As for Rivera, last season proved that the Yankees don’t particularly need him. With a deep stable of bullpen arms, holding leads after eight innings – Rivera’s only job – isn’t a big problem. And if the team doesn’t contend strongly, the extra one or two wins that Rivera gives them make no real difference anyway. But because most clubs continue to overvalue closers against all the evidence (95% of all ninth inning leads result in victories, rendering a top closer a marginal contributor), the Yanks could probably get a nice haul of young talent by dangling Rivera to a contender.
Conventional wisdom says this will never happen, because public relations rules dictate that Rivera must retire a Yankee. And his swansong season might be one of the few things that the club can market this year. Still, bad P.R. only lasts as long as it takes the club to reach its next World Series. The Yankees recovered well enough from their unpopular trade of an aging Babe Ruth to Boston in 1935 by winning four straight World Series from 1936 to 1939.
Maybe the Yankees will surprise people by holding it together for another season. Maybe 40-ish pitchers Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda will stay healthy and team with CC Sabathia to form a solid starting rotation. Maybe veterans like Ichiro Suzuki , Kevin Youkillis and Vernon Wells will be productive enough to help Cano lead a decent offense, keeping the club above water until the reinforcements arrive from the disabled list.
Most likely, though, the club is going nowhere. Even Granderson (32) and Teixeira (33), the relative babies of the roster, are slipping incrementally past their primes. Studies appearing in publications like Baseball Prospectus show that a typical major leaguer peaks between the ages of 26 and 29. The Yankees have essentially no key players in that category. The club continues to force feed the model of perennial contention as it watches the core rot away. They still have a chance to reverse the trend – if they have the gumption to take a short-term hit.
Posted: March 31, 2013 at 01:41 PM | 21 comment(s)
Login to Bookmark