The local tabloids have made it clear that Derek Jeter's impending contract is going to be a storyline for the 2010 season whether we like it or not. Usually that's going to mean a lot of needless bellyaching about the length or cost of the deal everyone knows is coming and occasionally it is going to elicit a painful column about how Jeter isn't worth keeping or some other angle no one would buy with Monopoly money.
Tuesday's Post featured a notable and welcome exception. Mike Vaccaro takes a look at Jeter's status with the Yankees and how it has likely cost them a chance to sign 21-year-old Cuban defector Adeinis Hechavarria. Hechavarria is ticketed for the Blue Jays at the not insignificant cost of $10 million, a bid the Yankees are rumored to have topped, but they couldn't offer the youngster what wants most on the diamond.
Hechavarria wants to be a major league shortstop and the Yankees already have one. That's Hechavarria's choice, even if it flies in the face of the scouts who think he's better suited for another position, and more power to him for making it.
Vaccaro is realistic about what Jeter's presence means for the Yankees in their pursuit of Hechavarria or some other talented shortstop who comes down the pike in the next few years. That might be painful if the Cuban is leading Toronto teams into the Bronx in a few years and beating up on the Bombers, but that doesn't make it the wrong decision.
It's been a long time but there are still those of us who remember what shortstops in pinstripes looked like before Jeter came to town. They looked like Bobby Meachem and Andy Stankiewicz. They resembled Wayne Tolleson and were spitting images of Alvaro Espinoza. Obviously no other team is playing the same shortstop that they were playing regularly in 1996, but do you realize that Jimmy Rollins is the only other shortstop in the same place from the 2001 season? That's not something to be taken lightly.
If Jeter hadn't played as well as he did in 2009, perhaps we're having a different conversation but you can't rewrite history. That the Yankees are missing out on one of the myriad prospects to come down the pike since the Captain took over at short isn't something worth losing sleep over.