Thursday, February 21, 2008

O' Captain...

I've come to the conclusion that spring semester senior year is a very bad time to try to be productive. Oops.

Anyway, today's Pete Abraham question is:

Is Derek Jeter still Derek Jeter?

Ostensibly, this is a very valid question to be asked, given that as Jeter is now on the flip side of thirty his mobility and range (never that great) will start to decline. Jeter is many things, but, alas, Julio Franco is not one of them.

However, if we focus solely on Jeter's defensive ability or his offensive stats, we ignore the crucial fact:

Derek Jeter is Derek Jeter because of his knack to be in the right place at the right time, to get the right hit at the right time...

Derek Jeter is Derek Jeter because he knew, somehow, on an October night in 2001 in Oakland, CA, that Shane Spencer had a wild arm and it was up to him to get the ball to Posada. Yeah, I'm talking about THE flip.

Derek Jeter is Derek Jeter because he gets the critical in that World Series game, and no, I can't pick just one because it's happened a few times.

Derek Jeter is Derek Jeter because he's done things like that throughout his career.

On the flip side, however, it makes the double plays he hit into last October that much more worrying. He's supposed to be the epitome of clutch (and indeed, in certain September games against the Red Sox, he was), but double plays are as un-clutch-like as it's possible to be.

Is it a problem? I wouldn't go there, not quite yet; the Yankees didn't lose in the LDS just because of him, and without his regular season clutching, who knows if the Yankees would have even made it to October?

In terms of Jeter's overall ability, his offensive value has always outweighed his defensive value (despite the Gold Gloves), and when he goes to Cooperstown (since we all assume he'll be there), it'll be off of his bat. In that respect, Jeter has declined from his first few years, but not so much that I'm terribly concerned.

However, if you focus only on that bit, you miss the point entirely. It's not why he's the captain, why he's been the starting shortstop for the past twelve years. It's not why he's Derek Jeter.


  1. Hey Rebecca,

    Just friended you on the facebook and I wanted to commend you on your guest post on Pete Abe's blog. I've been checking out your blog for the past couple of days and I like what you're doing here! I'll keep reading for sure. Anyway, to answer your point about Derek Jeter. I've been watching the 07' DS and I think you can chalk most of Derek Jeter's struggles to his knee injuries. He was using his upper body too much in his swing and as a result beat everything into the ground (hence all the double plays) and looked like a statue at short, not even trying to cut off anything up the middle, not that he's ever really been able to do that. Everything I'm reading now says that Derek Jeter has adjusted his off-season regimen to compensate for his age. Focusing on becoming lean and flexible instead of big and bulky seems like a good idea, look what it did for A-Rod last year. I think Derek Jeter will shake off last season and get back to his normal "clutch," form and his newfound flexibility should help his legs stay under him all season. Keep up the good writing!

  2. Justin: Heya!

    Thanks much for the compliment. To be honest, I had kind of forgotten about Jeter's bum knee...well, not so much forgotten as put it so far on the backburner that I took it for granted.

    I'm thinking he'll have a good year this year, but I still stand by what I said earlier--he's Jeter because he can clutch like none other.

  3. A-Rod says that Jeter is gonna be the MVP, he would know about winning those damn things. If he looks as good as everyone in camp says he looks he most certainly be the clutchiest clutcher of all things clutch. Meanwhile, it snowed again in Boston, did you get the same weather in Cuse?

  4. FYI the Replacement Level Yankees Blog has a very comprehensive prediction of Derek Jeter's 08' season, here's the link if you haven't seen it.

    it's on the homepage...take care!

  5. I think that Derek will be better this season. While I think he has lost a little bit, last season was not a fair representation since he played with a bad knee. And it must have been worse than Derek was letting on since he actually missed a few games and Derek never sits out. Plus he has said that his off season he had been working on drills for lateral movement.

  6. Jeter's knee had to be a factor; he just wasnt striding into the ball on his swing and he had no power. Jeter still topped 200 hits and had 39 doubles. Despite his "off year" he had a pretty good year. If healthy, Jeter's power to the gaps will return.
    Jeter is not an old 33.