I wrote this column in today's Post about how the Yankees could be getting a blessing in disguise with the minimum, 15-day absence of Derek Jeter, who is now on the DL with a calf strain.Onion, June 15:
Jeter was a burden on the everyday lineup, made more so by the refusal of Joe Girardi to lower an icon to the eighth or ninth slot where he belongs these days. Remember, memories don't play these games. The 2011 version of Jeter, like the 2010 version of Jeter, is mainly an out machine who every once in a while hits a single. There are few extra-base hits, little impact, negative clutch. He offers steady, but rather range-less defense. There is none of the live-wire athleticism associated with his prime. As much as his most ardent fans want to close their eyes and pretend he is offering something special, he is not. He turns 37 in less than two weeks and age has robbed him of what was Hall-of-Fame greatness.
But Girardi has been afraid to offend him in, say, the way the manager has dissed his pal, Jorge Posada, by dropping Posada in the lineup and out against left pitching. Jeter has retained a leadoff spot without any of the traditional leadoff attributes such as on-base acumen or elite speed, and there is no counterweight of at least he is giving power.
So without the shadow of Jeter lurking and potentially sulking about jobs being taken away, the Yanks can now look at Eduardo Nunez at short and Brett Gardner atop the order for an extended period and see what they have. And what should also help the psyches of those trying to fill these shoes is this not Jeter circa 1999 or 2009. Nunez and Gardner can perform at league average and outdo the 2011 Jeter. ...
Yankees captain Derek Jeter hit a seeing-eye wormburner through the left side of the infield for his 2,994th career hit Monday, leaving him just six toppers down the third-base line, Texas Leaguers, or check-swing humpback liners short of 3,000 hits.
"These last six chop singles off home plate and difficult-to-field slow rollers to shortstop are going to be hardest for him," said manager Joe Girardi, who wouldn't rule out Jeter grounding a ball off the lip of the infield grass and taking a bad hop off the second baseman's shoulder as a possible route to 3,000. "Derek just needs a couple of swinging bunts and a few official scorers to mistakenly give him a hit on what is clearly an error, and he'll join the immortals that hung around just long enough to reach this tremendous milestone."
When asked if he would take grounding the ball off the pitcher's back foot and the pitcher not being able to find it on the field as his 3,000th hit, Jeter answered, "Yes. God, anything."