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Bob Matthews' Column

Derek Jeter Not The Only Looking-Old Yankee

 

 

DEREK JETER NOT THE ONLY LOOKING-OLD YANKEE

 

New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter turned 40 on Thursday. That’s old for a major leaguer at any position, but particularly a shortstop.

 

Jeter clearly isn’t nearly the great player he was for a long time, but he isn’t the only Yankee showing his age. Far from it.

 

All things considered, it is a minor baseball miracle that the Yankees enter a weekend series against the Boston Red Sox with a 40-37 record.

 

Entering Thursday, 14 of the 30 Major League Baseball teams had winning records. Of those teams, only Atlanta and the Yankees had been outscored: Braves 40-37 record; outscored 284-275; minus 9 run differential)…Yankees 40-37 record; outscored 345-311; minus 34 run differential).

 

The Yankees aren’t a good team but they’re fortunate to be playing in the American League East. The Yankees have flaws but so does every other team in the division. In terms of winning the division and making the postseason, the Yankees aren’t dead. They’re not even on life support.

 

All the Yankees need to win the AL East is a trade for Tampa Bay ace David Price or a few high-priced expensive imports to start earning their money.

 

The Rays are trying to deal Price but other teams have more young talent than the Yankees to offer in return.

 

It is far more likely that a few of the disappointing new Yankees will wake up:

 

Carlos Beltran -- .218 batting average (42-for-193), 7 HRs, 23 RBI…Last season with St. Louis: .296 (164-for-554), 24 HRs, 84 RBI… He’s 34.

 

Brian McCann -- .223 (55-for-247), 8 HRs, 34 RBI…Last season with Atlanta: 256 (91-for-356), 20 HRs, 57 RBI…He’s 30.

 

Brian Roberts -- .240 (53-for-221), 3 HRs, 16 RBI…Last season with Baltimore: .249 (66-for-265), 8 HRs, 39 RBI…He’s 36. He isn’t nearly the player he was in his Baltimore glory years and a far cry from departed Robinson Cano at second base.

 

Kelly Johnson -- .224 (34-for-151), 4 HRs, 17 RBI…Last season with Tampa Bay: .235 (86-for-366), 16 HRs, 52 RBI. He’s 32.

 

Jacoby Ellsbury has been OK but not great: .286 (82-for-267), 4 HRs, 33 RBI…Last season with Boston: .298 (172-for-577), 9 HRs, 53 RBI…He’s 30. In 2011 with the Red Sox, he hit .321, with 32 HRs and 105 RBI.

 

Alfonso Soriano also has slipped since last season, when he combined to hit. 255 with 34 HRs and 101 RBIs, with 18 stolen bases, for the Cubs and Yankees. This season, he’s hitting 231 (49-for-212), with 6 HRs, 23 RBI, 64 strikeouts and only 1 stolen base. He’s 38.

 

I’ve never been a big fan of Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. Considering the fiscal advantages he has over nearly all of his GM peers, I’m not impressed by the performance of his team in recent years. He was unfortunate with injuries to starting pitchers this season, but he whiffed badly on imported veteran hitters.

 

Maybe they’ll rebound in the second half of the season. Jeter, Soriano and Ichiro Suzuki have legit excuses – they’re old. Yangervis Solarte is a career minor-leaguer who has cooled off after a hot start. It is more difficult to excuse rest of players in the extremely well-paid lineup.

 

WILL BUXTON AND SANO SKIP ROCHESTER, TOO?

 

The Minnesota Twins on Thursday promoted shortstop Jorge Polanco all the way from Single-A Advanced Fort Myers (Florida State League) to the major leagues.

 

He’s a switch hitter and will turn 21 on July. He’s been in the organization since 2010.

 

The Twins were desperate for a shortstop. Rookie surprise Danny Santana suffered a knee injury Thursday night and Pedro Florimon is batting .100 (7-for-70) for Minnesota between stints with the Red Wings.

 

The Twins think Polanco will be a very good offensive player. He was hitting .289 with 5 HRs and 35 RBI in 72 games at Fort Myers. He also had 21 errors, mostly in the first two months of the season.

 

My concern is that if Polanco proves he is ready to help the Twins at the big-league level, Minnesota might be more inclined to have super prospects Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano skip Rochester en route to the majors.

 

Center fielder Buxton, touted as baseball’s No. 1 prospect before this season began, suffered two wrist injuries early his season and has played in only five games at Fort Myers. He’s still sidelined.

 

Third baseman Sano, touted as baseball’s best power prospect, will miss all of this season after elbow surgery. He predicted he’d hit 30-to-20 HRs no matter where he played this year.

 

SHORT SHOTS

 

You might be surprised that USA made the World Cup Round of 16, but a lot of folks in Italy, England, Spain and Portugal are shocked that their countries didn’t make it.

 

Uruguay should be ashamed for appealing Luis Suarez’s suspension. Horrible display of sportsmanship by Suarez and his country’s soccer federation.

 

The Buffalo Bills have 4 players in the NFL Network’s Top 100 countdown (21 through 100; voted by players): Marcell Dareius  62nd, Kyle Williams 32nd and Mario Williams 29th ( (not bad for a defensive line) and linebacker Kiko Alonso 84th. Will that be it?

 

Believe It Or Not: Bovada’s opening odds to win The Open had Tiger Woods the 7-to-1 favorite, followed by Rory McIlroy 10-to-1, Adam Scott 12-to-1, Martin Kaymer 16-to-1 and Phil Mickelson 18-to-1.

 

Kevin Garnett plans to return to the Brooklyn Nets next season. Why not? For $12 million, he’ll be making more money than Tim Duncan with the San Antonio Spurs ($10.3 million). Duncan is older but has a lot more good basketball left.

 

I wonder if members of the 1999 Rochester Rhinos root against minor-league teams in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup every summer. Being the only non-Major League Soccer team ever to win the Cup (since MLS teams began playing in 1996) was quite an achievement – more impressive with each passing year.

 

Bovada odds on United States vs. Belgium in World Cup Knockout Round match Tuesday: Belgium -220 (bet $220 to win $100)…USA +165 (bet $100 to win $165)…Draw +270 (bet $100 to win $270).

 

 

 

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