Friday, July 22, 2011

Glow of 3,000 hits fades quickly for Jeter

Well that didn't last long.

The glow from Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit lasted a mere 48 hours and has now been thoroughly replaced by negativity. It started with the widespread criticism of the New York Yankees shortstop all around baseball about his absence at the All-Star game. Now, amid intense speculation, Joe Girardi has bumped Jeter out of the leadoff spot in favor of Brett Gardner, a move that will thrill the talk-radio junkies.

Girardi was going to have to make the move sooner or later. Jeter was hitting in futility too often to stay at the top of the lineup. And with Alex Rodriguez on the shelf, the Yankees need all the offense they can get. But the real problem for Girardi happens when ARod returns from the disabled list and reclaims the clean-up spot. If Gardner stays in the leadoff spot and the two, three and five spots belong to Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano, where does Girardi pencil in Jeter? Can you imagine Jeter being dropped to sixth, or worse, in the bottom third of the lineup? That would be a major controversy that would make the All-Star smack-down look like a walk in the park.

The sooner Jeter is permanently dropped in the lineup, the sooner the talk will turn to how long he should be the Yankees every day shortstop, talk that will burn up the phone lines once Jose Reyes hits free agency. Jeter bristles at criticism, but he better prepare himself because he will hear a lot of it for the rest of his career.

The talk about Jeter isn’t all bad, as seen in this column outlining why Jeter could get 100% of the Hall of Fame vote when he becomes eligible. I doubt that would happen because there are way too many Jeter critics who think he is overrated because he plays in New York. But it’s a nice sentiment amid a flood of negativity about the Yankees Captain.

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