Interesting words from Jon Heyman today -
This could be a dicey year indeed for the Yankees, who have won at least 87 games a remarkable (and record) 17 consecutive seasons, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post recently pointed out. This team could test that incredible run of consistency, if only a thing or two (or three) goes wrong.
Beyond the obvious health questions surrounding all-time greats Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter and all-time publicity gatherer and would-be great Alex Rodriguez, plus the unanswered questions at catcher and designated hitter, the organization isn’t nearly as deep as usual. It’s not deep on the roster, and it certainly isn’t deep at the upper levels of the minor leagues, where recent injuries and underperformance have left the franchise almost bereft of upper-tier prospects at the upper levels.
Word out of the Yankees clubhouse is almost universally optimistic, as usual. But it’s based on all the old reasons. Outsiders, though, see the old players. And they wonder.
Even if career miracle men Rivera and Jeter do their thing despite age and health questions (and who should ever doubt them?) there are enough issues with the good and great players on the team who are mere mortals to wonder if their run of almost unbroken success could soon come to a close.
“I don’t think they are a playoff team,” one competing GM said, flat out.
Another GM wondered why the Yankees behaved somewhat like the small-market, low-revenue Rays this winter, when they brought back many of their own but let other fine players leave (most notably Nick Swisher, Rafael Soriano and Russell Martin) while adding only one high-salaried new player — their old Red Sox nemesis Kevin Youkilis.
Those two rival GMs are far from the only ones who believe there’s a real possibility the Yankees could be October outsiders for the second time since Buck Showalter’s second season, 20 years back, when the turnaround began in earnest with smart trades and newfound patience. Now, they could finally be ripe for a downturn.
“They are a little long in the tooth,” one rival owner observed of the Yankees.
Yankees teams are typically a little older than most everyone else, but this one is especially ancient (at least by baseball standards).
The roster retains surely possesses plenty of name recognition. But that doesn’t keep folks from wondering when the jig will be up.
The first rival GM pointed out three main areas of concern — age, injuries and lack of depth in the upper minor leagues. He also wondered about the ability of Jeter, Pettitte and Kuroda to repeat their excellent performance from a year ago. Then, he got even more pointed.
“I think they are weak at third base and in the outfield,” the GM said. “Ichiro may not repeat. Granderson brings a low batting average and tons of strikeouts. Gardner is hurt a lot, and not all that productive when healthy.”
What do you think? Agree or disagree – and why?