Archive for Derek Jeter
By their own admission, the Yankees are heading into the season with some serious question marks on the infield. Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira are both coming back from what amount to lost seasons while Brian Roberts has been battling injuries for almost a half-decade now. Kelly Johnson is a solid player but nothing more, yet he is the surest thing on the infield at the moment.
It wasn’t all that long ago that the infield was the strongest part of the Yankees’ roster. Jeter has been anchoring the infield (and the entire team, really) since 1996 and he’s had some truly great teammates over the years, so strong infield units are nothing new to New York. In fact, only five teams have had a 4+ WAR player at the four infield positions throughout baseball history, and a recent Yankees squad is one of them. Here’s the list:
|1||2009||New York Yankees||AL||Robinson Cano / Derek Jeter / Alex Rodriguez / Mark Teixeira|
|2||1983||Milwaukee Brewers||AL||Cecil Cooper / Jim Gantner / Paul Molitor / Robin Yount|
|3||1977||Texas Rangers||AL||Bert Campaneris / Mike Hargrove / Toby Harrah / Bump Wills|
|4||1913||Philadelphia Athletics||AL||Home Run Baker / Jack Barry / Eddie Collins / Stuffy McInnis|
|5||1912||Philadelphia Athletics||AL||Home Run Baker / Jack Barry / Eddie Collins / Stuffy McInnis|
Fifty-nine teams have boasted three 4+ WAR players on a single infield (most recently the 2013 Rangers), but only five teams have managed four such players. That’s it. It’s happened once in the last 30 years and three times in the last century. The Yankees, of course, had that one infield full of 4+ WAR players just five years ago, during their 2009 World Championship season. Let’s look back at their performances.
1B Mark Teixeira – .292/.383/.565 (141 OPS+), 43 2B, 39 HR, 5.1 WAR
Teixeira’s first year in pinstripes was his best by a not small margin, as he led the league in both homers and runs driven in (122). He finished second to Joe Mauer in the AL MVP voting but, in reality, he wasn’t even the best player on the Yankees’ infield. We’ll get to that in a bit. Following his typically slow start to the year — he was sitting on a .191/.328/.418 batting line as late as May 12th — Teixeira was a monster all summer, hitting .315/.396/.597 with 32 homers in the team’s final 129 games of the season. He just straight mashed that year. What a beast.
2B Robinson Cano – .320/.352/.520 (121 OPS+), 48 2B, 25 HR, 4.5 WAR
Man, remember how awful Robbie was in 2008? He hit .271/.305/.410 (86 OPS+) and was worth 0.2 WAR during that miserable campaign, which landed him in plenty of trade rumors. I’m sure you haven’t forgotten about all the Cano for Matt Kemp talk. My favorite part of that was signing then-free agent Orlando Hudson to take over at second. That would have been a disaster given the player Cano developed into. That 2009 season was Robbie’s first step towards joining the game’s elite, but on a rate basis, he was the least productive player on his own infield. Bananas.
SS Derek Jeter – .334/.406/.465 (125 OPS+), 27 2B , 18 HR, 30 SB, 6.6 WAR
Remember when I said Teixeira was not even the best player on the infield? That’s because Jeter was. The Cap’n was a monster from the leadoff spot, hitting for average, getting on base, stealing bases (30-for-35!), and, believe it or not, playing solid defense. The various metrics all say Jeter was above-average with the glove that year (+3 DRS, +6.3 UZR, +4 Total Zone), and while you can’t trust one season’s worth of defensive stats, I definitely remember believing he was playing better defense that year based on what I saw. Know how I always say you need unexpected contributions if you want to win the World Series? Jeter’s defense was an unexpected contribution in 2009. His bat was pretty awesome as well. What a season that was.
3B Alex Rodriguez – .286/.402/.532 (138 OPS+), 17 2B, 30 HR, 14 SB, 4.2 WAR
When the 2009 campaign opened, Cody Ransom was the starting third baseman. A-Rod was scheduled to miss the first few weeks of the season due to hip surgery, a surgery that kept him out until early-May. He famously hit a three-run homer on the very first pitch he saw in his first game back, then proceeded to hit (almost) like vintage A-Rod for the remainder of the summer. He and Teixeira were the most devastating 3-4 combination in the game for this one year. Rodriguez also managed to extend his record streak of consecutive seasons with 30+ homers and 100+ RBI to twelve thanks to a two-homer, seven-run batted inning in the final game of the regular season.
* * *
Know what is really amazing about this infield? These four guys combined to play 594 of 648 possible games (91.7%) even though A-Rod missed the start of the year with the hip issue. They were awesome when they were on the field and they were on the field pretty much the entire season. The Yankees didn’t just have the best infield in baseball back in 2009, they legitimately had one of the best infield units in baseball history. It was the centerpiece of the championship team — everyone else was part of the supporting cast.
Pitchers and catchers reported to Tampa today, and a few hours later Joe Girardi showed up to camp. His flight from New York was delayed because of all the snow. My goodness there is so much snow. Anyway, here is a not at all complete recap of Girardi’s annual start-of-Spring Training press conference, culled together from the Twitter accounts of reporters in attendance.
On Derek Jeter
- Girardi had “no inkling” Jeter was planning to retire after the season until the announcement was made. “We are going to miss him,” he said. “You want a guy like that to play forever.”
- Jeter’s playing time both in the field and at DH against left-handers is going to be based on how he feels on a daily basis. They won’t put a firm plan in place at this point.
- As for batting Jeter second, Girardi said “we’ll have to see,” but indicated he would like to split up the left-handed hitters. I wonder if that means Brett Gardner will bat leadoff and Jacoby Ellsbury will bat third. Or maybe Ellsbury at leadoff with Brian McCann batting third. We’ll see.
On the new players
- “It is the biggest transition I’ve been through … I think its important I get to know these guys,” said the skipper.
- Girardi believes Masahiro Tanaka loves the spotlight and will handle the move to MLB well.
- Kelly Johnson is the backup first baseman for the time being. They have not discussed playing McCann at first.
On the fifth starter competition
- Girardi plans to tell David Phelps, Adam Warren, Michael Pineda, and everyone else to make sure they take it easy early in camp and gradually build themselves up. They don’t want anyone getting hurt by doing too much too soon.
- “Anything is possible,” said Girardi when asked if they would be willing to use Pineda out of the bullpen. “When we traded for him, we expected him to be in our rotation,” he added. “We envision him as a starter.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Derek Jeter announced the 2014 season will be his last with the Yankees. He is planning to retire after the coming season and that means fans only have a few short months to say goodbye. With some help from our friends at TiqIQ, here’s how Jeter’s announcement is affecting the prices of New York Yankees tickets:
- The current average ticket price for Jeter’s last game is $1,153.01, which is up 43.49% since 3:17pm EST ($803.54), up 176.08% since 2:46pm EST ($417.64), up 278.20% since 2:08pm EST ($304.87).
- The current get in price is $278 which is up 348.39% since 2:46pm EST ($62) and 969.23% since 2:08 PM ($26).
- In the same time period above the Yankees home average ticket price increased from $206.97 to $224.94.
- The Yankees’ 12-game pack with the home finale sold out shortly after the announcement. They also have a single game presale on 2/18.
- By about 2:55pm most tickets had been bought or pulled down by brokers and have since been relisted at higher prices.
Below is the price movement for the last game of the Yankees regular season in Boston, which might be his final game of his career:
- The current average ticket price is $509.90, which is up 104.25% since the time of announcement ($249.65).
- The current get in price is $265, which is up 159.80% since announcement ($102).
Below is some price data on Mariano Rivera‘s final home game last season:
- At its peak average price on 3/9/13 tickets for his final home game were $467.06 and fell to a final average of $237.89 on the day of game (-49.07%).
- At its peak get in price on 3/11/13 ticket for his final home game were $143 and fell to a final get in of $59 (-58.74%).
A historic era of Yankees baseball is coming to an end. Derek Jeter announced on Wednesday that he intends to retire following the 2014 season. Joel Sherman says the Yankees were not aware the announcement was coming, but Casey Close, Jeter’s agent, confirmed the news. Here is the important stuff from the announcement letter:
“Last year was a tough one for me. As I suffered through a bunch of injuries, I realized that some things that always came easily to me and were always fun had started to become a struggle. The one thing I always said to myself was that when baseball started to feel more like a job, it would become time to move forward.
“So really it was months ago that I realized that this season would likely be my last. As I came to this conclusion and shared it with my friends and family, they all told me to hold off saying anything until I was absolutely 100% sure.
“And the thing is, I could not be more sure. I know it in my heart. The 2014 season will be my last year playing professional baseball.”
Buried within the announcement, Jeter says he wants to start focusing on his personal life and begin a family of his own. That he managed to keep his personal life so private and his image squeaky clean over the years is truly impressive, especially in New York. Kinda weird to think about Jeter finally settling down and starting a family, isn’t it? Good for him.
“Derek called me this morning to tell me that he planned to retire following the season,” said Hal Steinbrenner in a statement. “In our conversation, I told him that I respected his decision because I know he put a lot of thought into it. I also let him know that I thought it was great that he was letting fans know now so they will have a chance to say goodbye to him.
“He is unquestionably one of the greatest Yankees ever. He has meant so much to fans, the organization, my father and our family. I’m glad we have this year to celebrate everything he has meant to us and all the great things he still stands to accomplish.”
Jeter, who will turn 40 in June, missed all but 17 games last year due to a series of leg injuries, including the fractured ankle he suffered during Game One of the 2012 ALCS. Continued setbacks hampered him all year. He is healthy now and preparing for the season on his normal offseason schedule, so he should be able to avoid a repeat of 2013.
The Yankees drafted Jeter with the sixth overall pick in the 1992 draft, and he will retire as both the unquestioned greatest shortstop in Yankees history and as one of the top four or five shortstops in baseball history. With all due respect to Mariano Rivera, Jeter will likely be the greatest Yankee many of us ever see. He is all over the various franchise leaderboards, from hits (first) to games played (first) to batting average (seventh) to bWAR (fifth) and all sorts of other stuff. He is the only man in team history with 3,000+ hits and he also has those five World Series rings as well.
As of right now, Jeter ranks tenth all-time with 3,316 hits. He is only 99 hits away from tying Honus Wagner’s record for most hits by a shortstop, and a good but not great season (117+ hits) would push him into sixth place all-time. Another 199+ hit campaign would move him into fifth all-time, behind only Pete Rose, Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron, and Stan Musial. That’s some company right there. The Cap’n will retire following the 2014 season and be inducted into the Hall of Fame five years later, no doubt about it.
I assume this coming season will feature another Rivera-esque retirement tour, with mini-celebrations on the road and a massive blowout at Yankee Stadium in September. The Yankees play their final home game on Thursday, September 25th against the Orioles. Their final regular season game is scheduled for Sunday, September 28th at Fenway Park. Needless to say, they need to send this man out with a World Series championship.
We’re only six days away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Tampa for the start of Spring Training. Here are some injury updates in the meantime, courtesy of Kevin Kernan, Andrew Marchand, Wally Matthews, Matt Ehalt, and the Associated Press.
- So far, so good for Derek Jeter (leg). He just completed his third week of baseball activities and everything is holding up well. “I feel good,” he said. “I’ve been working hard, and I’ve had a complete offseason to work out and strengthen everything … It’s been fun, but it’s been difficult because you’re starting over from scratch.”
- Mark Teixeira (wrist) has started taking batting practice against live pitching. He has gradually worked his way back from surgery, first by taking dry swings and then by hitting off a tee and soft toss. “There’s plenty of guys that come back from injuries come back way too fast and get reinjured,” he said. “That’s not in my plans this year.”
- Scott Sizemore (knee) feels good as he works his way back from his second torn left ACL in the last two years. “I’m feeling pretty good, getting back on the field feels great and I haven’t had any issues with the knee,” he said. “Obviously, two serious knee injuries, doubts crept into my mind if I was ever going to be able to play again. Nothing’s given.”
- Manny Banuelos (elbow) is completely rehabbed from Tommy John surgery and on a normal throwing program right now. “[The elbow] feels normal, just like before surgery. I feel ready to go,” he said.
Got five questions this week, basically half of the last few mailbags. Remember to use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send us anything and everything.
Jamie asks: Rather than the six-man rotation idea that always gets floated but never implemented, would the Yankees be best served limiting CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda‘s workloads to 6-7 IP per start max and giving them a middle relief caddy like David Phelps?
Yes, I think so. Sabathia and Kuroda have averaged 6.93 and 6.48 innings per start with the Yankees, respectively, which is rather high. The Yankees have talked about reducing the workload on both guys recently and the easiest way to do that might be to treat them as six inning starters rather than seven inning starters. Phelps and Adam Warren would be obvious caddy candidates since they could throw two or three innings at a time out of the bullpen as middle/setup relievers rather than true long men. Sorta like mini-1996 Mariano Riveras. They could be kept on a somewhat regular schedule to make life a little easier as well.
The caddy system sounds great in theory but it would be tough to pull off if the other five relievers are regular one-inning guys. The Yankees would also need another veteran starter so they could stash Phelps and Warren in the bullpen full-time, and it doesn’t seem like they’re eager to add one. I really like the idea of having middle relievers who are used for multiple innings at a time, but no one ever does it though. The 2009 version of Al Aceves is a rarity these days.
Bill asks: Why has there been so little speculation about moving Derek Jeter to third base? It seems like the perfect answer to the third base problem and gets Ryan to short stop where his defensive skills would shine.
The snarky answer is that Jeter is Jeter and he’ll play shortstop for the Yankees until he says he doesn’t want to do it anymore, but I do think there are legitimate reasons for not making the move right now. He is coming back from some rather serious leg injuries and just starting taking ground balls on the dirt this week, so he is not particularly close to being in game shape right now. Jeter has never played a position other than shortstop in 22 professional seasons and third base would be an entirely new experience because the ball gets on you so quick at the hot corner. There would be a learning curve, perhaps a steep one, and asking him to change positions as he works his way back from major leg injuries might be too much for a 39-year-old. If he was perfectly healthy and able to start working out at third early in the offseason, it would make sense. Asking Jeter to go through a crash course at a different position following those injuries probably isn’t realistic.
Pedro asks: What do you think about Oliver Perez?
Time for the Pitcher A vs. Pitcher B game. Everyone loves this, right? Good. Here we go:
|IP||ERA||FIP||K%||BB%||GB%||HR/FB||RHB wOBA||LHB wOBA|
You’re smart, you know one of those guys is Perez. He’s Pitcher A. But what about Pitcher B? He is Perez’s former Mariners teammate and current Yankees setup man Shawn Kelley. Perez and Kelley had almost identical seasons in 2013 — kinda freaky, no? — with the only differences being handedness and ballpark-effected homerun rates (which is why Kelley had a higher ERA and FIP). Could the Yankees use a left-handed version of Kelley? Sure. It wouldn’t hurt given the current state of the bullpen. I don’t know what an appropriate contract would be though. Scott Downs got a one-year deal worth $4M and I’m not sure I’d go any higher than that for Perez.
Mark asks: Do you have an overlay of the new Stadium on top of the old Stadium to see the subtle differences? Also, I know the minor league stadium in Tampa has the same dimensions as Yankee Stadium, but do the AA and AAA ballparks have them too? Wouldn’t it just make sense?
As you know, the biggest difference is in straight-away right field, where the new wall is as much as nine feet closer than the old one at some points. George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa has the same dimensions as the old Stadium, not the new one. It hasn’t been modified since the new park went up. The various minor league affiliate ballparks all have their own unique dimensions:
|Double-A||Arm & Hammer Park||330||?||407||?||330|
|High-A||George M. Steinbrenner Field||318||399||408||385||314|
|Low-A||Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park||305||356||398||366||337|
|Short Season||Richmond County Bank Ballpark||320||?||390||?||318|
I wrote about the four full season ballparks back in June 2011. They’re all slight pitcher’s parks overall except for GMS Field in Tampa, which is neutral compared to the rest of the Florida State League. All of those parks suppress homeruns though, extremely so in some cases. Arm & Hammer Park is right on the Delaware River and the wind makes it very tough to hit the ball out of the park to right field.
The Yankees don’t actually own any of the minor league parks — they operate GMS Field but it is owned by the Tampa Sports Authority — so modifying the dimensions to match the new Yankee Stadium isn’t a simple *snaps fingers* “okay let’s do this” thing. The Triple-A, Double-A, and Low-A ballparks were all built long before those franchises became affiliated with the Yankees. It would be neat if every minor league park matched the big league park’s dimensions, but it’s not realistic or even essential as far as I’m concerned.
David asks: Which Yankees have no-trade clauses in their deal? Am I right that it’s more than any other team? How big a problem do you think this obviously less than ideal practice is?
Here’s the full list of Yankees with some kind of no-trade clause:
- Five-and-Ten Rights: Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Sabathia, Mark Teixeira
- Full No-Trade Clauses In Contracts: Carlos Beltran, Kuroda, Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, Alfonso Soriano, Masahiro Tanaka
I haven’t seen anything about Kuroda having a no-trade clause in his current contract, but he had one in his last two deals and I assume he has one again. That’s ten 40-man roster players and nine who are expected to be on the Opening Day roster who can’t be traded without their permissions. That’s a lot. The Yankees are pretty liberal with no-trade clauses and I wonder how often that has given them an advantage in free agent talks when the offers are similar financially. Some other teams completely refuse to give out no-trade clauses.
Obviously no-trade clauses hinder flexibility and it would be awesome if no player had one, but the Yankees are in a different situation than most teams. They always try to contend and add big name players, not trade them away. How bad would things have to get for them to even consider dealing Ellsbury or Tanaka, for example? It’s not like some team is going to offer a cheap, young superstar for either of those guys, so the no-trade clause rarely comes into play anyway.
Last summer, Joe Girardi was forced to fill out his lineup card by putting the hottest hitters around Robinson Cano on a daily basis. That’s how guys like Thomas Neal, Ben Francisco, David Adams, Brennan Boesch, and Zoilo Almonte wound up starting games as high as fifth in the order. Alfonso Soriano settled things down late in the season, but for the most part the lineup was subject to change drastically each and every day.
This coming season figures to be different. Cano is gone, but the Yankees added two middle of the order bats to Soriano in Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann. I expect those three to hit 3-4-5 in whatever order most days, or maybe we should add Mark Teixeira and make it 3-4-5-6. That seems very likely. The team didn’t give Jaocby Ellsbury over $20M a year not to leadoff, so he’ll displace Brett Gardner atop the lineup. Girardi’s biggest lineup question this year might be who the number two hitter behind Ellsbury and ahead of that 3-4-5(-6) group will be.
Traditionally, the number two hitter is someone who can handle the bat and bunt all do all that nonsense. For the Yankees, a team built around power hitters who play in a tiny home ballpark in a division full of tiny ballparks, the number two hitter should function as a second leadoff guy trying to get on base for the middle of the order. Furthermore, given Ellsbury’s speed, the two-hole hitter should also be someone who is patient and gives him a chance to run. If you’re not going to do that, it defeats the point of paying a premium to add an elite base-stealer. Ellsbury has to steal to really have an impact.
The Yankees have two obvious number two hitter candidates in Gardner and Derek Jeter. Jeter has been batting second almost his entire career and I suspect that as long as he’s healthy, he’ll open the season behind Ellsbury in the lineup. That’s fine. Jeter was very good in his last full season and he’s earned the opportunity to show whether he can do that again despite his age and the lost 2013 season. The Cap’n isn’t especially patient (3.78 pitches per plate appearance from 2011-13) and is very double play prone (GIDP’d in 19% of opportunities from 2011-13), two traits that aren’t ideal for the second spot in the lineup. That’s never stopped him from hitting there before though.
Gardner, on the other hand, is very patient (4.21 P/PA from 2011-13) and he rarely grounds into double plays (7 GIDP% from 2011-13) thanks to his speed. He’s a much better fit for the two-hole in that sense, at least against right-handers. Jeter has destroyed lefties his entire career and if he continues to do that in 2014, he’ll deserve a prominent lineup spot against southpaws. A Gardner vs. righties/Jeter vs. lefties platoon in the second spot behind Ellsbury seems ideal if Jeter struggles against same-side hitters.
The question is how long should the Yankees give Derek to prove he can still be a productive hitter given his age and recent injuries? A month? Six weeks? Half a season? I don’t know the answer and it probably depends on how Jeter looks during games. If he’s completely overmatched and unable to lift the ball — sorta like how he looked during his limited time last year — the team will have to pull the plug on him as a number two hitter sooner rather than later. At least against righties. It won’t be a pleasant move to make but it may be necessary at some point rather soon.
There has been a ton of research showing the two-hole is the most important lineup spot and thus your best hitter should bat second, but that only applies over a full season, and even then the impact is relatively small. Optimizing your lineup in such a way that it makes a meaningful difference across 162 games isn’t all that practical. Guys get hurt, need days off, get hot and cold, etc. The lineup can make a big difference in an individual game though; I remember at least two instances in which Cano was left on deck while the final out of a close game was recorded last summer (one, two). The Yankees have many reasons to emphasize pure patience and on-base ability from the two-hole this year and if that means Gardner, not Jeter is the best man of the job, so be it. The race for a postseason spot will be too tight to stick with an unproductive hitter near the top of the lineup for so long.
Via the AP: Derek Jeter took live batting practice on the field and fielded ground balls at shortstop at the team’s minor league complex in Tampa today, both firsts as he works his way back from an injury-marred 2013 season. “Everything is good so far, knock on word,” he said. “This offseason is like a normal offseason. I’m four months ahead of where I was last year. Last year, quite honestly, I want to forget about it.”
Jeter, 39, started hitting off a tee and taking ground balls on the infield grass late last month. He didn’t start doing the stuff he did today until early-March last year, when he was recovering from his broken left ankle and subsequent surgery. I assume he will continue to ramp up his workouts in the coming weeks but the Yankees have every reason to be cautious and take it slow with their captain given his age and the nature of his injuries. There’s nothing exciting about a “normal offseason” but it’s very good news for Jeter.
As expected, Derek Jeter started baseball activities today in preparation for the upcoming season, reports the Associated Press. He hit off a tee and fielded over 100 grounders at the team’s minor league complex in Tampa. “It’s good to have a normal offseason and get some work in,” said the Cap’n. “Everything is normal now.”
Normally a player starting his offseason routine is not newsworthy, but Jeter is different this year. He will turn 40 this summer and he missed all but 17 games due to various leg injuries last year, including the fractured ankle he suffered during the 2012 ALCS and a subsequent setback. Jeter did not begin baseball workouts until early-March last year, so he’s well ahead of that schedule. As he said, this is a normal offseason for him, something he didn’t have a year ago.
Via Dan Martin: Derek Jeter is expected to begin baseball activities at the Yankees’ minor league complex on Monday as he works his way back from numerous leg injuries. “I’ve been working hard. I started working out in the beginning of November. I’m anxious to get back out there,” said the Cap’n, who added he is “still focused on this year” and not looking ahead to 2015 and beyond.
Jeter, 39, was limited to only 17 games last season due to those leg injuries, including the fractured ankle he suffered in the 2012 ALCS. He did not start baseball activities until early-March following offseason surgery on the ankle, so he is well ahead of last year’s schedule. Given his age and all the missed time, the Yankees will probably take it easy on Jeter in camp, at least early on. He is probably their second best infielder right now, and they need to take care of him and not push it too hard too soon.