Now we get to the shortstop. This is again one of the most intriguing situations, perhaps the most interesting positions in terms of the bench behind second base. There is a player there who could be there no more than a few more years, and I am obviously talking about numbah 2, the shortstop, Derek Jetah. While there isn’t as bright of a future as catcher, there are a few prospects that could be viable options in the future.
Jeter will have the shortstop job for a couple more years, or as long as he wants. He is the king in
New York, even if King James is here, King Jeter will still have supreme rule. However, both his defense and offense have taken a big drop this year.
Last year was one of his greatest seasons, on both sides of his game, so a drop in production was expected to drop a bit. However, compared to last year, his offense has experienced a large drop. As seen in the graph above, his average has dropped by more than 50 points, his on-base percentage by close to 60 points (!), and his slugging percentage by exactly 60 points (!). The stats almost seem like they came from two different players. These aren’t small differences, this is the result of a player who had a career year last year, and is having one of his worst seasons this year. Yet, Derek is still in third place for the lead in batting average for American League shortstops. Also, the captain is in second place for on-base percentage, third place for slugging percentage, and second place in home runs for American League shortstop. Therefore, there is no reason to replace Jeter right now, unless his skills continue to quickly deteriorate. Right now, there is only one definitive AL shortstop that is better than Jeter, Elvis Andrus, so there should be no rush to push him out. Even with further aging, he could probably still be a top 5 AL shortstop for about 3 more years. There aren’t many young shortstops that are ready to compete with Derek for a top spot anytime soon. El Capitan should be fine at shortstop for this season, don’t worry about him at all unless an injury should occur.
Ramiro Pena and Kevin Russo were already discussed in the second base review, so let’s just recap it quickly. Pena brings a great glove, but he’s not showing it. Shortstop is his natural position, so expect the glove to flash great plays. His bat isn’t anything good, and it wouldn’t shock many if his current hitting, below .200, is what he brings. It seems Pena would have a higher average, low .200s, but he doesn’t really do anything decent offensively, besides decent speed. Russo brings more bat and less glove. He should hit above .250 and bring a pretty good bat for the bench. His defense won’t be flashy or elite, but it will still be good. Russo should have a future with the Yankees on the bench. Pena’s future is questionable, if he can have a passable bat, Ramiro will stay in the majors. If not, the minor leagues or a trade are in order.
In terms of prospects, there is only one notable one that could reach the minors this year, or in the next few. That guy is Eduardo Nunez. Some people say that he is having a breakout year, well technically he is not. There is no doubt he is having a very good year, good enough for some to believe he could take over as the next Yankees shortstop. But, last year was his real breakout year. He hit .322 with a .349 obp and .433 slg last year. This year, he has continued his good hitting, with a little lower average but more walk, which could be considered a good thing. There are also a lot of people who don’t believe in Nunez, some don’t like his defense. His fielding abilities at shortstop aren’t the greatest, but he has a great arm. His defense probably won’t kill his chances at being the Yankees’ shortstop, so watch out for him! He would be a great addition to the bench now, however, he might need just a little more seasoning before coming up later this year.
Then, there’s Cito Culver, this year’s first round pick. It was a surprise pick, some people believe he is destined to be a utility guy while others believe he has great potential and was simply not scouted enough. I like him, not as much as a pick like Stetson Allie, but he has potential. We will just have to wait and see.
Let’s look at the outside options. The best options seem like Cesar Izturis and Ryan Theriot. Izturis is a Gold Glove winner, in 2004, so he is a very good gloveman. He should hit around .250 or .260, while he is currently hitting .245. This is the best case scenario for Ramiro Pena, so having Cesar here to help Ramiro could be a good idea. It would be a nice acquisition for the Yankees to acquire him, but the Orioles likely deal him, or at least for a reasonable value. They shouldn’t be willing to give up much, so it would probably be best to avoid him.
The other top option is Ryan Theriot. He’s a decent defenseman, not as good as Cesar. However, Ryan should hit in the very high .200s or possibly .300. He is the more attractive option, also bringing the ability to play second base, and I would love the Yankees to get him. However, I am unsure what it would take to acquire him, but it would probably take at least a Grade-B secretary and another lesser one.
To sum this all up, Jeter will be here for a few more years. Pena and Russo have to put it together, at least Russo should eventually. Nunez has potential to start; he could once El Capitan is done. Don’t forget about Cito, he has a long way to go, but someday could be a good shortstop. On the trade market, there’s Cesar Izturis and Ryan Theriot. I’m a big fan of Ryan, but Cesar will probably be a bad idea, since a trade with the Orioles will be necessary.
Hope you had fun! Join us next time, for a review of the third base situation!