The Yankees are no longer the Evil Empire Dynasty of the 90's.
The most successful franchise in professional sports is slowly but surely losing its edge.
The New York Yankees won the Word Series four times between 1996 and 2000, however they've only won it once since then, in 2009.
2009 was also their first appearance in the World Series in six years, after having made the big show in six of the eight years between 1996 and 2003.
Needless to say, the Yankees are losing their edge in the world of baseball, and these are some of the reasons why.
One of the most obvious reasons for their downfall is the rising age of the team.
Mark Smith over at It's About the Money brilliantly laid out the information for the Yankees and their age.
Last season, the Yankees had a team average age of 30.6 years old, with the lineup coming in at 31.7 years and the starting rotation coming in at 29.6 years. The Major League average age for a team was right around 27 years old. Needless to say, the Yankees are obviously above the league's average age.
The lineup is not going to get any younger anytime soon. With players such as Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter still under contract for a few more years, the average will only increase. Not to mention, Robinson Cano, Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson are all approaching 30 years of age.
The only glaring locations in the Yankees lineup that might get younger in the near future appear to be catcher (with Austin Romine potentially arriving in 2013) and right field.
The starting rotation is an area of strength in the youth department for the Yankees. The eldest member of the staff is AJ Burnett at 35 years old, and he may not even be in the rotation this season. He will be battling for a spot with 25-year-old Phil Hughes and fellow 35-year-old Freddy Garcia.
Recently signed Hiroki Kuroda takes the crown as the oldest officially in the rotation at 36, with CC Sabathia coming in second at 31. Once you throw in newly-acquired Michael Pineda (who is only 23), and 24-year-old Ivan Nova, the Yankees have a chance to grow with a younger rotation. After this season, look also for Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos to potentially fight for a spot in the rotation.
The point is, with the Yankees continually growing in age, their bodies are bound to break down (a la Alex Rodriguez the last few years) and see a decrease in production.
AJ Burnett is widely recognized as a bad contract for the Yankees.
Bad contracts certainly have a way of hindering an organization's ability to make moves to improve the team, even if it has the large budget like the Yankees.
The Yankees have multiple bad contracts on the team, but the most notable would be AJ Burnett. Burnett is currently the fourth highest paid player on the Yankees making $16.5 million, behind only Alex Rodriguez, CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira.
Burnett provided 190.1 innings of 5.15 ERA pitching last season with a record of 11-11. That's a total of $1.5 Million for each win. Yikes.
On the offensive side, the Alex Rodriguez deal is considered a bad contract as well. This season, A-Rod is due to make $32 million. When one player is making that kind of money, finding the money to sign other players while trying to remain in the confines of your budget is incredibly difficult.
Not to mention, A-Rod will only get paid more as his contract progresses, with his actual production likely to continue to regress.
The Yankees missed their man.
Last offseason, the Yankees had their sights set on one man—Cliff Lee. It was their every intention to sign him and pair him up at the top of their rotation with CC Sabathia for years to come. They tried to acquire Lee at the trade deadline from the Seattle Mariners, dangling top prospect Jesus Montero.
However the deal fell through at the end and Lee went off to Texas. They were also widely rumored to be the top suitor for Lee's services in free agency, until the Philadelphia Phillies came in at the last moment and snatched him up.
Reports stated that the Yankees actually offered more money and a longer duration on the contract, and yet Cliff Lee still chose to head to Philadelphia instead.
What did the Yankees do last offseason to counter-act the inability to sign Lee? They signed Rafael Soriano to a three-year, $35 million contract to be their set-up man. They also forfeited their first-round draft pick in the 2011 June Amateur Draft for a set-up guy.
With the Yankees inability to woo the top starting pitchers to come pitch in Yankee Stadium, they are being forced to rely more on their farm system. Speaking of which...
The Rays are just one team to reach an elite level with home-grown talent.
Over the last decade in baseball, there has been eight different World Series Champions. Only the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals have repeated in the last 10 years. One of the main reasons for this is the improvement in scouting and developing of players.
There has been a movement across baseball to retain young talent for as long as possible, and to rely on it to produce at an elite level. You have to look no farther than within the AL East to division rival Tampa Bay Rays to see the perfect example.
Tampa has heavily relied on its farm system to supply their major league squad with producers. Evan Longoria, BJ Upton and Carl Crawford all are among the top players listed as being a success from their farm system, and their pitching staff is as deep as ever.
With young ace in the making Matt Moore looking to officially claim a spot in the rotation this season, he will just add to the success story of focusing on the development of players.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman has attempted to bring the Yankees back to this philosophy of growing your own talent. However, he still has a ways to go in order to reach the level the Rays have.