Derek Jeter is the leading vote-getter in the American League for the All-Star Game. He's the guy you want to build a team around, he's the most overrated player in the game. He's a future Hall of Famer, yet Jeter has struggled through much of the first half of the season. Mark Feinsand has a good piece on the Yankee captain in the News today:
Jeter won't even offer a guess at the reason for his declining numbers, but Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long has his own theory.
"I can tell you that he probably lost 30-35 points in his average due to his hand injury, but he'd never admit that," Long said. "His swing wasn't the same, he was favoring it and he got into some problems when it came to staying behind the baseball, which has always been his strength. He still contributed and helped us in other ways, but his hitting suffered."
...Jeter began expanding his strike zone, swinging at pitches on the corners or off the plate. As Long watched those bad habits, he knew something wasn't right.
"How much damage can you do with a pitch that's (a foot) off the plate?" Long said. "Since he's been healthy, he's had to get out of some of those bad habits, and now he's starting to put a little something together."
The reason the Yankees can deal their starting center fielder for need without opening up another hole is the performance of prospect Brett Gardner at Triple-A Scranton. The speedy center fielder is currently batting .292/.408/.436 with 10 doubles, nine triples, three home runs, and 52 walks in 73 games. He has also stolen 29 bases in 37 attempts. Gardner, 24, will not be an impact player in the major leagues. However, given his patience, a .275 batting average, and his ability to run balls down with his speed, he should be at least as productive as Cabrera and provide a better on-base threat at the bottom of the order, creating more opportunities for Johnny Damon, Derek Jeter, and the top of the lineup.