Now that it’s official that Bernie Williams has a Yankees contract for 2006, I find myself thinking about Roberto Alomar.
At the close of 2001, Roberto Alomar, then 33-years-old, had a resume that proved he was one of the best switch-hitters in baseball history.
Then, in 2002, Roberto slumped. And, the slump continued in 2003 and 2004. Finally, at age 37, with his past injuries and age impacting his skills, Alomar had to hang up his spikes just before the start of the 2005 season (while in Spring Training with the Devil Rays).
At the close of 2002, Bernie Williams, then 33-years-old, had a resume that proved he was one of the best switch-hitters in baseball history.
Then, in 2003, Bernie slumped. And, the slump continued in 2004 and 2005. Now, at age 37, Williams heads into another Spring Training with the Yankees.
What if past injuries and age hit Bernie Williams this Spring like they did Roberto Alomar (at the same age) in 2005? Suppose that Bernie can’t get the ball out of the infield in his exhibition games and it’s clear that retirement is the wiser choice for both he and the Yankees (in 2006)?
It can happen – just as easily as it cannot.
What if it does happen? It will not be good. It will mean that Bubba Crosby, Andy Phillips, and perhaps Kevin Thompson will combine for about 650 Plate Appearances in 2006 – because the Yankees do not have anyone else on the roster behind Bernie.
Perhaps the Yankees can carry that given the addition of Johnny Damon? But, doesn’t it seem like the Designated Hitter on the team should be someone who can hit?
It would be nice if the Yankees invited some other players to Spring Training just a contingency plan if Bernie fails. Better safe than sorry, no?