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It's Time

Posted by Matt Imbrogno at 3:00 pm Add comments
Aug 032010

I’m about to say something I didn’t think I would say at any point during this season:

It is time to move Derek Jeter out of the leadoff spot. The game against the Jays is still going on, and maybe Jeter will do something awesome in the late innings to make this post look silly, but I’m not wavering (at least until he improves): Jeter needs to be batting lower in the order.

This has essentially been a career worst season for Jeter no matter how you look at it. Starting with the numbers, we see a low IsoP (.113, second lowest of his career). We see a career low AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS, wOBA, wRC+…the list goes on.

In terms of the more scouting aspects of the game, we can see it. His bat looks slow. His strikezone judgment has been poor (29.3 O-Swing% is a career high). He’s not hitting the ball with authority (career low 17.4 LD%, 66.5 GB%) and he’s seeing a career low 3.55 pitches per plate appearance. He also seems to have lost some bat speed. While Jeter was never a pull hitter, it seems like he’s been totally un able to do so this year with just a handful of hits to the left side:

This has not been a pretty 2009 for Jeter and unless he gets on a hot streak quickly, the Yankees need to move him from the leadoff spot. I will say that the difference between an “optimized” lineup and non-optimized lineup is rather small, but in a race that looks like it’s going to be tight for the rest of the season, it may need to be done.

If I were Joe Girardi, I’d order my guys like this:

1. Gardner, LF
2. Swisher, RF
3. Teixeira, 1B
4. Rodriguez, 3B
5. Cano, 2B
6. Posada, C
7. Berkman, DH
8. Jeter, SS
9. Granderson, CF

Yeah, I know. I’ve got Derek Jeter, the Yankee captain, batting eighth. Well, right now, his performance merits that. Last night, Rebecca made a similar argument so at least I’m not alone:

If Jeter was not Derek Jeter, if he was, say, Brett Gardner or even Nick Swisher with these numbers, he’d be hitting at the bottom of the line up, the type of weak hitter you can manage in a line up full of All Stars because his defense makes up for the lack of his bat.

This whole article is probably an exercise in futility as I doubt the Yankee organization has the balls to do that to Jeter, but it should be done. If it’s not done, it makes me very fearful of his coming contract negotiations. If they can’t move him down in the lineup, how are they going to negotiate with Jeter? Keeping Jeter in the leadoff spot is placating and appeasing Derek to no end. If we, as Yankee fans, saw any other team doing this, we’d be laughing. Objectively, Derek Jeter is hurting the team as the leadoff hitter. Let Gardner get a shot for now, Joe.

32 Responses to “It’s Time”

  1. “The game against the Jays is still going on, and maybe Jeter will do something awesome in the late innings to make this post look silly”

    Evidence part of this was written last night? Haha.

    As for the point of the post, I really, really want to agree with you, but it’s just so hard to give up on Jeter in the middle of the season like this. This is kind of an old argument, but the Yankees waited on Mark Teixeira’s slow start and it paid off. Even if Jeter doesn’t come around until later this month, wouldn’t it still have been worth it to keep him at leadoff? All that matters is the postseason, which the Yankees still have an 85% chance of reaching (according to AccuScore).

    Also, what happens if Girardi did make the dreaded switch, and then Jeter started hitting like his old self in the No. 8 spot? How fast would you pull the trigger on a switch back?  (Quote)

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  2. I don’t disagree with your analysis of his season to date but I’m not ready to assume that it is all age-related and that he can’t improve on it. That plus “I will say that the difference between an “optimized” lineup and non-optimized lineup is rather small” makes me say I wouldn’t do it.  (Quote)

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  3. Agree 100%! And if he does go back to his old form, like “lenNY’s Yankees” said, I would still leave him in the no. 8 spot, in front of Granderson, who is having a pretty hot streak right now. I honestly think that Jeter is still hitting leadoff for only two reasons:
    -1: It’s Derek Jeter we’re talking about, so all the “lifetime Yankee” and “capitain” stuff goes into it… and
    -2: If they would move him and he doesn’t get any better, he’ll not only get himself out, like he’s doing right now, but will most likely break the record for most GIDP in one single season.

    Gardner is the clear choice to lead off and I would, maybe, change one thing in your lineup: push Posada down to bat 7th, have Swisher batting 6th behind Cano who gets on base ALL THE TIME, and have Berkman hit 2nd. But I still think your lineup is really strong the way it is…  (Quote)

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  4. dropping him this year would be a torre move..jeter will be jeter in the post season..of all the yankees…he deserves a very long leash.. we are used to this kids magic over the years..gave us great pleasures..lets not be the people who feel…you are as good as your last payment…and what have you done for me lately. not to jeter…he is the face of baseball..the clean good side..and we own him…he is having an off year..he knows it..contract year also..he is our captain and leader..always been classy..lets not have no class..taking him down ,we are still the best record in baseball..where should arod bat..or granderson..8 9 bench??? support our leader when he needs support..  (Quote)

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    Matt Imbrogno Reply:

    1. So he’ll just magically turn it on in the post season? Wonderful logic.
    2. Jeter’s leash should be long, but we’re nearing the end of it. He’s gotten a pass for a long, long time. In ’08, he had the excuse that his hand was injured and he was playing through pain–what’s the cause here? And, that only sapped his power, not his batting eye or bat speed.
    3. Jeter owes the Yankees a lot, too. Aside from Alex Rodriguez, he’s been the highest paid player in baseball and I’m sure he’ll continue to be well paid even after this year. If Jeter played for any other team, he’d be nothing “more” than a great player; because of his time with the Yankees, he’s become an icon. While he’s helped make the Yankees what they are, they’ve also played a big part in making Derek Jeter into Derek Jeter. This is supposed to be a two-way street. Why must the Yankees always service Jeter but not the other way around?  (Quote)

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  5. I fully agree with the post. Especially Matt’s comment about the future: “If it’s not done, it makes me very fearful of his coming contract negotiations. If they can’t move him down in the lineup, how are they going to negotiate with Jeter? ” Running a baseball team calls for a certain cold-bloodedness. All players reach a point of diminished effectiveness when age robs their skills. The organization needs to assume Jeter is either at this point or approaching it. When the time comes to negotiate a new deal, the Yankees have to resist the temptation to pay Jeter for what he’s done, rather that what he can do going forward.  (Quote)

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  6. Cano should be third. With Alex fifith.

    Gardner, Swisher, Cano, Tex, Alex, Posada, Berkman, Jeter, Granderson.  (Quote)

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  7. would love to see it…Might go with Granderson up top and round it out with Gardner as granderson has been a regular leadoff hitter in the past and has been playing well of late but thats not really a big deal. But like you, matt, i doubt they have the balls.  (Quote)

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    bornwithpinstripes Reply:

    granderson he is the worst guy in the line up.. he only start VS RH pitchers  (Quote)

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    Matt Imbrogno Reply:

    OPS:
    Granderson: .739
    Jeter: .722

    wOBA:
    Granderson: .327
    Jeter: .323

    Also, Jeter’s got a pretty bad platoon split this year, too. He’s been miserable against RHP. Should he be platooned as well?  (Quote)

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    bornwithpinstripes Reply:

    rested more absolutely.. but again that is girardis move he must be stronger with his vets. … Matt you just can’t go by hard #s when it comes to certain players…. so for those small points off ..you put granderson ahead of a HOf guy..and yankee from day one/..if you ask every player on that team they would say jeter stays where he is…again these are just my opinions.. what i don’t understand about jeter is ,he tries to pull the ball 90% of his at bats all year…i don’t get it..his whole BB life he hit it to RF and up the middle..thats why this crazy amount of DPs.. I am not dis agreeing with you about his production. i think this year is more mental than anything else..it is not jeter like.  (Quote)

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    Matt Imbrogno Reply:

    Matt you just can’t go by hard #s when it comes to certain players…. so for those small points off ..you put granderson ahead of a HOf guy..and yankee from day one/..if you ask every player on that team they would say jeter stays where he is

    This sentiment bothers me so much it’s not even funny. Why can’t I put numbers on it? Because it’s Derek Jeter? That’s ridiculous. If we were looking at anyone else on any other team, this wouldn’t even be an issue. Think about it; if we saw any other team treating a veteran like the way the Yankees are treating Jeter, we’d laugh at what they were doing.

    I’m not disputing that Jeter’s an HOF player. I’m not saying he’s done. I’m just saying that Granderson has (very very very very) slightly out produced him this year and that Jeter is having a bad–by his standards at the very least–season.  (Quote)

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    bornwithpinstripes Reply:

    so matt for those slight #s you slight jeter? and yes because its jeter.. he has earned the right to try and be a .300 hitter again.. seems you will only take jeter at that average.. why does sentiment bother you .it is a virtue. matt we are in first place.. how do you think he would do if you dropped him to 7 8 9 spot.. how do you think it would effect the whole club ..it would be a hugh distraction for every one..you must agree of what torre did to arod then.. that was something i would not have done..but you are entitled to your opinion..to use the words attached to your opinion..is offensive to any one opinion.. i like a good debate.. keep it coming.. i never said your opinion was ridiculous.. you seem so focused on pure #s.. buck showalter style.. these are people you are dealing with..you have to have a feel for the right guy at the right time..for my money i want jeter in a tight spot.until he proves it in the big games he can no longer do it.. and again you used the word magic.. that is saying he can not and will not until we cast a spell or use mirrors.. i don’t believe in magic…so to me your opinion is he is done  (Quote)

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    Matt Imbrogno Reply:

    1. When did I say he should be benched? Just because he’s lower in the order doesn’t mean he can’t rebound and start to hit better. You’re putting words into my mouth and I don’t appreciate that.

    2. How would he do if he batted lower in the order? I have no idea, but it probably wouldn’t be as bad as it is now. If it was, then there’d be a BIG problem.

    3. I don’t agree with what Torre did and the situations are not at all analogous. Again, you’re putting words into my mouth. Please stop.

    4. Yes, I’m focused on the numbers because the numbers are reflections of the players. Jeter doesn’t get extra points on his OBP because he’s great in the clubhouse, a good leader, or a media favorite.

    5. Do you really not get what I meant by magic? I was using that word sarcastically because you said he would turn it on in the playoffs and I asked how. If you’re going to argue against me, understand what I’m trying to say.  (Quote)

    bornwithpinstripes Reply:

    Matt you are smart enough to know you can not compare these two players…if you had a choice jeter or granderson this year in the WS game on the line whom would you want up?/  (Quote)

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    Matt Imbrogno Reply:

    Why can’t I compare these two players? You said Granderson is the worst hitter on the team, yet he’s been slightly better than Derek Jeter this year. There’s an argument to be made that Jeter has been the team’s worst regular (non Pena/Cervelli/Curtis/Miranda etc.). And in right now, with the game on the line, I don’t want either one of them at the plate.  (Quote)

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    bornwithpinstripes Reply:

    your last comment i can agree with.. but you don’t feel jeter earned the right over grandy if it is either or?  (Quote)

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  8. So Matt are you saying only magic cures slumps or off years? so you declared he is done? and it is logic based on fact.. He has been great in the post season ..he should get the shot to prove other wise..I take exception of by questioning my opinion and or logic..another guy who like to make comments behind the computer..he has gotten a pass for a long time? what did he hit last year.?.did we win the WS? his life time average is .315…and daniel cabrera hit him with a 95 mph fastball..he should have been put on the DL but that was girardi not being in control..what did he do after he healed that year.. as far as him getting paid big money,take the jeter shirts away and the stuff people buy woth his name and all the kids and lets not forget female fans that show up in every stadium to see this kid..he generates a hugh market… he deserves every dime he can get..as an owner you pay the most to keep the best…do you have a business with key workers..if you do than i should not have to tell you. when he is done the yankees ..we the fans put another guy in the HOF…yes that is worth it… when baseball fans were let down by roid guys .he stayed clean..  (Quote)

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    Matt Imbrogno Reply:

    When did I say he was done? I didn’t. As for being great in the playoffs, yeah, he’s been great at times and at others he’s been awful. Look at his overall playoff numbers. They’re nearly IDENTICAL to his regular season numbers because he’s had so many chances at the plate in the playoffs.

    I was questioning your logic because that statement didn’t show much logic. Why/how should I just accept that he’ll turn it on in the playoffs? You give no proof but a blanket statement that is frankly rather empty.

    As for the rest of your post, I never argued that Jeter wasn’t valuable to the Yankees, but we never say that playing for the Yankees has been just as valuable for Derek Jeter. I’m not trying to take anything away from him, but rather give the organization’s side of things, which people seldom do when regarding Jeter.  (Quote)

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    bornwithpinstripes Reply:

    Matt read your post “nearing the end”..and only magic can turn it on..I don’t want to argue the point .but maybe you did not choose the words..read your post again.. thanks for your imput  (Quote)

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    Matt Imbrogno Reply:

    I was referring to what YOU said. You said that he’ll just turn it on in the playoffs. How’s he going to do that? Magic? That’s what I was saying, using YOUR words. As for nearing the end, why is this so hard to accept? Derek Jeter is 38 years old. I’m not saying he’s done but I think it’s likely that he’s (finally) entering his decline phase. It happens to everyone.  (Quote)

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    bornwithpinstripes Reply:

    Mattt ..I will be back..dinner is calling.. we heated up the sunday sauce.. your italian you know..  (Quote)

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    bornwithpinstripes Reply:

    Jeter will make BB and the yankees a lot money even after he is gone from the game..jeter stuff will sell for the next decade and beyond.. the yanks will use him like reggie to recruit guys to come to NY..reggie meeting with werth this year.. ect.  (Quote)

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  9. big gardner fan but jeter should remain batting first. last 10 games, jeter batting .310 and gardner batting .259. in july gardner batted .221. I feel jeter is more likely to finish batting .300 than gardner to remain around .300  (Quote)

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  10. The exchanges here demonstrate what some of us fear — it is almost impossible to have a rational conversation about what Jeter can do now and what he will be able to contribute on the field in the years to come. I suspect that the organization above Cashman will direct him to sign a deal with Jeter at any cost, fearing the PR hit it would take if he signed elsewhere. So Jeter, with little leverage, will end up with a contract for too much money and (worse) too many years.  (Quote)

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  11. I’ve been saying this for awhile but we all know it will never happen. Jeter will probably still be batting leadoff (or second) four years from now when he’s an even bigger shell of his former shelf.  (Quote)

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  12. I agree Matt, and as a follow up piece you may want to consider Batting Alex 5th or 6th. The same rationale applies, he’s simply not producing like a #4 this year.  (Quote)

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  13. Bravo. So sad that a self-obvious statement such as this counts as a small act of bravery, but in fandom the Cult of Jeter will not abide blasphemy.

    Jeter is a special player. But he’s not magic. He is not some totem that will ward off defeat simply by being placed at the top of the lineup. He is a man, one for whom the rules apply, even if not equally.

    When Don Mattingly neared the end of his career, and Paul O’Neill supplanted him in the three spot, I am sure it wounded his pride, and forced him to recognize what none of us wants to face: age and mortality. But he accepted it graciously, and whatever hurt he might have felt, not a glimmer was shown to the fans or the press.

    Jeter needs to be moved down in the order, even if it is just for now. He needs to recognize he is well outside the confines of a slump, and his Legend is hurting the team – perhaps just in a small way, but hurting it nonetheless.

    Time to begin a new era.  (Quote)

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  14. 1. When did I say he should be benched? Just because he’s lower in the order doesn’t mean he can’t rebound and start to hit better. You’re putting words into my mouth and I don’t appreciate that.
    2. How would he do if he batted lower in the order? I have no idea, but it probably wouldn’t be as bad as it is now. If it was, then there’d be a BIG problem.
    3. I don’t agree with what Torre did and the situations are not at all analogous. Again, you’re putting words into my mouth. Please stop.
    4. Yes, I’m focused on the numbers because the numbers are reflections of the players. Jeter doesn’t get extra points on his OBP because he’s great in the clubhouse, a good leader, or a media favorite.
    5. Do you really not get what I meant by magic? I was using that word sarcastically because you said he would turn it on in the playoffs and I asked how. If you’re going to argue against me, understand what I’m trying to say.  

    Hey now you get it, by admitting you were sarcastic…now don’t get frustrated because you are way off base. it is all your words, you just said it ..and if you are going to be sarcastic with some one you don’t know and has a different opinion than you i think you need to grow up.. or keep your sarcastic remarks to yourself.. if you are going to dish it out than appreciate getting it..we are hear to express our views..if you need to be on the attack , join the army kid..  (Quote)

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  15. I would like to point out a couple of things.

    Firstly, putting out an optimal line-up, at most, nets you only a couple runs over the course of a season. So a lot of this is an exercise in semantics. Having said that, it is fairly obvious that Jeter has not been hitting like a lead-off man this year, and the peripheral statistics are showing that this may not be a fluke. His LD% is down, and his GB% is up over 10% from his career average. The body of evidence does not look awfully good.

    Secondly, the Yankees owe it to the fans to put the best team on the field, and if that means diminishing Jeter’s role (i.e. putting him lower in the line-up or moving him off SS), so be it. The Yankees have to prioritize winning over the (still important) task of honoring its past and its heroes.  (Quote)

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  16. And why is Cano 5th and not 3rd?  (Quote)

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