Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Shocker! Trout, Harper Rookies of the Year

Congratulations to Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, two young players who brought a lot of excitement back to the game of baseball, for their Rookie of the Year victories.

I had the pleasure of watching Harper play in his hometown when I went to a game at the Nationals ballpark in Washington, DC during the last week of the regular season (more from that visit later). What was really cool was the way the crowd embraced their players, especially Harper. There was a noticeable jump in energy every time he stepped up to the plate, even though he didn’t have a great game.

The New York Yankees don’t have the equivalent of a Harper or Trout, that very young exciting baseball player that completely energizes the crowd. They haven’t had that since a young Derek Jeter came on to the scene to take over the shortstop gig in 1996, becoming a unanimous Rookie of the Year winner himself in the process. Jeter is now a legendary veteran and a future Hall of Famer and while his importance to the Yankees cannot be overstated, he naturally doesn’t generate the same surge of excitement as he did when he first came on the scene.

Robinson Cano is a great talent, but his manner of play doesn’t elicit tremendous enthusiasm from the Yankees faithful, some of whom view him as lazy or just too laid back. And it’s not even clear if the Yankees will be able to hold on to Cano when he becomes a free agent next year, given what we’re hearing about his agent Scott Boras’ demands and the Yankees hard line on payroll. Of course, this is all early posturing, but it does not bode well for the possibility of a contract deal both sides can live with.

Brian Cashman has said he will not de-age his roster just for the sake of doing so, meaning that older veterans will likely continue to be the norm for the Yankees (not that they have a lot of choice given the contracts they are locked into). That’s a shame because young blood like Trout and Harper can do a lot to energize an aging team and their fans.

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