Everyone thinks that, potentially, the Alex Rodriguez situation could be a major headache in Yankeeland next season – at least at the start of the year. But, what about the Derek Jeter situation?
The Yankees captain will be 40-years old next summer. The last time he was an above average fielding shortstop was 2009. And, that was a bit of a fluke – since he was below average in the ten seasons before that year. Last season, he was limited to 17 games as he could not completely rehab from an injury that he suffered five months before the start of the season. Oh, and, he will be in the last year of his contract in 2014.
The only way Jeter has a soft landing next season is if he comes out of the chute and is playing well both in the field and at the plate.
Now, it’s not impossible. There have been guys who have hit .280 and slugged .400 or better in their “Age 40″ seasons in the last 30 years or so. And, if Jeter can reach those levels, given his past performance and stature in Yankees history, I am sure that all concerned parties – meaning the team, media and fans – will give him a buddy pass on not having “Jeterian” numbers at the plate. Of course, the fielding thing, especially with his recent injury, is a whole ‘nother matter.
But, what if Jeter is batting a buck-ninety, as he did last year on the season, come May 1st? How long will the Yankees be patient with him? How long will they bat him near the top of the line-up? If they are not patient with him, given Jeter’s pride, how will that go down? Further, if he’s still not playing well by June 30th, how long will the team and/or Jeter let it go? If he’s not contributing to the team, or, worse, if he is hurting the team, how long do you keep him on the roster – especially when you consider his age and contract situation?
The biggest thing here is that Derek Jeter is a Yankees legend. And, everyone wants to see his career end in an acceptable fashion. Yet, will it? Or, will the whole thing just become an ugly situation for the franchise and the icon in 2014? It’s not outside of the possible outcomes, all things considered, is it? Related, is there any way possible that, if Jeter’s season is terrible come the summer, that he pulls a Mike Schmidt and just retires a few months into the season? What do you think?