I can’t speak for all New York Yankees fans, but for me, thinking about Derek Jeter’s retirement and what the team will do without him is like driving on a road heading straight towards a brick wall.
Now that Jeter’s made the announcement official, it feels like we’re about to smash into that wall head-on. That is to say, I’m not surprised that Jeter will retire after this season (we kind of saw it coming), but now that the time has almost arrived, I’m bewildered at what’s going to happen next.
After Jeter hangs up the spikes, the Yankees (and the game of baseball) will no longer have a “face of the franchise.” Looking to 2015, the longest-tenured Yankee will be Alex Rodriguez. That’s right. The elder statesman in the Yankees’ clubhouse will be a disgraced player who has done everything in his power to alienate anyone who was ever in his corner, a PED user coming off the longest suspension in the history of baseball. Yikes.
Ideally, Robinson Cano would have inherited that head honcho role, but the Seattle Mariners gave him too many reasons to move out west instead – 240 million to be exact. Alfonso Soriano came up with the Yankees, and his midseason return to the Bronx last year was awesome. However, after playing for three different teams during the previous decade, he lacks the longevity to be the leader of the clubhouse.
Brett Gardner also came up through the farm system and won a ring in 2009 and is a fan favorite, but he may be traded for pitching before the season is over.
Unless a young prospect like Manny Banuelos, Gary Sanchez or Greggory Bird has a breakout season in two or three years, the Yankees will increasingly be a team of mercenaries. The team’s three front-end starters were all free agent acquisitions. What is more, C.C. Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka have two of the biggest free agent pitcher contracts in the history of the game.
Five positions in the field were filled through free agency this offseason: catcher, second base, third base, center field and right field. Add shortstop to next year’s list.
I was born in 1991. I don’t know what the Yankees are without Jeter because for as long as I’ve watched baseball, he’s been their shortstop. Maybe some older Yankees fans who went through this with Mickey Mantle can help me cope.