Tuesday, April 8, 2008


Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that you have the best shortstop in the game. Playing third base you have the second best shortstop in the game. Guy #1 gets hurt for a few games. Who do you play at short until Guy #1 gets well? Reasonable people say Guy #2. Unreasonable people like Jeff Passan write shitty articles like this:

One large study, conducted at the Wharton Business School, uses a metric – a statistic-based analysis – to show how Jeter was the pits from 2002-05 and Rodriguez was among the best shortstops. Its veracity is questionable, considering it named the positively slothful Ken Harvey as its first-base representative.

I'm not gonna lie. I don't get paid to watch or write about baseball. So I have never seen Ken Harvey play. He could very well suck monkey balls. Having said that, the same study names Doug Mientkiewicz as the next best first baseman, a player whose defensive prowess gets talked about pretty often.

In any case, I think even the most unreasonable of people can agree: First base is a very different position from shortstop and a metric measuring defense might not work for first base but still work quite well for the rest of the field. This is such an obvious and universal truth that it could potentially lead to Archie, Bill James, Tim McCarver, Ken Tremendous, Hat Guy, Larry B, Joe Morgan, and me all sitting around a campfire singing Kumbaya.

Not nearly as dubious is John Dewan’s book, “The Fielding Bible”, in which Dewan culls data from every play and rates players on a plus-minus scale – plus for making a play that at least one of his peers had missed, and minus for the opposite. It is the new standard for fielding statistics, and in the past three years, Jeter is minus-90, the second-worst number in all of baseball, better only than Manny Ramirez’s minus-109.

Okay Manny Ramirez does kind of suck defensively. I haven't read the book, but I'm assuming ol' Jeff has. I mean, he just said that it's "not nearly as dubious". Maybe Jeff will endorse this view, or at least give it credence. Or maybe he'll break it down and tell us why Jeter is The Balls and John Dewan and all those nerds at Wharton should go suck a dick. Let's see what he has to say.

Is that damning enough to even entertain alternates at the position of the most beloved Yankee of the past two decades? Probably not, even though the Yankees sure have a built-in excuse if they want to see whether a bulkier, older A-Rod can cut it at shortstop.

My response to this paragraph:


First of all there is absolutely no defense of Jeter as a shortstop. None. Not even a "he's clutch" or "he makes that pretty play across his body to first." It's almost like he's saying, "It is so ridiculous to even suggest that Jeter is anything less than a fabulous defensive shortstop, that I'm not even going to bother denying that Jeter sucks defensively."

Jeter's not playing. There are a number of reasons to think he isn't even close to being the Guy #1 described in the ideal hypothetical offered in the beginning of this article. There's a Hall of Famer who can play shortstop sitting on the roster. It's a hell of alot easier to replace a third baseman than a shortstop. And the Yankees won't/shouldn't play Rodriguez because of Jeter's ego??? Can anyone imagine the shitstorm that would result if the situation was reversed?

Anyway, Passan goes on to say that Wilson Betemit is the answer at short while Jeter sits. And then, this...

Rodriguez will stand next to him. He last played shortstop full time in 2003. Five years is a long time. And still, the idea just won’t die. It’s so crazy it just might work, and weird as it sounds, that’s the last thing the Yankees need.

What the hell is crazy about this idea? You have a guy who was better than Jeter in the first place until he came to New York and deferred to Jeter's Ego. The only crazy thing to do here is NOT play Rodriguez at shortstop if Jeter's out indefinitely. Jesus fucking Christ.

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