Apparently, according to Buster Olney, the Yankees have a second option if Derek Jeter decides he wants to change uniforms and collect his 3,000th hit someplace else.
Eduardo Nunez. I don’t know who he is and neither do you. I’d be surprised if you could find ten people within thirty blocks of Yankee Stadium who can tell you anything about him.
So sure, he’s the perfect choice to take over the mantle of Yankee short stop.
And lets be clear about one thing right off the bat: this is not the same as Mickey Mantle taking over for Joe DiMaggio in Center.
The Yankees haven’t said as much because they aren’t that stupid. They realize that they must actually consider the possibility that Derek Jeter might just leave (though I doubt it) and have to have somebody playing short stop for the 2011 season.
And the pressure that Nunez will have could, arguably, be more than what Mantle had to endure. The only difference is that Mantle was told he was going to replace DiMaggio and be better than Joe D.
Thankfully for him he was.
But Eduardo Nunez will never be as good as Jeter was.
His six year career in the minors is evidence of that even if the best words the Yankees have to say about him is he’s a “superlative” defender.
But lets have a look at a few things.
The Orioles haven’t had much of a short stop since Call Ripken Jr. called it a career. The Reds haven’t had a catcher worth his mask since Johnny Bench hung up his spikes. And you could make the argument that the Yankees haven’t had a great (note I said great, not good–see Bernie Williams) centerfielder since the Mick hung it up.
Replacing legends isn’t easy and that’s precisely what will be asked of whomever is going to play short stop after Derek Jeter retires or just leaves town.
Orlando Cabrera has had his name thrown about when considering the second option in this type of operation.
He’d be a better fit. An established veteran who obviously isn’t going to be around forever as his replacement.
Sort of like a “rebound” if you will to get over the heartache of losing Jeter.
But if not, I wish Mr. Nunez luck, because unless he wins a world series, clubs 30 dingers and wins a gold glove in his rookie year, his career will be over the moment he takes over as Yankee short stop.