July 2010

Derek Jeter or Yunel Escobar? Next four years…

Hall of Famer Derek Jeter wipes his cleats with players like Yunel Escobar.  Not literally, of course.  But Jeter is a classy player, who seemingly never lapses mentally.  He commands respect from fans, teammates, and everyone else that has ever seen him play.  And he has produced numbers that rival only the greatest shortstops to ever play this game.  

Yunel Escobar on the other hand, has never commanded, nor deserved respect from anyone, at least on a baseball field.  Hearsay tells me that the guy is more frowned upon on the diamond than BJ Upton.  And yes, that is possible.   
Recently, as we have all heard, the Braves acquired a player in Alex Gonzalez — that is nothing more than a decent SS.  And since he is 33, his prime is most definitely behind him.  Now, it cannot be overstated that the Braves received a few other unknown pieces in this deal.  But rarely, if ever, is a cheap, talented shortstop ever traded in the midst of a pennant race.  But the Braves organization was so fed up with Yunel, that they simply wanted no more.  
Statistically, Derek Jeter has been a “disappointment” amongst Yankee fans.  And it is understandable why this season has been a disappointment.  But really, amongst most impartial (somewhat) observers, he really hasn’t been all that disappointing.  Great players simply become less great over time.  Jeter is no exception.  
And the other piece of this, is that Jeter hasn’t been “Jeter-esque” for merely three months of the season.  A relatively small sample.  His BABIP is sitting at the lowest of his career, which is actually a positive sign moving forward (Should regress to the mean, somewhat).  More worrisome, is that he is putting the ball on the ground more, much more, than he ever has.  66 percent of the time to be exact.  
So some of Jeter’s struggles are due to aging — something that is inevitable, and understandable.  And some of those struggles are probably due to the ball not finding the gaps, not “seeing” the holes between the infielders as much.  
Jeter has had a Hall of Fame career, but it is more than likely that any MVP seasons are behind the Captain.  
Yunel has his best years ahead of him.  Or would, if he had the intangibles of a Jeter, or Ichiro.  Guys who strive to be the best, and have the talent to help back it up.  
This is for near-certain, Yunel is a better defender now, than Jeter ever was.  So there is obvious talent there.  However, Escobar has played an in inferior league during the duration of his young career.  
But anyway, this isn’t about if Yunel has been better than Jeter.  Because he hasn’t.  
Yunel will probably never be the offensive threat that Jeter was, in respect to his position.  
So the question, finally, who would you rather have the next four seasons?  How much would you pay for a good attitude vs. a perceived poor attitude?
I know that I would take Yunel in a near-heartbeat for the next four seasons.  Because I can invest that money elsewhere.  And of course, Yunel’s upside is > Jeter’s over the course of this hypothetical contract.  
But some would be willing to give Jeter 4 years, and $60-$80 million, if the choice was between the two.  They would prefer to spend the money on the intangibles, rather than the potential of a headache, or two…or three.  
Now, I am pretty sure that every team that spends less than the Yankees would choose Yunel.  And Jeter and pinstripes happen to be inseparable.  
But I wonder, would you choose Jeter over the young, and talented, yet “lazy” Yunel?    
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