In 2016, the YES Network premiered a brand new commercial to celebrate the emergence of the Bronx Bombers’ star prospects. That commercial, included below, made the “Baby Bomber” moniker famous within the Yankee community. While it may have been a bit corny to have Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, and Luis Severino playing with baby toys, the messaging of the TV spot was clear: the Yankees were about to get a whole lot younger.
A few years ago, the idea of a Yankee team centered on youthful exuberance was a novelty. The Yanks had been a veteran team for years, first under Joe Torre and then Joe Girardi. When management wanted to improve the roster, they generally chose to bring in experienced players such as Gary Sheffield, Randy Johnson, Bobby Abreu, and Johnny Damon. The Yankees retooled the roster in 2009 by adding Teixeira and Sabathia (both in their late twenties at the time) and AJ Burnett (who turned 32 before the ’09 season).
The organization was always in “win now” mode, and that meant there wasn’t much of an interest in rebuilding from the ground up.
That’s what made the Baby Bombers commercial so significant. It had been 20 years since the core of the Yankee roster was made up of young prospects. As we all know, that young core (Williams, Jeter, Pettite, Rivera, and Posada) helped establish one of the greatest dynasties in baseball history.
Letting the Kids Play
While the Baby Bombers began coming onto the scene in 2015 and 2016, their true emergence took place during the 2017 season. Gary Sanchez backed up his rookie season with a stellar sophomore campaign. Aaron Judge took the league by storm during the first half of the 2017 season. Severino turned into a bonafide ace. Chad Green, who turned 26 in May of 2017, became a premiere reliever in a loaded bullpen. Jordan Montgomery was another youngster who turned in a stellar 2017 campaign. Even though the Yankees lost in Game 7 of the ALCS to Houston, it was hard not to be happy with the team’s youthful stars.
In 2018, the second wave of Yankee prospects hit the big leagues. Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar were outstanding in their rookie seasons. The young studs from 2017 continued to progress and the team looked poised for a deep playoff run. Unfortunately, the Red Sox spanked the Yanks in the ALDS and the season ended on a disappointing note. Still, the Bronx Bombers felt like an up and coming team with their best days ahead.
Entering 2019 and 2020, I still felt very optimistic about what the future would hold. I still felt optimistic about this team winning multiple championships and building a new dynasty in the Bronx.
I’m not as optimistic anymore.
Looking Ahead to 2021
The last two years have been tough for Yankee fans. As a team, the Bombers have yet to get as close to the World Series as they did in 2017. Some of the young guys have dealt with serious injuries (Severino and Montgomery), and others have regressed at an alarming rate (Sanchez). It’s beginning to feel like time may have passed these Yankees by.
Here’s a look at how old some key Yankees will be next season:
Britton – 33
Chapman – 33
Hicks – 31
Cole – 30 (Turns 31 in Sept.)
Green – 29
Judge – 28 (Turns 29 in April)
Sanchez – 28
Mongtomery – 28
Severino – 27
Frazier – 26 (Turns 27 in Sept.)
Torres – 24
Garcia – 21
While none of the Yankees key players will be old old next season, it’s clear that the 2021 team won’t be young. With the exception of Frazier, Torres, and Garcia, every important player on next year’s roster is either 30 or rapidly approaching 30. Severino will only be 27 next season, but he hasn’t really pitched since 2018, and he enters 2021 coming off of major arm surgery.
Aaron Judge won’t turn 30 until 2022, but injuries have become more and more of a problem for him during the last three seasons. If an older Judge has even more trouble staying on the field, it’ll seriously hurt the Yankees’ chances of winning a title. The same thing could be said for Stanton. He’s been amazing when he’s played, but he hasn’t played very much.
It Isn’t Time to Panic (Yet)
The Yankee roster won’t be over the hill in 2021. Theoretically, all of the important players on the team will be right in the middle of their primes. But if the Bombers can’t win a World Series in 2021 or 2022, then time will certainly start running out on this collection of guys.
Baseball is quickly becoming a young man’s game. There are now plenty of strong teams with youthful rosters, teams that look like the Yankees did three years ago. The window hasn’t yet closed on this group, but things look much more concerning than they did a few seasons back. For the Bronx Bombers, a lot will be on the line in 2021.