The New York Yankees might have admitted that Derek Jeter’s season is over when they acquired shortstop Brendan Ryan from the Seattle Mariners last night. Jeter has played just 17 games this season as he recovered from ankle surgery performed in the off-season and has suffered multiple setbacks from his ankle to quad and calf issues. Now, Jeter is sidelined by soreness in his ankle.
The fact that Jeter is on the shelf again means the Yankees have had to rely on Eduardo Nunez recently. Nunez has performed fairly well at the plate, hitting .333/.379/.556 in September and hit .286/.337/.381 in August. However, he has missed some time due to injury this season and his defense is still questionable even if it has looked somewhat decent this season. This is where Brendan Ryan enters the picture.
Ryan, 31, is arguably the best defensive middle infielder in baseball. He owns a career 11.7 UZR/150 and has been credited with 97 defensive runs saved this season. He is not exactly a great bat to have in a lineup, however. Ryan owns a career .238/.300/.320 line across 2583 plate appearances. This season Ryan has hit just .192/.254/.265 and hit just .194/.277/.278 last season in 141 games and 470 plate appearances.
Because he was acquired after the August 31st waiver trade deadline he will not be eligible for postseason play. That might not be an issue, however, as the Yankees are currently two games out of a Wild Card spot and they will need the help Ryan will provide in the later innings to make the playoffs.
Nunez will be the Yankees’ starting shortstop with Jeter out but don’t be surprised to see Ryan routinely inserted into the lineup as a defensive replacement. But, one can’t help but think that Ryan’s acquisition might mean the end of the 39-year-old Derek Jeter’s season.
With setback after setback turning the 2013 season into a nightmare for the future Hall of Fame shortstop it might be wise to shut Jeter down for the rest of the year and hope he can be ready to go for 2014. Even if he is healthy next season Jeter should be limited in how much he plays shortstop moving forward in order to keep him healthy. The acquisition could be the first step in making that a reality.