One more year for the boys

We have already heard that Mariano Rivera is coming back for another go at it. Andy Pettitte seems on his way back as well. Derek Jeter is mending in Tampa and is said to be on target for the start of the season or soon after. For Yankee fans and baseball fans, the inevitable has been pushed back one more time. It looks like the old guys are going to work together at least one more time.

For any fan that has been born since 1990, a Yankees team without Rivera and Jeter has never been known. For those of us born any time before 1990, memories of Yankee teams without these players seem like the remote past. The internal fan inside us hold on to the championships already on the books with these players. And when the team hasn’t finished on top of the heap, there has never been a season when the team did not compete near the top or almost get there.

And for most of us, we hold on to the notion that these guys play the game to win and that only winning and the team matter. And maybe that notion has more than a kernel of truth. But let’s not forget that by the end of the 2013 season, these three players will have made a combined $555 million. This long-running baseball Camelot was built on money and these three players have earned fabulous riches beyond our wildest dreams. Even if the ideals we all hope are real, these players have also been terrific in the business world that Marvin Miller helped create for them. In the past, Babe Ruth wanted to manage and remain in the game. Ted Williams tried to do the same thing. The heck with that–Derek Jeter wants to own a team and run the show. In this Camelot, Lancelot can become Arthur.

This is not said to knock these players for what they have been paid. The brass ring was there and all of us would have grabbed it. When it is all over, Jeter and Rivera have already written their tickets to Cooperstown. Pettitte will get serious consideration because of his post seasons on top of his borderline season statistics. And that would have been true with or without another go at it for 2013.

From a personal standpoint, 2012 was a painful lesson that these three are not immune from injuries. When in their primes, our mothers seemed indestructible. Then they get old and we worry about them falling and breaking a hip. Obviously, the flip side is that all three players were injured in fluke ways. Rivera’s knee just twisted the wrong way while shagging in batting practice. Pettitte was hit with a line shot that broke a bone. Jeter hobbled for weeks on a damaged ankle before it decided it was not going to take any more and gave way. But still, after all these years and with all that has transpired, all we can do is hold our breaths and hope their muscles, bones and sinews can hold together one last time.

What hasn’t helped is that these three have also defied logic and age regression theories. In Pettitte’s last 33 starts covering 2010 and 2012, he has gone 16-7 and compiled 4.0 fWAR. Jeter, of course compiled 216 hits and a 114 OPS+ and won a Silver Slugger Award in 2012. Mariano Rivera has never had a WHIP over 1.00 in his forties covering 134 appearances. How long can these three defy time? Will we have a painful goodbye as they all get physically beyond the ability to perform at a high level at the same time? Can the game be lucky enough for all of them to go out on top? Logic dictates those chances seem slim. And yet we hope.

These are the dice the Yankees are rolling. Surround this old core with other old guys and hope they don’t all crap out at once. Isn’t it odd that age regression has only hit Alex Rodriguez, who undoubtedly was the best player among them? This old core will be supplemented by Raul Ibanez and Ichiro (if all indications are to be believed). The truth is that this could prove to be one last hurrah or one big disaster.

For many of us, those odds are worth playing if we can wish our old heroes on for one more triumph. The inevitable will happen some time. Perhaps we can cheat it for one more season.

15 thoughts on “One more year for the boys

  1. uyf1950

    It may not be 100% certain but the chances are pretty darn good that 2013 will be the last year for Pettitte and Rivera. That begs the question Jeter has a player option for 2014 that is now worth $9.5MM or he can take the $3MM buyout. Any opinions on what Jeter will do?

    • Good question. I suspect that he'll take the buyout and try to extend another 3 years, but only if he has a season that reasonably approximates his 2012 season. If that ankle slows him further and makes him a complete liability defensively (hold your snark) and he struggles offensively, I wonder how much of his ego will allow him to accept Mother Nature. The man has enormous pride and there's a bit of me that wonders if he'll try to wear another uniform to try to "stick it" to the Yanks if they don't extend him as HE deems fit. Remember, there are some stone cold hearts in that executive wing of the front office these days.

    • williamjtasker

      Incentives bring that 2014 option up some. So I would expect the team to pick it up in 2014 and see what happens in 2015.

  2. jay_robertson

    Scary thoughts, Will. I love the idea of bringing back the team.

    I also kinda hate it. Take last year's team, and bring it back. That works when the team is a college basketball team that consists of 4 freshmen and a soph. Not sure when five or six guys on the team COULD be grandfathers…

    I'll hope for the hurrah, and pray it isn't a huge disaster.

    That said, good to see you back, sir.

    • williamjtasker

      Thanks, Jay. I got a new job so there has been a lot of excitement here. I'll get back to normal soon, I'd say.

  3. My concern is that Pettitte has thrown a combined ~200 innings the past THREE seasons. Are we really comfortable with expecting him to once again hit 200 innings in ONE season? He pitched 194 in 2009. Which, to me, seems eons ago.

    • jay_robertson

      Good point – which begs the question? Is there a better pictcher (or, at least, one you'd rather have starting in pinstripes) out there for a one year, $11 mil deal?

      It sounds like a lot of money for a guy who's been on the DL for much of the last two seasons, and retired for the third; on the other hand, IF he is healthy, I can't think of anyone available I'd rather have.

      AVAILABLE being the operative term; add to that, available for ONE year.

      Next season could either be fun or scary. Maybe scary fun?

    • Chad

      Or the glass is half-full, and his arm will be fresher than it would be otherwise. Giving that much money to any 40 year-old pitcher is obviously a risk. But if there was ever a pitcher who had earned such faith, it is Pettitte. It's not like he's a guy with a history of arm problems; last year's broken leg is as flukey as they come.

    • williamjtasker

      It's been kind of nice his last two seasons where the rotation struggled to get through the season, but did and he was fresh and able to ride into the post season being his normal Andy self. I'd settle for another year like that. But yeah, 170 innings would be cool too.

  4. mcmastro

    A lot of the Yankees rotation and bullpen will be the same as last year, which is great to here. What really matters now is the bats. And that starts with Martin and Ichiro signing. I've heard Victorino has talked to the Yankees as well. Don't know if he was a back-up plan if Ichiro doesn't sign or if they have a trade in plan for Granderson.

  5. Bill

    On paper (and I stress that comment ON PAPER) this is a 95 win team again. However this could easily degenerate into 1965 as well. I thought 2009 was the last hurrah for that group, but how much fun would it be to see one more run and then turn the page?

    Need to get the catcher position settled and decide whether to fish or cut bait with Granderson. Perhaps a trade including Granderson that brings back a catcher?

    • uyf1950

      My friend do you honestly believe that this team assuming they re-sign Pettitte and Rivera could be a 77 win team? Because that's how many games the 1965 team won. Maybe I've overly optimistic but I think this team with just a few breaks could win 100 games. Considering they won 95 games in 2012 with Sabathia missing 5 or 6 starts, Andy only pitching 75 innings and just 5 wins, now don't get me wrong I'm not counting on getting 200 innings from Andy but 150 plus is certainly very doable. And with Phelps having a full MLB season under his belt. Last year the starting rotation won 71 games it's very possible they could win at least 75 in 2013. Also Robertson missed significant time and Joba missed the entire season for all practical purposes. As for the offense I would expect them in spite of the fact that they got a year older to do better with Gardner playing, with Granderson hitting a little better for average and not K'ing 200 times and yes with Ichiro manufacturing some runs,etc…And Tex took longer then usual to get going in 2012. Granted there are a lot of IF's in this comment but none of them as I see it truly pie in the wishes. Just my opinion.

      I see the possibility of a not swinging for the fence every at bat by 2 or 3 players as more of a positive than a negative. That's why I'm not heartbroken that Swisher won't be back.

      • jay_robertson

        Thank you. Now I know where you're at. All your arguments for a 100 win team could come true. But I could make the same arguments to back Bill's prediction of 80-82 wins. You're assuming a lot of improvement from guys who, as near as I can tell, are getting older.

        That is a valid assumption with youngsters who are still "learning" the game. There are very few guys on the Yankees who are going to gain much from additional Big League Experience.

        I'm a Yankee fan; I hope you're right, I hope Bill's wrong. Imagine the truth is in the middle – which would be a 90 win team, and at best, in the Wild Card Playoff game.

        We all know how well this team does in playoff elimination games.

    • NYsteve

      Weren't the Braves shopping Brian McCann at one point last season? I wouldn't mind a trade that sends Granderson to the Braves for McCann straight up but now that BJ Upton is in the fold over there that seems like an unlikely destination.

      • uyf1950

        Not as far as I know. There were the always enticing "rumors" but those rumors were not based on fact as far as I'm aware of.

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