When Red Sox fans are banking on age as the reason for the Yankees’ demise, you know good things are in store in the Bronx. It’s still not time to worry about these guys getting older.
Yes, five of the Yankees starters are 34 or older, but, really, does anyone think Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon, Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada are going to be complaining about their achy joints come August? These guys are gamers. The stories chronicled in “The Yankee Years” about Jeter’s refusal to come out of the lineup because of broke bones are legendary. And now that Hideki Matsui has two new knees, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him return to his iron man days. As for A-Roid, I’m not sure I believe his claim his PED use was just his three years in Texas, but if that turns out to be true, don’t expect the power numbers for this three time MVP to drop off any time soon. (I wonder how well Jonathan Papelbon remembers that non-clutch, ninth-inning homer he surrendered to A-Roid a couple of season ago. Point is you don’t hit 30-, 40-, 50-something homers and have them all be not clutch).
And really, is anyone remotely concerned about Mariano Rivera’s age? He actually seems to be getting better with age. Meanwhile, Andy Pettitte doesn’t have to be the workhorse any more. He’s the No. 4 and being counted on for 12-15 wins.
But here’s a legit concern for Red Sox fans: What do Josh Beckett, Rocco Baldelli, David Papi (age 33), J.D. Drew (33), Julio Lugo (33), Tim Wakefield (41), John Smoltz (41), Takashi Saito (39), Mike Lowell (35) and John Penny (30) all have in common?
Answer: They are all injury prone.
All have spent significant amounts of time on the DL, all are being counted up to make significant contributions. That’s three major bats in the lineup, a key set-up guy and two guys who will break camp in the rotation. And with Manny Ramirez no longer anchoring that lineup, it’s going to be hard to cover up the holes when these guys go down.
Yes, the Yanks are taking a gamble with age, though with players such as Robinson Cano (26), Brett Gardner (25), Melky Cabrera (24), Joba Chamberlain (23), Phil Coke (26), Edwar Ramirez (27) and Jose Veras (28), the Yankees’ minor league system has produced more talent than some would have you believe. And more is on the way. Austin Jackson could come up by the end of this season and we’re not ready to give up on Phil Hughes, whom I expect to emerge after last season's troubles when he gets called upon this season.
But the injury bug can be a plague. I’m looking forward to counting the number of player-games missed up in Boston.
BTW Dave, I looked up Mark Teixeira’s and Jason Giambi’s numbers. Not quite so close:
157 G, 574 AB, 102 R, 33 HR, 121 RBI, 97 BB, .308 BA, .410 OBP, .552 OPS
145 G, 458 AB, 68 R, 32 HR, 96 RBI, 78 BB, .247 BA, .373 OBP, .502 OPS