With the announcement that Alex Rodriguez needed hip surgery, as a New York Yankees fan, I was strangely excited. Finally the Yankees would use this opportunity to get younger on the diamond, I thought. We could let an unproven young talent take over for a few months and see if we had the next Derek Jeter on our hands.
Boy was I wrong.
Enter Kevin Youkilis, who will be 34 this year, on a one-year, $12 million deal. After spending the better part of eight seasons in Boston playing for the Red Sox, Youkilis over time had gained the disdain from Yankee fans that can only be brought on by a Red Sox uniform. Suddenly, he's our third baseman. At the age of 34. Until our regular third baseman comes back. At the age of 37.
In New York, teams are not simply allowed to "rebuild". This year is always the year you must win. That goes for the Yankees more so than any other team in the Big Apple. There is a developing flaw in this theory however, as the Yankees, like the rest of us, are getting older as time marches on. The Yanks, though, have a luxury that we do not. They can get younger as time proceeds, if they choose to do so.
In glancing over the Yankees roster as it stands now for the 2013 season, they have one position player under the age of 30 that is most likely a starter in Brett Gardner, 29, and one position player who most likely will find the bench in Eduardo Núñez who is only 25. Cano? 30. Teixeira? 32. Jeter? 38. And so on.
The Yankees are a team that can win now, maybe even next year, and perhaps even the year after that, providing they keep Robinson Cano. But what about in, say, 2016? Ichiro Suzuki will be over 40. Granderson? 35. Same with Teixeira. In New York's "win-now" culture, it's going to be awfully hard in the next few years if the Yankees do not fundamentally change their philosophy. Instead of floating names like Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes out on the trade block, they should think about building around these guys who are only in their mid-twenties.
Prospects like the Tampa Bay Rays' Wil Myers, who was just acquired from the Kansas City Royals, are simply a pipe dream for Yankees fans everywhere. There was once a time where the Yankees had homegrown talent. Think: Bernie Williams, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Derek Jeter. The list goes on. How about now? Instead of focusing on signing the best established player on the market, or trying to trade the farm for someone like Ichiro for some late-season help, how about reversing field and doing the opposite?
Maybe if this was another city, the Yankees would have a brighter future. Until then, I'll hope for a ring this year and accept nothing less.