The Yankees are obviously a lot more successful than most baseball teams, including say, the White Sox. They are also a lot older than most (or all) baseball teams, including the White Sox. That serves two purposes when I begin to lament the Sox roster’s age and the bumps and bruises they are doomed to acquire and be slowed by.
First, just a cursory glance at say, the average age of the projected Opening Day lineups across the AL (that has just as little certainty as you’d expect)…
…reveals that Sox hitters are old, but not crazy old. Also, the Yankees are only listed as this young because 38 year-old Derek Jeter, 37 year-old Alex Rodriguez, and 32 year-olds Mark Teixiera and Curtis Granderson are already hurt and out for the season opener. We’re here worried about sore backs and groins while bones are breaking and hips are degenerating in New York.
Secondly, older lineups tend to be prevalent around win now teams. A lineup full of cost-controlled stars in their prime is the ideal but rarely the reality.
Of course, what a shame it then is to have an offense that’s both old and bad. The White Sox were average in their production last year once you get past the runners in scoring position spike (which packed its bags and skipped town in early September). Of their under-30 players, they have nice center fielder in his late-20’s (De Aza, 28), two premium defenders they would love to see hit for just average (Beckham, 26; Flowers, 27) and Dayan Viciedo (24). It’s all on you, Dayan*.
*I did not forget about Conor Gillaspie, the charm of his hot first week of spring is gone and the memory that the Giants traded him just to avoid DFA’ing him remains.
Anyways, what I’ve done here is show where my rambling thoughts went, without ever mentioning what set them off on their merry way! It had to do with this news item concerning 32 year-old Alex Rios.
As I’ve mentioned, I sometimes struggle to know exactly how to weigh what an athlete means by “normal stiffness,” as Rios puts it. An MRI taking place puts it more in the territory of normal stiffness for high-intensity professional sports, as opposed to “I need an extra pillow to fall asleep.”
Rios claimed to have felt his back stiffen up lifting weights and keeps typifying the problem as “normal,” but even Robin Ventura is only giving him until Wednesday before he starts getting worried about that whole season that’s supposed to get kicked off next week.
Herm’s on the case and everything, but last season was replete with soreness and bruises and obliques that took a day or two longer than initially projected. Part of that can just be applied to a new managerial regime with a different, more reserved manner of projecting injury recoveries, but part of that could be the realities of an older roster. In that light, a Wednesday projection seems optimistic and Rios getting into a fake game or two before the real ones start is the hope I’ll hold out.
Meanwhile, Jesse Crain had his return to game action Monday and was completely hammered before he could even finish an inning. Luckily…
Not that velocity is everything in regards to being ready for the season. It certainly is not, because good lord was Crain victimized out there, but it was his primary complain last week, and now it’s more or less been overcome, even if his command is back at square one.
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan