Ugh! The criticism of Derek Jeter's defense will never end. It has even reached the World Baseball Classic, where Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports is calling Jeter's glove work a liability to Team USA's title chances.
For Team USA to have its best chance of winning the World Baseball Classic, Jimmy Rollins should be at shortstop instead of Derek Jeter.
The decision, however, is not that simple.
Jeter is the captain of Team USA, the face of the tournament for the United States, a player who has appeared in both Classics and helped promote the event when other U.S. stars have not.
Team USA also has an obligation to give Jeter and other players the work they need to prepare for the regular season -- an obligation that sometimes prevents manager Davey Johnson from making optimal use of his roster.
Before Tuesday night, Jeter had played only 15 innings at shortstop over the previous 10 days, a far lower total than he would have compiled if he had remained with the Yankees at spring training.
So, Johnson played Jeter for nine innings at short in the elimination game against Puerto Rico and used Rollins as his designated hitter.
Twice, Jeter failed to stop balls to his left that Rollins might have at least knocked down, and both led directly to runs.
If Team USA had not secured its dramatic 6-5 victory over Puerto Rico by staging a three-run rally in the ninth inning, Jeter's defense would have come under heavy scrutiny. ...
Jeter actually improved on balls to his left last season, according to the plus-minus ratings on Bill James Online. Those ratings, however, ranked Rollins as the top defensive shortstop in the majors. Jeter ranked 31st.
Johnson's stock line is that he is as comfortable with Jeter at short as he is with Rollins. It will be difficult for Johnson to continue taking that stand after Tuesday night.
The last thing anyone wants to do is embarrass Jeter, who deserves respect and appreciation for both his distinguished career and his participation in the WBC.
Rollins, though, is the better defensive shortstop.
If Team USA wants to win, Rollins needs to play.
I don't bring this up to debate, defend or criticize Jeter's defense. That's not the point.
To me, it's just another example of why the WBC is uncomfortable, and unworkable, for big-league teams.
-- Hat tip to 'The Good Phight' for the find.