Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Why Francisco Lindor should get an up-close glimpse of Derek Jeter's final season

The "Captain" is retiring, which will leave a big void at one of baseball's glamor positions.

New York Yankees star Derek Jeter announced Wednesday his career will end following the 2014 season. For those wondering, the Yankees visit Progressive Field from July 7-10. Mariano Rivera received a gold "Enter Sandman" record when he visited Cleveland as a professional athlete for the final time. Possible Cleveland-style parting gifts for Jeter include a Lake Erie vessel, key to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and chance to interview for the Browns' head coaching job next January.

Jeter is the biggest winner from an exciting era of shortstops featuring offensive pop. Alex Rodriguez, Nomar Garciaparra and Miguel Tejada also played a part in changing perceptions of the position. 

With Jeter in the extra innings of his career, questions about the future of the position are surfacing. Name an elite shortstop? It's not an easy task.

Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki, Washington's Ian Desmond, Texas' Elvis Andrus and Toronto's Jose Reyes are among the game's best shortstops. No member of the quartet has a direct limo ride to Cooperstown. Philadelphia's Jimmy Rollins and the Los Angeles Dodgers' Hanley Ramirez are capable of having big seasons.

One of top prospects at the position plays in the Indians' farm system: 20-year-old Francisco Lindor. Lindor will likely be playing at Double-A Akron or Triple-A Columbus when the Yankees visit Progressive Field, although a torrid start could put pressure on the Indians to promote Lindor to Cleveland by mid-summer.

Here's some developmental advice for the Indians: send Lindor to Cleveland for one of the games against the Yankees. Let him hang around the batting cages and observe Jeter's routine. Introduce Lindor to Jeter. Make sure Lindor attentively watches the game.

The debate regarding Jeter's place in the all-time shortstop hierarchy will extend past season. There's no debate that Jeter is one of the few shortstops in today's game worth emulating. Lindor can benefit from spending a night around him.  

-- Guy Cipriano | @newsheraldy

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