Cano will be 30 years old on opening day, and doesn’t get hurt
If you read this while listening to the Jurassic Park theme song, kudos to you for being more creative about the Yankees’ ever rising age on the roster.
Ichiro Suzuki will be next, as his one or two year deal is likely to be finalized in the next day or two.
Gardner will be turning 30 during the season and Cano, in a walk year, will be turning 31 years old by the end of the season.
Cano is interesting for a few reasons:
His contract is the single biggest decision and boundary of the year, he’s the Yankees’ only pure hitter left and he’s the youngest in middle of the Yankees lineup.
Perhaps what wasn’t so obvious was his most valuable asset to the Yankees.
He doesn’t get injured.
New York had an old lineup last season. Nick Swisher was still over 30 years old in right field, Raul Ibanez was over 40 at DH and Brett Gardner, who would have been the youngest position player, missed almost the entire season.
In a vacuum that’s what makes the criticism of age so silly.
It’s not how old these players are that should be feared, it’s how injury prone most Yankees are regardless of age.
If you had your choice between a mediocre 29 year old and a future Hall of Famer at 36 years old, you’re taking the older player or you’re getting fired.
If you have the opportunity to have a player who will play over 155 games every season, and hit 30 home runs with a .370+ OBP at a premium position, you take it. Same with the opportunity for 40+ home runs as an outfielder.
Cano and Curtis Granderson are not to be criticized either.
The real concern here has been forming for years.
The Yankees lost over 1200 days of service to the Disabled List last season alone, that’s second worst behind the Padres and trailing San Diego in anything related to Baseball is not a good look.
The Bronx Bombers’ pitching staff alone out-sat any other team in baseball by over 200 days with injuries.
Now add to the fact Pettitte missed a chunk of the year, Mariano Rivera most of it, Joba Chamberlain had a freak accident, David Aardsma was never to be counted on, Phil Hughes took his yearly trip, and even CC Sabathia, who up until 2011 was the poster boy of health and long innings, has started to make the Disabled List part of his routine.
It’s not just age related. Rivera, Pettitte and Chamberlain all suffered freak injuries. One was running around before a game, one took a line drive off his ankle and the other used a trampoline with his son.
Chamberlain isn’t old and yet Kuroda, who will be there again in 2013, is, and he didn’t miss any time with injury.
Outside of the Major League team it doesn’t get any better.
Back on the roster, the younger players weren’t spared either.
Not to mention how Jesus Montero stayed mostly healthy over in Seattle while Pineda never made it onto the field in New York.
The solution would be simple if it was only pitchers. Fire pitching coaches in the minors, change the conditioning philosophy and load up on depth, but it’s bigger than that. The offense has had issues too.
Texeira, hurt his wrist and missed time, A-Rod, who was generous enough to plan his DL trip ahead of time this year, was hit in the hand by a pitch and missed nearly two months.
Granderson hurt his hamstring, and by October, his pride. And while it was completely predictable Eric Chavez would have a concussion, Swisher hurt himself too.
Worst of all, who could forget Derek Jeter‘s ankle fracturing itself on a routine grounder?
The Yankees’ time on the DL could probably field its own 25 man roster and its payroll of wasted money would probably be good enough for mid-market status.
You can give me Youkilis for 2-3 months and Ichiro in my starting lineup and I’d take it every time whether they were 28 or 38 years old.
Just let them stay on the field.
Photo by Keith Allison