Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Despiser Echo Syndrome? Yanks Start to Show Age

A few months ago, my compadre the Yankee Despiser predicted that this year's group of Yankees would go the way of the '04 Mariners - a solid veteran team that would suddenly break down physically. Personally, I disagreed- hence my prediction of another Yankee AL East championship (to be followed by another playoff collapse). But with Rivera, Bernie, and Jeter hurt, it looks like things may begin to be shifting the Despiser's way. Perhaps these injuries really are minor and the Yanks will be healthy and solid again. But perhaps they're a sign of things to come.

In today's Daily News, Anthony McCarron has a piece about the Yanks' beginning to show age. Despiser, you may be right yet again.

Besides, teams full of veterans don't usually win it all. One notable exception? The '01 Diamondbacks with the likes of Matt Williams and Mark Grace. But keep in mind they came awful close to losing. And if Cashman had gotten Mo some decent middle relief to avoid all those two-inning saves, and if the Yanks would've kept the infield back when Gonzalez hit, or if Mo doesn't make that error, things would've turned out a lot different.

Besides, the one huge factor the D-Backs had going for them was as good a 1-2 punch as we've seen recently, in Johnson and Schilling. (The Yanks don't have a rotation close to that caliber (Pavano and Wright are question marks and Moose is declining).)

And the same holds true for the veteran-filled '04 Red Sox. Their pitching was simply dominating. They had one clear ace in Schilling, and once guys like Pedro and Lowe stepped it up, they were unstoppable.

And the Yankees really are older than the Sox. The Yanks have a ton of 35+ guys on their team: Johnson, Mussina, Brown, Rivera, Sheffield, Bernie, Tino, and Womack. Plus, Posada is 33, which is old for a catcher, and Jaret Wright is an injury risk, too.

The Sox do have some 35+ers in Wells, Schilling, and Timlin (I don't count Wakefield because he's a knuckleballer, and those guys usually pitch forever, and Embree, a lefty specialist, also doesn't count - think of how long Jesse Orosco pitched!). But of all the other regulars, the oldest is Bill Mueller at 34; plus the Sox have OBP king Kevin Youkilis in case Mueller goes down.

The Yanks may be in trouble here. I sure wouldn't mind that.

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