Friday, November 26, 2010

Contemplating Derek Jeter, Part III

Derek Jeter has played 2,274 games at shortstop in his illustrious career, exactly zero at any other position.

Jeter is now fifth on the all-time list of games at short -- more than 400 behind the still-active Omar Vizquel, but closing in on Cal Ripken for fourth.

If he's not a shortstop,
where would he play?
Eighteen men have played more than 2,000 career games at the position. It's a demanding position, and as a historical rule, only the very best glovemen stay there throughout their careers. Ripken moved to third base late in his career, and Rabbit Maranville racked up more than 500 games at second base, most of them in his 40s. Luis Aparicio and Ozzie Smith never played another defensive position, and as a general thing, the great defensive shortstops can stay there even after having lost a step or two.

If Jeter has not been the worst fielder of the 18 (relative to his time), he's mighty close to it. And if he has not been the greatest hitter in the group, he's mighty close to that status too.

One of the underlying issues in the Yankees-Jeter contract standoff is: How long can the Yankees keep him at shortstop? And where else could they play him?

First base is out of the question; Mark Teixiera has six more years to go on his contract. Third base? Alex Rodriguez's money sinkhole doesn't close until 2018. Second base is still the middle infield, and anyway, Robinson Cano is there. That leaves the outfield.

Assuming that Jeter's ego will allow him to change positions. The Yankees management is too sharp to take five Gold Gloves as proof of defensive prowess; Jeter may see the big ugly trophies as proof positive.

If this report -- that Jeter is demanding a six-year deal at $25 million a year -- is accurate, his ego is badly inflamed. The Yankees are in the uncomfortable position now of cutting a reality check on the financial issue, and even after that's over, will have to cut another on the baseball issue.


  1. Speaking of shortstops, I'm shocked that the Twins snagged the rights to Nishioka. I wish I had seen him play here in Japan, but I never have much chance to watch Japanese baseball.

  2. So no personal scouting report from my readership in Japan? Darn.