There were a lot of culprits to take some of the blame for the way the Yankees lost two of three games in Boston this weekend.
Phil Hughes raised serious concerns about his fitness for battle while getting shelled on Friday and an expected mediocre start by Ivan Nova on Saturday stretched the bullpen to its limits.
Sunday brought a rejuvenated Josh Beckett throwing hard and mixing in breaking balls the way the Yankees have to hope Hughes will do at some point this season.
Beckett handcuffed the entire Yankee team, but the offense still put up 16 runs in the first two games. So you'd expect that the Monday overreaction to two losses would focus on Hughes, Nova and the fact that CC Sabathia again didn't pick up a win despite pitching very well for the third straight start.
Nope. It's all about Derek Jeter.
Whether you're looking at the local papers or a national website, it is all about the fact that Derek Jeter's first nine games have done nothing to quiet concerns about his slowing bat. There are different takes all over the place as Ken Davidoff of Newsday focuses on a quick decision to abandon the much-ballyhooed change to his batting stance and Joel Sherman of the Post throws in concerns about an aging Jorge Posada.
On the one hand, the concerns are justified. Jeter hasn't been swinging the bat well at all and the most common outcome of his at-bats are meek groundballs that are easily turned into outs.
He's put the ball into play 29 times this season and he's hit the ball on the ground 23 of those times. If not for three infield hits, his .206 average would be even more anemic and you'd probably be seeing even more banners declaring that the king is dead or at least that the king should be hitting lower in the lineup.
All of that is disturbing and worrisome, yet the decision to put Jeter in the spotlight seems awfully premature at this hour. As mentioned, the Yankees have been putting up plenty of runs without much from their shortstop (we'd be remiss not mentioning the small sample size as well) and the much bigger problem has been the rotation.
Maybe the fact that we expected the rotation to be a problem has made the reaction less acute, but it is having a ripple effect that will wind up hurting the team a lot more than having one guy scuffling in an otherwise powerful lineup. The relievers are working too much, the runs produced by the offense are getting wasted and the need to spend treasure to fix the problem is only going to get bigger.
Jeter is always going to draw more attention than anybody else. We're used to that, he's used to that and arguing otherwise is a fool's errand.
It doesn't mean that he's the Yankee who should be keeping you up at night, though.