The Time Is Now For The Yankees

The Yankees will never come out and label any particular season a "rebuilding year". It's just not in their nature.

However, what began with an injury to Alex Rodriguez that landed him on the 60-day disabled list has now spiraled to include Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira out for at least the first weeks of the 2013 season, and maybe more. Like it or not, the Yankees could begin a rebuilding process now without labeling it as such.

It probably won't happen but it really should -- the baptism of younger players into the big league Yankee lineup.

No, the Yankees with their everlasting desire to win championships will most likely continue the course of using big league veterans, even retreads, to hold down the fort until the power in their lineup gets healthy again.

But for an organization, a fan base, and even the media covering them that has called for the Yankees to get younger and more athletic, now is really the time to overlook the likes of Matt Diaz and Juan Rivera and go with some of their kids.

They have the built-in excuse they may never, ever get again.

It's time to walk the walk and breathe some energy into what everyone already knew was an older and sometimes lethargic lineup even before the slew of injuries began plaguing the 25-man roster over the past several weeks.

While it's true the Yankees have their better prospect depth in the middle to lower minor league levels, they do have enough intrigue on the 40-man roster that could jump start what will inevitably become a rebuilding process of sorts and doing it now will also ensure not having to break in several rookies all at once a year from now.

The Yankees brought in Kevin Youkilis to man the hot corner position for the Yankees while Alex Rodriguez was on the shelf until at least the All Star break. Losing Teixeira for the first few weeks of the season should force the Yankees to reevaluate that original plan.

They could move Youkilis to first base, a position where he has some familiarity, and just live with the defensive growing pains of either Corban Joseph or David Adams at third, a position both have played some at the minor league level despite being natural second basemen. Their offensive abilities should at least be able to contribute.

Both bats are big league ready and it's about time the Yankees took a chance and allowed their prospects to learn from the school of hard knocks at the big league level. And remember, it's only for a few weeks.

In the outfield the Yankees really should go with either Melky Mesa or Zoilo Almonte, two more 40-man roster occupiers. Mesa will have his struggles with the bat from a consistency standpoint but he could also prove to be electric at times; flashing plus defense, better power potential than most of their slated Opening Day lineup, and even more speed to a team that had already stated it was going to rely more on their legs in 2013.

Almonte, a switch-hitter, is an absolute must to bring north since he is the only healthy switch-hitter available to the Yankees now that Teixeira will be out for a while. With 21 home runs in Double-A last year and great pull side power from the left, outside of Cano and perhaps Youkilis he could be the Yankees' best power source should he be placed in the lineup.

Those inside the game know that the Yankees will eventually have to break in some of their top prospects -- Slade Heathcott, Mason Williams, Tyler Austin, Gary Sanchez, and Ramon Flores, who coincidentally is already on the 40-man roster but has not played but a handful of games above the A-ball level -- in the coming years.

Thrusting players like Adams, Almonte, Joseph, and Mesa into the mix now would at least give the Yankees an idea if they could become long-term options either as starting players or eventual reserve guys. Short-term they could get a wealth of needed experience and become viable bench options, an aspect of the current projected 25-man roster that does seem less effective than previous year's reserve players, by the time Granderson, Teixeira, and Rodriguez make their way back healthy.

For years the Yankees have gone the veteran route because it was safe and it has worked. The problem is now their better veterans are the ones ailing and a change in direction, one pointing towards potential upside, is needed.

Everyone surrounding the Yankees, from inside the organization to their fan base and even the analysts covering the team have been clamoring for some youth on the Yankees. The time is now to start delivering on that ideal, one which quite frankly is not only overdue but one which seems inevitable given the circumstances.

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