The past 15 years have seen the Yankees add five World Series titles to their trophy case, and none of them would have been possible without the contributions of four special players.
Those players are Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, and Mariano Rivera, all of whom will go down in Yankee history and one day possibly have their numbers retired.
They have all had outstanding careers in pinstripes, with each of them playing their entire careers in the Bronx, except for Pettitte, who took a three year vacation to his home state, playing for the Astros.
Once again the Core Four are all having an excellent season for the Bombers, helping them to the best current record in baseball.
But their great numbers can not cover up their age, and with age comes injuries, such is the case with the Core Four, or Sore Four.
The veteran catcher Jorge Posada fractured his foot and had a stint on the 15 day DL, Andy Pettitte missed a start, and Mariano Rivera couldn’t pitch for a week or so with a side strain. Derek Jeter has avoided missing time, but has been hit a couple of times, resulting in only minor bruising. Jeter may owe this to the fact that he is the youngest of the old guard.
Such injuries and their given ages, brings up the question, who will be the first to hang it up?
Derek Jeter will turn 36 this month, and has had a sub par year so far. He’s batting .283, which is a big drop form his career average of .316. But, he has also driven in 39 runs, while scoring 43 himself.
Being the youngest, and so far the most durable of the quartet, I don’t believe that he will be the first of them to go. In fact, he’s more likely to be the last.
Andy Pettitte turned 38 last Tuesday and might be on his way to a career year and a possible Cy Young award.
The big lefty is 8-2 with a 2.47 ERA this season, and his last win also was his 200th with the Yankees.
Despite having such a great year, Andy is really only interested in winning a sixth ring. That’s what brought him back here in 2010, and I think he will be back again in 2011, hopefully for his seventh ring
In August, Jorge Posada will be 39 years old. We will have to see what his stats are then, but right now they’re pretty good.
Granted that he missed time with the injury and has less plate appearances than others, he is still batting .291 this season, not too bad for a .278 career hitter in his late 30′s. He has also been a threat in the middle of the order, belting nine home runs and driving in 24 runs, which included two grand slams a week ago against the Astros
Jorge is under contract for next year, and I think he might be back after that if he continues to improve as he gets older. Unfortunately, he won’t be the starting catcher down the road though.
That leaves the greatest closer of all time, Mariano Rivera, who is 40 years old and without a contract for next season.
Mo has been lights out once again for the Yankees, posting 16 saves and a 1.11 ERA thus far. But as mentioned before, he has been unable to pitch at times this season.
In my opinion, Mo is the most unpredictable of the Core Four. You never hear anything about his future plans or him giving any hint as to when he might retire. But I think this will be Mo’s last season. After all he is the oldest of the lot and has nothing more to prove.
Life after Rivera may be a lot closer than Yankee fans want believe.