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Fantasy Baseball: A lost season for Derek Jeter?
The New York Yankees got some ominous news Wednesday on Derek Jeter: Mr. November won't make his 2013 debut until sometime in July. A recent CT scan revealed a small crack in the same ankle that was surgically repaired last year, and he won't return now until after the All-Star break.
About the only good news out of this situation is that GM Brian Cashman is saying that Jeter won't need additional surgery on his injured left ankle. That would have likely ended his year and seriously damaged what's already left of the Bronx Bombers' hopes for a productive season. Two of their other main offensive pieces, Curtis Granderson (forearm) and Mark Teixeira (wrist), will miss the first full month of the season. Both are expected back sometime next month, though.
Jeter, on the other hand, won't be contributing to your fantasy baseball lineup anytime soon. We warned those during draft season that taking a chance on Jeter as your starting shortstop this year was extremely risky, given his age (39 in June) and seriousness of his ankle injury. Nicholas Minnix and the rest of us who avoided Jeter at all costs this spring are now saying, "We told you so!"
No. 2's remarkable 2012 season was truly that - remarkable. At age 38, the surefire Hall of Fame shortstop hit .316 with 15 home runs, 58 RBIs, 99 runs scored and nine stolen bases. Because of that, many chose to look past his gruesome postseason injury heading into 2013 drafts. That was a mistake.
Even without his ankle injury, a respectable contact rate is pretty much all that Jeter had going for him heading into 2013. With age, his power and speed have drastically declined, and his homer output last year was a product of fortunate HR/FB rates. Add to that a major ankle injury and subsequent surgery, and you have yourself a very shaky fantasy baseball commodity.
Jeter's rehab was expected to be a long, arduous process, and the reports that he was making solid progress all spring always seemed overly optimistic. Perhaps they rushed him even more after the injuries to Grandy and Teixeira? We don't know, but we never realistically expected Jeter to be ready for the start of the season, let alone be productive if he was playing. We were right, and then some.
If you took the leap on Jeter, you're probably already hating yourself for it. In mixed leagues, you can get away with dropping him unless you plan on using his DL spot to give you an extra roster spot until July. You're probably better off searching for replacements. There are several shortstops heating up as we speak (Brandon Crawford, Zack Cozart) that deserve consideration.
Eduardo Nunez, who has been a nice surprise defensively while replacing Jeter, will see his value increase, and he's also worth considering in mixed universes for his stolen base contributions. Cashman gave Nunez a vote of confidence, saying they are comfortable with him at short, and they won't be seeking outside help via trade or free agency.
Jeter, meanwhile, will rest and let the newly revealed crack in his ankle heal, and then he'll need a full spring training worth of minor league or extended spring training action before the Yanks will consider activating him. Yeah, he's got a heck of a long way to go, folks. Once he returns, expect an empty .300 batting average at best, with a lot of rest days mixed in. You might not want to hear it or believe it yet, but this'll be a lost season for Jeter.
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