Never thought you would ever hear that right? Well folks, it’s all true. With Derek Jeter‘s injury that he suffered back in October, there has to be some kind of alternative to the shortstop position. Both Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi have expressed their concern about the length of recovery, which is about 4-5 months. Cashman said that they want to take a “conservative” approach to Jeter’s return and we all know that may be for the best. So, going into 2013, obviously Jeter is not going to play every day and even more so coming back from a fractured ankle will only limit his already declining range.
This doesn’t mean Jeter is totally out of the equation, but his presence may become ever dependent on the DH role. Obviously Jeter is a better contact hitter than nearly everyone on the team, aside from Robinson Cano, and his ability to hit in the clutch is crucial. However, looking at his injury and rebounding from that is not going to be easy. This dilemma really is something that the Yankees and fans alike have given little thought about until this point. The reality is that Jeter will turn 39 next June and while one of Cashman’s philosophies is based on production and not age, perhaps the Yankees will have to realize the fact that some players may not be as durable as others.
Most of us have and still will groan and complain whenever we see Nunez in the lineup as the shortstop. Originally, I liked the concept of making Nunez an on-and-off DH with Raul Ibanez, but in 2013, Nunez’s role at short will be expanded tremendously. Yes, it’s widely known that Nunez’s defense has more holes than China has tea, but his bat can sometimes outweigh the bad fielding.
Casting a glance in Nix’s direction I think you have to make him the starting shortstop. He’s a better defensive player and has a few years on Nunez. Clearly Nix won’t start everyday, but they should at least try him out in Spring Training on a regular basis. Jeter is supposed to be taking 4-5 months maximum to heal, but Cashman is keeping closing tabs on him so they don’t rush him back. If Jeter is still out by then, Nix has a clear shot to compete with Nunez for the position.
By comparison, Nix played in 18 games at short in 2012 and Nunez only played in 13 games at the position. In that short amount of time, Nix committed one error while Nunez committed four. Both have also played multiple positions such as third base, second base and even the outfield when needed, but shortstop is going to be the key in 2013.
Jeter is by no means being counted out here. We eventually knew one day that we would wake up, turn on the game, and watch a Jeter-less Yankees’ team. It hurts to type that but even more so to realize that this will be a reality someday. If Nix and Nunez are a part of this team in a few years then we’ll see how they have improved or regressed. If anything, we have David Adams and Corban Joseph looming not too far from the Majors, both of whom could take over shortstop.
As for now, the shortstop position is going to be a three-man race. Jeter will clearly get it because it’s been his role all his life and not to mention he’s The Captain. That said, physically Jeter has been declining in the field and it’s really been no secret. So the dilemma remains the same, who will see the most time at shortstop next year and will they be able to fill the big shoes going forward?