When reviewing the New York Yankees lineup today, it cannot be ignored that the Yankees are approaching a time in the not too distant future where their needs might outstrip their resources. The not too distant future, in true terms, begins in earnest in 2013 and goes into full scale onslaught mode in the year 2014. Between now and then, the Yankees front office will, in effect, have to reinvent a team that is built to win now, into a team that can compete for years to come.
The measuring stick for the Yankees is always a world title. However, in putting together world championship caliber teams, the Yankees are constantly competing with the Boston Red Sox for supremacy, both on the field and in the executive suites.
This translates into the need for each team to draft, sign and trade talent that positions each franchise to either counteract, or proactively trump moves made by their division rivals.
Its an intricate dance, really, a chess game that has played out over decades and resulted in some of the most talked about what-ifs in the history of sport.
This dance, or game of chess, whichever analogy you prefer, threatens to escalate in the coming years due expressly to the fact that while the Yankees are getting older, the Red Sox are actually quite young. In fact, if you consider that the Boston SS in 2014 will likely be Jose Iglesias, the average age of their starting eight players at that point will still be younger than the Yankees starting eight is today.
Moreover, Derek Jeter wasn't included in this discussion as his contract expires after the 2013 season. As strange as it might be to consider, it's likely that Jeter will not be a Yankee in 2014.
(As a quick note, due to the transient nature of the DH slot in general, despite David Ortiz's stranglehold on the role in Boston, we did not include this role/player in our calculations).
If you're the Yankees, you have to be concerned. While average age comparisons are a productive tool to evaluate a team's likely effectiveness down the road, its when you start looking at the actual players that the severity of the situation really presents itself. Specifically, by 2014 the Yankees current three and four hitters, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez, would be 8 years or so into receiving their Social Security checks if their respective ages were combined.
Together, they will average over 36 years old and, in addition, the Yankees will have had to have found a replacement for Rodriguez at third base. This sad reality, for those of us who've forgotten or tried to burn the memory away, is the byproduct of Hal Steinbrenner beating out Hal Steinbrenner in the 2007 Rodriguez Free Agent Sweepstakes Competition.
With all of this said, there is hope for Yankees fans. At catcher, the Yankees will have a slew of prospects to choose from over the next several years, all of which can also be used in trades to bring back top-shelf talent. Additionally, they have a legitimate outfield prospect in Slade Heathcott who could also be a valuable trading chip or possibly even the answer in either RF or CF, depending on Granderson's effectiveness over the upcoming years.
There is also the free agent market, of course, a familiar means over the years for the Yankees to supplement their lineup. Over the next couple of years, there will be some very big names available and so the Yankees will more than likely be active on many fronts.
Taking all of these options and variables into account, the lineup you're about to see is conjured from the nether regions, one part reality, two parts pure conjecture and three parts complete fantasy. We've tried to stay within the bounds, of course. However, when we approached straying, and you'll know when we did, we tried to provide a reasonable back story of how a certain player found himself on the Yankees.