard.”

    While there haven’t been many fulltime, Major League shortstops playing at age 40, Jeter is by no means unique. Hall of Famer Luke Appling was 42 in 1949 when he played 142 games at short for the White Sox. He hit .301, nine points below his lifetime average. In fact from age 40 until he retired at 43, Old Aches and Pains played in 470 games, 75% of them at short. He hit over .300 in all but one of those seasons.

  • Jarrod

    If Jeter was the “all about the team” “selfless” “ultimate professional” that people always claim he is then he would be retired. He is not helping the team (he is pretty much the worst hitter in baseball right now) or his own legacy by still playing but here he is because of what? Ego? Because he wants to prove everyone wrong?

    And don’t get me started on the farewell tour that he obviously wanted given the retirement announcement at the start of the season.

    I love Jeter and I think he is a no doubt 1st ballot HOFer but I am seeing more and more into the person that he really is, rather than the person we have always been led to believe he is.