Friday, February 04, 2005

Don't Trust Anyone Over 30 

The Republic's FanBoy takes a shot at the jettisoning of youth by the D-Backs. It's an interesting point, how the D-Backs are stifling their youth movement. Except, of course, if the "youth movement" was a mere figment of our imagination.

Which it was.

Let's take a look at Opening Day lineups, last year and this year, along with their respective ages:

1B: Sexson (29) / Tracy (24)
2B: Alomar (36) / Counsell (34)
SS: Cintron (25) / Clayton (35)
3B: Hillenbrand (28) / Glaus (28)
LF: Gonzalez (36) / Gonzalez (37)
RF: Bautista (31) / Green (32)
CF: Finley (39) / Terrero (24)
C: Mayne (35) / Snyder/Hill (25 avg.)
P: Johnson (40) / Vazquez (28)

We're clearly older at shortstop and…. that's it. Yeah, Gonzo and Green are a year older, but Counsell's a couple years younger than Alomar. The D-Backs are younger at first base, catcher (even if you bring in Hammock as a platoon with Mayne last year), and our #1 pitcher. And even if we trade for someone else, our centerfielder will still be younger. Let's not forget our closer; he's, uh, younger, too. And I'm guessing that last year's initial rotation (Johnson, Webb, Dessens, Sparks, and Daigle) was older than this year's (Vazquez, Ortiz, Webb, Estes, and whoever).

So the D-Backs are younger in four spots, older in one. Some reversion to an old team, huh?

Opening Day lineups reflect management's best opening season guess. It bears reminding that last year's "youth movement" was one made mid-season of necessity, not choice. Some parts of the movement -- Chad Tracy -- paid off. Others -- Hairston -- didn't. But haven't us fans always realized the D-Backs' affinity for older players? So why should the demotion of young players who didn't play well last year (Cintron, Hairston) surprise us? You can argue about the merits of removing young players from the starting lineup, but the real argument (as FanBoy touches on in the Terrero discussion) is whether or not the team is blocking the rise of young players in the future. Should Alex Cintron return to his 2003 form, he'll get playing time in 2005 and his starting job back in 2006 (since Clayton just has a one-year contract). Trading for a centerfielder with additional years on his contract would be much more worrisome given the probable readiness of Quentin and Jackson...

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