Should Derek Jeter Start for the United States?

There's very little chance that the mounting evidence of Derek Jeter's shortcomings as a shortstop are going to force him to move positions for the Yankees. The move isn't simply about baseball skills, but about history and respect for bygone days which color the decision far beyond the diamond.

The United States team for the World Baseball Classic has no such connection to past glories. Jeter's value is as a player and nothing else, which should make the decision about his place on the roster and in the lineup about nothing other than baseball skills. If that's the case, Jeter should be sitting on the bench while Jimmy Rollins is turning double plays for the national team.

Rollins has been a better player in each of the past two seasons than Jeter and figures to be a better one in 2009 as well. Offensively, it's been close but Rollins turned in a better season each time. Defensively, the gap between them is so large that Rollins might not even be able to use his excellent range to get to a ball hit into it. Based strictly on baseball, then, it's a no brainer.

Extending the debate off the field doesn't help Jeter all that much. Rollins starred for the World Champion Phillies and won the National League MVP in 2007. Jeter turns 35 during the 2009 season and is slowing down, while Rollins should continue to be a major player for the next four years. If marketing is part of the plan, and it is, Rollins is a more marketable player for baseball going forward than the already established Jeter.

That's game, set and match for Rollins. Jeter's been judicious about managing his image since he hit the Yankee dugout, and the right move for him now is to say that he's happy to back up Rollins and do whatever it takes to help the U.S. team come out on top.

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