Do the New York Yankees Need to Get Younger?
While most teams are spending the off season trying to get younger, stronger and faster, the New York Yankees have been busy resigning their core veterans pitchers to one year deals. $15 million to Hiroki Kuroda who will be 38 in February, $12 million for Andy Pettitte who will be 41 in June, and $10 million for Mariano Rivera who just turned 43 in November. Not that anyone is counting, but that comes out to about $12.33 million per guy for three guys averaging 40.6 years of age.
As long as we aren’t doing the math, there are a few other core veteran players on the team that have some eye popping numbers attached to them this season as well. CC Sabathia who showed some signs of breaking down last season for the first time in his career, twice having to go on the DL, will be 33 in July. CC gets $23 million this year as the Yankees recently committed $122 million to him through the 2016 season with a 2017-$25 million option / $5 million buy out.
Robinson Cano who turned 30 in October will get $15 million this season and that has nothing to do with the long term extension he’s about to get. Cano is unquestionably the best player on the team and will want to get paid that way; this for the team with the highest payroll in the game and the most expensive player in the game on it.
Mark Teixeira will be 33 in April, $23 million is due to him regardless of how many muscles he pulls this coming year. Curtis Granderson who will be 32 in March will get $15 million for impersonating a left handed Dave Kingman. Derek Jeter coming off his season ending ankle injury will be 39 in June. He will supposedly be ready to start the season on time and is due $17 million this year. Alex Rodriguez (who knows when he’ll be back this season or if he will come back at all this year – the Yankees can likely get insurance to pay his salary if he sits out the entire year) will be 38 in July and due $29 million. The Yankees are still on the hook for five more years with him which is pretty hard to believe. I think Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports put it best. “… the New York Yankees [are] stuck with a $114 million bill over the next five years for a guy who can’t do the Hokey Pokey, let alone hit a baseball.”
So not doing the math, including everyone mentioned above, that’s nine core guys who will have a mean age of well over 36 years of age (most MLB players are retired by then) at an average price of nearly $18 million per guy (most MLB players don’t make that much.) Assuming that Jeter and A-Rod are on the field down the pennant stretch this season, the Yankees best current option is to let Eduardo Nunez bounce between third and short on a regular basis giving the two future Hall of Famers much needed days off. When Nunez is in the batters box, that works fine; Eduardo is certainly a quality major league hitter. When Nunez is in the field however… Let’s just be polite and say that it doesn’t work out so well. Frankly, if Eduardo is anywhere on the left side of the infield, it’s a must that the left fielder be of gold glove status because more often than not, the ball will end up out there. As for the ones that occasionally land in Nunez’ glove; the nicest thing I can say is that if you are going to a Yankee game and want to catch a ball, sit behind first base and bring your glove. You’ll have a great shot of getting one.
The Yankees realize this dilemma and are trying to do something about it; at least at third base. With A-Rod out for the first half of the season at a minimum and perhaps only being able to be used as a DH after that, the Yankees taled to Kevin Youkilis yesterday. The problem is that Youkilis, who turns 34 in March, isn’t exactly the same guy who was a thorn in the Yankees side with the Red Sox for a decade anymore. The Greek God of Walks hit .235/.336/.409 with Boston and Chicago last season and while he can probably be had for just a one year deal, at 34 years old, he doesn’t help with the Yankees roster age problems.
One of the nicest traditions the Yankees have each year is Old-Timers Day. With such a rich franchise history, it’s something the fans look forward to each and every year. If you aren’t able to make this years Yankees Old-Timers Day game in person, don’t worry; you can just go to any regular season game in the Bronx because it will be Old-Timers Day every day at the stadium.
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