“It’s almost sad to see how fast [Jeter] has lost it. Everything looks slow, soft, old. I hate saying it, because everyone respects Derek. But it’s true.”
— An American League scout, quoted by Bob Klapisch of the Bergen Record.
Klapisch’s article is a good one. Rather than just wring his hands about Jeter’s awful performance, he reminds us of the last time a Yankee icon simply lost it: 1951 and Joe DiMaggio. The difference, as Klapisch notes, is Jeter’s new contract hanging over everything. Should Jeter walk away if he can’t find his stroke this year? Is he even capable of doing so?
In thinking about this I’m struck by the notion that the air of professionalism and high-quality public relations that has served Jeter so well throughout his career now works to make his thoughts and motivations on the matter a mystery. Last year, when Chipper Jones was struggling he talked openly about whether he could or should continue to play through the duration of his contract. We’ll likely never get such public emoting about it all from Jeter.
Not that we deserve it. It’s his career and his life. But the mystery about it all probably does work to increase the public scrutiny, with our fretting about it filling the void that Jeter’s lack of public comment creates.
Corey Dickerson of the Tampa Bay Rays wasn’t a super huge guy or anything, but he’s going to be smaller this year: he told reporters today that he’s lost 25 pounds. He attributes it to a new diet and a workout regimen and says it’ll help him with his running, swing and throwing.
Dickerson had a down year in 2016, so if losing 25 pounds is something he thinks will work for him he’s got nothing to lose. Of course the best way for him to improve his numbers is to convince the Rays to trade him back to Colorado, but that’s not likely.
As I note every spring, “Best Shape of His Life” stories aren’t really about players being in The Best Shape of Their Lives. They’re about players and agents seeking to create positive stories.
We know this because the vast majority of Best Shape of His Life claims are about guys who were either injured the season before, guys who had subpar years the season before or players whose conditioning was a point of controversy the season before. These folks, or their agents + reporters who have little if nothing to write about in the offseason = BSOHL.
James McCann hurt his ankle last season and had a subpar year at the plate. So not only is he a perfect BSOHL candidate, he went old school with the claim and hit it right on the money, verbatim:
Spring training is less than a month away, folks!