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Short Change?

There are some Met fans who’ve loved to chide the Yankees as the best team money can buy over the years. Welp, that diss goes out the window now that Omar Minaya and the Mets are doing their best impression of the big, bad Bombers. (I’m actually excited for the Shea faithful and hope their team wins the NL East next year.) Meanwhile, the Yankees are reportedly interested in Kyle Farnsworth and Mike Myers for their bullpen, while the Phillies are hot after Flash Gordon. Johnny Damon is still (fortunately) a pipe dream to play center field in New York next year, and many inside the Yankee organization feel that Brian Giles will likely remain on the west coast (or land in Toronto perhaps).

So how about this for a development? Joe Torre told Reuters yesterday that the team has been thinking about the possibility of moving either Derk Jeter or Alex Rodriguez to center:

“We’ve thought about it,” Torre told the international wire service. “We just haven’t made a commitment to that. We haven’t broached it with the shortstops.”

…”That’s happened before, hasn’t it?” Torre told Reuters. “Bobby Murcer, Mickey Mantle. Hank Aaron came up as a second baseman. Robin Yount went to center field. It certainly is a consideration.”

As Sam Borden notes in the Daily News:

Speculation about Jeter making a move to the outfield isn’t new and, if one of the players were to move he’d be the more likely candidate. Even before A-Rod arrived in New York there had always been a small segment of the Yankee population proposing that the captain’s ability to read the ball off the bat and his uncanny ability to go back and catch fly balls over his shoulder made him a natural candidate to finish his career as an outfielder.

Typically, however, that sentiment has been dismissed as totally far-fetched.

…”Jeter would do anything, and so would A-Rod for that matter, to help this ball club win,” Torre told Reuters.

Count me as one of the small segment of Yankee fans who’ve believed that Jeter would make a decent center fielder. Yeah, Robin Yount was always the comp that came to mind too. But while I still believe that Jeter would be a better gamble in center than Rodriguez, Yount was 29 when he made the transition back in 1985, whereas Jeter turns 32 next May (Murcer, Mantle and Aaron were all far younger than that when they moved). Those couple of years could make a big difference in how effective Jeter could be. I would be surprised if the Yankees actually went ahead with such a radical experiment, still, it’s interesting that Torre even mentioned it. What if Jeter moved to center, Rodriguez went back to short and the Bombers inked Nomar to play third?

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver