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Yankees 2013: Injuries Bigger Concern than Age for Bronx Bombers

Yankees

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.

With Kevin Youkilis, the newest inked one year wonder for the 2013 Yankees, New York continues to sign players on the wrong end of their primes.

Ichiro Suzuki will be next, as his one or two  year deal is likely to be finalized in the next day or two.

Once that happens, the youngest position players will be Brett Gardner and Robinson Cano.

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.

Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda were both there last season as well, except New York also had Freddy Garcia being counted upon.

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.

Cross Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Ichiro and maybe even Mark Teixeira off the list of criticism in that case.

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.

Granted, Michael Pineda and Pedro Feliciano were more afterthoughts, but the fact remains, they still could have contributed and they didn’t.

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.

Dave Robertson is in his prime and he was on the DL, paving the way for an All-Star caliber season of closing for Rafael Soriano.

Outside of the Major League team it doesn’t get any better.

Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances were two of the biggest Yankees’ pitching prospects, and both missed most of the year with assorted ailments.

Austin Romine and Francisco Cervelli were hurt for a good amount of time, as was Tyler Austin, a big time outfield prospect.

Back on the roster, the younger players weren’t spared either.

Ivan Nova‘s random injuries caught up to him as a sophomore, and Cesar Cabral never even made it out of Spring Training when he earned a stress fracture in his throwing elbow.

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?

Bottom Line

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

Vince Mercandetti was born in NY, grew up in NJ and now resides in the Orlando, FL area. He comes from a family of life-long Yankees' fans dating back to when his grandparents went on dates to watch Joe Dimaggio play in the 1940's. A Quinnipiac University graduate, Vince majored in Broadcast Journalism and has been published in multiple online publications ranging from his passion for the Yankees to finance. He has also worked for ESPN, ESPN Radio (in West Palm Beach) and WTNH (An ABC affiliate in New Haven, CT).