Of course, there are always concerns with any team about injuries. But given the Yankees' advanced age and offseason spending habits, those worries hang especially heavy over the heads of the Bronx Bombers. For every Brian McCann signed -- who essentially plays as many games as is prudent given his position, and has only two short stints on the DL since 2011 -- there's a Brian Roberts.
There are many reasons the former Baltimore Orioles second baseman -- who is simultaneously a stopgap and the replacement for one of the game's best players (the departed Robinson Cano) -- signed for significantly less than McCann's $85 million. Perhaps most notable is that he will likely play significantly fewer games than the 131 the former Atlanta Braves backstop has averaged each of the last eight seasons.
After the first seven years of his full-time playing career saw him average 146 games per season, Roberts has been unable to stay on the field for more than half a season since 2010. Not surprisingly, his production has dropped precipitously with it; after hitting .287/.361/.428 in his first eight years as an everyday player, Roberts has slid to .231/.289/.344 since his first truly lost season in 2011.
It's not just role players who have had trouble staying out of the infirmary before joining the Jacoby Ellsbury has seemingly alternated MVP-caliber seasons with depressingly long DL stints as a matter of course so far in his career.this offseason, however. Star outfielder
Ellsbury finished second in the AL MVP vote in 2011, when he hit .322/.376/.552 to go along with Gold Glove defense in center field and stole 39 bases. However, that followed 2010's 18-game disaster when he hit .192 in just 84 plate appearances, and he managed only 74 games in 2012. That last year was part of the worst Boston Red Sox season since the Eisenhower administration, and the Sox' mediocrity might have had something to do with Ellsbury's low games total. The Boston front office went so far as to move his rehabilitation to Arizona amidst the war going on between the rest of his team and manager Bobby Valentine.
The story behind Ellsbury's absence aside, there's reason to hope he's finally shaken the bug by having both happen in the same season. Despite missing several games last yearwith a stress fracture in his foot from an errant foul tip, he still managed to finish 19th in MVP voting. That's probably why some argue that he's never truly had injury issues to begin with.
The Pirates are ... pretty good
After two decades of bad baseball, the Pirates look to be on the cusp of a prolonged resurgence. That's thanks in large part to NL MVP Andrew McCutchen, newly extended GM Neal Huntington and manager Clint Hurdle. And someone else you may not know.
The same could probably be said of outfielder Carlos Beltran. Outside of a two year drop-off -- when he was playing for the New York Mets, because, well, sometimes it's better to have no luck at all -- and his second year in the major leagues, the product of Puerto Rico has played at least 140 games each season. Though, with his long career and advanced age (he's entering his 15th season in the majors and his 37th year on the planet), you can never be too careful.
Which will probably be the motto around the clubhouse this season for Yankee captain and shortstop Derek Jeter . The future Hall of Famer has spent most of the last year or so either trying to recover from his lower-leg injury or trying to not re-aggravate it. Jeter was an almost-perpetual sight at shortstop for most of his career, averaging 151 games a season before he broke his ankle during a routine play in the 2012 ALDS against the Detroit Tigers. But after missing almost all of last season, and reaching an age where most players -- especially at an incredibly demanding position like shortstop -- start to deteriorate rapidly, this level of commitment seems unlikely. It's his last season and he'll likely take every precaution to make it through the entirety of his swan song. Either that, or he'll possibly be forced to by a team which has a considerable amount invested in one of their greatest player's farewell seasons.
Thankfully for Yankees fans, the pitchers seem like they've been able to stay out of trouble and off the DL. Workhorses like Hiroki Kuroda and CC Sabathia have consistently started around 30 games a season each year since the start of the decade while devouring innings buffet-style. While both are getting a little long in the tooth -- and even with Sabathia's greatly diminished waistline -- it's unlikely that two of the more durable pitchers in the majors would suddenly have parts start flying off like some of their offensive counterparts seem to have a habit of doing.
Although 27-year-old Ivan Nova may have missed some games the last few seasons with elbow and shoulder issues, it appears those problems are behind him. At the very least, he seems more subject to the normal wear-and-tear that many pitchers struggle through rather than some sort of predisposition towards injury. In fact, even their biggest injury concern on the staff -- Michael Pineda -- has the sort of frame that projects to be able to handle a lot of innings as he tries to secure a spot in the rotation coming off shoulder surgery.
So, while the jury is still out on whether or not the Yankees have sunk their future into a bottomless money pit, it likely won't be because the players they paid can't stay on the field. Well, at least until Alex Rodriguez comes back.