Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Updated: January 26, 7:25 AM ET
GM: If not short for Derek Jeter, center
If 36-year-old Derek Jeter doesn't last at shortstop for the length of his new four-year contract, New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman thinks Jeter is best suited for a switch to center field.
"I like corner outfielders and corner infielders who have power, so for me, if he's ever gonna move, it's probably gonna be a Robin Yount situation. But we don't have to deal with it at this point," Cashman said Tuesday. "We'll deal with it when we have to."
This offseason, almost immediately after Jeter signed a three-year, $51 million deal with an option for a fourth year, speculation centered on whether the longtime Yankee could play shortstop for the life of the contract. Cashman said that he would "be surprised" if Jeter stays there for the duration, "but that doesn't mean it's not possible."
"I know he's working hard to put himself in that position," Cashman told WFAN's Mike Francesa at a breakfast appearance at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York.
"Jeter's our shortstop, period," Cashman added.
Yount moved from shortstop to center field in the mid-1980s, midway through a 20-year career with the Brewers. He had won an MVP in the infield and then won another one in the outfield on the way to a Hall of Fame career.
In his 16-year career, Jeter has won five Gold Gloves at shortstop, most recently last season. That leads Cashman to say "we're not there" in thinking to move Jeter.
The Yankees have more immediate concerns heading into the coming season. The first one is the dreaded Red Sox, who signed free agent Carl Crawford and traded for Adrian Gonzalez. Francesa asked Cashman who is the better team.
"Red Sox," Cashman answered.
"We have a better bullpen," he added. "We both have comparable position players to run out there -- you might want to give us the nod, you want to give them the nod, it doesn't necessarily matter."
But Cashman admitted the Yankees need starting pitching after losing out on the Cliff Lee sweepstakes.
"They've got guys they can run one through six and I'm looking for a fourth," Cashman said of the Red Sox's rotation.
Part of the Yankees' trouble stems from the fact that Andy Pettitte is "still not in," Cashman said. The veteran left-hander is working out and hasn't retired but hasn't committed to returning to the Yankees.
"He's told us essentially that he doesn't want to pitch, but he'll tell us if he changes his mind," Cashman said on "The Michael Kay Show" on ESPN Radio in New York.
Cashman said that he isn't pressuring Pettitte and doesn't want the pitcher to return because teammates, fans or family want him to.
"His heart has got to be in it," he said.
Cashman discounted the notion of Pettitte joining the team midseason but also refused to put a time limit on a decision.
"He's not hurting us or holding us back," he told Kay. "Would we be better with him? Yes."
Cashman also said he has no plans to make right-handed power reliever Joba Chamberlain a starter despite Pettitte's status and the fact the Yanks are scrambling to fill out the rotation.
"I don't think his stuff is the same since he hurt himself in Texas [in August 2008]. ... The stuff plays up better in the 'pen," Cashman told Kay.
On offense, the Yankees replaced reserve outfielder Marcus Thames with free agent Andruw Jones, who Cashman said is similar to Thames in offensive production but slightly better on defense.
Jones looks to be the fourth outfielder behind Brett Gardner in left, Curtis Granderson in center and Nick Swisher in right. There is no plan to put Jeter in that mix or to move him to third or any other position, Cashman said.
"It's not something we have to deal with right now," he said.
Information from ESPNW.com's Amanda Rykoff and ESPNNewYork.com's Wallace Matthews was used in this report.