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Fast-forwarding past Derek Jeter's injury

Jim McIsaac

You probably haven't watched a VHS tape this year. You probably haven't watched one for a couple of years, at least. It has to have been at least a decade since you rewound something.

But try watching a VHS tape when you get a chance. You'll spend the first hour trying to figure out how it fits in your phone, but once you get the hang of it, you'll be amazed that people used to rely on the things. Imagine watching Lawrence of Arabia on pan-and-scan VHS. People really lived that way.

So about Derek Jeter and Brendan Ryan …

If you can't tell, Jeter is the VHS tape in this analogy. Brendan Ryan is a sweet, sweet Blu-ray disc. Now, Jeter's movie is Raiders of the Lost Ark and Ryan's is Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, so there's a lot more to the analogy, but hang with me. When VHS was the standard, it was a good thing. The best thing. When you wanted to watch a movie, VHS was your friend. It was all we had, and we loved it so.

Try going back now, though. Try watching a VHS cassette for more than 10 minutes before doing something stupid, like going outside instead of watching movies. It's too late. You're spoiled. Spoiled, spoiled, spoiled, and there's no way you're going to need to watch anything on a VCR until the next time you're at a Kyrgyzstan hostel.

It's going to be hard for the Yankees to go back to Jeter at shortstop. So hard.

Take this not-quite-routine play from Ryan on Monday:


Jeter couldn't make that play. Probably because he would stop to set his watch and exchange his currency. Because he would think the other side of second base had a different time zone and currency. Also, Jeter has a watch because he's old. Lots of currency, too. Takes a while to change that in.

This is just the beginning. Yankees fans will see more and more of Ryan, and it's going to blow their minds. He'll be the Blu-ray of 2001: A Space Odyssey to someone used to watching the cassette on a black-and-white TV.

Yes, you knew there were stark differences between Ryan and Jeter on the field. This isn't news. But let's take a look at all of the non-Jeter shortstops to play for the Yankees since 1995. And then rank that bunch by career Defensive WAR.

At the top is Rey Sanchez. Behind him is Alex Rodriguez, who played eight innings at shortstop in his Yankees career. After that, you have a whole bunch of middling shortstops. Jose Vizcaino was okay for a while. Reid Brignac was kind of good. But there wasn't anyone who made the Yankees realize what they were missing so drastically.

Sanchez played for the Yankees twice -- for 38 games in 1997, when he was one of the very best defenders in baseball, and for 23 games in 2005, when he was close to retirement. So 1997 was the only time in the last 18 seasons when the Yankees had a truly fantastic defensive shortstop on their roster.

Sanchez played 24 innings at shortstop and 306 at second base that season.

It's been that long for the Yankees. Now, though, they have a truly fantastic defensive shortstop on their roster. Jeter is out for the season, and while there are people hoping he'll go gentle into that good night, there's no way. He'll be back. Jeter has an $8 million player option, and he's going to exercise it. He'll come back, and the Yankees will have to figure out what to do with him.

He'll train and rehab and train like a shortstop, assuming that he'll be back at shortstop. He's Derek Jeter. He's not supposed to be bashful. He's supposed to be confident in his abilities. That sort of thing comes with being one of the very best players ever.

Jeter will be 40 next season. Here's a list of every 40-year-old to play shortstop for at least 20 games since 1901:

Rk Player dWAR From To Age
1 Omar Vizquel 4.5 2007 2012 40-45
2 Honus Wagner 2.6 1914 1917 40-43
3 Luke Appling 2.5 1947 1950 40-43
4 Craig Counsell 0.9 2011 2011 40-40
5 Ozzie Smith 0.8 1995 1996 40-41
6 Bobby Wallace 0.2 1914 1918 40-44
7 Bobby Lowe -0.1 1906 1907 40-41
8 Barry Larkin -0.8 2004 2004 40-40

That's the list. And I'm going to venture a guess that none of those players had their defense at short questioned since they were 30.

It seems obvious, but Jeter's injury is making it close to official. Even if Jeter exercises his player option, the Yankees are going to dissuade him politely from thoughts of shortstop. And then he'll hit .300/.380/.480 as a DH to help the Yankees to another absurd playoff run (Rich Harden: 10-2, 2.33 ERA). . We've seen the last of Jeter at shortstop. There's no way the Yankees are going back to VHS.

For more on Jeter and the Yankees, head over to Pinstriped Bible.

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