Derek Jeter's defensive improvement is bad news for the Yankees? Really?

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I wrote yesterday that tons of ink will be spilled over Derek Jeter’s extension despite the fact that it’s probably going to all go down rather quickly and painlessly after the season is over.  As if on cue, Joel Sherman of the Post chimes in, showing just how hard the tabloids are going to work in order to turn this into some big controversial issue.  After relating the story of how Jeter has worked hard over the past couple of years to improve his defense, Sherman says:

. . . the good news for the Yanks is that Jeter is a competent shortstop again; the bad news is he is a competent shortstop again . . . He is in the same training regimen for the third straight offseason
and if 2010 resembles 2009, the Yanks will be very pleased, well, until
negotiations begin.

This would have been a different
negotiation if Jeter was holding on as a left fielder or DH, being kept
around mostly for emeritus reasons. Now the Yanks almost certainly will
have to treat Jeter as the current and future shortstop of the team,
and not the kind of defensive liability that enabled them to play
hardball in pushing Williams and Damon off the roster.

Call me crazy, but despite what Sherman says I can’t help but think that the Yankees would much prefer to enter into negotiations with Derek Jeter: competent shortstop as opposed to Derek Jeter: DH. I mean, sure, the latter may have given them a modicum of additional leverage, but it also would have meant that they would be about to pay a way less useful player $60 million+. Unless of course you think the Yankees would push Jeter out the way they did Bernie and Damon.  Which is never, ever going to happen.

The only way Jeter’s contract extension is going to get complicated is if he puts up a truly wretched season at the plate. I’m talking, like, .269/.331/.380 + a ton of high profile errors or something, with no corresponding injury to use as an excuse. Yes, I suppose it could happen, but it’s not damn likely.  

Video: Andrew Toles hammers grand slam in Cactus League win

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Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.

Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).

Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.

David Price’s season debut could be pushed back to May

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David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.

Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:

[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.

The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.