Report: Yanks tell Lee they're not old
The Yankees hit back at Phillies ace Cliff Lee for saying one of the reasons he chose not to sign with the Bronx Bombers was because many of their top players are "getting older," the New York Post reported Tuesday.
But the remark touched a nerve with the Yanks organization, which has prided itself on adding younger players the past few years.
"Some of our core guys that we have relied on have gotten up there, but we have a group of young players that we're excited about," Yankees GM Brian Cashman said Monday at the team's spring training complex in Tampa.
"All we care about is being called champions. You can say anything else you want about us. When you call us old, that's fine."
The perception likely comes from the fact that the "faces of the franchise" have some wrinkles — Derek Jeter is 36, Alex Rodriguez 35, Mariano Rivera 41 and Jorge Posada 39. Jeter and Rodriguez do occupy important places both in the field and the lineup, but the rest of the Yankees' starting fielders are all 30 or younger.
Posada emphasized Monday that no one on the Yankees is joining AARP.
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"I think we've got a lot of veterans and we've got a lot of young guys. You look around the infield — Tex is pretty young, Cano is pretty young, and you've got Russell [Martin] is pretty young still. You're going to see some veterans, but that's every team."
Cashman has focused on younger free agents in recent years, signing Sabathia and Teixeira (both 28 at the time) in 2008 and trading for Curtis Granderson, who was also 28, in 2009. At the same time, Cashman has let sentimental favorites who were getting older, such as Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon, leave town.
Cashman said Lee never raised the age issue before spurning the Yankees and Rangers to sign with Philadelphia for less money, joining a loaded rotation that already featured Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt.
"It was a marriage that was not meant to be. That's life," Cashman said.