The Last Round Up For The Core Four
The 2011 season for my beloved Bronx Bombers will most likely mark the end of an era for the “Core Four” (Jeter, Pettitte, Rivera, Posada). In reality, the Core Four took a hiatus during the 2004-2006 seasons when Andy Pettitte was in Houston. We now think of those years that Andy was gone in the same vein as Bobby Ewing’s “shower scene” in the 80s TV show, Dallas (the most bizarre revisionist event in TV history, if you weren’t around).
Be that as it may, though Rivera and Jeter will undoubtedly soon sign new deals and be in the fold again as career Yankees, there are few remaining seasons for the aging quartet. Ironically Mariano Rivera, the oldest of the four who will turn 41 later this month, shows the least erosion in skill. Maybe he can pitch forever? Yankee fans wish this were true, but for thoughts on life after Mo I suggest you read an early Struming, Exit Sandman
Andy Pettitte, 38, is always year to year, though Yankee fans hope he returns in 2011. Jeter, the youngest at 36, will probably be entering his final contract and Jorge, 39, has shown a fall off defensively and he is entering his final contract year and may be the primary DH in 2011 particularly if Jesus Montero, a young catcher prospect, makes the team next spring.
The “Core Four” have represented modern day Yankee greatness. Rivera and Jeter are certain Hall of Famers, and Posada and Pettitte are borderline possibilities. The quartet has been involved on 20 collective Championship teams as each broke in during the 1995 season.
Yankee detractors claim the Yankees as a team are aging and in decline. The truth is that the Yankees are aging and “in transition”, but are proactively managing that transition. The Yankees will be strong again next year with their sights set on Championship #28 (please). The Core Four, the stars of the last 5 Yankees World Championships will indeed soon be gone, but as always, other stars, home grown and acquired ones and future ones, will assume their place. But there will never again be a core of players who careers began at the same time who achieve such greatness. Appreciate them now, because the end is near.
Editors note: When I wrote this I had assumed (wrongedly) that Andy would come back for one last hurrah. With his recent February 2011 retirement that’s obviously not to be, unless he has a change of heart. All the more reason to appreciate Jeter, Jorge & Mo now while we have an opportunity to do so.