Browsing Posts tagged Derek Jeter

Yesterday, we heard rumblings that the Yankees were ‘considering a run‘ at free agent shortstop, Stephen Drew. Drew, who turns 31-years-old in March, was the starting shortstop for the Boston Red Sox. In 124 games, Drew hit 13 HRs, drove in 67 runs, and put up a .253/.333/.443 slash. Defensively, Drew finished second among American League shortstops with a .984 fielding percentage. Drew finished the year with a 3.4 WAR, sixth best among shortstops. After making $9.5 million last season, Drew turned down Boston’s qualifying offer of one-year, $14.1 million, in hopes of securing a multi-year deal. Despite grading out as one of the better shortstops, Drew is having a tough time find suitors. Could the lack of demand for Drew create a market inefficiency that the Yankees can exploit?

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I haven’t written about Derek Jeter’s impending retirement. Jeter, who is the master of calculated moves, announced his retirement, following the 2014 season, on Facebook about three weeks ago. Jeter’s announcement came just days after A-Rod dropped his federal appeal against MLB. After breaking his ankle during the 2012 ALCS, Jeter missed nearly the entire 2013 season. When he did play, Jeter looked old, slow, and feeble. Jeter’s bat speed has clearly declined and he’s having issues getting around on mid-90s fastballs. In the field, Jeter has no problem fielding groundballs hit to him, but his range is compromised. Yankee fans are so used to seeing a young, youthful Jeter manning shortstop and I can’t help, but think Yankee fans are going to be very disappointed with Jeter this season. Mariano Rivera dominated on his farewell tour. Can Jeter match that dominance in his last season? I wouldn’t bet on it.

I usually discount Spring Training stats, but when players who missed a lot of games in the previous season play, I take notice. Brewers’ outfielder Ryan Braun is hitting an absurd .825 so far. Jeter? 0-for-9 with six groundouts, which isn’t a good sign. During 2012 and 2013, Jeter posted his highest ground ball rates (63% and 71%, respectively) of his career. Jeter’s fly ball rate continued to plummet to career low of nine percent in limited action last season. These stats further illustrate Jeter’s decline and inability to drive the ball like he used to. If Jeter continues to drag his high ground ball rate into the regular season, can the Yankees still afford to slot him second in the batting order?

If Jeter struggles through April, Joe Girardi may have some tough decisions to make. For now, it’s appropriate to assume Jeter will hit second behind Jacoby Ellsbury and in front of Carlos Beltran. Fans are so used to seeing Jeter set the table for the power hitters and if he can’t get the job done anymore, will he accept a demotion down the order? Will the fans accept a demotion? Will ownership worry about the backlash of such a move? Remember, Jeter is the last remaining ‘Dynasty Yankee’ and one of the ten best players ever to don a Yankee uniform. It’s not an easy situation and the Yankees will likely lose, either in the media/with the fans or on the scoreboard.

It’s hard to see a player who can still play retire. No one wanted to see Mariano Rivera go because he was still one of the top closers in the game. Leaving emotion out of the equation, Jeter isn’t a top player anymore and hasn’t been one since 2009. Some fans completely wrote Jeter off last season because the team wasn’t missing his production. The team did miss his leadership ability, but Jeter is no longer cranking out 200 hits per season.  

It’s always hard to see an iconic player retire, but some Yankee fans are losing sight of the big picture. The Yankees didn’t make the playoffs last season and the Boston Red Sox are the reigning world champs. Yankee ownership spent nearly a half billion dollars on new players. Focus should be on winning the AL East, AL Pennant, and then the World Series. Anything less is failure. Derek Jeter will be showered with gifts and attention from opposing teams, but I hope Yankee fans don’t lose their edge this season. I think most fans lost sight of the big picture during the Rivera hoopla last season. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen again.

The 2014 season is a critical one for the future. The Yankees have a lot of new stars that must assimilate to the challenges of playing in New York. Derek Jeter should receive the attention and accolades he deserves, but that shouldn’t make fans complacent. Remember what the ultimate goal is… 

 

‘You never know what you’ve got until it’s gone.’

Last week, Robinson Cano and the Seattle Mariners agreed to a 10-year, $240 million contract. Seattle and Cano agreed on the fourth largest contract in MLB history, trailing only A-Rod (x2) and Albert Pujols. To most Yankees fans, Cano’s departure came as a shock. The Yankees lost a home grown, marquee player in the prime of his career to another team in free agency. Cano, 31, will take his 1,649 career hits and .309/.355/.504 slash to the Pacific Northwest. The Yankees made a valiant effort to retain the talented second baseman, offering him $25 million/year over the course of seven seasons. The mystique and aura of pinstripes captivates many players, but in free agency, dollars talk and Cano was more than willing to listen. 

Cano’s departure creates a massive hole in the middle of the Yankee infield. The Yankees signed Kelly Johnson as a utility infielder, but expect the team to sign a free agent or make a trade. Regardless of their decision, the hole left by Cano is not replaceable by a single player. On the surface, the additions of  Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury should help offset Cano’s departure, but Cano proved he could perform in New York. Despite accusations about his lack of hustle, Cano routinely played 162 games and his production was consistent on a year-to-year basis. 

For the first time in his career, Cano will have to deal with the pressures of being his team’s centerpiece. Cano will not have A-Rod or Derek Jeter to hide behind. Instead, Cano must lead and inspire a relatively young team. Cano’s lineup protection will center around Kyle Seager and Jesus Montero instead of A-Rod and Mark Teixeira. Cano will probably have to handle playing on a team that does not have annual playoff aspirations. Cano had the opportunity to go down as a Yankee great, but he chose a large payday over his legacy in New York. You can’t fault Robbie for taking Seattle’s big payday nor blame the Yankees for not matching it. Two years ago, I wrote a piece against the Yankees mimicking the Reds handling of Joey Votto and handing Cano a huge extension before free agency

When the 2014 season starts, both Cano and the Yankees will have to move on without each other. Both sides may not truly realize what they had until the first pitch is thrown. Like they always say, you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. 

It’s been a difficult offseason for Yankee fans. Derek Jeter broke his ankle, but should return for Spring Training. Alex Rodriguez, who is undergoing hip surgery, will miss at least half of 2013. Nick Swisher, Russell Martin, Raul Ibanez, Eric Chavez, and Andruw Jones, who combined to hit 94 home runs, signed elsewhere. Rafael Soriano, who saved 42 games, is also expected to sign elsewhere. For better or worse, the Yankees were not linked to any top free agents. The Yankee brass is committed to spending less than baseball’s $189 million luxury tax threshold by 2014, so free agent spending sprees are off the table.

Brian Cashman always emphasizes the importance of keeping his ‘core’ together, so four key pieces were re-signed to team friendly deals. Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, and Hiroki Kuroda signed one-year deals while Ichrio Suzuki signed a two-year deal. These deals should help the Yankees win in 2013, but each player is over 40-years-old and adds little value to the future of the team.

The Yankees are one of the oldest teams in baseball, but still boast some of the game’s best players. Jeter and Ichiro will set the table for Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira, and Curtis Granderson. CC Sabathia will be supported by Kuroda, Pettitte, and Phil Hughes in the starting rotation. Mariano Rivera and David Robertson will lock down the backend of the bullpen. This core won 95 games last season, so anything less will be a failure.

While the Yankees boast a strong core, many are questioning their complementary parts. As of today, the Yankees have not named a starting catcher or designated hitter. Cashman will not sign a free agent catcher, so expect a combination of Francisco Cervelli-Chris Stewart-Austin Romine to start. Kevin Youkilis will start at third base, but he was signed as A-Rod’s caddy. The Yankees will need Youkilis to play third base and DH, but he can’t seem to stay healthy. If Youkilis suffers another injury, will the team trust Eduardo Nunez to play third base? Nunez is currently the de-facto designated hitter, but Cashman always extends multiple Spring Training invites. The Yankees have a glutton of left handed hitters in its outfield, so expect a right handed bat to join this threesome. Remember, Marcus Thames and Raul Ibanez were signed late and played significant roles. Expect similar moves.

Going into 2013, the Yankees have a very small margin for error. The roster is primarily comprised of older players that may break down. Each AL East foe improved its roster and many are expecting the Toronto Blue Jays to win the division. However, the Yankees boasted baseball’s best run differential and have a roster full of players that have endured October battles. The Yankees continue to pour resources into scouting and player development, but don’t count them out. In terms of player development and a more cost conscious approach, the 2013 season may prove to be a transition year. That doesn’t mean the Yankees are incapable of raising another AL East flag.

After beating the Red Sox 2-1 in a series to close out the first half, the Yankees head into the All-Star break with a 52-33 mark, the best in baseball. Whoever’s backing New York with their free MLB picks has been making bank.

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It’s been a common topic for at least three or four seasons already; are the New York Yankees too old to compete? Should they go with a youth movement on offense? Or even, can they? And how is this affecting their MLB odds?

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2011 was a crazy year for New York sports. The city added new stars in the form of Carmelo Anthony, Deron Williams, and Rafael Soriano. While no major championships were won, the Giants, Knicks, Rangers, and Yankees all made the playoffs. St. John’s returned to relevancy, winning 21 games and making the NCAA Tournament. Other teams, such as the Mets, Islanders, and Nets faded into oblivion. Without further ado, here are the Top 10 NY Sport moments from 2011:

Christian Lopez Had A Special 2011 Catching DJ3K

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We didn’t give you a full analysis of Thursday’s Yankee-Ray match-up. After trailing 12-0 after five innings, the Yankees made a little bit of comeback, but ultimately fell 15-8. Bartolo Colon pitched pretty poorly and probably pitched himself out of a post-season start. 

After Friday’s rain out, the Yankees squared off against Jon Lester on Saturday afternoon. Holding a 2.5 game Wild Card lead with six games to go, Lester came out and gave the Red Sox his worst performance of the year, yielding eight runs in only two innings. Jesus Montero went 3 for 4 with a homer and four RBIs as the Yankees topped the Sox, 9-1. 

Big Blast By Montero

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The New York Yankees kicked off their ten game road series with a loss to the Baltimore Orioles by a score of 5-4 in ten innings. Ivan Nova started and pitched well, but he was unable to give the Yankees enough of a lead and the offense could barely register any offense. With the loss, the Yankees now have a full two-game lead over the Boston Red Sox before their game tonight.

 

Look Out! - AP

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The Kansas City Royals defeated the New York Yankees by a score of 5-4 this evening. Per usual, the starter (Bartolo Colon) gave up multiple earned runs while the bullpen shut it down, but tonight the offense wasn’t able to provide a bail out. With the loss, the Yankees move to 74-47 on the season and remain a half game up on the Red Sox in the division with their afternoon loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.

I need a pitcher - Ed Zurga, Getty Images

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