Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Yankees lucky to have career players

MLB Network's Hot Stove show did a fantastic segment on baseball players who have played their entire careers with one team, focusing on veterans with more than 10 years in the big leagues. I knew it was a very small number of players, but I was shocked to learn that it was only 12, or 1.6% of baseball players in 2009. Only 12!

The New York Yankees are lucky to have three of those 12 career players: Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada. But as Tom Verducci pointed out, the Yankees are one of the few teams that could afford to keep such talented players for so long, with their combined contracts totaling $49.1 million.

Despite swirling controversy over the upcoming expiration of their contracts, Verducci predicted that Jeter and Mo would retire as Yankees and enter the Baseball Hall of Fame as part of that group of 25% of players that go in playing for one team. He also put Chipper Jones of the Atlanta Braves on that list, which makes sense with the popular Chipper nearing the end of his career, as well as Ichiro Suzuki, who is an icon in Seattle.

His most interesting and potentially wrong pick was catcher Joe Mauer, a young star who would have his choice of teams in the 2010 offseason as a free agent. But I hope Verducci's right because that means Minnesota was able to sign him to a long-term deal and he can follow in the footsteps of the great Kirby Puckett and go into the Hall after a long and successful career only playing for the Twins.

But Verducci notably did not have Albert Pujols on his list of players that he predicted would go into the Hall after finishing their entire careers with one team. He blamed economics for that, concerned about the St. Louis Cardinals' ability to sign the superstar to a long-term deal. I hope he's wrong about that one and Albert stays with the Cardinals, and more importantly, in the National League!

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