Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Pasta diving Jeter

Last year Jeter had one of his best years -- both defensively and offensively -- amazing feat for a SS in the advanced age of 35. His 336/406/465 were a big part of the reason the Yankees went to the Serious, and whatever he did to improve his lateral movements in the off-season paid off spectacularly.

This year, not so much. We're hearing more of the title of this post from the broadcasters, and offensively Jeter's shown little power. In fact, he hasn't hit that many out of the infield. Which leads to some interesting questions in this, the last year of his 10-year $200 million contract.

One quarter of the way into the 2010 season, however, it is necessary to question these assumptions. Jeter is hitting .276/.320/.396. Those numbers are .040-.070 below his career figures. If the season ended today, Jeter would have the lowest on base percentage, slugging percentage and batting average of any season since his 15 game cup of coffee in 1995. A season like this from a 36 year old would be hard to write off as simply a fluke off year and make it necessary to revisit questions about Jeter’s future offensive value.

A bad offensive 2010, by Jeter, would change everything for both the Yankees and Jeter and present a real dilemma for the Yankees. While the Yankees can afford to overpay for a useful offensive player with limited defensive value, which is where they thought Jeter would be two or three years from now, it makes far less sense to pay that kind of money for a player whose offensive skills may be in sharp decline and whose defense is not going to be stellar. That is the direction in which Jeter may be heading. The Yankees have prepared themselves for a Jeter who can no longer play shortstop, but a Jeter who can no longer hit raises much bigger problems.


The dilemma exists for Jeter as well. He is worth more to the Yankees than to other teams, but he also benefits from spending his whole career with the Yankees. This suggests that there is ample economic space for the Yankees and Jeter to come to an agreement. The baseball questions, however, are not so simple. Jeter has carefully created an image for himself as the consummate team player, but this will be rapidly undermined if he spends the last part of his career chasing milestones and records while collecting a big paycheck while hurting his team. Moreover, if the Yankees feel compelled to play Jeter due to his fame and big contract from 2011-2013, despite what may be seriously declining offensive skills, the team will be weaker for it.

Jeter's had seven hits in the last four games, so hopefully the season will turn around. Even so, this has the potential to be a real opera. Both the Yankees and Jeter know it's in the best interests of all involved for Jeter to end his career in pinstripes. He's only about two seasons away from passing Mickey Mantle as the player with the most games played in the uniform and he continues to wrack up all-time franchise records. But Mantle was a shell of his former greatness by the time he called it quits, and the Yankees were a shell of the dynasty they'd once been by the time he'd done so in 1968. We know the Yankees GM is not a sentimental man when it comes to personnel decisions. And we know Jeter is a very proud man who may bristle at a significant pay cut or reduction of playing time.

Via Banter.



Post a Comment

<< Home

Weblog Commenting by HaloScan.com Site Meter