Girardi’s selection of Ramiro Pena is interesting, and signals a shift in the Yankee thinking and the game as a whole. For so many years under Torre, the Yanks would favor veterans in the bullpen and on the bench, saying that the kids “need to play everyday”. Now the Yanks have a bullpen of mostly young, homegrown arms and went with Albaladejo for the final pitching spot over veteran Brett Tomko. Then Girardi selects the young Pena over the older Angel Berroa for the last roster spot.
This tells you Girardi believes the game has shifted. He has said so many times recently, including friday morning at the WFAN breakfast. The days of having older players who maintain their production into their late 30′s is becoming a thing of the past. Tom Verducci has a piece up on SI detailing the shift in the ages of highly productive players recently, and the trend line in average age is clearly down. It’s easy to speculate as to why. When a steroid testing regime was put in place in Baseball, older players no longer had the steroid fountain of youth available to them. Steroid replacements like HGH are far less effective, and the results on the field have evidenced that. Even the once ubiquitous amphetamines are now banned and tested for, so young legs are more important than ever. The success last season of the Rays opened a lot of eyes, things like that just didn’t happen in the AL East for the past 20 years.
All of this could also have a long term affect on payrolls. Older players tend to be very highly compensated, whereas younger players require 6 years of service time to gain their free agent rights. As older players fade and rosters are increasingly filled with the young, the effect on payrolls will be a long term flattening or possibly even a downward trend. This also tells you why the Union was so dead set against steroid testing. In their view, their main job is to raise player salaries, and steroid testing reduces a player’s peak earning years. Reduces them to their natural limits of course, but the MLBPA doesn’t give a damn about that. They want players to be able to grab every dollar they can out of the sport and don’t care how they do it.
With steroids and amphetamines out of the game, youthful energy is at a premium.
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