It’s not often that I agree with John Harper of the Daily News, but I think his latest column is pretty much on point. The point: the Yankees can’t take a wait-and-see approach with Derek Jeter’s health and effectiveness. They need to get an everyday shortstop this winter, making it official that Jeter will be a DH or, possibly, a third baseman next year. And, more importantly, they need to tell him this soon and get him on board with it.
The idea is every bit as political as it is baseball-related. If Jeter is quoted widely this offseason as saying he’s ready to return to short, the Yankees’ efforts to get an insurance policy shortstop — which they’d certainly need — will be seen as undermining Jeter or trying to push him out. If they sit down with him, however, and tell him that he is not the starting shortstop, that drama evaporates and, instead of people saying that Jeter is toast, he’ll get a lot of favorable Cal Ripken and/or Paul Molitor comparisons. Which, frankly, he should have gotten years ago when he should have moved to third base while Alex Rodriguez took over short, but that’s ancient history.
Harper reports many scouts and sources telling him that Stephen Drew is a Yankees target. Could be. Doesn’t matter. The idea is that it’s highly unlikely that Jeter will be an effective and/or healthy shortstop next year, the Yankees don’t need another season with a black hole at shortstop and they certainly don’t need an offseason in which they are portrayed as pushing Jeter aside. And frankly, Jeter doesn’t need that either.