The multitude of questions that the New York Yankees face heading into 2013 is something that has been overlooked. Sure the Kevin Youkilis signing was nice as was re-signing Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda, but that doesn’t solve the Yankees upcoming problems. While the 2013 season hasn’t even begun, the Yankees problems begin after the season and that’s where the focus needs to be. Right now, the Yankees have a lot more negatives than positives and it feels as if nobody is really taking the situation seriously.
First off, let’s take a look around the line-up. Everyone in this line-up with the exceptions of Brett Gardner, Francisco Cervelli and even throwing Eduardo Nunez in there, is 30 or older. Gardner himself will be 30 in August, so to say this team has an age problem is only hitting the tip of the iceberg. When the Yankees look at their farm system, there aren’t a whole lot of immediate standouts. Sure there are players like Melky Mesa, Austin Romine, Corban Joseph and David Adams who could see the MLB sooner than later, but how late is too late?
The gravity of where this team stands is very serious. Okay, so there’s the age problem. To expand upon that, let’s take a closer look at some of the ages of the core Yankees on the 25-man roster as of last season and 2011:
- Mariano Rivera- 43 years old (44 in November)
- Andy Pettitte – 40 years old (41 in June)
- Ichiro Suzuki – 39 years old (40 in October)
- Derek Jeter – 38 years old (39 in June)
- Hiroki Kuroda - 37 years old (38 in February)
- Alex Rodriguez – 37 years old (38 in July)
Then you have guys like Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, CC Sabathia, Robinson Cano, Jayson Nix and Clay Rapada who are in their early 30s. That’s 12 out of the 25 players in the past two years who have already turned the corner. Come three or four years down the road, half of these guys are going to be retired, if not sooner. With the farm being behind schedule, the Yankees would usually have to turn to the market, except oh wait, they can’t. With the luxury tax looming overhead, there’s been talk about the Yankees not even thinking about re-signing Cano after 2013, and a Cano-less Yankees’ team is just a nightmare. The farm is a mess, free-agency is a no-no, is trading a viable option at this point? Doubtful unless the Yankees want to trade the talent they do have in the minors.
Realistically speaking, guys like Gary Sanchez, Slade Heathcott, Brett Marshall, Nik Turley and Cesar Cabral are a few years away from the majors. Other guys like Mark Montgomery and Manny Banuelos (who is recovering from Tommy John surgery) may have some sort of impact in the next year or so. Beyond them, the Yankees have the absolute deer in the headlights look. We can talk about all this potential that the Yankees have in these players, but some Yankee fans are impatient, spoiled and think they’re entitled to be a part of a fan base of a team that wins championships year in, year out. Gimme a break.
Let’s get this out into the open: do not be surprised if the Yankees miss the playoffs in 2013, 2014 and so on. It’s bound to happen. We’ve been completely spoiled since the 1970′s when George Steinbrenner took over and literally took a championship team and formed it into a more dominant championship team (though let’s not count the 1980′s). This is a team that is going to struggle and it’s going to weird sight for everyone.
I’m not trying to be cynical here folks, I’m just trying to shed light on something I feel that has been brushed under the rug. Hal and Hank Steinbrenner are smart men and I have full faith in their ability to turn this situation around, however, this turnaround isn’t instantaneous. This recovery process is going to take a couple of years and hopefully not any more. The talent the Yankees have in the minors is impressive, but it’s going to take awhile for it to fully mature on an MLB level. The Yankees’ veterans are going to be gone within the next few years and that is something that nobody wants to see happen.
Where this teams lands, I don’t know. Maybe we’ll see some guys stick around longer, maybe some talent will rise faster, I don’t know. All I can say is where the Yankees are now is a place that will shape how the future of this team is going to play out.