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Any life after Jeter?

PEEKING THROUGH MY FINGERS
I can’t bear to look, so I have to ask: Has Ian O’Connor yet published a scorching tirade against Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes? Given that he tarred A-Rod for being questioned in the same investigation, these two pillars of the New York Mets should be guilty via the same associations. Not in the interest of fairness? No? Too bad…

THE NEXT SHORTSTOP
It’s almost a foregone conclusion that Derek Jeter will be back in pinstripes on a new contract after this season, but regardless of the length of his next contract, it is not too soon to start thinking about where the next Yankees’ shortstop will come from. Jeter may be a Yankee forever, but he might not be the Yankees’ shortstop for an equivalent span of time.

Though earlier this week I fantasized about the Yankees having a promising kid shortstop in the lower Minor Leagues, that guy doesn’t exist for the Yankees and seems to barely exist throughout baseball. Today my Baseball Prospectus colleague Kevin Goldstein unveiled his annual top 101 prospects. His list contains seven first basemen, three second basemen, six third basemen, 10 catchers, 20 outfielders, 43 pitchers, and 12 shortstops. The highest-ranking shortstop, Alcides Escobar of the Brewers, checks in at No. 19. Three others, Dee Gordon of the Dodgers, Miguel Sano of the Twins, and Starlin Castro of the Cubs were deemed worthy of the top half of the higher than 30th place. Five of the remaining eight ranked in the 80s and 90s. This seems an appropriate distribution. Of the dozen shortstops, I would guess that only Gordon and Jio Mier of the Astros have any real star potential. We don’t have enough information about another of the shortstops Goldstein lists, Grant Green of the Athletics.

The Baseball America top 100 prospects is a bit less generous to shortstops, with only nine shortstops ranked. Escobar is the highest-ranked shortstop at No. 12, Castro at No. 16, and then there’s a big drop off to Gordon at No. 46. Clearly, there is a dearth of potential impact shortstops in the minors right now. There are a few who might be good in their own, limited way, but the future Ripkens, Trammels, Jeters, and Tulowitzkis seem to be absent right now.

In many ways, that’s not unusual; there are only so many MVP/Hall of Fame-type shortstops in any generation. If there were always five cooking in the minors, they wouldn’t be that special. Their absence is only interesting if you are wondering where Jeter’s heir will come from. Unless you really, truly believe that Jeter will be playing a star-level shortstop for the Yankees at 38 or 39, something that has largely not happened since the immediate postwar period, it is not too early to start thinking about these things. Remember, the ultimate length of his contract only means that the Yankees have agreed to pay him for that span of time, not that he will be an effective or usual player for that period. The money is guaranteed, the quality is not.

GAME ONE (AND THE AROUND AND ABOUT)
…Probably didn’t tell us much beyond confirming that the Pirates can still do a pretty good imitation of a losing ballclub. Most of the pitchers looked good, but it was the Pirates. Several of the hitters had good swings, but it was the Pirates. Colin Curtis hit a walk-off home run, but not only was it the Pirates, it was Virgil Vasquez, who is one of the more Pirate-y of Pirates. The Yankees didn’t issue any walks, but they didn’t draw any either. If there was anything to take away from the first game, it was that baseball is back and no one got hurt… Oh, and that Curtis Granderson is a good egg. If you didn’t catch his interview with new YES-man Jack Curry, he reiterated once again that he doesn’t care if he plays in left field or center, he’ll just come in every day and check the lineup card to see where the manager has him listed. He seemed completely sincere in this consummately professional attitude.

Random thought: I am disappointed that Pat Venditte is not in the Major League camp.

Meanwhile:

• The Dodgers signed superannuated outfielder Garret Anderson to a Minor-League deal. With Manny Ramirez, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, and Reed Johnson ahead of him, unless Joe Torre gets completely crazy Anderson shouldn’t be asked to do much more than pinch-hit. If non-roster invitee Brian Giles is at all healthy he’s a much superior hitter, carrying career rates of .291/.400/.502, which don’t do him justice due to his years at Petco, compared to .295/.326/.465. Giles might be done, though, whereas Anderson can at least still pretend to be a ballplayer.

• Austin Jackson went 1-for-2 with a walk leading off for the Tigers.

• For this year’s walk-off pie festivities, the Yankees should go first class, eschewing shaving cream and towels for actual pies. It’s probably not too late to set up a refrigerator in the clubhouse and keep it stocked. They could probably work out a nice endorsement deal with some bakery and get the pies for free…

• Joey Gathright went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts for the Blue Jays. Probably not the best way to make the club. Ex-Yankees farmhand Randy Ruiz went 2-for-3 in the same game. It would be pretty special if the veteran journeyman made a team out of spring training after being in baseball since 1999. It just might happen, too… Perhaps the key thing in the Tigers-Jays game was that Jeremy Bonderman started and pitched well after a couple of nightmarishly unhealthy seasons.

• The Red Sox trounced Northeastern University 15-0. Coincidentally, I will be speaking at Northeastern at noon at March 16. They are clearly not having a good month at Northeastern. The Marlins and Phillies also crushed collegiate teams.

• The Mets had only one player, Elmer Dessens, get hurt. In part that was because they rested almost all of their regulars due to wet conditions. And they lost.

• The Orioles’ Dave Hernandez, a home run machine last fall, gave up a home run to Sean Rodriguez of the Rays. Otherwise, though, the Orioles knocked around a bunch of pitchers who won’t be in the majors. Good to see Scott Moore, who was hurt all of last year, hit a home run subbing for Miguel Tejada.

• The Mariners scored seven runs against the Giants. That might be the last time the Mariners score seven runs all season.

STUFF I KEEP FORGETTING TO MENTION
• For those readers in the Washington DC area, I’ll be speaking at the wonderful Politics and Prose bookstore with my BP colleagues on Tuesday March 9 at 7:00 p.m.. Earlier that day we’ll be on Sirius-XM’s Power Alley (on the baseball channel) at noon.

• For those that missed last week’s first PB YESchat, you can review it here.

Wholesome Reading has been updated with new posts. Warning: politics!