It was easy to watch Thursday night’s Red Sox-Yankees tilt and come to the conclusion that Derek Jeter is done. Hobbling around on one leg at shortstop, he nearly got himself seriously injured again, courtesy of a cheap takeout slide from Mike Napoli. Any other major league shortstop would have been there and gone already by the time Napoli got to second base. Jeter, unable to make his body work like it used to, ended up head over heels on the play.
Besides the extreme lack of range at shortstop, Jeter also isn’t really hitting. He’s at .200/.297/.273 through 15 games this year. That’s the lesser concern, though.
Personally, I don’t see Jeter as done as much as he’s simply hurt. In trying to come back from the broken ankle he suffered in the postseason last year, he sustained quad and calf injuries. It seems obvious that he’s not going to be 100 percent at any point during this year. And while the Yankees are likely already wondering whether they’ll be able to eke out another year with him at shortstop in 2014, it’s this season that they need to worry about now.
I don’t think there’s any question that Jeter is a liability with the way he’s playing right now, but so is the alternative on the Yankees’ roster; Eduardo Nunez can run circles around Jeter, but he’s terribly mistake prone at short and doesn’t make up for it with a lot of offense. If Jayson Nix were healthy, he’d be the team’s best option at short right now. Alas, he’s out for the season. The Yankees do have a defense-first shortstop in Alberto Gonzalez in Triple-A, but he hit .183/.240/.220 in 191 at-bats for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. It’d be worth calling him up anyway. As loathe as they may be to take Jeter out for a defensive replacement when they have the lead, it’s something they absolutely need to do.
For now, though, they might as well keep Jeter at short, if only for four or five games per week. At least he can still handle the balls hit right to him. They should probably move him down to the seventh or eighth spot in the order, but it seems doubtful they’ll go there unless he volunteers. We all know Joe Girardi doesn’t want to embarrass the future Hall of Famer and Yankees legend, but the situation does call for some managing. Taking Jeter out late in games is pretty close to a must right now.
Outfielder Michael Bourn was traded by the Diamondbacks to the Orioles late last season and hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with them through the end of the season. While that’s not enough to outweigh the miserable season he had in Arizona, it was enough to get the O’s to give him a look in spring training with a minor league deal. They signed him to one in late February.
Then, a couple of days later, Bourn broke his finger while playing catch with a football. Unable to play, the O’s cut him. In early April, once Bourn healed, the O’s signed him again. He played 11 games for their Triple-A affiliate and went 9-for-41 with ten walks in 51 plate appearances. While that makes for a decent OBP, his lack of any sort of pop or good contact suggests that if someone throws him strikes, he can’t do much with the ball.
As such, the O’s had not called him up to Baltimore. And as a result of that, Bourn exercised his opt-out rights and became a free agent.
Someone may take a look at him given that his batting eye seems to be intact and given that, in an admittedly small sample size, he still performed last season. But if he does get a look, it’ll likely be back at the minor league level.
The new Collective Bargaining Agreement commits the players and the league to regular season games on foreign soil. Most of the focus of this has been on games in London, for which there has been a lot of activity and discussion.
Yesterday before the Astros-Tigers game in Houston, however, Commissioner Rob Manfred talked about playing games in Mexico. And not as just a one-off, but as a foot-in-the-water towards possible expansion:
Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that the time had come to play regular-season games in Mexico City as Major League Baseball weighs international expansion.
“We think it’s time to move past exhibition games and play real live ‘they-count’ games in Mexico,” Manfred said. “That is the kind of experiment that puts you in better position to make a judgement as to whether you have a market that could sustain an 81-game season and a Major League team.”
A team in Mexico could make some geographic sense and some marketing sense, though it’s not clear if there is a city that would be appropriate for that right now. Mexico City is huge but it has plenty of its own sports teams and is far away from the parts of the country where baseball is popular (mostly the border states and areas along the Pacific coast). At 7,382 feet, its elevation would make games at Coors Field look like the Deadball Era.
Monterrey has been talked about — games have been played there and it’s certainly closer — but it’s somewhat unknown territory demographically speaking. It’s not as big as Mexico City, obviously. Income stratification is greater there and most of the rest of Mexico than it is in the United States too, making projections of how much discretionary income people may spend on an expensive entertainment product like Major League Baseball uncertain. Especially when they have other sports they’ve been following for decades.
Interesting, though. It’s something Manfred has talked about many times over the years, so unlike so many other things he says he’s “considering” or “hasn’t ruled out,” Major League Baseball in Mexico is something worth keeping our eyes on.