- Andrew Marchand, ESPNNewYork.com
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No one in baseball can relate to Derek Jeter and the Yankees current situation better than Cal Ripken Jr. During his career with the Orioles, Ripken went through what Jeter is facing.
Ripken was the iconic shortstop, the face of an organization, who started young and grew old all in the same uniform.
Ripken even changed positions, moving from short to third.
So with Jeter's contract up at the end of the season, his average headed toward a career low finish and his 36 years of age, what would Ripken do with Jeter?
"I would ride him at shortstop as long as I could," Ripken told ESPNNewYork.com.
Ripken is optimistic about Jeter's future. He said he wouldn't move Jeter unless there was an obvious replacement for him.
"Right now unless you had somebody else, if you had the next Derek Jeter to replace this Derek Jeter, maybe if you are really strong about that and you are 100 percent sure, then maybe that is a different situation," said Ripken, who will work the playoffs as a studio analyst for TBS. "I see him as the shortstop of the Yankees in the short-term and then I would deal with it that way."
Just as it was difficult to imagine Ripken without a bird on his hat, Ripken can't fathom Jeter in anything other than pinstripes.
"I can't think of Derek not being a Yankee," Ripken said. "The fact that he has been Mr. Clutch in the playoffs, the fact that he has cut down on his errors the last couple of years and the fact that he has played really, really well at shortstop. He has gone in a little slump this year and his average is down, but in my estimation, all the other things he brings. His presence on the field and off the field. And the ability to be the table-setter and to score 100 runs. He has been the face for that franchise for some time and he represents himself very well."
Jeter entered Tuesday, hitting .264 with 10 homers and 64 RBIs. He has scored 103 runs. He is in the final year of a 10-year, $189 million contract.
If the Yankees do have any plans to move Jeter from shortstop, they should talk to him about it first, according to Ripken.
"I wouldn't overcomplicate it," Ripken said. "Derek is athletic enough to play all positions. Derek could play second. Derek could play center. I think Derek could play any position."
But right now, Ripken thinks shortstop is Jeter's best spot.
"As you get older, you are fighting against time," Ripken said. "Some of the things you were able to do when you were younger may not be able to do, but you make up for that in experience. Derek is in extraordinary shape. He is still running. He is still stealing bases. He is still doing a lot of things that you start to lose when you get older."
The Hall of Famer experienced the same scenario during his later years in Baltimore