Have things gotten so bad for Derek Jeter that we’re now measuring his value by how much he’s not Ramiro Peña?
“On the eve of Derek Jeter’s return to pursue DJ3K,” writes Andy Marchand on ESPN.com, “Ramiro Peña offered a little dose of what the New York Yankees don’t have when No. 2 is not their No. 1 shortstop.
For all that is seemingly wrong with Jeter’s aged game these days he still is reliable when it comes to the routine play, a quality that should not be taken for granted with the lack of quality shortstops in baseball.
“It has taken on an increased premium,” a scout said.
On Sunday, Peña made an error in the ninth inning that nearly cost the Yankees’ the game. In the 10th, he made another that ended up leading to the Yankees’ first loss in eight games.”
First of all, it isn’t a question of what is “seemingly” wrong with Jeter’s game. he is, at this point, a terrible hitter and a mediocre fielder. He isn’t better at either because Ramiro Peña shouldn’t be on any major league roster, let alone the Yankees. John Sterling tried to jump on the band wagon last night when Jeter returned to the lineup: “If it’s the seventh game of the World Series, bases loaded, and the score tied, I want the ball hit to Jeter.”
Well, so do I. The problem is when the ball’s hit a few feet to either side of him. It’s doubtful at this point whether there is a shortstop in baseball with less range to his right or left. And, while we’re on the subject, he’s no longer the guy you would want at bat in the seventh game of the World Series, bases loaded, and the score tied.
As Joel Sherman phrased it in this morning’s Post, “There is no hiding his fading game. He was back atop the lineup last night, more for who he was than who he is, an honored emeritus. In explaining why Jeter was leading off, Joe Girardi used words such as “leadership” and “consistency” but never greatness. His consistency in 2011, in fat, is about steady failure; 155th out of 157 qualifiers in line-drive percentage, 152nd in extra-base hit percentage, 135th in OPS.
I’ve been enjoying listening to ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd, but this morning he slipped into the same Jeter-sentimental crap as so much of the New York press, and he did it in a way that went out of his way to take a swipe at Jose Reyes: “Look, when you hear people talk about Jose Reyes, you hear anyone talk about leadership? Do you hear anyone talk about intangibles?” No, I don’t. I hear people talk about “Is he going to lead the league in hitting? Triples? Stolen bases and runs?” And “Do you think he’s the favorite win the NL MVP?
When you’re leading the league on those things, who gives a damn about your “Intangibles”?
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 5, 2011