This is a bit…lacking in perspective. Derek Jeter is not the Derek Jeter of old, to be sure, but he’s not yet a player with a negative value. Before being put on the DL he’d accumulated a total of 0.5 fWAR in 2011, which, while stellar, is still a net contribution to the Yankees. The only way he could be hurting them is if he were taking a spot that should go to a better player, and he’s not doing that (unless you want to game out a hypothetical Jose Reyes acquisition, but that’s too complicated for this argument). So unless you think Eduardo Nunez is a better starting shortstop than Derek Jeter these days, then leaving some of the finer points aside, Jeter is still a valuable asset for the Yankees.
But based on the rest of Steve’s post, apparently that’s exactly what he thinks. To which I can only respond, are we watching the same Eduardo Nunez? I mean, Derek Jeter hasn’t been good by any means (Fangraphs calculates his defense and base-running to both be below league average, to go along with a wRC+ of 83, meaning he’s been below league average in every aspect of the game) but Nunez has undoubtedly been even worse. His wRC+ is less than Jeter’s, and he’s cost the Yankees roughly 4 times as many runs in the field as Jeter has, thank to 9 errors from the shortstop position. You’ll never see me writing poems about Jeter’s phenomenal defense, but compared to Nunez he actually deserves all of those Gold Gloves. On the whole, Nunez actuall has hurt the Yankees (-0.4 fWAR) and the difference between Jeter and Nunez is almost a full win in the Captain’s favor.
That’s not to say I’m totally sanguine about the Derek Jeter Situation, as readers of this site are well aware. But my concerns lie more with the Yankees’ front office and their decision making than with Jeter. Jeter is a professional baseball player, and I don’t hold him out to any standard I wouldn’t hold anyone else to, nor do I expect him to act in a way I wouldn’t expect Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, or anyone else to act. I am, however, annoyed/worried that the Yankees needlessly caved in and drastically overpaid Jeter in both years and dollars in his last contract, and even moreso that, for whatever reason, the idea of just moving Jeter down in the starting lineup against right-handed starters is a complete non-starter in the organization.
But again, even if you assume Jeter is acting “unseemly” here, I don’t necessarily fault him for that. He’s a human being and a professional and he’s going to act like one. I didn’t fault Jorge Posada when he essentially blew his lid and asked out of the lineup against the Red Sox last month, because I could understand the emotional end of it and didn’t think it was a big deal in the grand scheme of things. And hey, Jorge’s hitting now, and seems to have accepted a platoon role in the lineup. Similarly, I don’t blame Jeter for wanting to get every penny he could in his new contract, nor do I blame him for not wanting to be moved out of the top of the order (now, if he’s actually going to cause open warfare in the clubhouse over it, that’s a different matter entirely, but there’s no actual evidence for that right now, which makes it not worth discussing or assuming). No, I’m upset with the organization for not acting in a rational manner, and letting nostalgia get in the way of good business.
And absent some pretty drastic change, you certainly won’t see me arguing that Eduardo Nunez is a better shortstop than Derek Jeter in the near future.