Would Derek Jeter be Legendary in Another Uniform?

Photo is courtesy of The Beckett Blog/http://misterirrelevant.com/

Written by: Matt Shock (@shockwave_music)

Edited by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)

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As the curtain is drawing to a close on the career of one of the greatest players to ever play the game of baseball, I can’t help but wonder: what would things be like if Derek Jeter had played for a different team?

For those of you that don’t know, Derek Jeter has spent his entire career in the Yankees organization. In the modern days of bigger and bigger contracts, it’s somewhat amazing that he stayed with one team for so long. Of course, when you play for the team that is notorious for using its liberal checkbook to snipe the best talent from the rest of the league, it helps you stay in place.

But let’s say for instance that Jeter was drafted by one of the five teams that passed on him back in 1992. Would he still play for those teams today? (A big thank you to Wikipedia for the information below, I didn’t know any of this before today.)

With the first pick in the 1992 Major League Baseball Draft, the Houston Astros took Phil Nevin, a first baseman/catcher/third baseman/outfielder who now coaches in the Arizona Diamondbacks farm system. In typical Houston Astros fashion, they decided that Jeter’s $1 million signing bonus was just a little too steep for them, so they went another direction. Great move guys…really stellar. In fact, the scout that desperately tried to get the Astros to sign Jeter immediately quit after they picked Nevin. I think we all know who was right in that situation. Anyhow, I can definitively say that if the Astros had in fact drafted Derek Jeter, he would most certainly not still be playing in Houston.

With the second pick in the 1992 Major League Baseball Draft, the Cleveland Indians took a promising relief pitcher named Paul Shuey. Yeah…I think we all witnessed how that turned out. After spending a good amount of his career on the DL, he was eventually traded to the Dodgers. Would Jeter still be playing in Cleveland? No. He would’ve left about ten years ago when all the other talent left town because Cleveland couldn’t afford to pay any of them. However, I’m willing to bet that the Indians would’ve welcomed him back and erected a statue of him out in center field right next to old Jim Thome.

With the third pick in the 1992 Major League Baseball Draft, the Montreal Expos took pitcher, B.J. Wallace instead of Derek Jeter. Only God himself knows why they did this, but we all see how it turned out for them. The Expos are now the Washington Nationals and Derek Jeter probably wouldn’t be playing for them. They didn’t start paying for talent until recently.

With the fourth pick in the 1992 Major League Baseball Draft, the Baltimore Orioles selected outfielder, Jeffrey Hammonds, who bounced around the league before retiring after the 2005 season. This one is interesting. While the Baltimore Orioles aren’t known for signing and keeping expensive talent, they are also bitter rivals with the Yankees. This rivalry is overshadowed by the Yankees rivalry with Boston, but it’s still a serious rivalry. Also, can you just picture Buck Showalter standing in the dugout with Derek Jeter? Oh wait, that happened for a little bit, and Joe Torre became the manager the next season. Was that Jeter’s fault? Not at all. But it’s interesting to think about what the situation could’ve looked like had it lasted longer. Would Jeter still be playing in Baltimore had they drafted him? I’ll give it a maybe.

With the fifth pick in the 1992 Major League Baseball Draft, the Cincinnati Reds took outfielder, Chad Mottola, who seems to be the Cincinnati Reds’ version of Matt LaPorta. Mottola collected just 125 career MLB at bats while collecting just over 5,000 at bats at the AAA level (again, thank you Wikipedia for that one). Clearly Jeter would’ve been a better choice, but would he still be playing in Cincinnati today? I’m not sure. The Reds are willing to spend money (see the Joey Votto contract), but they seem to do it stupidly (see the Homer Bailey contract…and the Joey Votto contract for that matter). So to me, it seems unlikely that Jeter would still be playing there today had the Reds drafted him back in 1992.

Now, it’s easy to just throw this stuff out there. It’s also easy to assume that Jeter would’ve just ended up playing for the Yankees as the result of a trade or free agency.

Obviously, a player with the talent of Derek Jeter massively changes the way organizations run themselves. It’s likely that any of these teams would’ve been much more successful with Jeter than without him. But it’s fun to think about how each of these teams would look today with Jeter on them. The women in Cleveland would have a lot more gift baskets, the Houston Astros would have a reason to go to the games, the Cincinnati fans wouldn’t be swearing at Walt Jocketty every five minutes, the Expos might still be in Montreal, and the Baltimore Orioles might just be what the Yankees are today (old and over-paid…sorry…I had to).