Grant Brisbee pretty ably sums up the future of Derek Jeter at shortstop for the New York Yankees. Specifically, that he has none. That even if he exercises his player option for next year and comes back it’s likely to be as the Yankees DH/utility guy because he’ll be 40 and shortstops just don’t play at 40.
His analogy is a good one: Jeter is VHS and Brendan Ryan (or whoever else the Yankees get t play short) is Blu Ray. Jeter is a damn fine movie — a much better one than Ryan is — but as we’ve all learned over the past 15 years or so, you’ll watch a crappy movie on DVD over a good movie on VHS almost every time. Brisbee’s kicker:
It seems obvious, but Jeter’s injury is making it close to official. Even if Jeter exercises his player option, the Yankees are going to dissuade him politely from thoughts of shortstop. And then he’ll hit .300/.380/.480 as a DH to help the Yankees to another absurd playoff run (Rich Harden: 10-2, 2.33 ERA). . We’ve seen the last of Jeter at shortstop. There’s no way the Yankees are going back to VHS.
Seems about right.
Spring brings optimism. Sometimes so much optimism that you believe crazy, irrational things. Things like Rich Harden pitching in the majors this year. As you’ll recall, he signed a minor league deal with the Twins back in December and he’s giving it yet another go:
“It felt pretty good,” said Harden, who is trying to make the club as a non-roster invite. “It was fun. It was good to get back out there. I’m hoping it’ll feel the same when I start facing hitters. I threw mostly fastballs because I’m trying to get that feel back.”
Harden did not pitch at all in 2012. In the two years before that he posted a combined ERA of 5.36 in 35 games. He has pitched over 150 innings exactly once in his career, and that was in 2004. I would venture a guess that he has had more surgeries than wins over the past three years.
Which is sad, because there was a time when his promise and his stuff looked so, so good. Unfortunately his body is simply not built to withstand throwing the same pitches that his talents enable him to throw. It’s sad, and I hope his comeback is successful, but it’s very hard to see this ending well.
Back in November while previewing the Twins’ various free agent pitching options I highlighted Joe Saunders as someone they were likely to be interested in and perhaps overpay.
Since then they’ve been linked to Saunders occasionally, but that has mostly died down recently until today: Jon Morosi of FOXSports.com reports that the Twins are “pursuing” Saunders.
Presumably that means he’s dropped his demands to a one- or two-year deal, because while Minnesota can certainly use any rotation help it can get after signing only Kevin Correia, Mike Pelfrey, and Rich Harden as free agents they’d be making a mistake to view Saunders as more than a fourth or fifth starter.
He’d be another low-velocity, low-strikeout, low-upside starter for a Twins team that has repeatedly stressed getting away from that type of pitcher lately, but on a one-year deal Saunders would certainly make sense.
Often when a player making a comeback signs a minor-league contract with a team it includes an opt-out clause that allows him to become a free agent again if not added to the MLB roster within a month or so.
Rich Harden’s minor-league deal with the Twins includes an opt-out clause, but Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com reports that the date is July 31. That means the Twins could decide Harden isn’t ready for the big leagues coming out of spring training after missing all of 2012 following shoulder surgery and stash him at Triple-A for more than half the season.
I already wrote a lot about the Harden signing, so I won’t rehash everything here, but the July 31 opt-out clause is even more reason to think the Twins did well taking a no-risk flier on the oft-injured right-hander.