Who is the most essential member of the Yankees Core Four?
- Derek Jeter
- Andy Pettitte
- Jorge Posada
- Mariano Rivera
- None of the above
Overwhelming, we’ll go with Rivera. It is either so highly expected—or taken for granted—that he will return that the priority in the Yankee scheme of things seems to be quite low in his instance. Jeter's splitting all the media attention with free agent Cliff Lee.
But a case can be made that, if healthy, the 41-year-old Rivera is the only ``must have’’ core player needed in 2011.
Quick prediction: If all four return and are required to be the cornerstone of the team’s success, the Yankess win nothing. The reliance on older players never bodes well in any sport, but it is been especially true in baseball, where athletes get old real fast. Mickey Mantle is the best--and saddest--example for Yankee followers. And Mantle had not even reached the age of these ``core'' Yankees when he knew it was time to quit at 36. Of course, Mantle was not walking away from the millions these guys can still command.
Grave mistakes are made by trying to eke a year or so out of a group who used to win. You saw major signs of that with the 2010 Yankees. Jeter, who will turn 37 next season, lost a step on the bases, his range (Gold Glove notwithstanding) isn’t what it use to be in the field and you saw his troubles at the plate. Pettitte, closing in on 39, couldn’t stay healthy and the same is apt to happen if he returns another year older. Posada, 40 next summer, made a smart move by getting a four-year contract though 2011, but the Yankees did not by adding the extra year.
Who is thrilled by the prospect of Posada being the DH?
Rivera, if a bit by default, is the one core player who has no replacement in the wings. His absence or decline cannot be easily handled. You don’t just go buy another closer to replace this once in a lifetime sure to be first ballot Hall of Fame pitcher.
The Yankees will have other shortstops, catcher and pitchers, but they will not have another Rivera.?