I have been watching Jose Reyes' MVP-caliber year with the New York Mets with great interest, especially since it's the last year of his contract. Like some Yankee fans, I was salivating at the idea of Reyes putting on pinstripes when he is no longer a Met.
But Brian Cashman has put the kibosh on that idea, saying, "That's just not going to happen." Of course, given that Cashman's own contract is up at the end of the year, never say never. Not to mention that Cashman has said one thing, and ended up doing another, before, like when Bubba Crosby was going to be the Yankees' starting center fielder for 2006! All that said, the Yankees probably will not get Reyes, even thought they should.
Back in 2007, Squawker Jon and I were interviewed on the Mets Weekly SNY broadcast for a Subway Series preview. When I was asked who was the best shortstop in New York, I gave my smartypants answer -- Alex Rodriguez!
Now I would say it's Jose Reyes, which is not exactly going out on a limb here. But it's going to be interesting to watch if Reyes is doing great things for the Mets, or heaven forbid, the Boston Red Sox, over the next few years, while the Yankees have Jeter at shortstop for the next three and a half seasons. (The media always seems to forget Jeter's player option for a fourth year in that contract. And given that he said last year that he thought he was still in the middle of his career (!), there is no reason to think at this point that he will hang it up before that season.)
Anyhow, will Yankee fans be gritting their teeth if Reyes has a year or two like this with the Red Sox, when it's pretty clear that Derek Jeter's 2010 was just a sneak preview of what we're going to see in this contract? And for all the "he's back" talk after his two-homer game against the Texas Rangers, the fact is that the captain has the same number of home runs this year that Eduardo Nunez achieved in 62 at-bats -- two. And while Jeter is better than Nunez with the glove at this point, Nunez is hitting much better in the lineup in Jeter's absence than Derek has all year:
Jeter's 2011 splits: .260/324/.324
Nunez's numbers since replacing Jeter in the lineup:.294/.351/.441 (his overall 2011 numbers are .241/.290/.379.)
I'm not saying Nunez is the answer, but the dirty little secret in Yankeeland is that the team has done just fine without Jeter in the lineup, especially with Brett Gardner and Nick Swisher alternating at the top of the lineup (they were hitting a combined .314 in that spot going into Friday's game.)
Of course, Joe Girardi has already said he won't move Jeter out of the leadoff role when he returns from injury, whenever that is. Because it makes perfect sense to have the player with the second-worst on-base percentage on the team batting more than anybody else on the Yankees!
I know, I know, these numbers don't take into account intangibles, grit, mystique, aura, or five rings. But geez, at some point, maybe after the 3000 hit milestone is achieved, we have to remember that it's the Derek Jeter of 2011 playing, not the ghost of Jeter at shortstop. Sacrilege, I know.