New York Yankees: 5 Keys to Aging Yankees Remaining Competitive in 2012

Bill FordCorrespondent IIIDecember 31, 2011

New York Yankees: 5 Keys to Aging Yankees Remaining Competitive in 2012

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    New York Yankee fans have been blessed with a successful baseball dynasty for quite some time.  The occasional bump presented itself and has led to some problems since 1996, but overall, the Yankees have been a major baseball force.

    The Yankees organization is filled with talent galore, with pitching, catching, fielding, hitting and base-running.  Popular players have come and gone, but core players have remained.

    Great talent will come up from the farm system, but what about the older players who have been the backbone of the Yankees?  How much longer can they play effectively and productively as they age?

    Jorge Posada will likely either retire or end his career elsewhere.  Let’s hope that he chooses retirement and goes out as a Yankee.

    Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Mariano Rivera are three of the best players in Major League Baseball.  They have collectively been the heart and soul of the Yankees.  As they age, what can they do to keep their edge and remain competitive in the 2012 season?

    Some of the keys to aging Yankees remaining competitive may seem very simple and obvious, but these keys are crucial and essential.  Let’s take a look.


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    Aging players have to work hard to maintain a high level of productivity.  In some cases, that may mean working harder than younger players to reach those levels. 

    Rest is imperative for a player like Jeter.  He will give his heart to make plays, but his aging body will begin to react more harshly as he ages.  Girardi will need to give him a little more down time to recover. 

    The same issue exists for Rodriguez.  He is coming off of multiple surgeries and a recent treatment in Germany for his knee and shoulder.  He will be productive with some occasional rest. 

    Rivera still proves that he has what it takes, but the Yankees should begin to let other pitching staff start to assume his closing role.  Games that are not close in score would be a good opportunity to let him rest.

Regular Evaluation

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    Players are evaluated fairly often by medical staff for any medical or physical issues.  Aging players require evaluation more frequently. 

    Preventative maintenance is critical for any athlete, but it is even more essential for an aging athlete.  Frequent evaluations can assist medical and training staff in coming up with better-suited action plans to deal with issues or problems before they even present themselves.

Changes in Physical and Conditioning Program

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    Aging athletes have become accustomed to certain physical routines.  Getting them to change those routines can be difficult, but it’s necessary. 

    Cardio exercises are a no-brainer for athletes, but an aging body responds differently to different types of physical exercise.  Shorter intervals of exercise, but using various types of conditioning, will decrease the potential of injuring or re-injuring joints. 

    Changes like these will keep them in top cardio and muscular form without too much exertion with repetitive movements.  

Frequent Observation

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    Observing aging players closely during practices and games is vital to spotting any ailments. 

    We all know that Jeter has played with existing injuries without anyone knowing.  His body won’t be able to tolerate that sort of stubbornness much longer. 

    The staff spends a great deal of time with the players, and they get to know all of their habits and idiosyncrasies.  Any sudden change, no matter how slight it may seem, should be taken seriously and should be evaluated. 

    Every play should be monitored by staff, and they should pay particularly close attention to the moments after the play is completed to ascertain if the player attempts to hide any pain.

Psychological Assessment

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    Aging players have much to deal with on and off of the field.  Many find it difficult to accept that their bodies are changing and do not bounce back as quickly and as easily as they did in the past. 

    Staff and management need to be well aware of the psychological effects that an aging player feels, even if it is subconsciously.  When aging players begin to slow down, they may make some errors, they may not be as fast or they may not be able to hit as they once were able. All of those may have psychological repercussions that could negatively affect their performance and could trickle down onto the morale of other players. 

    Psychological assessments before the season, multiple times throughout the season and at the end of the season would have a positive effect on their overall performance, health and well-being.