It was something that no New York Yankees fan ever wanted to see.
In the top of the twelfth inning of game one of the ALCS last night, Derek Jeter sustained a serious injury. As Jeter was being carried off the field – with no pressure being put on his left leg – the hearts of every single Yankees fan broke. Jeter was without a doubt the most valuable player for the Yankees this season, and losing him is a debilitating shot to all fans. Many are now writing the Yankees off, saying that they will lose the ALCS. However, there is a way that the Yankees can still win. It will take dramatic changes, but it is something that needs to be done.
The most important thing is finding the right player to replace Jeter in the field. Eduardo Nunez was activated after the injury, but he provides an issue with his defense. Jayson Nix is another option to replace Jeter in the field, and he has been a very consistent player for the Yankees. In all likelihood, it will be Nix who takes Jeter’s spot. Many fans are calling for Alex Rodriguez to be the new shortstop, however it must be remembered that A-Rod has not played the position since he was with the Texas Rangers, about eight years ago. So Rodriguez would be the most unlikely option to replace Jeter at short.
With the defensive question taken care of, the offensive question comes into play. How is it possible to replace the Yankees’ best postseason hitter, and a man who led all of baseball in hits during the regular season? The answer – it isn’t possible. However, it is possible to change the lineup to produce more hits. This is where the dramatic change comes into effect. Too many hitters in the Yankees lineup are swinging for the fences, which is the same story it has been all year. If the Yankees want to compete without Jeter, they need to put more solid hitters into the lineup. Ideally, a perfect Yankees lineup without Jeter would look something like this:
Ichiro – LF
Nick Swisher – RF
Robinson Cano – 2B
Mark Teixeira – 1B
Raul Ibanez – DH
Russell Martin – C
Eduardo Nunez/Jayson Nix – SS
Alex Rodriguez – 3B
Brett Gardner – CF
Yes, you read that correctly. Brett Gardner should be the starting center fielder over Curtis Granderson, who has struggled mightily in the postseason. The lineup provides a nice balance of players who can play small ball, and players who can get a hold of a pitch every now and then.
Playing small ball is something the Yankees must do to win now. Without Jeter in the lineup, you lose a man who was the most consistent hitter, and that is something that is very hard to replace. However, if Joe Girardi has some guts, then he will go with the aforementioned lineup. It is simply the only way that the Yankees can win at this point.
Winning without Derek Jeter will be very tough, but it is not necessarily impossible. It is time for the Yankees to step up, and show the baseball world that they can still be successful.
Follow Hunter Farman on Twitter here