Over at the beloved ESPN New York, writer Andrew Marchand ponders Derek Jeter’s defense on the season, and, related to that, his future with the Yankees. Essentially, Marchand views Jeter’s defense through a fairly negative lens – he has had a few issues going to his left, but his defense, on the whole, has not been terrible in my opinion (it has not been great, but it has been manageable, thus far) – and then goes on to wonder how his glove will influence the free agent negotiations he has with the Yankees come the end of 2010. Assuming the Yankees resign Jeter, Marchand also reflects upon a possible position change for the 35-year old shortstop. Marchand’s piece is basically the same article you have read over and over again regarding Jeter’s defense, especially prior to last season’s defensive revival, as it touches upon all of the common defensive themes.
In fact, Marchand seems to discuss everything except for the fact that, regardless of his diminished range, the Yankees need Derek Jeter at shortstop because they do not have a suitable internal option to replace him. And, as younger players continue to up their capital in baseball – older players are seemingly cast aside nowadays – while choosing to forego free agency dollars in order to sign lengthy multiyear contracts with the organizations that raised them, nor will it be easy to find a suitable replacement for The Captain via free agency or trade. Hence, the Yankees need Derek Jeter, not in left field, at DH, or in RF, but as their shortstop. As long as Jeter continues to hit and can be deemed “manageable” at short, the Yankees will need and want to continue playing him there. There is no one else waiting in the winds – sorry Eduardo Nunez fans – and the team does not have much else that they can do. Replacing someone means having a replacement, after all.
If Jeter signs a 4-year deal ($20 million per), as an agent in Marchand’s piece predicts, can you really see the Yankees having a capable replacement to takeover short during that period? Can you really see them asking Jeter to move around the diamond if he manages to hit inline with his career numbers? I just do not see that happening. Perhaps if the Yankees had a young prospect with a good bat that was also defensively superior the “move Jeter” idea would make sense. They do not have that, however, making the idea seem farfetched. Therefore, to quote Kevin Goldstein, “Jeter will likely play shortstop in New York as long as he wants to.”