Even though general manager Brian Cashman said Derek Jeter will stay at shortstop, the question remains how much longer the 36-year-old Yankee captain can ably field the position.
When Jeter won his fifth Gold Glove last year, the honor was met with disbelief and outright ridicule — not only from stats geeks whose mathematical equations exhibited his range was the worst among MLB shortstops, but also from regular fans.
“Highway Robbery: Derek Jeter’s Gold Glove Win Is Inexcusable,” read one headline on the fan-blog site Bleacher Report.
Even if the Yankees wanted to eventually reposition Jeter, who signed a three-year contract with a fourth-year player option in December, he’s blocked by capable teammates at every other spot. Alex Rodriguez, 35 and under contract through 2018, isn’t leaving third base anytime soon. The outfield is currently sound defensively with Nick Swisher, Curtis Granderson, Brett Gardner and Andruw Jones.
But baseballmusings.com blogger David Pinto said Jeter’s defense isn’t the detriment some perceive it to be.
“The thing is his defense has improved in the last three years,” said Pinto. “He’s not the terrible shortstop he was in 2005 and 2007.”
Conceding that Jeter’s fielding skills will obviously wane with age, Pinto added that there are few good-hitting shortstops in baseball, so Jeter’s offense — even coming off a subpar 2010 — makes up for his defensive liabilities.
But will the Yanks actually ask Jeter to move eventually? Pinto says it would have to be the other way around.
“I don’t think Cashman can go to Jeter and say ‘you’re not the shortstop anymore,” he said. “He would react badly and there would be backlash. Jeter would have to initiate it.”