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Should Yanks worry about Jeter?

Posted on: April 4, 2011 12:09 pm
Edited on: April 4, 2011 12:46 pm
The biggest concern of the Yankees' opening weekend was Phil Hughes, whose startling spring training decline in velocity continued into an ugly first start of the regular season.

But what about Derek Jeter?

It's only three games, and it was cold, and everything could change a month from now, or even a week from now. But in the Yankees' first three games of the season -- and they won two of them, don't forget -- one of the most stunning sights was Jeter's lack of mobility at shortstop.

"I'm shocked," said one Northeast-based scout who has followed Jeter's career. "I know there's been a lot of talk about his range the last few years, and I didn't really buy it until last year. But [this weekend], it was really down. He didn't react to balls off the bat.

"He almost looks overmatched by the ball."

Again, it's possible this is just an early-season blip. A scout who watched the Yankees this spring in Tampa said that while Jeter's range was a little down, it wasn't shockingly bad.

Jeter didn't look good at the plate against the Tigers, either (2-for-10), but that's less of a concern now than his defense -- even if the defense is a long-term concern.

Hughes' lack of velocity is already significant.

Scouts noticed it all spring in Florida, when he was throwing his fastball 87-89 mph (as he did in Sunday's loss to the Tigers). The Yankees played it down publicly at that point, but as Joel Sherman revealed in Monday's New York Post , even during the spring Hughes and new pitching coach Larry Rothschild worked on his mechanics in an attempt to get the velocity back (Hughes regularly hit 94 mph last year).

As Hughes told reporters Sunday, "It is tough for me to pitch at this velocity."


A few other opening weekend thoughts:

-- The Giants' defense is a serious issue, enough so that it could end up being the reason they don't repeat. One scout who watched their opening weekend series in Los Angeles came away convinced that the Giants are below average defensively at almost every position in the field. "Barry Zito pitched a very good game [Sunday], and he should have won the game," the scout said. "[Zito] competes with the stuff he has. If the defense makes the plays behind him, he'll compete enough to be a fourth or fifth starter."

-- The Angels bullpen was bad against the scrappy Royals, but one scout who watched them came away talking more about how bad Scott Kazmir looked. "Terrible. No velocity. No command. No nothing," the scout said.

-- When I wrote last week about teams that benefit from fast starts, I really should have mentioned the Orioles as a team that would be interesting to watch this year. It's going to be hard to do in the AL East, but the O's have the good young pitching that can help carry the momentum when a team starts strong (e.g. Padres 2010). One thing to remember about the O's: If they somehow stay in the race through midseason, you can count on them to be aggressive in the July trade market. "We'll be all-in," one O's person said.

-- One more thing about the O's. Scouts who watched them this spring were not surprised to see Zach Britton pitch so well Sunday against the Rays. One scout said Britton was the Orioles' best pitcher this spring, and two more said that they liked Britton ahead of Yankees superprospect Manuel Banuelos, who got more attention. Britton only started Sunday because Brian Matusz was hurt, but there's already speculation that he'll stay in the rotation even when Matusz returns.


Since: Oct 16, 2006
Posted on: April 5, 2011 10:41 am

Should Yanks worry about Jeter?

Jeter's range as a SS has never been more than average throughout his entire career.  Because he is a media darling and the face of the NY Yankees his defensive skills have been overlooked due to his great hitting ability and his World Series rings.  Now that he has accomplished everything in the sport besides the 3,000 hit plateau and that milestone is assumed to be a given, all of a sudden there is nothing left to talk about except his decline as an athlete.  Sure you will always see the highlight where he was absolutely out of position and tossed the ball to home plate to tag out Jason Giambi or the spin jump and throw on a routine ball in the hole that he makes look difficult.  I've been saying this for years, had Jeter not been on the Yankees his entire career he would be viewed as a great hitter not a great short stop.  He plays at a historically thin position and has never lead the league in anything except All-Star votes.  You don't need to be the best or even close to the best at your position to be an All-Star, you need to be the most popular.  Jeter has been fortunate to play for the Yankees who surrounded him with the best talent money can buy for the past 14 years.  His team makes the playoffs every year due to this factor and he gets tons of media exposure.  He plays 10-19 games of playoff ball every year and does nothing different in the playoffs than what he does in th regular season which is hit for a .300 average.  It seems clutch because its the playoffs and he's always in the playoffs.  Put him on the Kansas City Royals over the last 14 seasons and see if we would be talking about Jeter in the same fashion.  Would he have just signed a 58 million dollar contract after the season he had last year?  Would he have had the 180 million dollar contract prior to this new one for the type of player he has been for the past 10 years?  Would he have been on the same team for his entire career?  Would he have made 10+ All-Star teams?  Would he have been in the playoffs 12+ times?  

Since: Aug 25, 2010
Posted on: April 5, 2011 7:48 am

Should Yanks worry about Jeter?

It's more of an interesting topic than Jeter losing his range. I've known for years and I'm sure that other Yankees fans (at least the true fans) have known as well that Jeter's range isn't that good. This ass clown only 3 games into the season, is stating the obvious. A more interesting story would be the Orioles or Royals hot start or how the Favorite team to win the World Series, The Boston Red Sox were pummeled by the Texas Rangers and how there pitching staff owns a combine 10.57 ERA. He could've also written a more interesting story on how the defending champs Giants were handed a beat down by the Dodgers or how there defense has been horrible this season. See there's alot of more interesting stories than writing about something that again is so freaking obvious.  Knobler maybe you should go ahead and write some comic strips for AM newspaper, get a clue will ya!!

Since: Dec 7, 2006
Posted on: April 4, 2011 9:20 pm

Should Yanks worry about Jeter?

@ Texastee -

As a huge Yankees fan that unfortunately has to live in Texas, I hate you...but that is dam funny!  LMFAO!

Since: Dec 7, 2006
Posted on: April 4, 2011 9:19 pm

Should Yanks worry about Jeter?

As a huge Yankees fan that unfortunately has to live in Texas, I hate you...but that is dam funny!  LMFAO!

Since: Aug 7, 2008
Posted on: April 4, 2011 8:33 pm

Should Yanks worry about Jeter?

The comment about Zito is right on. When he was with Oakland he had a phenomenal defense and a woeful offense behind him. With the Giants he has the opposite...a phenomenal offense, but a woeful defense. The Giants current defensive setup is a joke! Pat Burrell and Aubrey Huff playing in the same outfield? Huff is an older man and he can no longer run hard to long fly balls. Assuming that he even catches the ball his very weak arm will not deter opposing runners from running on him. Brandon Belt's offense better be more than what the Giants even weaker defense is giving up. If only Aubrey Huff could really still play 3rd base like his profile says he does. 

Since: Jul 24, 2009
Posted on: April 4, 2011 8:25 pm

Should Yanks worry about Jeter?

I think most Yankee fans realize that Jeter clearly isn't the same player he was 10 years ago.  Regardless of whether you like him or hate him, the Yankees are going to be stuck with this guy for the next three years.  I don't ever see him moving from shortstop b/c there is nowhere else for the Yankees to play him.  I just hope that if Jeter continues to struggle offensively that Girardi isn't scared to move him down in the batting order. 

Since: Apr 4, 2011
Posted on: April 4, 2011 8:04 pm

Should Yanks worry about Jeter?

I cannot imagine spending all weekend watching baseball on the opening weekend of the season and deciding that Derek's Jeter's range was worth a lead article.  I would love for this scout to put his name to his comments.  You're telling me he did not notice Jeter's range as a problem until last year? How is it then that the Yankees' brass sat down with Jeter after the 2008 season to discuss ways to improve his range in the offseason? Notice how this website's pick to win the World Series, the Red Sox, got swept and looked "overmatched" by every ball hit, pitched or thrown but that wasn't a worthy observation of the opening weekend. 

Since: Nov 14, 2009
Posted on: April 4, 2011 7:57 pm

Should Yanks worry about Jeter?

Jeter will soon have the range of Steven Hawkings

Since: May 6, 2009
Posted on: April 4, 2011 7:48 pm

Should Yanks worry about Jeter?

No they should not. The bigger question is why are you writing about this three games into the season.What is your next post. Should Theo Eostein be fired?Should thered Sox send Danild Bard to the minors.

Since: Sep 2, 2006
Posted on: April 4, 2011 7:23 pm

Should Yanks worry about Jeter?

Three games in should the Red Sox be worried about Carl Crawford?

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