Jeter going to the All Star Game isn't the problem

jeter3400Derek Jeter is going to start the All Star Game at shortstop in his final MLB season. Many people have a problem with this. I don’t.

At 40 years old, Jeter is hitting .273 with a .323 on-base percentage, .328 slugging and .651 OPS. It’s not pretty.

Should Jeter start the All Star Game based on those numbers? If the nature of the ASG is to truly honor the best of the best (and part of it is), then no. There are more deserving short stops in the American League such as Kansas City’s Alcides Escobar.

Yet, the problem isn’t Derek Jeter or that fans get to decide the starters. The problem is – and will be – that the All Star Game is supposed to mean something more than just an exhibition for fans. Using the All Star Game to decide which league gets home field advantage for the World Series has been an awful idea. Downright terrible.

The All Star Game is meant to be an exhibition game for fans getting to watch their favorite players represent their teams. Derek Jeter should 100 percent be at his final All Star Game, even if he has to be the batboy.

It doesn’t matter that his numbers aren’t All-Star caliber (frankly, the AL is hurting this year at shortstop anyway). There are so many players who will take the field for this year’s game who grew up watching Jeter play. They called him their favorite player once upon a time and part of their passion and love of the game stems from what he has during his 19-year career.

The fans who have loved and hated him – yet who still seem to respect him – should get a moment to reflect on his career without any other games going on that day. He hit his 3,400th career hit in Sunday’s game – territory currently held by fewer than 10 players in MLB history.

Jeter is going to the All Star Game because the fans voted him in. Baseball fans. Not casual fans or stathead fans, but baseball fans. Certain players will get this kind of treatment in their swan song just as Cal Ripken Jr., and Mariano Rivera did in their final seasons.

There is nothing wrong with Jeter going to the All Star Game except that ASG still matters in ways it should not.

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Derek Jeter's pesky defense

Recently Grantland published a large article about Derek Jeter's defense. Let me summarize the article for you: He's bad at defense. This has been the sabremetric criticism of the Captain for about his entire career. No one can deny that a guy who's picked up more than 3,000 hits gets it done with the bat. Instead, the argument has always been that despite the Gold Gloves and highlight reel plays, Jeter is actually an awful defender due to a lack of range at his position.

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Derek Jeter, Alfonso Soriano, combine to help Yankees walk-off 6-5 versus Rays

Today was a trip in the way back machine. Derek Jeter made his second return from the DL. This time things went better than before. Jeter swung at the first pitch he saw in the first inning and put it in the people. It was a classic Derek Jeter shot to right. The Captain established that he's back and the Yankees were up one to nothing.

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Game Thread: Rays versus Yankees, Sunday July 28th

Derek Jeter's back! Again. Is he back for good? The injuries have been so pervasive this year that it seems like the veterans are destined to get hurt. Let's hope Jeter stays healthy. The Yankees can use his bat. Even a diminished Jeter is better than the production the Yankees have been getting from shortstop. Phil Hughes works the rubber for the Yankees. The Rays counter with Matt Moore. Use this as your game thread. Enjoy!

Reports: Jeter To Return Today

This thing really came together quickly, huh?  Earlier in the week there were hints and suggestions that the Yankees were planning to activate Derek Jeter from the DL as early as this weekend.  The situation heated up yesterday when Craig Carton tweeted that Jeter would be in the lineup Friday and The Post reported that his stuff had been shipped out of Tampa.  Late last night, Ken Rosenthal brought things to a boil when he tweeted that Jeter would be back for today's series finale against the Royals.  Joel Sherman reported the same about an hour ago, so all signs point to The Captain making his return this afternoon. As someone who's been firmly in the "don't rush him back" camp since he had the surgery last year, it's hard to say I'm a fan of this move.  What it boils down to is that I don't think it's smart for the team to basically mandate that it wanted to see its 39-year-old shortstop play 2 consecutive full games in the field before declaring him ready to return and then drastically alter that plan after the aforementioned 39-year-old shortstop has already suffered one setback this season from trying to come back too quickly.  With his range  already limited and a player option available for next season, this just doesn't ring as a smart baseball or business decision.

That being said, I completely understand why the Yankees are doing it.  They've been a nightmare offensively for the better part of the last 2+ months and nowhere has that been more apparent than at shortstop, where they've gotten a whopping .552 OPS' worth of production.  They're still right in the thick of things in the AL playoff race and as long as the Steinbrenners are willing to play the "championship-caliber team" card in the media, they have to make a move like bringing back their captain if he's ready to go.  Jeter's no doctor, but if he says he's good and all the people with medical degrees agree with him, that's good enough for me.  A rusty Derek Jeter is still probably better than Luis Cruz or Eduardo Nunez.

For what it's worth, Sherman also tweeted this morning that scouts he spoke to "marveled" at Jeter's bat speed and timing in his Triple-A rehab games.  He only went 1-9 with 4 BB and 3 K in his 4 MiL games, so who knows how credible those scouts are.  But if all these reports are true and Jeter is going to be in the lineup this afternoon, then that's good news for the Yankees.  If nothing else, his presence should bring a little more pep to the clubhouse and The Stadium.

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What will A-Rod and Jeter bring to the table?

This hasn't been the most dominant Yankee season, but that's what makes it interesting. This season may not end in October. The potential for the season to end in September is what makes it exciting. Fortunately there's a lot to be happy about in Yankee-land right now. The team hasn't been strong, but it remains within striking distance of a playoff berth. The Yankees also turned the corner on a five game losing streak and ran off six wins in a row before falling Sunday to the Orioles. Now, just in time for the All-Star break the Bombers are on the verge of getting back Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter. Five years ago that was a tantalizing prospect. Now that each player is near the end of his career, coming back from difficult injuries, how good can this be?

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Measuring the impact of Derek Jeter's absence

The consistent story line surrounding the Yankees so far this season has been that the team needs to tread water until the injured superstars, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and Derek Jeter, can return. Last week we found out that Jeter has suffered a set back and won't be able to play until July. Without question, this harms the team. Much has been made of Jeter's recent decline, specifically his sub-par 2010 and 2011 seasons, but even that weakened Jeter gave the Yankees above average offense at shortstop. Furthermore, Derek bounced back in 2012. The .347 wOBA Jeter posted in 2012 was far from his .365 career average, or the production he's put up in his signature seasons, such as 2009, but it was a welcomed return to form, and evidence that maybe Derek had one more .340 plus wOBA season in him. As frustrating as it is to watch the Yankees play Mariano Rivera's final season without Jeter in the lineup every day, Derek will come back. He's still under contract and too competitive an athlete to go out this way. The real question is therefore how much damage his extended absence will wreak on the team. Given that Derek will miss half the season, we can measure the production this will cost the Yankees as a whole.

According to Fangraphs, Derek has averaged just under 2.6 fWAR over the past three seasons (Baseball Reference puts the figure at 2.3 bWAR). Taking that as a baseline, its safe to suggest that over the course of half a season, even an aging Derek Jeter will be responsible for between one and two victories for the Yankees. It may not sound like much, but that's a hefty contribution.

Unfortunately, Jeter's contribution isn't zero sum. The Yankees have to put nine players on the field. Less Derek Jeter usually means more of Eduardo Nunez or Jayson Nix. Nunez is off to a terrible start. Fangraphs suggests he's been a net negative on the team, with an fWAR of -0.2. Last season he managed only 0.5 fWAR in limited playing time, which means at best Nunez is a slightly above replacement level player. Jayson Nix isn't any better. He clocks in at -0.2 fWAR on the season already, and managed 0.3 over all of 2012.

Taking it all together, assuming Nix and Nunez actually cost the Yankees games, Jeter's absence over the first half of the season will probably take two games off the Yankees win total during that time. That may not sound like much, but the AL East will be tight all season long and there is no guarantee that both Wild Card teams will come from the AL East when Texas, Oakland and Anaheim all have post season plans in the AL West. Jeter's absence will most certainly be felt.

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Adjusting To Life Without Jeter


The Yankees, their fans, and even Derek Jeter himself have known that his days as the team's starting shortstop were numbered.  That discussion was surely had with Jeter behind closed doors during his last contract negotiation and is more than likely the reason the final year of his deal became an optional one.  That timeline got sped up some when Jeter suffered his season-ending ankle injury last October and now appears to be speeding up again after last week's announcement that Jeter had re-injured his ankle, suffering a crack in the area of the original break that will put him on the shelf until at least the All-Star break.  That revelation fell into the "disappointing but not surprising" category for many of us who questioned Jeter's progress after the initial setback and cortisone shot, and now we, like the Yankees, have to figure out the best way to move forward without The Captain's familiar #2 anywhere on the lineup card.

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Pre-Game Evening Link Dump

Evening, all. Hope your work days weren't too torturous. Anyway, here are a few links to help you along in your commute. Starting with the not-so-great, there's the news you probably already know: Jeter is going to miss more time than expected. Sigh.

Speaking of Derek Jeter, though, here's something cool from Twitter yesterday. Baseball HOF president Jeff Idleson posted a pre-draft scouting report the Rockies did on Jeter:

(Click on 'View Full Post' to continue reading)

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Status Not Looking Good For Jeter

Jeter Rehab (Syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)

Derek Jeter said he was going to be ready to start this season.  Both he and the Yankees did everything in their power to try to make that happen.  When his ankle started to act up earlier in spring camp, both he and the team passed it off as a blip on the radar.  Now, on the day he was supposed to be eligible to come off the DL and return to the lineup, Jeter finds himself no closer to coming back than he was when he first went on the DL.

There hasn't been much progress in Jeter's latest attempt to come back, as evidenced by this latest report from Bryan Hoch today on Saturday.  What Jeter is doing now is the same thing he was doing two months ago when he first really started to get back to baseball activities, and this second go-round with these incredibly watered-down activities is happening at a slower pace than two months ago.  Jeter still isn't taking batting practice, he still isn't taking real fielding practice, and he still can't run the bases.  Those are the three fundamental activities for any baseball player at any position, and the plain fact of the matter is that there's no timetable for when he's going to start doing them again.  I've heard early May thrown around as the new possible return date, but even that looks like a stretch presently.

I said way back in November that I didn't think Jeter was going to be able to make it back in time for Opening Day, and my preference was that he and the team didn't attempt to rush his comeback to make that happen.  They did, it didn't work, and now we don't know when he's going to be back on the field.  Normally I like to puff out my chest and sing my own praises on one of the rare occasions when I'm right.  In this instance, however, I really don't want to.

(Photo courtesy of J. Conrad Williams, Jr./Newsday)

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