New York Yankees: Potential Clubhouse Conflicts for the 2013 Season
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The New York Yankees have assembled a roster of unique personalities for the 2013 season in baseball’s biggest market.
The media spotlight will shine on this Yankees squad as they look to compete in one of the toughest, most complete divisions baseball has seen in decades.
Tensions and expectations will be high for the Yankees in 2013. New York will be under immense pressure by the front office as well as the fans to continue winning baseball in the Bronx.
So, do the Yankees have what it takes to compete, or will conflicting personalities cause them implode from the inside-out?
Here are a few potential conflicts the Yankees could experience in 2013.
A Change in Front Office Philosophy
Owner Hal Steinbrenner.
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Last March, owner Hal Steinbrenner announced a change in organizational philosophy for the Yankees. Steinbrenner plans to work towards keeping the Yankees under the $189 million luxury tax benchmark.
This is a drastic shift in philosophy for this organization. The Yankees are looking to transition smoothly from the George Steinbrenner era to the Hal and Hank way of running business.
Of course, there is a downside to this ‘smooth’ transition, as the quality of baseball may take a hit in the Bronx over the course of the next few seasons.
This could cause some tension between management and fans if the Yankees can’t string together a playoff worthy season.
Regardless of whether or not Hal is serious about keeping the Yanks below the luxury tax figure, it is, after all, New York, where fans will be expecting 95-plus wins. In the end, if the Yankees reach the All-Star break with a disappointing record, the pressure will fall on the Steinbrenner brothers to open up their wallets and spend more.
As Uncle Ben told us, “With great power, comes great responsibility.”
Can Kevin Youkilis and Joba Chamberlain Coexist?
Newly acquired third baseman Kevin Youkilis.
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In December, the Yankees signed third baseman Kevin Youkilis to a one-year/ $12 million contract in what was considered one of the most controversial signings of the 2013 offseason.
After a few run-ins and some 98 mph fastballs that drifted a little too far inside, Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain and Kevin Youkilis have a tumultuous history. The tension between the two is a bomb waiting to go off, but will it?
CBSSport.com is reporting that Joba Chamberlain and Kevin Youkilis are “still not friends,” an extremely sensationalized way of putting it.
Yes, Joba and Youk are not “friends”, but neither are Ichiro and Robinson Cano. What about Francisco Cervelli and Andy Pettitte, are they “friends”?
Baseball is a business. Youk and Joba don’t have to be friends to contribute.
Also, the tension between the two was indicative of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry as a whole. The incident occurred as a product of the rivalry, like most Yankee-Red Sox altercations do.
Even though both players have a history, they’re both professionals and fans shouldn’t worry about any clubhouse altercations between the two.
The Pressure to Get Younger
Yankees catching prospect Austin Romine.
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The 2012 season proved that teams could contend with young rosters.
The Washington Nationals, one of the youngest teams in Major League Baseball, managed an impressive 98 win season, the best record in baseball, without a starting pitcher over the age of 28.
The Nationals’ season was a product of a decade’s worth of building their franchise from the bottom up, suffering through years of bad baseball.
Even the always competitive Atlanta Braves are heading into the 2013 season with one of the strongest, most complete teams in baseball. Their average age…26.3. A pretty remarkable feat.
The Yankees are criticized every year for being “too old” or “too injury-prone,” and each year they shake off the criticism. This year is different.
No longer are the Yankees the sure favorite to win the division, yet the Bronx expectations still remain.
Granted, the Yankees ended last season with 95 wins at the top of the division, but the 2013 AL East is not the same as 2012’s version.
This is a team that was winded and dismembered last October, running out of gas when they needed a full tank.
If Hal Steinbrenner plans to keep the Yankees’ payroll below $189 million, he needs to get younger, bottom line.
It’s all going to come down to their record through the first half of 2013 because this time when the Yankees are faced with criticism about age, they’re going to have to answer it.
A-Rod in the ALCS against Detroit last October.
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A-Rod, who’s coming off an injury plagued season where he hit just .272 with 18 home runs and 57 RBI, is surrounded by a shroud of questions and doubts that he’ll ever be the .300 average, 120 RBI player he once was.
Rodriguez has failed to show up in each of the last three Yankee playoff appearances. He has just 12 hits in his last 88 post season at-bats.
What was once considered a slump has transformed into the proverbial elephant in the room for the New York Yankees.
Also, the timing of the surgery draws another question: why so late?
Writers have yet to question the reason A-Rod’s surgery was delayed until Jan. 16, three months after the Yankees’ season ended.
Granted, this is a major surgery and probably took some preparation, but we’re talking about a $200 million man here. A-Rod is the single largest investment this Yankee organization has made…ever.
Why not figure out a way to get the surgery done earlier and have him ready to go by the All-Star break at the very least?
A-Rod’s reputation has taken a serious hit over the last few seasons, and if he spends all of 2013 on the disabled list, it will only worsen. There’s a possibility that the fan’s negativity might also spread to the clubhouse, which is the last thing the Yanks need in this revamped AL East.
A-Rod needs to play in 2013.
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