I know there is a lot of talk that if the Yankees spend $200 million salaries they ought to win the World Series. I'm not so sure this is the case. I mean we spent $200 million last year and didn't even make the playoffs. In fact, I'm fairly certain we've led the league in salary quite a few years since we last won the World Series in 2000. And despite our high salaries and line-up of big names, it's worth noting that quite a few of the guys we rely on should theoretically be past their prime. Here's an article by Joe Posanski, with input from stats guru Bill James, that details how great ballplayers typically start to decline at age 33.
Five of the Yankees starting nine have crossed that threshold, as well as two of our main pitchers. Jeter is 35, Posada is 37, Matsui is 35, Damon is 35, and A-Rod is 33. In addition, Pettitte is 37 and Rivera is 39 (ages according to baseball-reference.com). And not only are all these guys playing for the Yanks, they all had great years, many of them coming back from down seasons in 2008. I can't explain it (especially now that they are testing for steroids), but this has truly been almost a magical year for the Yankees.
Yes, we signed three of the top free agents on the market in Sabathia, Burnett, and Teixiera to complement these guys, but the fact that this over-the-hill gang all had these great comeback seasons at the same time is kind of amazing. I mean the Red Sox' Jason Veritek, who is the same age as Posada (and in many ways his rival), hit .200, can't throw anyone out and is considered washed up. Posada hit .285 with 22 homers and 25 doubles and played a respectable, if not great, catcher. Jeter hit .335 with decent power as an everyday shortstop, while his main rivals of days-gone-by, A-Rod and Nomar, are both incapable of even playing SS, even though A-Rod can still hit. And Rivera, well, I was watching him in the playoffs and become convinced he's not even human. How many closers have come and gone during his more than a decade of dominance? Closers aren't supposed to remain dominant for 10-plus years and his level of dominance, especially in the playoffs, is almost ridiculous.
I guess my point is that this is a special year for the Yankees, no matter how much money they make, because this team could easily have blown up and faltered because of its age, and age has to catch up with these guys sometime, maybe next year, doesn't it? So, as a Yankees fan, I'm enjoying it while I can, because when/if we have $100 million worth of salaries on the DL next year and are struggling to play .500 ball, these memories are going to be sweet.
The Great Defender,