While looking around at various blogs, to see just how many Yankee fans were overreacting to the Yankees terrible start to the season, I ran across a question that many Yankees fans have heard time and time again... "are they too old?" My immediate reaction was "no", but I decided to do a bit of research to see if I was right.
Instead of looking at the whole team, I wanted to concentrate on the regular position players. First of all, pitchers can be serviceable longer than position players. I mean, just look at the fact that Jamie Moyer is back in MLB at age 49. Heck, right here on the Yanks Andy Pettitte, who will turn 40 in June, is trying to make a comeback. So I'm skipping over the fact that Hiroki Kuroda turned 37 in February, and Freddy Garcia will be 36 in October. On that note, I'm also not counting the bench. These guys aren't looked at to play many innings anyway, so I see no reason to worry about them being older. On top of that, nobody on the bench is signed beyond this season either.
Derek Jeter is getting up there at age 37 (turns 38 in June), but his performance this season doesn't concern me. When it comes to Derek I'm more concerned about the last/next two years of his contract (assuming he takes the player option for 2014), especially being the starting shortstop. Derek's had a healthy career through 2010 (averaging 152 games/year during 15 full seasons), but after 131 games in 2011 (he only DHed in 10 of those games), how long before he'll need to DH or sit the bench for 50 or so games?
The only other player whose age concerns me is Alex Rodriguez. Alex is currently 36 years old (37 in July), which isn't exactly "ancient". But seeing as how he missed 63 games last season, mainly due to knee surgery in July, I tend to think he's more apt to play in 137 games a season like he did in 2010, rather than 158 games like he did in 2007. Actually, even 137 games a season could be pushing it, as that'll likely be the maximum number of games he appears in this season. Just imagine how many games he'll play per season at ages 39-41... the last three seasons he's under contract.
After those two we have Mark Teixeira, who'll turn 32 in a few days. I'm not worried about him at all at this point. He's averaged 157 games played the last three seasons, and I expect that to continue for a couple more years. Even in the last two seasons of his contract I think he can play in 130+ games a year. Of course it helps that he's a first basemen, and first basemen don't have to endure the rigors of the other 7 positions on the diamond.
The rest of the regular position players are either on a one year deals (Raul Ibanez), or are 31 or less. And they all could be out the door within the next year or two.
But how do they compare to other teams? To find out I made a spreadsheet using the Yankees and five other "top" teams in the American League. By "top" I mean the teams favored to be in the postseason this year. I only used the AL due to them having the DH, which can skew team's average ages when compared to National League rosters, as many DHs (like Raul Ibanez, David Ortiz, and Michael Young) are older players that shouldn't be playing the field anymore (*cough*Ibanez*cough*).
*For argument's sake I used Raul Ibanez instead of Andruw Jones at DH, since Raul is older. Not to mention that Raul will likely get more plate appearances than Andruw, seeing as how there are more right-handed pitchers in MLB, and that's who Raul is going to face.
So the Yankees, when compared to other "top" AL teams, are the oldest. I was hoping that it would turn out they weren't the oldest, and I could rub it in the faces of people that like to talk about the "aging Yankees". But I proved myself wrong, and instead must continue putting up with the comments. Although, I don't think it should be a big concern at all. After all, the Yankees are still favored by many to not only make the playoffs again, but to win the whole thing. We'll see if I'm singing a new tune come 2015, or if Brian Cashman can install some youth into the lineup.