The Yankees are a team that’s about to be in flux, if they aren’t there already. The glory days of the late 90s and early 2000s are clearly over and the players that helped make those teams special are quickly fading into the twilight’s of their careers. Derek Jeter, Andy Pettite and Mariano Rivera are virtually all that remains from the glory days of the Bronx Bombers and each one is fading in their own right. The biggest story for the Yankees is that fact that five former All-Stars for the Bombers will be on the disabled list when the first pitch of the season is thrown, and the players taking their place pale in comparison in both name and salary.
But that’s one area that is new to Yankees and it’s one that might end up working for them. Sure, Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez, Phil Hughes and Mark Teixeira won’t be available until at least the second week of the season, but we’ve seen the likes of Eduardo Nunez, Ben Francisco, Jayson Nix and Chris Stewart before and while they’re not household names, it’s not like they’re learning the game from chumps.
However, the question remains: will the injuries and seemingly inevitable slow start for the Pinstripers sink their season or will we have some magic in the Bronx and witness the birth of the next era of Yankees baseball?
This can go one of two ways. The first of which is that all the injured players make speedy and healthy recoveries and help lead the Bombers to the top of the AL East. A-Rod busts out of his slump and finally has an MVP caliber season, while the rotation fails to suffer any setbacks and quickly becomes on of the best units in the league despite the lack of gigantic big money names beyond C.C. Sabbathia. The other way this goes is that the young guns outperform everyone’s expectation and become ESPN’s new favorite thing to jam down our throats, with the network stopping short of calling the lineup a 21st Century Murder’s Row.
Jeter never fully recovers, Granderson doesn’t return until June and doesn’t get back to his level of play until mid-August and Mariano Rivera’s comeback blows up in his face as he’s lit up by every lowly lineup he faces. The young guns do their best but are eaten alive by the vicious New York media and the Bombers fall behind the Blue Jays, Orioles, Rays and Sox and struggle to break .500 for most of the season.
A-Rod and the underperforming members of the lineup have various moments throughout the season where they really shine and make us wonder how good the Yankees would have been if they had all clicked like that all these seasons. But the reality is they don’t have the pitching or the lineup to compete with the Orioles, Rays or Jays who all begin to learn how to beat the Bombers consistently. The season isn’t a total wash and they make a late summer run at a wild card spot, but they ultimately fall short and ESPN spends hours covering the end of an era as the Bombers break up and are forced to consider new ways to win in 2014.
The season hasn’t even started yet and some are already writing off the Bombers. That’s incredibly unwise, even with the injuries and setbacks they’ve already endured. It’s going to be a rough ride, but the Yankees know the season is marathon and not a sprint and once all the regulars return, this team is going to be on a mission to relive their glory days while they still can, and that’ll either look really pathetic or take a lot of people back to when the Yankees were a force to be reckoned with.