As the Yankees bats have gone cold and they are on the brink of elimination, down 3-0 to the Tigers in the ALCS, it looks like the Bronx Bombers are giving us a glimpse of what is to come in the near future, and it isn't pretty...
The Yankee dynasty was built in the mid 90's around Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera. Now Bernie and Posada have retired. Rivera tore his ACL in May and could retire soon. Pettitte retired, came back, but it's clearly near the end. Jeter is 38 and just broke his foot and is out. In addition, ARod is 37 and has had a terrible year and they are on the hook to give him $114 million for the next 5 years and nobody in baseball, not even the Dodgers, are going to take that contract off their hands. Their top 3 pitchers, Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Pettitte are 32, 37 and 40 respectively, while Ivan Nova pitched himself out of the post season rotation with a dismal second half and Phil Hughes is consistently inconsistent.
Making it tougher for them is that they are going to have to actually shed salary since Hal Steinbrenner has declared the team has to get under the $189 million luxury tax threshold that will kick in in 2014. That could mean the Yanks say goodbye to impending free agent Nick Swisher and possibly be forced to move Curtis Granderson or even Robinson Cano as they enter the final years of their contracts and are looking for big buck extensions. It also appears that there is no help coming from the minors any time soon and their best pitching prospect, Manny Benuelos, just had Tommy John surgery and is out for 2013. The catching position is also a question mark as Russell Martin is a free agent and top catching prospect Austin Romine missed much of the AAA season with back problems.
The Yankees appear to be in big trouble going forward. They are old. They lack the young and talented core group that is the mark of a team on the rise. Mark Teixeira is 33. Swisher and Granderson 31. Cano turns 30 next week. The only core player under 30 is Brett Gardner, who is 29, and not really a core player anyhow. The pitching is old and thin. ARod's contract and diminished skills are huge problems. How much time does Jeter have left? The smart move would be a total rebuild...trading off every asset that still has value to acquire young talent. Of course that's not what they are likely to do. Instead they will probably try to keep the roster intact and milk every last drop out of players on the wrong side of their prime. If that's the case, I think they are going to be looking up in the AL East standings at the young and talented Orioles, Blue Jays and Rays for years to come.
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