August 3, 2010

Discussion: Time to tell Jeter to slide over?

Matt Imbrogno of The Yankee U thinks it’s time to move Derek Jeter out of the leadoff spot. He makes an extremely reasonable case — be sure to read the whole thing — but I just don’t think it’s quite time for the Yankees to lose hope in the Captain and make room for Brett Gardner.

Imbrogno’s post brought me back to an article by Joel Sherman from a couple weeks ago, which featured hitting coach Kevin Long sticking up for Jeter. To me, the really key part of Sherman’s article — and this really tough debate — lies right here:

… Long said this decision cannot be made on paper, not when a decision like this would disrespect such an important figure and unsettle the clubhouse.

“If this room is not happy, you don't win games,” Long said.

Also, there is wonder if Gardner is emotionally prepared to handle leading off in a pennant race. After all, in the two-week period in May in which he was elevated to be the primary No. 2 hitter, Gardner's at-bats progressively worsened and he hit .233 in that span.

“Every time we have moved Gardner to the top of the lineup he has been awful,” Long said. “I think there is a progression in these things. I think it would have been a disaster to hit Robinson Cano fifth two years ago, but now he is great at it. I think Gardner will eventually be terrific as a leadoff man.”

In Sum: Even though Gardner might have Jeter beat for the leadoff spot on paper, the move wouldn’t be healthy for the clubhouse. Also, in situations this year when Gardner has hit high in the order, his great numbers haven’t carried over, which is why Long thinks moving Cano up in the order would’ve been a mistake two years ago.

I’d like to hear what readers think of this great debate. How many stick up for Jeter, and how many agree with Imbrogno — that it’s time for a change?

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