By Steve Silverman
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The Yankees long run at or near the top of the American League seems likely to come to an end next year.
The reality of the situation is that the Yankees have gotten old. Key players like Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera suffered injuries. While they are future Hall of Famers who will seemingly make every effort to get back in the lineup, neither player is likely to be around for a long time.
Jeter can still hit, but his shortstop skills are incredibly diminished. His instincts are still there, but he just doesn’t move quickly enough for a major league shortstop. He doesn’t make the plays in the hole or up the middle that his counterparts make and his range will only be lessened from this point after undergoing ankle surgery.
Rivera has always gotten the job done with his sensational cutter, but he will be 43 years old by the time he takes the mound again. He may be the best closer of all-time, but he can’t go on forever.
But while the Jeter and Rivera situations are problematic, they pale in comparison to the issues they face with Alex Rodriguez, Nick Swisher and Curtis Granderson.
It’s difficult to make any case for A-Rod. His postseason failures have been the rule throughout his career, but there’s really little to believe he’s ever going to get it back again. After hitting 30 home runs in 2009 and 2010, he hit 18 homers in 2011 and 16 in 2012.
Reaching double-digit home runs seems out of reach for him next year.
He was too talented in his prime for it to end like this, but that’s exactly what is happening.
The Yankees can’t use him anymore. They would also be wise to let Nick Swisher go. He’s another player who simply can’t get it done in the postseason. The bright lights are not supposed to bother a New York Yankee right fielder. That’s a position for a true superstar.
Swisher does not fill the bill. Swisher was complaining about the booing that the Yankees got from their fans when they were not hitting. He wasn’t one to stand up and be counted.
He goes into the fetal position in the playoffs and looks for a soft pillow for his head. All he needs is a binky and bottle to complete the transformation to man-baby.
Granderson is a more curious case. He hit 43 home runs and drove in 106 runs, but he hit .232, struck out 195 times and was not stellar in center field.
He’s a good example of the new generation of ball player who could care less about striking out. As long as he is producing home runs and driving in runs, he’s not going to get upset about taking the long walk back to the bench after strike three.
Perhaps the Yankees bring Granderson back, but he is not a championship-type ball player. He has hit three postseason home runs in his Yankees career and he is not a legend.
The Yankees don’t have the strength in the minor leagues to turn this around. Outfielders Tyler Austin (17 homers in A, high-A and Double-A) and Zoilo Almonte (21 home runs at Double A) had good seasons and should eventually play in Yankee Stadium.
However, Austin is probably a year or two away from making it to the big club while it would take substantial growth from Almonte to make a major league contribution any time soon.
If the Yankees are going to make a serious run next year, it will be up to Brian Cashman to have the best offseason of his career. That means signing free-agents. The Yankees are old and broken at this point.
They need fresh blood if they are to remain competitive.
The Yankees may once again be competing with the Boston Red Sox, but it may be to see which team finishes third behind the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays.
What do you think Brian Cashman and the Yankees need to do in the offseason? Share your thoughts below?