Because how can you not love a baseball player named "Bubba"?
USA Today has an article about Derek Jeter today, and what kind of contract he'll sign in the twilight of his career. They don't think there's any chance he won't be a Yankee. But will he continue to play SS...every day? He seems to have a lost a step this year, on offense and defense.
Even while Jeter was in the midst of a 14-game hitting streak in September, there was little consensus on which way he was headed. USA TODAY surveyed four veteran scouts, all of whom have seen Jeter play since he was an amateur, during a recent three-game series in Baltimore, and their assessments hardly provided accord.
One said Jeter looks tired, not as quick as in the past in the field and at the plate, and that the Yankees should expect one good season from him in the next contract and then be prepared to move him to an advisory or ceremonial role.
Another said he sees Jeter's swing being as quick as ever and that he wouldn't be surprised if Jeter hits .300 next year, as he has in 11 seasons. The other opinions fell in between.
Jeter is at an age when longtime elite shortstops often decline, sometimes precipitously. Larkin hit over .300 for the final time in the season he turned 36 and .266 over his remaining four seasons. Alan Trammell, a six-time All-Star in 20 years with the Detroit Tigers, hit .329 the season before he turned 36, .258 in the three more years before he retired.
"It's a demanding position mentally and emotionally," says Ripken, who moved from shortstop to third base at 36. "You're taking in signs (from the catcher and coaches), making decisions in (defensive) coverage. You're in on every pitch. Emotionally, there's a lot to process."
That leads to another issue: where to move Jeter when and if the Yankees feel he becomes a liability at shortstop. First baseman Teixeira is signed through 2016, third baseman Rodriguez through 2017. Second baseman Robinson Cano, 27, is an AL MVP candidate and has a deal through 2013, assuming the Yankees pick up two option years.
Will Jeter's production warrant a move to the outfield, where most teams' best hitters play? Does he spend time as a designated hitter and not play in the field? Or will he become a utility player, filling in at several positions? A new contract almost certainly would address those issues, as well as his role with the Yankees beyond his playing days.
Simple rest could be an answer.
Ripken hit .340 as a 38-year-old playing an injury-shortened 86-game season in 1999 after ending his long playing streak. Larkin made the 2004 All-Star team at 40, playing 111 games that year.
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