About Brien Jackson

Born in Southwestern Ohio and currently residing on the Chesapeake Bay, Brien is a former editor-in-chief of IIATMS who now spends most of his time sitting on his deck watching his tomatoes ripen and consuming far more MLB Network programming than is safe for one's health or sanity.

20 thoughts on “In which I (sort of) defend Jeter

  1. On May 1, 2010, coming off a down year, David Ortiz was carrying this sparking line: .143/.238/.286. Many people, including some Red Sox fans, declared him done. From May 1 on he went .286/.385/.558.

    One month, no matter how putrid, is not justification for giving up on a player with a track record as long as Jeter's.

      • The same had been true for Ortiz, who was coming off a .238/.332/.462 line in '09 (0.8 WAR).

        Let's not pretend either that Jeter's 2010 was anywhere near as bad as his 2011 has been thusfar. The average line for an AL shortstop in 2010 was .243/.299/.331, which makes .270/.340/.370 look pretty good. He was, after all, based on just about any metric you choose, one of the ten most valuable shortstops in baseball:

        WAR: #9
        wOBA: #8
        wRC+: #8
        OPS: #9

        Now, obviously, you can say 1.) the shortstop position is really thin 2.) Jeter shouldn't be a shortstop. Fair enough. But the same argument leads us to your larger point: it's very hard to find somebody better, especially midseason.

        The fact that I have become what amounts to a Jeter apologist is making me a little sick. Let me be clear, all things considered, if I was starting a team in 1997, I take Scott Rolen over Derek Jeter.

        • A very weak defense. Jeter somehow is like Ortiz. One struggled and turned it around, therefore the other also could. Doesn't make any sense. Other shortstops are even worse. So what?

          Best solution – more playing time for Nunez. Jeter played in 157 games last year, which was absurd. They would give Jeter some rest and at the same time better find out what they have in Nunez.

          • In most cases, being better than most of the other people who do your job makes for pretty good leverage. Maybe not $50 Million contract leverage, but definitely "you're not going to fire me" leverage.

            Ortiz is a familiar anecdotal example of a larger trend. Usually (not always) players don't simply dive off a cliff in terms of production when they reach the backend of their careers. Often, they have to make adjustments to deal with changing skills. This can lead to extended slumps, but it is extremely rare for a player to go from low-end All-Star to permanent automatic out without spending a couple seasons in the serviceable major-leaguer range.

    • I keep using that argument with myself with our current DH; trouble is that SS requires a bit of agility also. I don't see Ortiz in the outfield – or anywhere else except the plate.

      As Brien says, we can't give up – there aren't any alternatives; if Jeter ends up worse than Pena or Nunez, then there is plenty of time to give up.

  2. I'm not at all interested in trading for Reyes this year, both because I know there's about zero chance of it happening and because I'm not sure how many marginal wins it equates to, or how much it will cost in prospects. I might have some interest in signing him as a FA if Jeter has a *really* bad season, but that depends on the price tag.

    • I was leaning more to an FA signing myself; by then we'll know what kind of season the Captain had. Off hand, I don't know of any other great shortstops that will be available. Who knows – Nunez might get more comfortable – right now his throws to Tex ARE a little scary.

  3. I think you sum it up well Brien. Jeter isn't helping much hitting lead-off, but the other options really aren't there at this point other than moving him back in the lineup, which i think rational Yankee fans would agree is a good move. Nunez is a mixed bag and has very little experience in the majors. Pena may have the experience, but I find it hard to believe he's going to be up in the Bronx any time soon, as his start in Scranton has been disappointing to say the least. In 23 games he is hitting .233/.313/.384/.696 with a couple errors. Obviously, Pena is hitting with a bit more power than Jeter, but overall, there seems to be little, if any improvement. He is also out right now with a sore foot, though I think this is a fairly minor injury at the moment.

    That said, maybe it's time for Jeter to own his "leadership" position and realize that moving out of the one spot is the best move for the team. I'm sure the only reason he is still there is they are all too scared to move him after the whole contract negotiation debacle.

  4. Jeter has positive UZR numbers this season, so, if you can believe suspect fielding numbers, he's not hurting in the field either. The bottom line here is that Jeter will be at the top of the line up until he reaches 3,000 hits. Once that is accomplished, he's fair game. After that, it's anyone's guess if his offense doesn't pick up.

  5. Thanks, Larry. That's why I asked – I couldn't think of anyone. In that case, if they have to come up from the organization, looks like we're stuck with Nunez for a while, at least until Cito is old enough to drink. (doubt if he's ready for the majors yet, not right out of HS)

    • Old enough to drink? In his 36 games last year in the Gulf Coast League, Cito wasn't old enough to VOTE. He is the longest of longshots, and at best is probably 5 years away from the bigs.

  6. Father Time has got Jeter`s address,there is no hiding.Jeter was showing his age last year.He needs and strongly deserves to got 3,000 hits.If I were him I would retire after this season.He is currently hitting .250 with 0 homers,0 stolen bases,and only 2 doubles.He is not getting any younger.He has had a fantastic career!You should always leave with a hit or two in your bat(though he might even need those to get 3,000)!

  7. I feel that most people who have a problem with Jeter's season is that he's still hitting at the top of the order. The problem is not benching him, it's moving him out of the top of the batting order. He's obviously not going to be benched because no one pays a player $17 million to be a bench warmer. Should Jeter still be hitting at the top of the order? And how would you fix the lineup? In my opinion, I would put Russel Martin either at the 1 or 2 batting spot because he has the highest OBP on the team, either Granderson or Martin should be at the 2 spot. IF Gardner continues to hit well then I would put Gardner back at the lead off spot. Jeter has the lowest OBP after Posada. The question is: where do you put Jeter in the lineup? It seems he should be at the end of the lineup, not sure exactly where. I don't get why Giradi has kept Jeter at the top of lineup for so long.

  8. This is not a defense of Jeter. It's a statement of fact that the Yankees don't currently have better alternatives. It kind of ignores the fact that if Jeter weren't signed to the new deal, the Yankees would be at least trying to find better alternatives.

  9. You mean 10 million per year, or 10 million over two years? If 10 million per year, that's ballpark.

    Scutaro is playing for $7 million per year if we count his buyout. You have to figure that's the floor. Carlos Pena got $10 million a year out of the Cubs, for whatever that's worth. This past off-season was a good one for free agents.

    Leverage is in part a matter of need. The Giants and Mariners are two teams I can think of that seem to have an immediate need for a shortstop. I think the Dodgers might have bid — Frank McCourt could use something to distract the fans from, well, Frank McCourt.

    We're just guessing. Shortstop is a premium position, hard to fill. My guess is that Jeter could have gotten $10 million on the open market, maybe more if he was willing to take a one-year deal, perhaps less if he wanted 3 years or more. Very hard to say. People are sick of hearing this, but Jeter is the most popular and best known player in baseball, and those intangibles could be worth something to a team trying to boost attendance and get a little publicity (again, the Dodgers come to mind).

    • I'd add the Reds (a likely contender with a predisposition for paying top dollar to veteran leadership guys) to Larry's list. I think Walt Jocketty and Dusty Baker would've pursued Jeter avidly. Remember, the other free agents at his position:

      Jeter, 37: 710 OPS, 2.5 WAR
      Edgar Renteria, 35: 706 OPS, 1.3 WAR
      Orlando Cabrera, 36: 657 OPS, 1.3 WAR
      Juan Uribe, 32: 750 OPS, 3.2 WAR (in career year!)

      I think I've gotten sidetracked, however. Like Brien, I have no interest in defending the unforgivable contract.

      But that's a sunk cost. Taking a radical measure at this point (like benching Jeter) likely only compounds the mistake. There would not only be a PR nightmare, but the team would probably be no better on the field.

  10. In the sales industry there's an old adage. "If you don't ask, you don't get." Point being, how does anyone KNOW Nunez isn't a better alternative than Jeter? Just as no one was sure Jeter would do so well in '96, no one can be sure that Nunez wouldn't do as well, if not better, than Jeter. To assume so is ridiculous. I'm not saying bench Jeter all together, but he should sit a couple of games a week and Nunez should play so the Yankees can determine if indeed Nunez might be the answer. Not to do so is just plain stupid. Perhaps if Jeter's hip injury is more severe than thought, the Yankees may get the answer they're looking for without having to force the issue with Jeter.

  11. A little off topic, but Posada is having a worse season than Jeter. At least Posada is in the last year of his contract. IMO Posada should be benched, I don't have the stats, but Posada must be way below the current average for DH