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Derek and the Dominoes, II
2003-04-01 22:43
by Mike Carminati

Derek and the Dominoes, II

There's a report out tonight that Jeter may be back as soon as four to six weeks if his shoulder does not require surgery, bit 3 to 4 months if it does.

Until that time, however long it is, recently recalled 25-year-old Erick Almonte apparently will fill in. Enrique Wilson is a talented backup but nothing more than that. Also, his versatility almost demands that he be available on the bench. Almonte has shown home run power in the minors but seemed to stagnate in the last couple of years. He was demoted to Double-A last year after almost two years at Triple-A. He batted .182 this spring and was slated for Triple-A again this year.

As the Yankees showed tonight, they can produce runs without Jeter, though of course, they prefer not to have to do so. Almonte was once a highly touted prospect and is only 25. If he can show them something in this trial, it not only would help the team on the field, he would probably be traded upon Jeter's return in som sort of prospect-for-overpaid-veteran deal.

The lineup is a concern though. Tonight they tried Nick Johnson in Jeter's number two slot, which I think is not the optimal choice. Posada with his .369 on-base percentage may be a better option though he lacks speed, strikes out often, and as a catcher may be rested a couple of times a week (at least defensively). Almonte had a decent on-base percentage in the minors, though I would think that the Yankees may want to ease him in much lower in the lineup.

Torre is aware of this:

"I don't expect the kid to come in here and be what Derek Jeter is,'' Torre said. "On the Yankees, we probably get more attention than anyone else. This kid will be under a magnifying glass.''

I remember when the Phils' Joe Morgan went down in the summer of 1983 and a kid named Juan Samuel stepped in and produced. He in turn became the future of the franchise. Unfortunately, the franchise's future was pretty bleak, but that's besides the point.

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