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.
In a show of good sportsmanship, the Cleveland Cavaliers have moved their championship ring ceremony start time back to 7 PM EDT to avoid conflicting with the start of the World Series opener on Tuesday. The Indians are set to host Game 1 at Progressive Field on October 25, while the Cavs will open the 2016-17 NBA season against the New York Knicks at the nearby Quicken Loans Arena, preceded by a ceremony recognizing their first franchise title.
In the event that the Indians clinch a World Series title, it’ll be the first time Cleveland has seen two championships in the same calendar year since 1948, when the Indians’ last Series title came on the back of the Cleveland Browns’ All-American Football Conference championship against the Buffalo Bills. The same was true for the Dodgers in 1988, when their World Series win against the Athletics coincided with the Los Angeles Lakers’ 11th championship, while Chicago has yet to see a multi-title year among their NBA, NFL, and MLB franchises.
Regardless of the Series’ outcome, Cleveland fans will get the chance to revel in one long-awaited championship win on Tuesday before watching the beginning of a nail-biting conclusion to another long-awaited playoff run. The Cavaliers are scheduled for 7 PM EDT on October 25, while the Indians will take the field at 8 PM EDT.
If any team can turn a six-day rest period into an advantage, it’s the Indians. The club polished off their pennant race with another injured starter and an overtaxed bullpen, as Trevor Bauer exited in Game 3 of the ALCS with a laceration on his right pinky finger, leaving the bullpen to shoulder 16 innings through the last three games of the series. On Friday, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reported that injured starter Danny Salazar could rejoin the rotation in the World Series, though he’ll need at least one more simulated game before Terry Francona determines whether or not he’s fit to return for the team’s last postseason push.
Bauer, who has been under the close watch of hand specialist Dr. Thomas Graham, told the press that he feels confident that he’ll be ready for a World Series start when the final showdown commences on Tuesday. Keeping the wound bandaged is not an option during games, and Bauer said that Dr. Graham decided against additional stitches to keep the laceration from re-opening. Instead, they’re banking on extra days of rest to heal the cut naturally. Should Francona pencil the right-hander into the lineup for Game 3 or 4, he’ll have had 10-11 days to rest his finger between starts — just a hair under the seven games Bauer said he was prepared to pitch.
Salazar, too, has been preparing for a World Series showdown. He’s scheduled to pitch three innings of a simulated game this weekend, and if it goes well, it could land him a spot in the starting rotation alongside Bauer, Corey Kluber, Josh Tomlin, and newcomer Ryan Merritt. Salazar has been sidelined since September 9 with a right forearm strain, and even after undergoing a rigorous throwing program over the last several weeks, any kind of comeback is expected to be curbed by a strict innings limit. Francona has been understandably tight-lipped about his World Series roster, but he hasn’t yet nixed the idea of utilizing Salazar out of the rotation, provided the right-hander remains healthy for another week or so.
The Indians have had to remain flexible throughout their seven-game playoff run after weathering injuries to Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer, pushing their rotation through several games on short rest and relying heavily on Andrew Miller and Cody Allen‘s one-two punch in the ‘pen to clinch more than a few postseason victories. While history doesn’t always favor the first team to secure their league’s pennant race, an extra week of rest should only benefit Cleveland’s beleaguered pitching staff.