Is It Time for Jeter To make the Move?


     For a long time, Derek Jeter has been overrated on the defensive side of the ball, according to basically every reliable defensive metric there is.  I have stated many times how I feel about Jeter;  Mentally as aware as anyone who has played the game (It seems anyway), plays the game the right way, a good hitter, who has always been a great hitting SS.  When it is all said and done, even with his lack of range, he will be one of the five best SS’s to ever play the game, and a no doubt Hall of Famer.  So do not take this as an attack on Jeter.  But since he is now 34 years of age, and has declined even more so with the glove since his younger days, isn’t it about time to make the transition?  They need a replacement for Jeter, that is obvious.  So without having someone to take over the position, this really isn’t much of a discussion.  But they could very well look into a stop-gap:  Adam Everett, someone else, etc.  Someone who could give them a great glove, but obviously in Everett’s case, would be a lousy hitter. 


     But there is a fact, the FACT is that the Yankees were 25th in DefensiveEfficiency this season, which could be a reason why they only won 89 games.  Which is still pretty good, but not up to what they are accustomed to.  Improving the defense, would improve the team.  Simple.  But not so simple in how they would appoach doing this.  As for why this season would be a good season for Jeter to make the transition?  Because if the Yankees want to part ways with Giambi, it will cost them $5 million to do so.  And I am sure that they want to get out of that contract, even if Giambi DID have a solid 2008 (Far from what one would for $22 million however).  Abreu will also leave if the Yankees do not give him the money.  I agree with what Keith Law said:  If Abreu will accept a two-year contract, or even better a one-year deal, then ink it up.  But if he wants any more than that, then it is probably wise to let him seek out another team.  Abreu is 34 also, which would be the reasoning for this.  He is still a solid player, but how good will he be when he is 37? 


     So there are two positions that the Yankees could move Jeter to, if they choose to do so.  First base, which is something Jeter should be able to handle relatively easy.  Now a lot depends on whether or not they make a play on Teixera, and whether or not this is where Posada will need to play.  If they want Tex bad enough, then they can give him the most money.  In this case, something else would need to be done with Jeter, or of course just leave him at SS if they wish. 


     Right Field is the other option for Jeter.  I don’t know how well this transition would go though.  Jeter has always shown to handle balls in the air well enough.  But the outfield is a different story.  I would think he would be able to handle it, but of course am not totally sure of it.  Third base would be another option, but one of the greatest talents ever resides there, so that is out (unless of course they switched positions, which probably isn’t likely or realistic at this point). 


     According to THT’s RevisedZoneRating, Jeter actually improved a lot at the position I am saying he should move from.  But it is probably somewhat of a fluke, or this stat just doesn’t have much weight.  It is, unfortunately, the only defensive metric I have available to me right now until the 2009 version of “The Fielding Bible” is released.  I have a hard time believing that Jeter will be better than 25th or so among all SS’s once it comes out though.


     Which leads me to something else, for all the criticism the stat guys, including myself, give to Derek Jeter’s glove-work, he still has the ability to field the position.  Eventually, he will not.  Which is why the move will be made sometime anyway.  But there are always going to be poor fielding defenders with respect to their given position.  So it isn’t a necessity that Jeter be shifted somewhere else on the diamond.  And after 2009, Damon and Matsui come off the books, so there will be another position open for Jeter in Left.  Obviously, a lot of the acquisitions that the Yankees will make in the upcoming offseason, will dictate what they can do with Jeter.  But if they sign, say, Derek Lowe, then they will have two sinkerball pitchers anchoring the front end of the rotation.  And with the poor team defense that the Yankees played this season, it seems like making this move could benefit them.




  1. mikeeff

    first of all it is true that jeter was better in the field this year than last- i don’t look at all those statistics that you do, but i watch almost all of the games. jeter also said in spring training that he worked on his lateral moves during the off season- it seemed to payoff – at least a bit-

    to be honest with you and jason can back this up–i complained all year about jeter’s range all year ( you know how fans are)

    i can’t agree with your suggestion about moving him now though. a bad hitter like everett is obviously out of the question and i can’t believe you really are serious with that suggestion-lets face it- the yankee offense has shown itself to be much less powerful this year than last and we are going to need power at 1st to off set the loss at giambi. can you really envision jeter withy his lack of power at 1st base with no bat at SS? i have no doubt that they will offer abreu arbitration and he will decline it. nady will take over in right and provide much better D. i completely agree with you about our need to improve in that area-and aside from abreu’s pretty good arm that is the extent of his usefulness in the field. his phobia of the wall is well known but i cant remember the last time he dived for a ball- nady doesn’t have his plate discipline, but he’s got some pop-good average and much better D. i had entertained some hopes for some kind of cano for matt kemp trade with the dodgers and signing hudson but quite clearly they have a guy named blake dewitt so they would have to be insane to make that deal. i think the yanks are going to give gardner a shot. i’m hopeful that he can hit well enough- his play in the field is really great as well as watching him on the basepaths–he might be ellsbury lite.

    i’d say now is the time to perhaps trade johnny damon as his value will probably never be higher. the X factor is how much production the yankees will get out of posada and matsui.

  2. joefromnewhampshire

    Actually Rob Neyer has inside access to the defensive numbers that I rely on, that have not been released to the public yet. And this was his description within his chat archive today, “He seems to have been less bad than usual, but that’s probably just statistical noise.” Now. I actually dislike the way he said this, because he is one of the ones that rips Jeter’s D every year. He also lives and dies by statistics. So Jeter was still below average, it seems, according to those numbers, but he must have moved up some. Since the numbers indicate that he was “less bad than usual,” Neyer should have left out the “statistical noise” part. If he goes by the numbers, then GO by the numbers. Sample size is very important, but a full year is a heck of a sample size.

    I don’t know that Adam Everett would be the solution. They couldn’t have two black holes in the lineup if they stick with Molina at catcher. But someone who is a very good fielder, that doesn’t necessarily hit all that well was what I meant. Who they acquire in the offseason would determine who they could sign as a defender. But you are probably right, they might as well stick with Jeter as **** this season.

    To be honest, I don’t know how confident I am in Nady being very good. His career numbers are decent, but this is the AL, and the AL East, while I am at it. He had some success during his 2 months, and has been a platoon player for the most part in his career. So maybe he just needed to play all the time. But I don’t know that he will be much better than a .280/.330/.470 line. Which is basically his career line. That is about what Alex Rios did this season. Rios is good, but that line is ok. But Nady is a very likeable player it seems. But again, Nady playing full time may help.

    As far as Abreu being wall shy and never laying out, I understand. Drew is the same way, maybe not quite as “shy” though. But I love the patience that both show at the plate, both have above average arms, with Abreu’s being better. But Drew has far better range. Of course when Drew isn’t hitting, like right now, it is frustrating.

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