12/06/12 10:00 AM ET
A-Rod serves as reminder that Yanks are an old team
By Terence Moore / MLB.com
Both things tell you as much about the New York Yankees as they do about Rodriguez as a former Gold Glove shortstop who has spent nine years in the Bronx evolving from a third baseman by circumstances to a part-time designated hitter and then to bench player in the playoffs.
Rodriguez and the Yankees are old.
I mean, they are really old.
They are too old.
If you're running the Yankees, you should know your roster is out of whack when your young players of significance aren't really young. I'm talking about 32-year-olds named CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira, 31-year-old Curtis Granderson and 30-year-old Robinson Cano.
I'll get more specific about the elderly ways of the Bronx Bombers. For now, I'll just say Yankees officials haven't a problem with trying to compete in the rugged American League East with guys older than many coaches around the Major Leagues, a couple of general managers and at least one manager.
That manager is the St. Louis Cardinals' Mike Matheny.
He's 42. Get the picture? With such a creaky roster, the Yankees won't finish next season snatching a 28th World Series championship, but they think otherwise. In fact, courtesy of those Yankees officials refusing to spend big in the offseason for the first time since nearly forever, they've decided to stick with their old-timers. Which means they're trying to become baseball's "Over The Hill Gang."
The NFL had the original one -- George Allen's Washington Redskins of the early 1970s. With a veteran-dominated locker room, those Redskins prospered in a hurry. They even reached a Super Bowl.
They never won the championship, though. They were too old, just like the Yankees.
The Yankees are so old that late-night comedians will spend the foreseeable future making anything associated with pinstripes the punch line for aging, decay and everything in between.
More strikingly, Leno, Letterman, Conan and the rest will use Rodriguez and his teammates in about the same way that Joan Rivers used Elizabeth Taylor for jokes about weight.
Speaking of weight, how fat is Derek Jeter?
According to the New York Post, he is so fat that the tabloid felt compelled to run a photograph of a supposedly chubby Yankees captain with the headline "Derek Eater." The Post claimed Jeter was seen "pigging out" at a restaurant while recovering from an ankle injury that he suffered during the postseason.
The thing is, Jeter posed this week with MLB Network's Harold Reynolds, and he wasn't anywhere near the size of Yankee Stadium. He looked fit and trim. He looked like Jeter, the same shortstop -- which is why Rodriguez was forced to switch positions, by the way -- who spent his 18th Major League season resembling the first-ballot Hall of Famer that he'll become five years after his retirement.
At 38, Jeter's retirement will happen sooner than later.
One would think. That's already an advanced age for a middle infielder, and now Jeter will be coming off ankle surgery.
As for Rodriguez, he just has those old jokes. He is 37, which also is a dinosaur's age for a pro athlete. And, if you think Rodriguez and Jeter are close to signing up for AARP, they are babes -- and not as in the youthful George Herman Ruth -- compared to others who either are on the Yankees' current roster or close to joining it.
There is Raul Ibanez, for instance. He may return to the Yankees as a designated hitter and part-time outfielder after his clutch home runs last season in the playoffs against the Baltimore Orioles and Detroit Tigers.
Ibanez is 40. So is Andy Pettitte, the left-handed pitcher who retired for a season before returning to the Yankees this year.
Then there is Mariano Rivera, who missed most of last season with a torn ACL. The injury was considered career-ending by many, but he is coming back to be the team's closer.
Rivera is 43. By comparison, the Yankees got younger in the pitching department the other day when they re-signed 37-year-old Hiroki Kuroda to a $15 million contract for next season.
Then there is outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, who is a free agent. He wants to return, and if he does, he won't look as old in their clubhouse at 39 -- not with Rivera, Pettitte and Ibanez likely across the way.
After a prolific career with the Mariners, Ichiro was traded during the middle of last season to New York, and he prospered. During one stretch in September, he went 14-for-20. He hit .322 in 67 games for the Yankees.
Hiroki (16-11, 3.42 ERA) and Pettitte (5-4, 2.87 ERA in 12 starts) also were impressive last season. Rivera is considered the greatest closer of all-time, and Ibanez had that monster postseason, while Rodriguez still has 647 career home runs and Jeter is Jeter.
It's enough to make Yankees officials ignore the slew of gray hairs among that bunch and take a chance -- a big one.
Terence Moore is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.