When Derek Jeter announced his intention to retire after this season, he had to know he’d get a similar farewell tour to the one Mariano Rivera got. But unlike Jeter’s so far, Mo had a pretty standard season in his illustrious career, which to say in a word would be “dominant.”
This year Jeter is continuing his defensive regression and his bat has been nothing more than average. His 0.2 WAR suggests he is playing ever so slightly better than a replacement-level player (Brendan Ryan’s WAR is 0.1).
Thanks to two conflicting op-eds in the New York Post this week, the Captain is the headliner for this week’s Stock Column.
1. Jeter’s “farewell tour” is doing more harm than good.
Jeter is basically doing no more than what he needs to do to keep a spot in the lineup, however that spot should not be second. Jeter has the least amount of runs out of all Yankees with at least 100 at-bats, despite a solid OBP and AVG. As I’ve already opined, Yangervis Solarte is more deserving of hitting second while Jeter’s offensive stats are more suited for the bottom third of the order.
What this also does is places Ryan lower in the lineup if/when he replaces Jeter late in the game for defensive purposes. Even at 39 years old, Jeter is better than at least half the shortstops in the American League offensively.
Defensively, he has a sold .975 fielding percentage but his range factor and UZR are unsurprisingly bad. Michael Gray is right, the media will follow Jeter everywhere he goes, every step he takes and will try to orchestrate every last dramatic moment they possibly can. But Kevin Kernan also makes some valid points, noting Jeter will handle the attention the only way he knows how, by putting the team first.
2. The Yankees need outside help to fix their rotation.
With C.C. Sabathia out until July at the earliest, Michael Pineda on the DL at least another two weeks and Ivan Nova gone all season, a trade seems inevitable. With a few prospects hitting well in Double- and Triple-A, expect the Yankees to pursue a starter.
Right now, yes they are taking on most of the workload, but only because Shawn Kelley is on the DL. Betances has logged 24.1 innings this year and Warren has accumulated 25, but Kelley has the next most with 15. Manger Joe Girardi needs to go to Preston Claiborne more often because he’s only pitched 12.1 innings and has a solid 2.19 ERA.
Claiborne needs to be the third bullpen option behind Betances and Warren if Kelley can’t come back strong or stay healthy. Alfredo Aceves and Matt Thornton have also had small workloads, but their ERAs are both north of 5.00.
As Brad Vietrogoski noted for It’s About the Money, more situations will arise like Sunday when neither Betances nor Warren will be available.
4. The Yankees should be concerned about Carlos Beltran’s bone spur.
ESPN New York reported Beltran will seek a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews on the bone spur in his right elbow that could require surgery. The worst-case scenario is Beltran needs surgery right away, but it’s not clear how long he’d be out.
Of all the injury problems the Yankees have had this year, an outfielder is actually the most convenient position the Yankees could lose. However, we don’t know how long Beltran would be gone. Beltran’s offensive potential would be hard to replace internally, but the team has plenty of outfield options.
5. Yankees brass “not concerned” about standings.
Girardi told MLB.com it’s “awfully early” to be thinking about the standings, but the 2014 Yankees are in a similar predicament as the 2013 Yankees. With no AL East teams in action Monday, they will take their half-game first-place lead into their game Tuesday against the Chicago Cubs with Masahiro Tanaka on the mound.
That said, I think general manager Brian Cashman is already putting together trade packages for starting pitching, but that’s pure speculation on my part. The AL East is the most competitive division in baseball and Cashman has to realize his pitching staff cannot carry the club the rest of the way.
“What have we played? 41 games?” Girardi told reporters before Sunday’s doubleheader. “We only have 121 to go.”