Age is always a topic of discussion with the Yankees. Based on that discussion, you’d often assume the Yankees aren’t using a single player younger than 47 years old and all of them are signed well into their 50s. Truth is, the Yankees have used eight different players who are 35 or older, two of whom are signed beyond this season. That group has produced some of the best — and some of the worst — production on the roster.
42 years old
Things were going pretty well until Rivera crashed to the ground in Kansas City with a season-ending ACL tear. The Yankees iconic closer was having a typically effective season, converting five consecutive save opportunities after blowing one on Opening Day. His 0.96 WHIP is the second-lowest of anyone who’s pitched for the Yankees this season. Cory Wade’s 0.92 is the lowest.
39 years old
Admit it, you were in the pack that wanted Johnny Damon and despised the Ibanez signing. It’s OK. We’re all friends here. You can admit it. The Yankees fan base has came around on Ibanez, which is pretty easy to do when he’s tied for the team lead with 27 RBI. Ibanez got off to a so-so start — maybe adjusting to DH, maybe adjusting to a platoon role, maybe just a slow start — but he’s slugged .650 this month. He’s done exactly what the Yankees hoped he would do against right-handers.
39 years old
If you saw his last few minor league starts or his first start back at Yankee Stadium, you might have wondered whether this signing was such a good idea after all. But Pettitte’s past two starts have put to rest any concerns about whether he’s still capable of pitching at this level. He’s 2-1 with a 2.53 ERA, and he’s been able to pitch late into games. Three starts don’t make a successful season — Pettitte will still have to prove he can stay healthy and hold up well beyond 100 innings — but so far he looks like he never left.
37 years old
At this time last year, Jeter seemed finished, and it was a shame, really. He’d been so steady for so long, but Jeter’s production had fallen off considerably and it seemed he would not age gracefully. Today, the Yankees captain is back, building on last year’s second-half resurgence. His month of May hasn’t been as good as his April — that April was one of the best months of his career — but he’s still hitting, leading the Yankees with a .348 average and .389 on-base percentage.
37 years old
Signed to bring some veteran consistency to the rotation, Kuroda has instead been wildly erratic. He’ll have a good outing in one start, and a bad one the next. He’s 3-6 with a 4.56 ERA through nine starts, He’s pitched through the seventh inning three times, and he’s failed to pitch through the fifth twice. Could be that he’s struggling to adjust to the American League, or it could be that he’s quickly aging beyond his steady, productive years. Jury’s still out.
36 years old
Two homers last night gave A-Rod seven for the season. Curtis Granderson has twice as many. All spring Rodriguez talking about being productive as long as he stayed healthy. So far, health hasn’t been a problem, but Rodriguez’s power has been missing. He’s hit for average and gotten on base at a good rate, but he’s not driving the ball. And Rodriguez is supposed to drive the ball. That might be changing after several near home runs earlier in the week, and those two homers last night.
35 years old
He’s been better since shifting to the bullpen, but certainly the Yankees weren’t expecting Garcia to go from rotation stabilizer to mopup reliever. So far, that’s exactly what’s happened. Garcia was terrific last season, an unexpected boost for a rotation that badly needed it. This year, the Yankees gave him plenty of chances and Garcia simply couldn’t pitch well enough to stick in the rotation. His 8.22 ERA is easily the highest on the team, and he’s fallen behind both David Phelps and Cody Eppley in the bullpen pecking order.
35 years old
Brought back specifically to hit against lefties, Jones has instead done most of his productive hitting against right-handers. He has one home run and a .200/.267/.300 against lefties, but three home runs and a .273/.407/.682 against righties. To his credit, Jones got off to a slow start last season and turned things around in a pretty big way, but this is a pretty odd way for him to start the season.
Associated Press photo