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State of the organization: Shortstop

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Misc on Feb 07, 2014 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Derek Jeter

A fascinating position in the short-term, and an up-for-grabs position in the long-term. The era of the Yankees most iconic shortstop is coming to an end, but Derek Jeter is out to prove the final chapter hasn’t been written just yet. Even if he’s able to handle the position one more year, he’s surely on the verge of yielding the floor to someone else. Who that might be is anyone’s guess.

JeterTop of the depth chart: Derek Jeter
Backup options: Brendan Ryan
Also coming to camp: Eduardo Nunez, Dean Anna, Yangervis Solarte
Deeper in the system: Abiatal Avelino, Cito Culver, Thairo Estrada, Tyler Wade

We’re all well aware — because of the excellent cell phone photography of our good friend Anthony McCarron — that Jeter is in Tampa right now, taking batting practice and fielding ground balls and talking about being ready to play shortstop regularly this season. We’re also well aware that the Yankees have not so much as hinted at the idea of anyone else being their starting shortstop on Opening Day. Jeter’s about to turn 40 years old, he’s coming off a lost season full of lower-body injuries, but he’s Jeter. That means, even when there’s reason to give up on him, he will be given the opportunity to do Jeter-like things. But, what happens if he can’t?

Brendan RyanLingering question: It’s all about Jeter
For the time being, every other shortstop question comes after this one: Is Jeter still an everyday shortstop? He turns 40 in June, and he played just 17 games last year because of lower-body injuries. That’s a heck of a combination to overcome, but the Yankees have committed $12 million to the idea that Jeter can still do extraordinary things. And given the current circumstances, simply being a passable shortstop and steady table-setter would be pretty extraordinary. There is no questioning Jeter’s career, but it’s easy to question his impact going forward. If he can do it — he did lead the league in hits just two years ago, and his limited range is somewhat mitigated by his remarkably steady hands — then the Yankees will have their Captain in place. But if he can’t, a whole world of uncertainty bursts open. Would Jeter move to a different position? How would he handle moving to the bottom of the order? Could the Yankees find an everyday replacement on short notice? The Yankees are bringing a handful of guys with shortstop experience into camp, but there’s little question that defense-first Brendan Ryan is the backup plan at the moment.

Worth watching this spring: Seriously…
It’s just Jeter. I suppose there’s something to be said for getting a sense of how well Dean Anna can play the position, and it will be interesting to see how much time Eduardo Nunez gets at shortstop, and maybe Ryan will show some flashes of the offense he showed during his early years in St. Louis. But, really, it’s all about Jeter this spring.  How’s he moving? Is he able to play a normal spring schedule without setbacks? Can he still hit? Everything else is secondary.

Best-case scenario: No one else quite like him
Jeter faced serious doubters after that relatively disappointing 2010 season, and it didn’t help matters when he got off to a slow start in 2011. But he bounced back in a big way. A strong second half in 2011, and then a .316/.362/.429 slash line in 2012 that led to a Silver Slugger and a seventh-place finish in MVP voting. It’s foolish to hope Jeter will suddenly become a rangy, dynamic fielder. Instead, a steady, mistake-free shortstop is probably the best-case scenario. At the plate, the days of slugging .480 or so are probably long gone, but that slash line from two years ago would be cause of jubilation. It’s Jeter. Does he have another legacy building season up his sleeves?

Worst-case scenario: This thing could get ugly
Really, the worst-case scenario goes beyond on-the-field production. It begins with Jeter being healthy enough to play, but no longer good enough to be productive. That’s the nightmare scenario because no one can predict what would happen next. How would Jeter react? How would Joe Girardi react? How would Brian Cashman react? How would the clubhouse — one that’s full of new superstars who presumably have very little relationship with Jeter — respond to the Captain being relegated to a secondary bench player (or being shoved into the lineup when he doesn’t belong there)? Jeter’s going to be given every chance to prove himself — he’s certainly earned that — but what happens if he can’t do it opens all sorts of uncomfortable questions.

Keep and eye on this year: Abiatal Avelino
Really, there should be three names here because Avelina, Thairo Estrada and Tyler Wade each had nice season in the Gulf Coast League last year. Avelino is generally considered the cream of the crop — he did jump to Staten Island late in the year — bur really, all three are still teenagers, so there’s plenty of time for any one of them to emerge (or disappear). The bigger point is that the Yankees have a handful of intriguing young shortstops who could easy surpass former first-round draft pick Cito Culver if Culver doesn’t finally show some offense this season. These guys are a long way from the big leagues, they’re at least a distance glimmer of hope for an organization that hasn’t found a Jeter replacement so far.

Associated Press photos

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73 Responses to “State of the organization: Shortstop”

  1. blake February 7th, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    Chip,
    love it….only one I’m a little iffy on is Phelps for Murphy because I think Phelps will play a big role for the Yanks this year either in the pen or rotation…..but other than that I like that roster.

  2. blake February 7th, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    The Yankees don’t have a single player that they are sure is a big league starting SS.

    1. Jeter: I believe he’ll hit but we have no idea if he can handle SS and for how long or how many games.
    2: Ryan: can certainly defend there but can’t hit at all.
    3. Nunez: can’t do anything.

    they need to sign Drew.

  3. jmills February 7th, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=p.....del=watch#

    For those of you who have not met him, the right, the honourable, Sir Paul Henderson!

  4. blake February 7th, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    Deadspin ?@Deadspin 10m
    Looking back on the beautiful infographics of Ted Williams’s “The Science Of Hitting”: http://deadsp.in/lfINLtp pic.twitter.com/KsyIiuUUMM

  5. Ys Guy February 7th, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    blake February 7th, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    The Yankees don’t have a single player that they are sure is a big league starting SS.

    1. Jeter: I believe he’ll hit but we have no idea if he can handle SS and for how long or how many games.
    2: Ryan: can certainly defend there but can’t hit at all.
    3. Nunez: can’t do anything.
    ======================
    4. Drew: always injured, pretty expensive, wants 3 year deal

  6. blake February 7th, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    “4. Drew: always injured, pretty expensive, wants 3 year deal”

    was a quality big league SS as recently as 2013….who else do they have that can claim that?

  7. Barry February 7th, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    Jeter: The Last Hero.

  8. jmills February 7th, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    If you can believe it, idiots are still keeping Paul Henderson out of the hockey hall of fame. I’m going to have to go over there and set these things straight!

  9. tomingeorgia February 7th, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    blake,
    Your Drew fixation makes me feel like I need a root canal.

  10. jmills February 7th, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    Hi, Barry! Always great to see you, I trust everything is alright.

  11. Ys Guy February 7th, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    You constantly complain about the Yankees injury concerns, Ells, Jeter, Tex, Roberts.

    But you want to give a 3 year deal (and an opt out!) to a guy who’s averaged significantly less games/year in the last three than Jeter, Tex or Ellsbury?

    It seems like just another expensive injury risk especially on a 3 year deal.

    I’d give him one year for $12M but he won’t take it because of the embarrasment that would be for Boras.

  12. jmills February 7th, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    Hi, tom, you have 2 fantastique hockey teams with the Kessel brother and sister leading the way. Phil Kessel is a special hockey player, and I take it his sister is too! :D

  13. blake February 7th, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    “But you want to give a 3 year deal (and an opt out!) to a guy who’s averaged significantly less games/year in the last three than Jeter, Tex or Ellsbury?”

    as I explained this morning Ellsbury and Drew are apples and oranges because of the vast difference in money and years between them…..Tex they can’t do anything about and Jeter is a one year deal. If you feel comfortable with this infield the way it is then more power to ya I guess…..

  14. blake February 7th, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    tom,
    wait til you see Nunie take one off the knee cap then throw it in the 2nd row…..then you’ll feel like you need a root canal! ;)

  15. Jerkface February 7th, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    Ys Guy,

    There are no better options and the Yankees infield as currently constructed has a real solid chance to be a disaster. Like a really really bad infield both defensively and offensively.

  16. Ys Guy February 7th, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    drew has averaged 6 more games played than ‘iron kevin’ youkils the past 3 years.

  17. jmills February 7th, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    I hated doing, root canals, avoided them at all costs.

  18. Jerkface February 7th, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    I like the opt out for Drew, hopefully he opts out after the 1 year, if they were to sign him. What we know with Drew is that when he is healthy he will give us good defense and good offense vs RHP.

    Brian Roberts, Brendan Ryan, and Kelly Johnson are all likely to be worse in every way than Drew.

    It really sucks that this is our infield going into next year because I like the outfield/DH/C and the pitching staff right now.

  19. fuji February 7th, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    interesting recent article on pineda from seattle perspective:

    http://www.lookoutlanding.com/.....aign=blogs

    “He goes onto say that forcing Pineda to work on his change-up, pre- and post-trade, may have played a role—and says “The Yankees didn’t act negligently when it came to acquiring Michael Pineda. They may have acted negligently when it came to developing him.”

  20. tomingeorgia February 7th, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    Hello, jmills,
    I wish that NBC would act like the Golf Channel and show things live, as they happen. There was just a tournament in Dubai they broadcast live at 4:00AM. Well, some of us are up at that hour, or even earlier. Then they rebroadcast it in the morning for the rest of humanity. I understand that Sochi is nine hours ahead of us, so if the broadcast began at midnight and ran until 9AM EST, some of us could watch the whole thing.

  21. jmills February 7th, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    tom, its frustrating; we are just going to have to make them, better! :D

  22. fuji February 7th, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    “There was just a tournament in Dubai they broadcast live at 4:00AM.”

    at this time of the year, i like watching anywhere warm especially with palm trees.

  23. Shame Spencer February 7th, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    I wish that NBC would act like the Golf Channel and show things live, as they happen.

    ——————-

    You can watch many events live online (for free) if you know where to look. An entire generation of viewers consider their approach obsolete.

  24. jmills February 7th, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    Shame Spencer, I still don’t get your name. Jim Spencer had a pretty productive ’79 with your team.

  25. fuji February 7th, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    “It really sucks that this is our infield going into next year because I like the outfield/DH/C and the pitching staff right now.”

    i’m surprised you like beltran in right field. isn’t he really bad in all the defensive metrics systems?

  26. blake February 7th, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    “I like the opt out for Drew, hopefully he opts out after the 1 year, if they were to sign him. What we know with Drew is that when he is healthy he will give us good defense and good offense vs RHP.”

    I think it’s a sneaky way to make it a 1 year deal. If he stays healthy he’ll opt out and the money comes off the books. There is risk that he’ll get hurt yes…..but again even if he doesn’t opt out it’s not going to be at crippling contract if it’s 3/36 or something like that.

    The Yankees have spent a lot of money this winter and are close to being a playoff team….they should risk it by throwing this current infield out there. It could literally be the difference between making and not making the postseason…..sometimes 1 or 2 games is all it takes.

  27. tomingeorgia February 7th, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    Tell me, Shame,
    Where can I watch Biathlon?

  28. blake February 7th, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    Beltran will be fine in the small YS RF and especially if they have Gardner and Ellsbury patrolling the rest.

  29. fuji February 7th, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    i wish the yankees would sign drew just to shut up blake :)

  30. jmills February 7th, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    ….all I need to do is call up Dave Stieb and I’m set! :D

  31. blake February 7th, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    “i wish the yankees would sign drew just to shut up blake :)”

    me too! There is nothing else to talk about though…..shall we go back to debating Montero vs Nunez?

  32. tomingeorgia February 7th, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    fuji,
    Amen.

  33. Jerkface February 7th, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    Beltran is fine. They have Gardner and Ellsbury covering probably 75% of the outfield. NYS’s RF is not exactly difficult to play and Beltran has been a good defender in his career so I expect he won’t be as bad as he was in his last season in STL.

    Beltran can hit so he is fine in RF. The only better option this offseason was Choo and the Yankees didn’t sign him.

  34. blake February 7th, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    so Tom and Fugi now want Drew. Progress.

  35. Chip February 7th, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    I’m willing to bet that if the Yankees don’t sign Drew, Aramis Ramirez will be donning pinstripes before August 1 (assuming he’s healthy)

  36. tomingeorgia February 7th, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    blake,
    I want the Yanks to sign him so that you won’t complain all summer when someone else does, at least until he goes down in a pile, then we won’t hear a peep.

  37. blake February 7th, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    “I want the Yanks to sign him so that you won’t complain all summer when someone else does, at least until he goes down in a pile, then we won’t hear a peep.”

    no I’ll complain when their infield costs them games they should be winning…..

  38. blake February 7th, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    “I’m willing to bet that if the Yankees don’t sign Drew, Aramis Ramirez will be donning pinstripes before August 1 (assuming he’s healthy)”

    possibly…..and they’ll have to give up prospects for him

  39. Ys Guy February 7th, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    “lets sign him to a 3 year deal and hope he opts out” isnt a strategy that fills me with optimism

  40. blake February 7th, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    “lets sign him to a 3 year deal and hope he opts out” isnt a strategy that fills me with optimism

    the only way it’s bad is if he gets hurt…..if he opts out it’s a 1 year deal…..if he doesn’t then something in the 3/36 range is still a good deal. They need 3 infielders going forward….

  41. TKR February 7th, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    by not getting a RP who has closed at some point in a mistake

  42. TKR February 7th, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    if DRob can’t get job done they are screwed

  43. Tackelberry February 7th, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    Maybe Yanks should have signed Drew instead of Beltran. Needed an infielder more than another outfielder once they signed Ellsbury.

  44. Chip February 7th, 2014 at 4:21 pm

    blake February 7th, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    “I’m willing to bet that if the Yankees don’t sign Drew, Aramis Ramirez will be donning pinstripes before August 1 (assuming he’s healthy)”

    possibly…..and they’ll have to give up prospects for him
    ————————–

    Not real prospects though – it would be more like the kind of deal they made for Soriano last year.

  45. TKR February 7th, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    You were there for summer dreaming
    And you gave me what I need
    And I hope you find your freedom

  46. Ys Guy February 7th, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    i am worried about the set up man, too. i think they’ll be able to develop one as the year goes by, but i would have preferred an experienced guy there. im not worried about the closer.

  47. bigdan22 February 7th, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    When it comes to SS prospects, I don’t think Culver gets enough love. He doesn’t deserve a lot of love mind you. Just a peck on the cheek. I had him down a few months ago in my post as one of three positives of the Yanks 2013 minor league season (with Murphy and Bird).

    You have to remember, Culver has three important factors working in his favor. One, he started his professional career at a very young age so even though it seems like he’s been around forever, he’s still young (21). Def age appropriate for the Florida State League. Two, it’s reported that he has a strong glove. That he has the skills now to be a ML SS defensively. That alone is very valuable for an organization. And finally, because he plays a defense first position, he will never be expected to hit much. An excellent glove hitting .250 is a mighty valuable SS.

    Lets face it. None of us are going to see another Jeter in our lifetime. But a young SS with a special glove who isn’t terrible at the plate? We could do a lot worse.

  48. TKR February 7th, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    Ys Guy February 7th, 2014 at 4:23 pm
    i am worried about the set up man, too. i think they’ll be able to develop one as the year goes by, but i would have preferred an experienced guy there. im not worried about the closer.
    ———————————————–
    have to be worried about a RP who is being call on to close games when he hasn’t done much of it…until he does close & gets job done then it’s time to not worry

  49. Mottsx February 7th, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    A Rod Finally give up?

    A-Rod voluntarily dismisses cases against MLB, MLBPA, and Bud Selig
    By Joe Pawlikowski

    MLB and MLBPA wanted the judge to toss out A-Rod’s suit against them. It appears they’ll get their wish. Today was the deadline for A-Rod and company to respond, and they have voluntarily dismissed the case according to Newsday’s Jim Baumbach. A-Rod also withdrew his October lawsuit against Bud Selig, which alleged a witch hunt.

    This seems very odd, given A-Rod’s insistence that he would continue to fight. RAB alum Moshe Mandel notes that A-Rod could re-file or combine the suits, but that’s not certain.

  50. Tackelberry February 7th, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    according to RAB, Yanks have signed releiver Cole Kimball, formerly of the Nationals to a minor league deal with an invite to ST. He had rotator cuff surgery in 2011. Before surgery he had a 93-97 MPH fastball, power curve and splitter. Another project Yanks are trying to resurrect.

  51. blake February 7th, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    “Maybe Yanks should have signed Drew instead of Beltran. Needed an infielder more than another outfielder once they signed Ellsbury.”

    I want both but honestly if it’s either or then Drew would have been a better sign than Beltran IMO.

  52. Tackelberry February 7th, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    bigdan:

    Culver’s bat finally started to come around toward the end of last season in High A Tampa. He finally gave up switch hitting, hitting only from the right side. If he can pick up where he left off, maybe, just maybe he can get himself on the prospect map. Would still lile to see the Yanks sign Diaz though.

  53. Ys Guy February 7th, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    i think people have really really overlooked just how good david roberston has become. he pitched better than mo last year.

    when mo was injured and drob suddenly had to close the year before last, he didnt adjust well. some people think this means he cant close.

    this time, he’s going to be ready, he’s going into ST knowing he’s the man and imo he’s going to really come through.

    a 2.04 era and a 1.04 whip in the AL East (in NYS) is pretty increadible. i was confident that mo could step in when wetteland left and im equally confident that drob can do the job.

    (note that i did not say he was going to be as good as mariano)

  54. tomingeorgia February 7th, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    I’m not worried about a damned thing. Every team has people worried over it. I just want to watch the Yankees play baseball. Things will sort out, or they won’t. If they don’t, then they’ll try something else. I’m heartened by the off season thus far, and there’s nearly two months until ST is over and the wars begin in earnest. We’ll be there in September, right up to the end, and we could win the whole thing. Why should I worry?

    Blake and JAP, I’m not asking for an answer to that question!

  55. pkyankfan69 February 7th, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    according to RAB, Yanks have signed releiver Cole Kimball
    ——————-
    His name sorta sounds like Craig Kimbrel… Maybe he’ll be good

  56. blake February 7th, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    “i think people have really really overlooked just how good david roberston has become. he pitched better than mo last year.”

    He’s one of the best relievers in baseball…..the problem will be getting the ball to him

  57. blake February 7th, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    “I’m not worried about a damned thing. Every team has people worried over it. I just want to watch the Yankees play baseball. ”

    Hey I agree there….I’m so ready for baseball

  58. kd February 7th, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    does anyone know if tyler austin is scheduled to play 3b in the minors? if that wrist is healed and he’s hitting, he could be an interesting call up

  59. MTU February 7th, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    Mister Tom-

    You have less than a week to wait.

  60. blake February 7th, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    Arod apparently has waved the white flag

  61. bigdan22 February 7th, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    Tackelberry February 7th, 2014 at 4:32 pm
    bigdan:

    Culver’s bat finally started to come around toward the end of last season in High A Tampa. He finally gave up switch hitting, hitting only from the right side. If he can pick up where he left off, maybe, just maybe he can get himself on the prospect map. Would still lile to see the Yanks sign Diaz though.

    —–

    Yes, I noticed. SSS but still encouraging.

    I’m not sure about Diaz. This is really a scouting determination and I’m not qualified to do that of course. There is certainly a huge need in the organization for middle infielders at the higher levels. Culver is not a issue there. He’s still at least two years away. Interested to see what Refsynder does this year in Trenton. He’s considerably closer.

  62. blake February 7th, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    @HardballTalk: Alex Rodriguez dismisses his lawsuit against MLB, MLBPA http://t.co/AV7K7R2Py1

    Thank you Alex

  63. kd February 7th, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    arod took really bad advice from people that were paid $1000 an hour to give that advice

    i think the next step is the yankees quietly begin a buyout negotiation.

  64. tomingeorgia February 7th, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    Mister MTU,
    I’m too old for existential angst over the Yankees. Got enough other real stuff to worry about. I just want to watch a ballgame, you remember those, don’t you? Young men running around on grass and dirt in the sunshine?

  65. blake February 7th, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    Yea maybe Alex woke up and said hey I’m done paying these guys to fight a losing battle……lets move on

  66. blake February 7th, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    @AndrewMarchand: Indications are that A-Rod won’t go to ST, but nothing official on that yet.

  67. bigdan22 February 7th, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    I’ve been thinking for a few days something was up in the Arod matter. His recent lawsuit made no sense unless he was seeking an injunction which his lawyers had promised weeks ago. But he really needed to file it about a week ago to get a hearing prior to Spring Training.

    I pointed out after his Mexico statements that this is really the best course of action for him personally and financially. His lawsuit was always a longshot. And even if he won in vacating the arbitrator’s decision, he still would be facing a suspension sometime. That wasn’t going away. Now he can have some certainty. Some peace of mind. Get strong for next year.

    It will interesting to see how he and his reps explain this publically.

  68. blake February 7th, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    @craigcalcaterra: Speculation, but if A-Rod was my client, called me and said “I want this over, just stop.” I’d file an involuntary dismissal like this.

  69. MTU February 7th, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    New one ——–>

  70. Bret The Hitman February 7th, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    Damn. I was hoping Alex would squander millions more on that Tapioca pudding guy. He and his attorneys really had you guys going there for a while.

  71. blake February 7th, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    @BillShaikin: MLBPA: “Alex Rodriguez has done the right thing by withdrawing his lawsuit. His decision to move forward is in everyone’s best interest.”

    MLB pouring salt in the wound

  72. Ys Guy February 7th, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    tex is firing me up for yankees baseball!

  73. Ys Guy February 7th, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    GREAT NEWS! ======>

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