Standing behind the batting cage in Chicago early Wednesday night, Robin Ventura measured his words before speaking.Ventura make some good points, but I still wouldn't put Jeter at the top, not ahead of guys like Ruth and Gehrig. As of this moment I'd put him 5th behind Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio and Mantle. If he ends up with 4,000+ hits, he'll jump in those rankings, that's for sure.
The first-year White Sox manager is aware of the Yankees’ rich history, having played for the team during his 16 seasons in the big leagues.
So when asked about shortstop Derek Jeter’s recent torrid streak vaulting him into the AL Most Valuable Player discussion, Ventura went a lot further than a single-season award.
“I think he is the greatest Yankee of all time,’’ Ventura told The Post. “That’s because of the position he plays and the era he plays in. Every play he has ever made is on tape. The players before him, nobody ever saw them fail. All we saw of them was them doing good. Every one of Derek’s games has been on television. He has been criticized more than any other player in Yankee history, too. At least among the ones that were good.’’
Think about Ventura’s first sentence: Jeter ahead of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio and Yogi Berra. To some, it’s blasphemy. But Ventura doesn’t talk to shock people.
“As a manager, I don’t like for him to come up with guys on base, I don’t want him to come up when it’s tied, when they need somebody on base, and I don’t want him coming up late in the game to win it,’’ Ventura said. “He is still that kind of player.’’
But really, who cares? Jeter is great, and we're all lucky to have been able to watch his entire career.