Dan Schlossberg's Weekend Report: Yankees Mulling Jeter's Heir • Latino Sports


Dan Schlossberg’s Weekend Report: Yankees Mulling Jeter’s Heir


NEW YORK — Derek Jeter played in his 14th All-Star Game this season. There won’t be another. The 40-year-old captain of the New York Yankees says he’ll retire at the end of the season and isn’t likely to reconsider — whether the team rebounds over the next six weeks or settles into the depths of the American League East. Like Cal Ripken, Jr. before him, Jeter is a humble, polite, and articulate — rare qualities in current clubhouses — and has maintained a moderate persona throughout his career.

Cal Ripken has much in common with Derek Jeter

Cal Ripken has much in common with Derek Jeter

He was lucky to come along at exactly the same time as Joe Torre, a cool cucumber whose calm demeanor quieted the cauldron that bubbled throughout the George Steinbrenner area. As a result, Jeter had no desire to go anywhere else, keeping his pinstripes for a record 20 seasons (Mariano Rivera ranks second for Yankees longevity with 19).

After last year’s broken ankle, however, Jeter realized that his playing days were numbered. His bat has slowed, his power has diminished, and his defense has degraded. Only his smile remains as radiant as it once was. Manager Joe Girardi, recognizing the future Hall of Famer needs regular rest, has taken Jeter out of the lineup more often this year — for obvious reasons.

And Jeter, looking ahead, has announced a significant publishing venture that will launch with three books next spring. The Yankees need to look ahead too. Quietly, they are doing just that. The deadline acquisition of Stephen Drew, a shortstop who supplies above-average defense, was a step in the right direction.

But his lefthanded swing, which should be perfectly placed in Yankee Stadium, has not produced as expected — maybe because his mind is preoccupied with playing second base, a new position for him. If not Drew for 2015, to whom would the Yankees turn? Hanley Ramirez, a heavy-hitting National Leaguer currently sidelined by injury, will be a free agent, albeit an

Hanley Ramirez has had more than his share of injuries but is still just 31

Hanley Ramirez has had more than his share of injuries but is still just 31

expensive one. Troy Tulowitzki, leading the majors with a .340 batting average when he finally succumbed to season-ending hip surgery, wants out of Colorado but would require a hefty return of talent since he is still under contract to the Rockies.

Switch-hitting Jimmy Rollins, who once gave the Phillies a 30/30 season, might waive his no-trade clause to don pinstripes but, like Jeter, he’s long in the tooth at 35-plus (he hits 36 just after Thanksgiving). Cuban defector Alexei Ramirez had such a great start this season that he should have started the All-Star Game as the American League shortstop — if the voting fans hadn’t been swayed by sentiment and convinced to pick Jeter.

He’ll be 33 in September but still seems on top of his game. If GM Brian Cashman really wants to get creative, he might be able to pry Gold Glover Andrelton Simmons from Atlanta. The team is disenchanted with Simmons, whose power (17 home runs) and fielding wizardy (Platinum Glove) have fallen sharply from their 2013 levels. Plus the Braves want to plug in a kid named Jose Peraza, whom they think will do for them what Dee Gordon does for the Dodgers.

Troy Tulowitzski, unhappy in Denver, could move to the Bronx

Troy Tulowitzki, unhappy in Denver, could move to the Bronx

Ramirez, a 6’3″ Dominican who’s still just 31, twice topped 50 steals in a season and once led the National League with a .342 average for the Florida Marlins. The brittle Tulowitzki has had two 30-homer seasons, though his numbers are obviously inflated by playing half the schedule at Coors Field.

Simmons, who turns 25 after Labor Day, is only playing his second full season but has produced only in the .250 range during his short tenure in the majors. Like Tulo, he has a long-term contract that the Yankees could inherit. Rollins, who has spent his entire career in Philadelphia, led the National League in triples four times and is still a threat to steal two-dozen bases or to jack a ball over the friendly right-field wall for a first-inning homer.

Whether the Yankees rally or relapse in September, the shortstop issue will fester like an open wound. Cashman does not have to replace a player; he needs to replace a legend.

Elsewhere around the majors: With starters Ervin Santana, Aaron Harang, and Gavin Floyd all eligible for free agency, the Braves are kvelling over the work of lefty Alex Wood and righty David Hale, both in their first full seasons . . . The rocky season of the Rockies got rockier when slugger Carlos Gonzalez (knee) joined Troy Tulowitzski (hip) on the list of players whose seasons ended prematurely.

A sore elbow sent veteran lefty Cliff Lee (Phillies) to a similar fate and placed his future in question. Of all the postseason awards, the only no-doubter is the National League’s Cy Young, certain to go to Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw for the third time in four seasons. Max Scherzer (Tigers) is a pretty good bet to win his second straight AL Cy Young.

Max Scherzer is a strong contender to keep the AL Cy Young trophy

Max Scherzer is a strong contender to keep the AL Cy Young trophy

Cuban slugger Jose Abreu (White Sox) has moved into the favorite spot in the race for American League Rookie of the Year but that could change if Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka returns from elbow woes.

You heard it here first: Washington would not be trumping the NL East race without Detroit ex-pat Doug Fister, acquired from the salary-dumping Tigers for a tuna sandwich and a dill pickle last winter. After jumping to the Pacific Northwest for a fatter contract, Robinson Cano is directly responsible for Seattle’s rise and the Yankees’ fall.

After giving Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Carlos Beltran a combined $283 million last winter, the Yankees probably upped the price needed to keep their own closer, David Robertson.

One reason the Yankees aren’t winning is a lineup loaded with two many men playing out of position, especially Martin Prado (a second baseman playing right field) and Stephen Drew (a shortstop stationed at second base). Ivy Leaguers in the big leagues are scarce but Princeton has four alumni active right now . . .

Houston second baseman Jose Altuve, shortest man in the majors at a generous 5’5″, will be the first man to lead a league in hits and steals since Alfonso Soriano (remember him?) did it for the Yankees in 2002 . . .

Tom Glavine can be heard on BRAVES BANTER this coming Thursday

Tom Glavine can be heard on BRAVES BANTER this coming Thursday

Hall of Famer Tom Glavine will be the special guest on BRAVES BANTER at 7:00 August 21 on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio.com.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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