Read the opposing argument from Babe Ruthless.
Much to the dismay of Fox executives (but to the delight of a lot of fans), the New York Yankees were eliminated by the Texas Rangers Friday night in the ALCS. That quick dismissal brought to the forefront a lot of questions that many Yankees fans have been debating amongst themselves all season long.
Today, we’re tackling that big elephant in the room that has been hovering pretty much all season. What to do with Yankees captain and franchise face Derek Jeter, whose ten year, $189M contract has just expired? The Yankees organization has an extremely difficult and sensitive decision to make regarding the face of the Yankees. But in the interests of putting the best team on the field, the team must move on and cut ties with Derek Jeter.
No one, least of all me, is diminishing what Jeter has accomplished in his time in pinstripes. He’s a first ballot Hall of Famer and when history looks back on this era of the Yankees, #2 will be the number that is remembered first. Heck, looking back at the steroid era, he’s one of the “clean” faces of baseball during that time, he of the Velcro-strap gloves. But let’s look at what’s happened in 2010, his contract year.
He finished the regular season hitting .270 with 10 home runs and 67 RBI. No, those numbers don’t belong to Marco Scutaro. They belong to Derek Jeter. Keep in mind that Jeter plays 81 games a season in the boom box known as Yankee Stadium. His slugging percentage of .370 was near the bottom of the team for much of the season. Both the average and the slugging percentage were easily the lowest of his career as a starter. Is that what you want from your leadoff hitter? Is that what you want to throw big time dollars at?
It should also be noted that Jeter is 36-years old, which makes him the oldest starting shortstop in baseball. He still has a solid glove, as he made only six errors this season, but you have to wonder how long his body will hold up to play such a physically demanding position. Will his legs allow him to cover the ground and be the shortstop that we’ve grown up seeing since he broke in as a rookie in 1996? Or will he be forced to move into a DH position two to three years down the road and play out the string in a designated hitter with the Yankees… or some other team? Is he the guy you really want as a designated hitter? In theory, you’d like to have your designated hitter to be a big popper. Jeter doesn’t fit that description.
While I know the word “budget” rarely enters the equation when discussing the Yankees, the Yankees did prove in the 2010 ALCS that they have some holes on the team. With the exception of basically one inning they were thoroughly dominated for much of the series. The bats were quieted as the team only hit .201 in the ALCS. Money will be obligated to go get another hitter, surely. And you can bet they are going to throw BIG time money at Cliff Lee. At some point, even the Yankees have to draw a line in the sand and say enough is enough.
No one is dismissing what Jeter is accomplishing, least of all me. But in this “win at all costs era,” the cost is Jeter’s time in the Bronx. It’s time to go.