Almost overnight, the Yankees have gone from one of the oldest teams in the league, to a middle-of-the-road mixture. The average age on the 25-man roster will be a hair over 30 on Saturday when Ian Kennedy is called up to take Mike Mussina's spot in the rotation (I'm assuming either Bruney or Britton will be demoted).
Brian Cashman has taken a ton of flack throughout this season, but he's stuck to his guns and this is the result. The Yankees have 11 players 27 years-old, or younger on their roster, and they aren't just fill-ins. Take a look at these names:
- Phil Hughes - 21
- Joba Chamberlain - 21
- Ian Kennedy - 22
- Melky Cabrera - 23
- Chris Britton - 24
- Robinson Cano - 24
- Brian Bruney - 25
- Edwar Ramirez - 26
- Chien-Ming Wang - 27
- Wilson Betemit - 27
- Shelley Duncan - 27
From this group, the Yankees could
have 4/5 of their starting rotation for the next decade (personally, I think Joba is the successor to Mo, but that's not the company line at this point). They have their starting second baseman, starting center fielder, possibly their starting first baseman (Duncan) and a quality utility guy who could slide in at third or short if need be (Betemit). Out of Britton, Bruney and Edwar there could/should be at least one legitimate set-up guy.
I said it earlier this year, but I'll say it again now. This is a rebuilding team. The distinct advantage the Yankees have over everyone else in the league is that they augment their rebuilding roster with high-priced veterans (signed to short-term deals) to give them that extra boost.
The money paid to the older guys also serves another purpose. Take last night's game for example. Joba Chamberlain spent the first 7 innings of the game sitting next to Mariano Rivera (the greatest reliever in the history of the game) soaking up knowledge. He came in, shut down the Sox, then went to the dugout where he immediately struck up a conversation with Roger Clemens (arguably the greatest starting pitcher in the last 30 years).
The influx of youth has one more potential benefit, as Peter Abraham of the Yankees' LoHud Blog
"If the Yankees can field a roster loaded with homegrown kids, they can
spend whatever they wannt to retain A-Rod, chase Johan Santana or do
whatever else they want."
The future of this franchise is very, very bright. If/when they make the playoffs this year, these kids will be getting a taste of that do-or-die atmosphere in their early twenties, just like Jeter did. You can't buy experience like that.