New York Yankees: Why Team Must Begin to Reload After This Season

Matt Dunn@MattDunn14Correspondent IJune 27, 2012

New York Yankees: Why Team Must Begin to Reload After This Season

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    As we near the midpoint of the MLB season, the New York Yankees sit in their familiar spot atop the AL East standings, with a mark of 45-28, four games ahead of the Baltimore Orioles.

    While the Yanks have been red hot as of late, and much of the credit needs to go to their pitchers. Their starters have been great and a bullpen that has lost Mariano Rivera for the season and his apparent replacement, David Robertson, for stretches, has been outstanding. 

    The lineup has been hit hard by age and the injury bug, but has been doing enough to help the Bombers out on their recent hot streak.

    While the news as of right now is all good in the Bronx, the Yankees shouldn't get complacent. 

    Even if everything ends up perfectly and the Yanks win the World Series this year, they will have a ton of question marks heading into next year with an aging lineup and pitching staff.

    These are a few reason why the Yankees have to reload heading into next season.

Age in the Lineup

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    I know that it hasn't necessarily shown for Derek Jeter, but the Yankees are getting older in some pretty key positions. The collective age of the left side of their infield is 74. That is not a good sign.

    Consider this, of the nine spots in the batting order, the Yankees have eight guys who have played in 60 games or more. They are:

    1) Curtis Granderson
    2) Robinson Cano
    3) Derek Jeter
    4) Alex Rodriguez
    5) Mark Teixeira
    6) Nick Swisher
    7) Raul Ibanez
    8) Russell Martin 

    Of those eight guys, two are under the age of 30, and they're both 29. I know that age doesn't always tell the whole story. Every time someone wants to say Derek Jeter is finally playing his age, he comes up with another great year, but that won't keep happening forever.

    Just for arguments sake throw Brett Gardner in the mix because he would be a starter if he wasn't injured. He's 28. 

    It's not just the starting lineup either. The main guys the Yankees have on the bench, whether it's to pinch hit or give someone a day off are Eric Chavez (34), Andruw Jones (35), Dewayne Wise (34), Chris Stewart (30) and Jayson Nix (29).

    It's not like the Yankees have some young hopeful sitting on the bench waiting for A-Rod's contract to expire.

    All of these players are good players, but if the Yankees want to continue to be competitive, they need to find some younger guys who are going to be able to contribute in the long term.

Age in the Pitching Staff

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    While the starting rotation isn't quite as old collectively as the lineup is, it has some individual parts that are pushing it.

    Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda are 40 and 37 respectively and are responsible for 23 starts and 10 wins between the two of them. Throw in the fact that C.C. Sabathia is 31 and you have three-fifths of your rotation on the back nine of their careers.

    Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes are both young and promising pitchers and if Michael Pineda can return to form, the Bombers will have a good core of young pitchers to develop and follow Sabathia in the rotation.

    However, if Hughes continues his up and down trajectory and Pineda doesn't come back as strong as he was, the Yanks will be in trouble.

    In the bullpen, the Yankees have a lot more youth, but that they are still plenty old in key places. 

    Everyone is aware of Mariano Rivera's age and his current injury, which has called into question whether or not he'll ever play again. Meanwhile, Freddy Garcia, who is by no means a key cog in the machine, yet is still useful as an inning eater, isn't getting any younger. 

Production Decline

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    As we've covered, Derek Jeter seems to be the exception to the rule this season. Regarding his age and apparently his production.

    Jeter is the one of two Yankees who have more than 100 At-bats and is hitting over .300. The other is Robinson Cano.

    He leads the team with 95 hits and is followed by Cano who has 85, the next highest is a tie between Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez with 70.

    You can say whatever you want about the age being a true issue, but you can't argue that the Yankees are going to continue to win at this pace with the batting average of the eight regulars I listed in the first slide at .259. Take away Jeter and Cano and that number drops to .245.

    Six guys who are regular everyday players for this lineup are hitting an average of .245. If it wasn't for everyone's ability to hit home runs, this team would be struggling mightily right now.

    I know that's the way this team was built, but as we've seen time and again in the playoffs, home runs can go away.

Salary

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    The Yankees currently have 9 players who make $10 million or more per year. One of them is under the age of 30.

    Alex Rodriguez is 36 and is going to be 37 on July 27. He is hitting .265 with 13 home runs and 34 RBIs and an OPS of .791. He is making $30,000,000 this season.

    When the Yankees got Rodriguez, the Rangers were paying a decent portion of his contract so he was relatively cheap considering you were getting a premier player in his prime.

    When he opted out of his contract during the 2007 World Series, they should have let him walk. Since then, his production has been going downhill.

    This isn't just about Rodriguez though. The Yankees have a ton of money tied up in some pretty risky places and if they want to make sure that they can compete in coming years they are going to need to get rid of some of the eyesores on their payroll.