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Monday, November 17, 2014

Yanks are too old and with no youth in sight.

What was Yankee management thinking at the start of the 2014 season?  What were Yankee fans thinking?  Here is the opening day lineup for April 1, 2014 in Houston using the player's ages as of mid-season:

Jacoby Ellsbury CF30
Derek Jeter SS40
Carlos Beltran RF36
Brian McCann C30
Mark Teixeira 1B34
Alfonso Soriano DH38
Brett Gardner LF30
Brian Roberts 2B36
Kelly Johnson 3B32
CC Sabathia P33

Elston Howard 1965 by Arnie Lee
via Wikimedia Commons
Even the starting pitcher was at least 30.  Not one player younger than 30.  Three of those players were signed in the 2013-2014 off season to multi-year contracts, all of which I opposed at the time: Ellsbury (7), McCann (5), Beltran (3).

All three are expected to be among the eight starters in the field in 2015 along with Mark Teixeira and Brett Gardner.  All five will one year older in 2015.  And the Yankees have gaping holes at second, third and shortstop.  Among players currently under contract, those holes would be filled by these players showing their ages in 2015:
2B: Martin Prado 31
3B: Alex Rodriguez 39 (40 in July)
SS: Brendan Ryan 33

Are the Yankees decision makers out of their minds?  Can a team win with all its fielders at least 30 years old?  Here are the starting players for the 2014 champion San Francisco Giants:

1CBuster Posey27147605547721702822289014769.311.364.490.854143268163085
21BBrandon Belt*26612352143052801227311864.243.306.449.7551149642012
32BJoe Panik*23732872693182102118001633.305.343.368.7111049940110
4SSBrandon Crawford*2715356449154121201010695359129.246.324.389.7131041914221010
53BPablo Sandoval#27157638588681642631673003985.279.324.415.739111244164076
6LFMike Morse321314824384812232316610031121.279.336.475.811130208199040
7CFAngel Pagan#3296413383561152123271662553.300.342.389.73111014951131
8RFHunter Pence311627086501061802910207413652130.277.332.445.777121289133033
9OFGregor Blanco*30146444393511021865381654177.260.333.374.70710314743611
After Pagan was injured he was replaced by Blanco.  Of the eight starters, only three were at least 30 and the oldest only 32.  The Yankees had a 40 year old shortstop and may have a 39-40 year old third baseman in 2015.

The best that the Yankees can do in 2015 is fill their three holes with players younger than 30 but that still leaves the core of players over age 30 with multi-year contracts at the five other positions.

Let's look at Yankees teams from 1964 (pennant winner 50 years ago), 1996 (Derek Jeter's first team), 2009 (most recent Yankee championship team):


1CElston Howard35150607550631722731584114873.313.371.455.8251272501050412
21BJoe Pepitone*231606476137115412328100212463.251.281.418.69890256173257
32BBobby Richardson28159728679901812544501122836.267.294.333.626732261501651
4SSTony Kubek*281064474154695163831412655.229.275.340.6156914161413
53BClete Boyer2714755451043111105852613693.218.269.304.573581551213411
6LFTom Tresh#2515362153375131255167313073110.246.342.402.743105214127343
7CFMickey Mantle#3214356746592141252351116399102.303.423.5911.015177275900318
8RFRoger Maris*29141584513861441222671306278.281.364.464.82812723876121
1964: only two players at least 30.  MVP the previous four seasons: Maris, Maris, Mantle, Howard.  And this was the end of that dynasty.  The Yanks did not win another pennant until 1976 when they were led by MVP catcher Thurman Munson, 29.


1CJoe Girardi31124471422551242232451343055.294.346.374.720821581151131
21BTino Martinez*281556715958217428025117216885.292.364.466.830108277182154
32BMariano Duncan331094174006213634385643977.340.352.500.852112200101251
4SSDerek Jeter22157654582104183256107814748102.314.370.430.800101250139691
53BWade Boggs*3813257450180156292241126732.311.389.389.77898195100157
6LFGerald Williams29992582333763154530781539.270.319.433.7538810174152
7CFBernie Williams#27143641551108168267291021748272.305.391.535.926131295150178
8RFPaul O'Neill*331506605468916535119910110276.302.411.474.885123259214088
9DHRuben Sierra#309640736039931711152134058.258.327.403.730831451000711
1996: not counting the DH, four of eight at least 30.


1CJorge Posada#371114383835510925022811048101.285.363.522.885125200132054
21BMark Teixeira#29156707609103178433391222081114.292.383.565.9481413441312059
32BRobinson Cano*261616746371032044822585573063.320.352.520.871121331223042
4SSDerek Jeter3515371663410721227118663057290.334.406.465.871125295185414
53BAlex Rodriguez3312453544478127171301001428097.286.402.532.933138236138037
6LFJohnny Damon*3514362655010715536324821207198.282.365.489.85411826992211
7CFMelky Cabrera#241545404856613328113681024359.274.336.416.75293202154444
8RFNick Swisher#281506074988412435129820097126.249.371.498.869122248133362
9DHHideki Matsui*35142528456621252112890016475.274.367.509.87612323244021
2009: not counting the DH, four of eight at least 30.

Six years later in 2015 the Yankees will be counting on 2009 holdovers Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez.  If the Yankees had any non-pitcher prospects in their minor league system we would have seen them in the last two seasons.  They let Derek Jeter play until age 40 without having a viable replacement.  They let Robinson Cano walk with no replacement.  After Alex Rodriguez was suspended a year ago the Yankees made no plans for a true replacement.

Who does that?

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