As 2012 comes to a close the New York Yankees have lost a number of aging players, but the core players have aged before our eyes and some new additions for 2013 are older yet.
We understand that the Yankees are determined to get under the $189 million threshold before the 2014 season, so the rationale of giving one-year deals to older players to get by for next year is the new mantra.
New York signed Andy Pettitte (40 years old), Mariano Rivera (43), Hiroki Kuroda (38), Kevin Youkilis (34) and to a two-year deal Ichiro Suzuki (38). As a player ages you never know from year-to-year when that will catch up to them, never mind bouncing back from injuries which takes longer. Pettitte, Rivera, Derek Jeter (38), Alex Rodriguez (37) and CC Sabathia (32) will all be coming off significant injuries and surgeries. No one knows how they will respond and in Alex's case whether he can make it back at all during the summer.
Raul Ibanez (40) and Eric Chavez (35) are good examples of when older players are brought in to spell the regulars and end up playing more then anticipated. As the season wore on so did both players and come playoff time they had run out of gas and were a non-factor. Will Suzuki as the everyday right fielder eventually show the wear and tear during the season? Can Youkilis stay healthy considering he had battled back issues and nagging injuries last season?
These will be some of the significant questions the Bombers will have to answer through out 2013. Some youth and speed should be added to help this club to succeed in the upcoming year.
What about the Yankees' farm system you might ask, isn't there anyone ready to contribute? The organization doesn't have many position players ready, though outfielders Melky Mesa, Zoilo Almonte and infielders David Adams and Corban Joseph are on the 40 man roster. These kids need a chance in spring training to show what they can do and if they can be counted on during the season. Maybe one of them will surprise, step up and be an impact player. Mesa bats righty and Almonte is a switch hitter and either player could fill the void of a right handed bat. Zoilo is considered the No. 7 prospect in the Yankees organization and projects out to have double digits in home runs and steals.
Chris Dickerson (30) always seems to be the forgotten one, he has a good arm, speed and in limited action batted .286 last season. Unfortunately, for Chris the Yankees are top heavy on the lefty front and really haven't allowed him much playing time.
Right now at DH Eduardo Nunez looks like he will fill that void and spell Jeter at short when needed. Lefty DH is anyone's guess, not to mention the catching situation which will be determined in spring training. Can Austin Romine put his back issues in the rear view mirror and step up to become the everyday catcher the way the Yankees had envisioned?
More questions than answers right now, but be sure Brian Cashman and company will have this team complete come Opening Day.
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