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Derek Jeter's injury, Eduardo Nunez and the Yankees

June 6, 2011; Bronx, NY, USA; New York

June 6, 2011; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees third baseman Eduardo Nunez (26) during batting practice prior to the game against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. Photo By: Christopher Pasatieri Photo Credit: Photo by Christopher Pasatieri

The Yankees lost to Cleveland, but the big story of course was Derek Jeter's early departure, due to a strained right calf, and the consequential delay of his quest for 3,000 hits.

For my column, I wrote that reality trumped mythology once more for Jeter, a recurring theme over the last year and change.

As I wrote in my column, it wouldn't shock me at all if the Yankees placed Jeter on the disabled list today, given his age, the diagnosis and the way Joe Girardi spoke of it following last night's game. At the least, Jeter figures to miss a few games.

Eduardo Nunez replaced Jeter last night and will start in Jeter's place, and such a run - the longer, the more significant, obviously - could produce multiple reverberations in the Yankees' universe:

1) Yankees short-term. Let's not ignore the obvious dynamic here. This isn't like Bartolo Colon's injury, or Joba Chamberlain's. When those guys went down, we fairly wondered how in the heck the Yankees were going to replace those levels of performance. 

With Jeter, however? His 2011 production should be rather replaceable.

Here's how Nunez did last year, as a full-fledged rookie (he's still a rookie, technically), when he got some regular playing time in the wake of Alex Rodriguez (coincidentally) left calf injury. Nunez started 10 games in a 14-day span. He put up a .325 on-base percentage and .395 slugging percentage in 40 plate appearances.

This season, Jeter has a .324 on-base percentage and .324 slugging percentage in 293 plate appearances.

If you've seen enough of Nunez play, you can pretty much offer a thumbnail scouting report, vis-a-vis Jeter: At the plate, better pop and worse patience. In the field, better range and worse hands. On the bases, better speed and worse instincts.

Nunez's regular presence in the lineup could produce some of that "energy" for which fans are often yearning. Or, especially if he struggles on the defensive side, it could have fans counting the days until Jeter's return.

2) Yankees longer-term. If Nunez puts up a good run, he could further entice other teams in July trade discussions. Remember, he was one of the players (Ivan Nova was the other) Seattle wanted as a substitute for the injured David Adams, in the trade discussions for Cliff Lee last year.

Honestly, I'm not sure Brian Cashman would be willing to deal Nunez, as the further decline of Jeter makes Nunez an important component. But any time your players are in demand, there's no downside to that. Cashman could at least go fishing and see what Nunez could theoretically bring back in a deal. It could spark other ideas that could lead to a trade.

3) Jeter short-term. There's no disputing that Jeter has taken a considerable hit among Yankees fans in the last year-plus. That's what happens when you record the worst year of your career, endure contentious negotiations for a new contract and then come back with an even worse season.

If Nunez can deliver what the Yankees think he can do - pop, speed and defensive range, with fewer mishaps - then we could see a bit of the "backup quarterback syndrome" among Yankees fans. They might enjoy the ride so much that they won't quite be counting the days for Jeter to return.

They'll warm back up to Jeter as soon as that 3,000th hit goes on the board - and again, on the flip side, if Nunez struggles, then Jeter will be appreciated a little more.

But the days of Jeter owning 100 percent of the Bronx precinct vote are behind us. He's lost some support for a reason that he, always a bottom-line guy, would surely understand: He's nowhere as good as he used to be.

I'll check back later from the Stadium, when we'll have more info on Jeter's condition.

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