BALTIMORE -- It is beginning to look more and more as if no matter what the Yankees do over these final 17 games of the regular season, Derek Jeter will not be a major part of it, or perhaps, not a part of it at all.
The Yankees acquisition of Brendan Ryan from the Seattle Mariners last night tends to support the suspicion that while the Yankees keep saying publicly that they expect Jeter back this season, the reality is they are no longer counting on him.
However, if the Yankees do manage to complete an unlikely comeback and sneak into a playoff berth -- and their 7-5 comeback win over the Orioles last night made that a slightly more likely prospect -- they could be faced with a momentous decision.
Do they include Derek Jeter, their captain and along with Mariano Rivera, the heart and soul of this franchise for the past 17 seasons, on the postseason roster?
It may seem like a no-brainer at first, but think it out: Can the Yankees truly afford to use up a roster spot on a player who has been unable to stay healthy for more more than a week at a time all season? Can they take the risk that Jeter will actually be able to pull his weight in the most important games of all, or would this be a decision made not from the head, but from the heart?
And don't discount this possibility -- that even if the Yankees, in their heart of hearts, know it would be best for the team to carry a healthy player or pitcher, in place of an injured 39-year-old shortstop, they might not have the heart, or the stomach, to leave him off the roster, either fearing the wrath of the fans, or of Jeter, or both.
It will not be an easy decision to make, and in truth, it might not even be necessary.
But if it does come down to a call like that, you would not want to trade places with Brian Cashman or Joe Girardi for all of Hal Steinbrenner's money.
So today's question is simply this: If the Yankees make the playoffs, should they carry Derek Jeter on their postseason roster?
Let us know what you think, and why, in the comments section, or via my Twitter feed, @ESPNNYYankees. It should make for some spirited discussion.
UP NOW:The Rapid Reaction from last night's rousing 7-5 win, as well as my news story on the Brendan Ryan trade and a blog on why the big victory may have come with some heavy losses.
ON DECK: The Yankees try to build on last night's momentum in Game 3 of this four-game series, Andy Pettitte (10-9, 4.03) facing RHP Scott Feldman (5-4, 3.63), first pitch at 7:05 p.m. I'll be at the clubhouse door when it swings open at 3:35 p.m., and I'll post the lineups and all the pregame news between then and first pitch, so check in all afternoon. And as always, thanks for sticking with ESPNNewYork.com throughout this white-knuckle finish to an unusual Yankees season.