Friday, July 4, 2008

The Captain has lost his way

Derek Jeter stunk last night.

He wasn't the only one in yesterday's pathetic 7-0 loss to the Red Sox, but he certainly stood out. His throwing error in the first inning led to two unearned runs, setting the tone for the rest of the game. At the plate he managed only a single while grounding into another double play (only four players have more DP's than Jeter since last season).

As the game went on, and he came to the box for each at-bat, I kept hoping the Captain was going to do something, anything, to make me not feel obligated to write about his struggles. He is the Golden Boy after all, and no player since Mattingly has received as much slack from Yankees fans.

But numbers are indisputable, and the fact of the matter is that last night wasn't just an anomaly in 2008. Derek Jeter -- and please, don't send the lynch mob to my door -- has stunk this season.

For the year, Jeter's now batting .279 with four homers and 35 RBIs. Those aren't God-awful statistics, but they're hardly the numbers representative of a starting shortstop in the All-Star Game. Jeter's struggles aren't likely the product of physical decline, he just turned 34 and should have a season or two left of high production. He could be withholding an injury from public knowledge, a sobering thought that would at least provide some logic.

It was Jeter after all, that former best bud A-Rod labeled as his AL MVP choice for 2008. This was before A-Rod starting having sex with fifty-something pop superstars, presumably. Instead, he is one of the culprits in the Yankees' maddening offensive performance this season. Thursday was the 38th time in 86 games the Yankees have been held to three runs or less in a game. Amazing. Really, how do you score 18 runs one night and get shutout the next? Who does that?

Joe Girardi held yet another closed door meeting following last night's stinkfest, this one lasting 30 minutes. The first-year manager can say what he wants, but what could best help this inconsistent team is better play from its core players. Pettitte came up small last night, but his prior month stretch gives him a pass. A-Rod has created another distraction with his marital troubles and Madonna connection (what's this dude's deal?). The Yankees need Jeter to be Jeter in the worst way. His resume says he'll get better, and I expect him to. It's time for the Captain to cease being part of the problem, and become part of the solution.

To better times today in the Bronx ...

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