These Teams Are Getting Old
Heck, I’m getting old but then I’m not a professional baseball player. I can still type, drink, put a sentence together in a conversation (usually) and tie my own shoes (on a good day). There is considerable more skill involved in playing professional baseball and while not all players have my aforementioned skills, theirs are to be more envied than mine. Or at least considerably more useful.
I began to ponder this age question yesterday when I learned that 39 year old Andy Pettitte was attempting to make a comeback with the New York Yankees. With the conditioning and dedication that athletes go through in these modern times, his chances are far better than those players of years ago.
The Yankees are certainly a powerhouse in baseball and claimed to have enough starting pitching to withstand the rigors of a major league season. So the question is, other than for nostalgic reasons, why sign a 39 year old starting pitcher who is a year removed from pitching? Apart from nostalgia and taking the Yankees at their word about not needing starting pitching, the answer has thus far escaped me. Can Jorge Posada be far behind? Jamie Moyer and Tim Wakefield are still out there looking in from the sidelines. Couldn’t hurt to have another arm in the rotation?
I’m not knocking these players. They had long and successful big league careers. But are major league farm systems really that inexperienced or devoid of talent? According to very knowledgeable baseball publications such as Baseball America, the game has never had as many bright potential young prospects or stars at the major league level.
I have a feeling that those former major league players who are now broadcasters might begin thinking about doing more than merely having casual games of catch with their young children in the backyard on a sunny afternoon. I know that I’ve been looking at my old beat up glove lately and thinking…well maybe. Maybe I have aged like a fine wine as well. Perhaps I should begin attending tryout camps and fudging my age just a bit. Maybe the fact that I am a Canadian and could only play baseball for two months all year means that my arm, eyes and speed are really 20 years younger.
Ah but I digress.
Some of the powerhouses of major league baseball are beginning to show their age and with the team salaries some owners are paying out, the option to replace expensive on the downhill players simply might not be there. The wheels might be starting to fall off and someone forgot to load the trunk with new spares. Here are three teams which might be in trouble for 2012.1. Philadelphia Phillies: the Phillies are tough and know how to win. The Phillies have the big three starting rotation as good as there has ever been. The Phillies have only one healthy infielder and no productive replacements. No one knows if and when Chase Utley and Ryan Howard might return and third baseman Placido Polanco is nursing all sorts of nagging injuries. Most of their prospects haven’t panned out and they are playing in a division which is getting younger and better. I wouldn’t bet against them but things could fall completely apart very quickly.
2. Boston Red Sox: Their bullpen is unproven (I know Andrew Bailey proved his worth with Oakland and Mark Melancon impressed in Houston) but this is the pressure packed city of Boston. Their hoped form closer, Daniel Bard imploded last year and after Jon Lester and Josh Beckett, the starting staff looks shaky. Boston doesn’t know if Kevin Youkilis will be ready and David Ortiz is getting too old. Their team leader Jason Varitek is gone and they have a manager who is the opposite of the laid back Terry Francona. Oh, and they don’t have a shortstop yet.
3. New York Yankees: Jorge Posada is gone. Alex Rodriguez is no longer feared as he once was and his on and off field distractions are becoming an embarrassment to the organization. Derek Jeter might possibly go on forever but even this future Hall of famer can’t do everything he once could. Mariano Rivera will retire either this year or next. New York and Boston were strangely quiet in the free agent market this season. When was the last time New York or Boston didn’t go after an Albert Pujols or Prince fielder? Never, that’s when. In the past, Yankee dollars could offset any signing mistakes. It seems those days are over, at least for awhile.
Success brings its own share of problems. After many years of low draft picks and big salaries, these three powerhouse teams might l soon be struggling to keep up with the younger guns in their respective divisions. Young players such as Andy Pettitte might not be the answer anymore. Experience is a big advantage in major league baseball but age is often not. We shall see.
By: Doug Bird