The Times, They Are A-Changin’ Part I

Here we are on June 11, 60 games into the 2010 MLB season. The New York Yankees are currently sitting in second place in the American League Eastern Division standings. The only team standing between the Bronx Bombers and first place is the Tampa Bay Rays.

 

Through 60 games last season, the Yanks were 34-26 while this year they are 37-23. In terms of their record, the team is doing three games better this year than they were this far into last year’s campaign. But the record is just the record. The numbers are just the numbers.

 

Is this the same team we saw in 2009?

 

The answer is no.

 

As I have noticed the differences between ’09 and ’10, I will be writing a multiple-part blog over the next few days pointing out what is different in terms of the Yankees, whether it is good or bad. For the first part, I opted to write about…

 

The Core Four

 

 


The Core Four Yankees...how much longer...? 

The first thing I have noticed a difference in…well, in some ways.

 

Although Derek Jeter is still a god in New York, there’s no denying the fact that his age is (just about) catching up to him. He can still hit, as evidenced by his .296 batting average this season, but on defense he looks more off than I can ever remember seeing him.

 

Jeter can still make beautiful web gems–I haven’t forgotten about his amazing jump throw on May 26 against the Minnesota Twins. But his lateral range is just not what is used to be. According to many people I have talked to, he was never the greatest defender anyway.

 

Jeter's range has gone down, but he is still a beast 

 

I never believed that. Jeter’s Gold Gloves and patented mid-air spin speak for themselves. Unlike last year however, (so far) this year he has not looked like the Jeter of old. He only has three errors this year and last year he only committed eight, which isn’t a bad number.

 

Jeter is who he is. As Ozzie Guillen, manager of the Chicago White Sox, said earlier this season, “Jeter is god. Who wouldn’t want him on their team?” He is right; there really is not anything bad I can say about the Captain. It’s almost taboo as a Yankee fan to badmouth or try to negate Jeter’s credibility.  

 

While this is true, it is apparent Jeter is aging–which has nothing to do with how good he is, it’s just a fact of life and what unfortunately happens to all of us! The Yankee Captain will be 36 by the end of the month and I just wonder how many more years he has left in him.

 

Then there’s Jorge Posada.

 

The Yankee catcher was injured on May 16, taking a foul ball off his foot behind the plate and sustaining a fracture. He went to the 15-day disabled list and missed about two weeks before returning to the lineup on June 2–as a designated hitter.

 


Posada has not caught since coming back from the DL  
 

 

Since coming back from his injury, Posada has not caught a game and has been relegated to the DH spot–a spot he has not been very productive in. In the eight games he has played upon his return, the 38 year-old catcher (who will be 39 in August) has only collected three hits in 27 at-bats.

 

Meanwhile, Francisco Cervelli has been clipping together a decent season in Posada’s absence. The 24 year-old is currently hitting .280. Even though he does not hit for power and has no homers, he has 25 RBIs on the year.

 

Looking at it statistically, Cervelli is hitting four points higher than Posada for average and has 10 more runs batted in. Not only that, but it seems Cervelli is becoming the likely candidate to succeed Posada. There was a stretch where Cervelli caught nine games in a row before Joe Girardi had to plug the other backup catcher Chad Moeller behind the plate.

 

I remember once thinking to myself, “Who does Cervelli think he is? The starting catcher?!”

 

But hey, it has not been a bad thing. Cervelli has done a wonderful job and possesses great offensive numbers with two outs and runners in scoring position. I can only hope he generates a little bit more power and knocks some homers out of the park.

 

Francisco Cervelli has filled in well for Jorge 

 

As for Posada, I hope he can remain healthy. In recent years he has certainly had his share of injuries and it is perfectly understandable. After all, he is playing arguably the most difficult position on the field; catchers have to take the most abuse and punishment of all baseball players.

 

After 2011 Posada’s contract is up and he will be 40. Will he be a Yankee after next year? Will he be able to catch every day? Will he retire?

 

All of these questions remain to be seen. But any way it goes, things will be different. And as far as the Yankee catching situation goes at press time, in some ways they already are. Posada has not been an everyday catcher

 

Now onto Mariano Rivera.

 

A lot of people might say really the only thing that has changed about the Great Rivera is his age. From ’09-’10 Rivera turned from 39 to 40 years of age.

 

But if you remember back on April 30, Rivera made a relief appearance against the Chicago White Sox. He suffered an apparent rib injury in his left side and did not make another appearance for over a week after he got hurt.

 

 


Mo was out for over a week last month 

I don’t remember him ever getting injured like that last season or missing an extended period of time the way he did last month. At the beginning of the season he was asked whether or not he would keep playing beyond 2010, seeing as how his contract expires at the end of the year and of course considering his age.

 

He said he does not yet know what his plans are and that he will decide after the season is over. The Yankees do however need to start thinking about what to do when Rivera’s playing days are up or if he does not come back to the team next year–whatever the reason may be.

 

I have a bad feeling that if the Yankees do not make the right choices, Rivera will not be the closer next year. Worse off, they won’t find a suitable replacement for him and they could be reduced to a “closer-by-committee” situation. One day it could be Joba Chamberlain, the next it could be David Robertson, and so on and so forth.

 

Surely nobody wants that to happen. If Rivera decides to play again, I think the Yanks need to get him back, or at least show him respect by making him a generous offer.

 

Yet, it’s not like they really went full throttle after Hideki Matsui this past off-season. Matsui was a Yankee for seven years, was a fan-favorite, respected by the entire organization, and (oh, by the way) the reigning World Series Most Valuable Player.

 

He did so much for the Yankees during his tenure in pinstripes. Matsui was beloved, and helped the team regain the title. What worries me is that the Yanks did not go for him and he is close to four years younger than Rivera.  

 

Who knows what will happen at the end of the season. We will have to wait until it plays out, but if and when Rivera leaves, what happens next? This upcoming off-season we will get the answer.

 

Last but never the least, Andy Pettitte.

 

 


Andy Pettitte is 7-1 this season 

Despite his age of 37 (he will turn 38 on June 15 {which is also my birthday!}) Pettitte is putting together a remarkable year. If he wins tonight against his former team the Houston Astros, Pettitte will own a powerful record of 8-1 on the year.

 

He currently has a 2.47 ERA, which is good for third in the American League behind David Price of the Rays and Doug Fister of the Seattle Mariners.

 

Pettitte was however taken out of the game on May 5 vs. the Baltimore Orioles with inflammation in his left elbow. He tossed five innings and registered the win, but was forced to miss a following start because of the injury.

 

Another concern is the fact that Pettitte has been on the disabled list five times in his career, all as a result of problems in his pitching elbow. Since he skipped the start after leaving on May 5 there haven’t been any more problems or concerns with Pettitte.

 

Barring a catastrophe or any more pitching problems though, Pettitte looks like he will be an asset to the Yankees down the stretch run, which is no surprise. He has been doing it for years and years; pitching in big games and always coming up big when it matters most. But again the question comes up:

 

How much longer can he keep it up? He only signed on for one year at the outset of the season and like Rivera, his future is up in the air at the moment. He is unsure whether or not he is going to pitch or pack it in after 2010.

 

Pettitte’s age and his desire to spend more time with his family have long been a topic of discussion in terms of his career. Even before he returned to the Yankees in 2007 many analysts and baseball writers speculated as to whether or not he would call it quits and retire or keep going.

 

Obviously he opted to come back home to the Yankees where he started and he was welcomed with open arms. Since his comeback in ’07, Pettitte has been a rock in the Yankees’ rotation. This season things have not changed. But next year will they?

 

They say age is nothing but a number. It’s not about how old you are but about how old you feel. But considering the recent and apparent way things have been going for the “Core Four” Yankees, I have to disagree.

 

Age can and eventually will catch up, and we are beginning to see it amongst the most beloved Yankees of our era. This quartet of special Bombers can still get it done on the diamond, despite the obstacles they have had to hurdle this season.

 

But yet again I ask… how much longer can they do this….?

 


NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!  
 

2 Comments

GREAT insight Brian. Jeter is the youngest of them all (and also the Captain) so I certainly think he’ll be the easiest to get back with no worries.

Mariano, though–meh. That depends on what he wants to do and whether or not they make him the right offer. Before his contract expired a few years ago, he did say he would test the market, but I think he did that just to force the Yankees’ hands. But if all that gets overlooked, he’ll come back, if he doesn;t retire.

Andy–same thing. If he doesn’t retire he will probably get another deal. This has been happening for the last two years, so we know what to expect.

And I agree about Jorge. After his contract is up, he could end up being given an invitation to spring training and nothing else–which I really hope doesn’t happen, because I thought it was quite insulting when they did it to Bernie. They basically forced him out the door, which wasn’t fair.

Let’s look at it this way: Derek Jeter will no doubt about it be a Yankee next season. I think they’ll offer him (and he’ll take) a two or three year deal, keeping him in pinstripes through the 2012 or 2013 season. After that, I say he hangs it up. As for Mo, same thing. He’ll get a two or three year deal, and unless he retires, he’ll be in pinstripes through the 2012 or 2013 season. Andy Pettitte on the other hand, will be offered a one year deal. Unless he retires, he’ll be in pinstripes next year. As for after that, I think that Andy will keep playing the retirement game and be a Yankee until he hangs it up. That brings me to Jorge Posada; the odd man out. After his contract expires next year I think he’ll get the Bernie Williams treatment. If he gets offered anything it will be a one year deal for maybe a couple million. Unless he swallows his pride and takes less money for 2012, I don’t see him as a Yankee after his contract expires. And on the off chance that he is on the team in 2012, I don’t think he’ll be the starting catcher. That’s just my 2 cents.

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