Derek Jeter

Where will Derek Jeter finish on the all-time hits list?

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Upon reaching the milestone Saturday, Derek Jeter became the fourth youngest player to collect 3,000 hits, doing so just a couple of weeks after his 37th birthday on June 26.

Ty Cobb got there at age 34.  Hank Aaron and Robin Yount were 36.  Pete Rose was just a week older than Jeter when he did it.

And, of course, Rose and Cobb are the only members of the 4,000-hit club.  Rose ended his career with 4,256.  Cobb finished at 4,189.  Next on the list is Aaron at 3,771.

So, where will Jeter stand on the all-time list when he’s finished?  He’s currently 27th after overtaking Roberto Clemente, who died having collected exactly 3,000 hits.  With his 5-for-5 day pushing him up to 3,003 hits, he’s just four hits behind Al Kaline for 26th place.

Jeter has 2 1/2 years to go on the three-year, $51 million contract he signed to remain with the Yankees last winter.  Over the last 2 1/2 years, he has 461 hits.  That, however, is going to be a hard total to match over the remainder of his contract.

So, let’s figure it out.

The Yankees have 74 games left this season.  Let’s say Jeter plays in 68 of them.  Jeter has averaged 1.27 hits per game over the course of his career, but only 1.16 this season.  I’ll split the difference and give him 1.21 hits per game over the rest of the season.

That gives Jeter 82 more hits and puts him at 3,085 entering 2012.

From there, who really knows?  Some Yankees fans have talked about wanting Jeter to retire after the season because of his diminished production.  No one really thinks that’s going to happen, though.  Jeter is almost certainly going to be the Yankees’ regular shortstop again next season.  It may well be for the best if he slides down to the bottom of the lineup, at least against right-handers.  However, if Jeter stays healthy, he’s going to rack up at least another 150 hits next year.

After that, maybe a reduced role will be in store for 2013.  And depending on how he handles the adjustment, he could retire after the season or remain with the Yankees as a part-timer.

Time for some numbers.  Here’s what I’m thinking.

First, a look at the last four seasons:

2008: 179 H in 150 G – 1.19 H/G
2009: 212 H in 153 G – 1.39 H/G
2010: 179 H in 157 G – 1.14 H/G
2011: 77 H in 67 G – 1.15 H/B

And now my remainder of career of projection:

2011: 82 H in 68 G – 1.21 H/G
2012: 157 H in 140 G – 1.12 H/G
2013: 131 H in 125 G – 1.05 H/G

That would put him at 3,373 hits for his career, placing him ninth all-time between Carl Yastrzemski at 3,419 and Paul Molitor at 3,319.

And that sounds about right to me.  Jeter isn’t likely to hang on like Rose did.  Retiring at 39 as MLB’s ninth-leading hitter seems pretty appropriate.

But how about one more projection. Let’s say Jeter rebounds next year, and the Yankees decide that while he’s probably not a shortstop anymore, he still needs to be an everyday player in 2013, whether it’s in the outfield or at third base (with Alex Rodriguez at DH). He adjusts well, hits about .300 and gets a two-year deal that keeps him in pinstripes through 2015. So here’s the optimistic projection:

2011: 82 H in 68 G – 1.21 H/G
2012: 183 H in 150 G – 1.22 H/G
2013: 171 H in 145 G – 1.18 H/G
2014: 161 H in 140 G – 1.15 H/G
2015: 135 H in 125 G – 1.08 H/G

That would give Jeter 3,735 hits through age 41. Rose and Cobb still appear way out of reach, but he’d be just 36 hits behind Aaron for third all-time. I’d say it’s a long shot, but it’s not so difficult to imagine.

1. Rose – 4,256
2. Cobb – 4,189
3. Aaron – 3,771
4. Jeter – 3,735

Mets GM Sandy Alderson plans to limit David Wright to 130 or fewer games

David Wright
AP Photo/Kathy Willens
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Mets third baseman David Wright missed four months of the 2015 season due to spinal stenosis. In other words, Wright dealt with a narrowing of his spinal column. Going forward, the Mets plan to be cautious with Wright so as not to overuse him.

As ESPN’s Adam Rubin reports, Mets GM Sandy Alderson plans to have the 33-year-old Wright play in no more than 130 games. Alderson said, “We’re gonna make sure that he’s not overworked. So it’s important for us to find somebody who can play 30 games or so at third base when he’s not in there. But I think we have to be realistic, and not expect that he’s gonna be an absolute everyday [player] out there playing 150 or 155 games. That’s not gonna happen.”

Wilmer Flores played 26 games at third base in his rookie season in 2013, so he could back up Wright as needed. But Alderson mentioned that because Wright would mostly sit against right-handed pitchers, the switch-hitting Neil Walker or Asdrubal Cabrera could get the call at the hot corner.

When he was on the field last season, Wright hit a productive .289/.379/.434 with five home runs and 17 RBI in 174 plate appearances.

Marlins still searching for starting pitching depth

Aaron Harang
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The Marlins would like to add “another pitcher or two” before pitchers and catchers report to Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro writes. Among starting pitchers available, Kyle Lohse, Aaron Harang, and Alfredo Simon are candidates for the Marlins, but they may hold out for the possibility of inking a major league contract. Tim Lincecum and Cliff Lee are other potential candidates, per Frisaro.

This offseason, the Marlins signed Wei-Yin Chen to a five-year, $80 million deal and Edwin Jackson for the major league minimum. The back of the rotation, though, is still a question mark as Jarred Cosart, Adam Conley, and Justin Nicolino will compete with Jackson for two spots. David Phelps is dealing with an elbow injury and may or not be ready by Opening Day, but he could function in a swingman capacity as well.

Shocker: Bruce Bochy tabs Madison Bumgarner to start Opening Day

Madison Bumgarner
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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You might want to sit down for this news. Giants manager Bruce Bochy has tabbed ace Madison Bumgarner to start on Opening Day in Milwaukee against the Brewers, CSN Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic reports. Shocking, I know.

The Giants had a busy offseason, adding Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija to the starting rotation, but neither had a shot at getting the Opening Day nod considering what Bumgarner has done for the Giants over the last five seasons.

Since the start of the 2011 season, the 26-year-old lefty compiled a 3.05 ERA with 1,034 strikeouts and 239 walks across 1,050 innings. Among starters who logged at least 800 innings in that span of time, only Clayton Kershaw, Cueto, Zack Greinke, David Price, and Felix Hernandez have posted lower ERAs.  And Bumgarner is the only one among them with a championship ring. In fact, he has three.

Tony Clark is not happy so many players remain unsigned

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, JAN. 18-19 - This Jan. 15, 2014 photo showing new baseball union head Tony Clark during an interview at the organization's headquarters, in New York. Clark has big shoes to fill _ and not just as Michael Weiner's replacement as head of the baseball players' union. Moving from Arizona to New Jersey, the former big league All-Star also needed to find size 15 snowshoes.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
AP Photo/Richard Drew
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We’re almost halfway through February. Pitchers and catchers report to spring training soon. And yet, there are more than a handful of solid free agents that remain unsigned. Among them: Yovani Gallardo, Ian Desmond, and Dexter Fowler. All three have draft pick compensation tied to them, as each rejected a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from his respective former team. That, undoubtedly, is a reason why they haven’t inked a contract yet.

MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark is unhappy about this reality and expects to discuss potential changes when the next collective bargaining agreement is negotiated. The current CBA expires after the 2016 season. Per the Associated Press, Clark said last week, “I think it’s disappointing when there are as many talented players still without a home. I don’t think it’s in anyone’s best interest to be in a world where very talented players are at home for whatever reason they are there. It will likely be a part of the conversation in bargaining.”

Clark also mentioned, among other things, the possibility of a draft lottery, which would take away the incentive for teams to “tank”, or lose on purpose. The Astros and Phillies have notably done this in recent years, finishing with baseball’s worst record and thus netting the #1 overall draft pick.

These are, however, simply two items of many that will be discussed during the upcoming offseason. It will be interesting to see what solutions are eventually put in place.