New York Yankees 2012 and beyond Part 2: Left side of the Infield

October 11, 2011
By Dan1495 SILVER, Brooklyn, New York
Dan1495 SILVER, Brooklyn, New York
6 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Favorite Quote:
If you expect greatness, you shouldn’t be surprised by it.
~ Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers

Third base:
A-rod has been one of the most feared players in the game since his days as a young shortstop in Seattle. 629 homeruns later his dominance has worn off and the pitchers approach towards him are different. Since resigning with the team in the ‘07 off season we’ve seen a declining Arod. From 2008 on, his slugging percentage continued to drop season after season. An important statistic for a power hitter, but that wasn’t the only statistic that had been going down. His homerun numbers dramatically dropped since his MVP season in ‘07, along with his average, plate appearances and games played. What made 2011 different from other seasons was the amount of injuries that limited him to only play 99 games. Rodriguez had 15 home runs, 52 RBIs and a .304 average at the season’s midpoint despite missing time with a hip injury. A great point to be at considering he injured his hip which is very important to a power hitter. The hip for a power hitter is what allows a player to stride when making contact with the ball. Little did the Yankees know that Rodriguez would miss so much time with a left thumb injury and torn meniscus in his right knee that would require surgery to repair. Losing a hitter who had hit 30 or more home runs and driven in 100 or more runs in 13 straight seasons wasn’t what the Yankees planned on. The rest of the way, Rodriguez hit just one home run and drove in 10 runs in the second half. His last 51 at bats he hit below the Mendoza line (.196) which put a scare into the Bronx bombers heading into the playoffs. Alex knew what his numbers were at the end of the season, but he stayed confident and vowed the playoffs would be different. He would have put his miserable season to rest if he would have only had success but a consecutive miserable postseason (2 for 18) only put the Yankees into doubt with what they’re going to do with Alex the next 6 years. Even though the Yankees owe Rodriguez 143 million dollars over the next 6 years [excluding the incentives] why not give a kid a chance to play the hot corner. Now we’re not talking about just any kid, we’re talking about a kid that put up 23 homeruns and 31 doubles in his first professional season in the minors at the age of 20. It didn’t stop there, two seasons later he put 25 homeruns 102 RBI’s and 28 doubles between AA and AAA. Why not give him 200 to 300 at bats to see what the kid has. He’s only 23 and has a knack for hitting bombs and his bat speed is much quicker than A-rod’s. Who knows he might show up as big as a surprise as Gardner was a couple of years back. We all know how valuable he is to our team right now, or we’d be stuck with Crawford and his hefty 142 million dollar contract. On the other hand if laird is a flat out bust just like his brother Gerald laird we might be in a rude awakening then next six years. Because the way A-rod produced this year, we could only imagine how he’ll be playing in his 40’s.

Since 1996, we’ve been blessed with a hall of fame shortstop. Unlike A-rod who was picked 1st overall in the draft, Jeter was drafted 6th. Derek Jeter dreamed of playing for the Yankees since his young days in elementary school. Even though he was raised in Michigan, he made summer trips down to New Jersey to be with his grandma. Being so close to New York he became a Yankee fan. Unfortunately for him, it didn’t appear that the Yankees were looking his way. Out of the 28 teams that made the trip down to Kalamazoo to watch him play, the only team that wasn’t there, was his future team [New York Yankees]. When it was Cincinnati’s time to select, the only reason they passed on Jeter was because they already had a hall of fame shortstop [Barry Larkin]. They feared he would be a blockage towards Jeter's growth to become a great player. So they passed him on to the Yankees and the rest is history. When you think back at Jeter’s entire career we see all of the accomplishments he’s achieved; Rookie of the year, 5 gold gloves, 12 all star appearances and one legendary achievement this year [3000 hits]. Aside from all his awards and personal achievements that was the past and we live in the present. We can’t think about what he did then, but what he has to offer for the next two years. Even though Jeter finished with a .297 batting average he didn’t hit like that over the entire course of the season. His first half he hit .270 while hitting an outstanding .327 after the all star break. Aside from his regular season stats he managed only 5 hits in 24 at bats. For a super star he sure didn’t put up super star numbers. He claims the reason for his resurgence was the rest he got from being on the disabled list so why not make him a full time DH for the next two years and see what our young guns have to offer. When I mentioned Brandon laird filling in for A-rod he didn’t have any experience, when with Eduardo Nunez he has more than enough to become a full time player. Even though he only had 338 plate appearances he showed promise. He led all rookies in 22 steals and put up a decent batting average of .265. What they didn’t say about Nunez was his defense. Even though he could be shaky at times he as one hell of an arm. Now we go from major leaguer to minor leaguer. Some might know but in last year’s draft we selected Cito Culver out of high school to be our future shortstop. His scouting reports say he shows more promise than Derek ever did when played in the minors. His biggest strength is his arm. He hit 95 MPH as a pitcher, but the Yankees saw him more as a "thrower." Playing shortstop will still allow him to show his impressive arm strength. Scouts even went out to say that if they had to pick anyone to replace Jeter it would be Cito Culver. What came as a surprise was his offense. He starts off slow but picks up the pace towards the end. What makes this an even more perfect ending is Culver should be up by the time Jeter’s contract expires 2013. I know the Yankees are all about Win now, not look towards the future, but with a well rested Jeter at DH and a promising shortstop whether its Nunez or Culver. The Yankees have a lot to offer and could go far with these minor switches.

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