There's a bit more mock skepticism in Rivera than there is with Jetes, but much of the relative confidence in The Captain has to do with the shaky shortstop class.
Broken ankles often sap speed, even more so when combined with his soon-to-be 39-year-old wheels. Last season's fence-clearing pace was above his grounder-happy head; that 16.1 percent HR/FB was his highest since 2005 (17.1) and, though the new Yankee Stadium can work miracles, that's a lot of faith required to predict a repeat.
Will Joe Girardi stay loyal and keep him near or at the top of the order if No. 2 turns into ... well, No. 2? Say goodbye to some team-dependent stats if so. Nick also reminds us of the trials others have gone through with his injury, and they were much younger. The physical and situational drawbacks don't point to overpaying for finger-crossing that he sustains the apex of his diminishing skill set.
Rivera has been one of the true robots in recent baseball history when it comes to conditioning and repetitive dominance. He didn't show many signs of a downturn before the fateful fly shagging, so maybe he bucks the odds and maximizes his repaired anterior cruciate ligament.
However, repeating a question many have asked about the last active No. 42: Do you want him on your team when he starts to decline noticeably? You can only go back to the well so many times - in his cutter and trusting that he'll continue vanquishing Father Time. Plus, the presence of David Robertson gives the Yanks an excuse if they make a delicate decision if there's any doubt in Rivera's readiness and ability.
If these icons slip far enough down draft boards, they'll shine a bit more, but the possibility of both performing below market value has never been higher and will only swell if both show positive signs in their Tampa work.
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.
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