February 25, 2013
On the Beat
Aged to Perfection?
With a nod of respect to Joe Garagiola retiring from the booth at 87, let’s take one of all-time great broadcaster’s best lines and massage it to fit the 2013 Yankees: The Yankees are so old, man, they served as the waiters at the Last Supper.
OK, Mariano Rivera didn’t really refill the apostles’ water glasses. However, it seems like the 43-year-old closer and his teammates should be playing in local recreational senior league than in the major leagues. Just one of the Yankees’ projected nine opening position player starters is under 30—center fielder Brett Gardner, who is 28. In addition to Rivera, the Yankees pitching staff includes 40-year-old left-hander Andy Pettitte and 38-year-old right-hander Hiroki Kuroda.
Of course, with age comes more injuries, and three of the Yankees’ superstars are coming off major surgeries. Rivera blew out a knee last May, 38-year-old shortstop Derek Jeter broke his ankle in the opener of the American League Championship Series last October, and 37-year-old third baseman Alex Rodriguez underwent a hip operation in January. Rivera should begin the season on time, and Jeter will start playing exhibition games in two weeks, but Rodriguez won’t be back until at least July. Compounding matters, outfielder Curtis Granderson suffered a broken right forearm Sunday when he was hit by a pitch from Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ in an exhibition game in Tampa. Granderson will likely be out until May.
The Yankees look so fragile that one rival American League front-office type believes New York will not only miss the playoffs for just the second time in 19 seasons but be fortunate to finish above .500 this season. The Yankees haven’t had a losing season since 1992, when Buck Showalter was a rookie manager and Andy Stankiewicz was the shortstop.
“I think everyone in baseball knows this is the year to get the Yankees,” the FOT said. “They are extremely vulnerable. They’re old, they’re hurt, they don’t have much depth, and their farm system is pretty thin at the upper levels. Rare is the time when you can catch the Yankees in a down cycle, but this is the year to do it. I can see their year being a real disaster.”