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Joe Torre thinks Derek Jeter would take a reduced role if it would help the Yankees

Nov 16, 2013, 10:05 PM EDT

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Joe Torre managed the Yankees from 1996 to 2007, coinciding with the vast majority of shortstop Derek Jeter‘s playing career. If anyone knows the guy, it’s Torre. Jeter is coming off of an injury-plagued 2013 season, logging a meager 73 plate appearances in 17 games. Because of his age (39) and questionable ability to stay healthy going forward, many solutions to the Jeter “problem” have been suggested, such as using him as a full-time DH, moving him to third base in the event Alex Rodriguez is suspended for the 2014 season, or signing a full-time shortstop and reducing Jeter’s role.

As Brendan Kuty of NJ.com writes, Torre thinks Jeter would take a reduced role if he was convinced it would help the team.

But Joe Torre said he thinks if Jeter feels he’s not playing up to his standards, he might consider a reduced part.

Jeter “will play baseball as long as he’s benefitting the team, whatever the role,” Torre said, speaking outside the 11th anniversary gala for the Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation in Chelsea.

Jeter led the league in hits as recently as 2012, logging 216 of them in 740 plate appearances over 159 games at the age of 38. Although the skepticism over his health is warranted, it wouldn’t be shocking if he was able to regain his previous form. Jeter is a free agent after the 2014 season, which may signal his retirement.

  1. cackalackyank - Nov 16, 2013 at 10:12 PM

    If Jeter is the guy we have been led to believe he is Joe Torre is absolutely right. I think the fast resolve to his contract this time is a clear indicator that there is a mutual realization of where he is in his career. Where it gets sticky is if he has a really decent healthy season. Then we really get to test Joe’s wisdom.

  2. bigharold - Nov 17, 2013 at 1:19 AM

    “Where it gets sticky is if he has a really decent healthy season.”

    How so?

    I think Jeter will walk away rather then tarnish his reputation. If he returns to 2012 form offensively, .. plays a lot of games, is decent in the field and isn’t frequently hurt, .. to me that would be a decent healthy season. If that’s the case why wouldn’t he return and why wouldn’t the Yankees welcome him back? He’d neither be blocking the development of some young SS on the Yankee farm, .. nor are there any must have FA SS available.

    Jeter is perhaps one of the most self aware grounded professional athletes in sports today. He knows exactly who he is, where he is in his career and what his potential is going forward. If he can’t get it done, .. he’ll know and I’ve no doubt he quit. But, if he can still get it done he’ll stay, .. and the Yankees will and should keep him.

    When DiMaggio retired his numbers were still decent but they were pedestrian by his standards. It was said he walked away because he couldn’t be “Joe DiMaggio” any more. Jeter is our generation’s DiMaggio and I expect that he’ll walk away to rather then hang on.

    • dcarroll73 - Nov 17, 2013 at 2:29 AM

      I agree, bigharold, that Jeter will do the right thing, but we need to look at the history. When Joe DiMaggio decided to “hang them up”, the Yanks were ascendent and had Mickey stepping up. When The Mick reached the same point in his career, he was just as aware of things as Joe, but the Yanks were in a troubled time. I believe that Roy White and sometimes Bobby Murcer were the only ones hitting over .280 so Mickey played on with full knowledge that he was a shell of his past self. He knew he was clobbering his career batting average, but he “took one for the team”. Mickey Mantle hitting 50-60 points lower than his prior career averages was still near the top for those Yanks. As much as I applaud to goal of dropping below the luxury cap, I fear it will not come without cost. If the Yanks are out of contention for a couple years, will Jeter hang on as Mickey did? I hope it doesn’t come to that, but it might. If it does, will today’s more hyper media understand what Jeter is doing and the fact that it won’t be refusing to face a personal reality but rather a noble sacrifice for the team?

      • mybrunoblog - Nov 17, 2013 at 10:21 AM

        You are playing into the common myth that Mickey Mantles last 2 seasons were terrible. While he was clearly not the MVP player he had been, Mantles last 2 seasons were not as bad as some think. In 1967 Mickey hit .245 but the league average was only .236 so he was in the upper half of hitters. Only four AL players managed to hit .300 in 1967. Mantle also hit 22 HRs with a .391 OBP. Not bad at all. In 1968 Mantle only managed to hit .237 but the league average was only .230 as it was the “year of the pitcher”. Mantle also had no protection in that 1968 Yankee lineup. Mickey was far from washed up at age 36 and if he had the DH could have played for at least 2 or 3 more seasons.

    • stoutfiles - Nov 17, 2013 at 8:40 AM

      Doubt it. He would have walked away already. He’s turned into a slap hitter, and his defensive range is competing for last in all of baseball. I’m sure any bad play will be attributed to a nagging injury, and if were only at 100% he’d be killing it.

      Jeter’s a great player and 1st ballot hall of famer, but SS is a demanding position and every year he’s that much older. The fact is that he’s an average player going forward, but is kept around because:

      1. He pays for himself with merchandise/ticket sales.
      2. The Yankees have never bothered to look for an adequate backup SS.
      3. Not worth the bad PR of replacing him if he’s still able to take the field.

  3. drelms - Nov 17, 2013 at 8:58 AM

    There has not been any talk about the Yankees having any good prospects coming up at the ss position so once again management decides to go with the old favorite instead of upgrading with younger talent.
    At least for the first month maybe two the fans can see the ss they love so much, but it is doubtful that his health will allow him to go the whole season.

  4. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 17, 2013 at 10:43 AM

    Y’all are insane:

    I think the fast resolve to his contract this time is a clear indicator that there is a mutual realization of where he is in his career.

    He had a $9.5M player option that was renegotiated into a $12M deal. Let’s not act like he took a giant paycut here. Also let’s not forget that 3 years ago Jeter and his agent cried to the press that the Yankees weren’t treating Jeter with respect after Cashman told Jeter to shop around if he wasn’t happy.

    If he returns to 2012 form offensively, .. plays a lot of games, is decent in the field and isn’t frequently hurt, .. to me that would be a decent healthy season.

    Jeter was awful defensively in ’12 (like he’s been most of his career). He was okay offensively at 117 wRC+ but in the last four years he’s gone 93, 104, 117, 48. The 117 is the aberration, not the true talent level.

  5. pisano - Nov 17, 2013 at 12:08 PM

    I think the Yankees have been overly good to Jeter. I don’t think many teams would have given him 12 mil. ( with his physical problems) when, as I understand it, they could have bought him out for 3 mil. and sent him on his way. Know matter what the season holds for him, he can’t say the Yankees weren’t great to him.

  6. gloccamorra - Nov 17, 2013 at 1:51 PM

    There’s no way to tell if 2014 is Jeter’s last year without getting into his head. The magic number 40 is what he’ll be on his next birthday in June, and that should signal his final circuit around the league. He just saw how Mariano did it, so he should know it’s time, but with great talent comes a great ego, and we’ll have to wait and see if Derek realizes it.

  7. miktee4325 - Nov 18, 2013 at 3:56 AM

    joe torre most overated coach in baseball never won before Yankees never won after Yankees
    anybody could have won with those yankee teams he had
    ssat in dogout like he was half dead.

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