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The Steelers, The Pirates, The Yankees, And Letting Stars Leave

Steelers Lounge has a nice article on the New York Yankees and the troubles they're currently having with aging veterans Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada, and what that means for the Steelers, who have avoided similar problems by letting older stars finish their careers elsewhere.

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The Steelers never find themselves forced to play aging, once-great players that no longer are because their approach seems to be one of "it’s better to get rid of somebody a year too early than a year too late" ...

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By paying Derek Jeter or Jorge Posada over $15 million per year at this point in their career, it makes it impossible for them to be benched, and there’s no way they’re going to bring in somebody else to replace them. Had they done the unpopular thing and simply moved on, they would have been able to fill that spot with a younger, better player. Would Yankees fans have been [upset]? In the short term, yes, but they would have quickly gotten over it and still had the memories.

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The Steelers aren’t afraid to move on. Can it be cruel? Sure. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t necessary.

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The ability to let go of veterans is probably a skill that's underrated throughout sports. Everyone knows the Steelers have done a great job letting stars depart and simply replacing them with younger stars. But look at the Pirates - everyone always complains that the Pirates don't keep their good players, and it's hard to argue with that, when you're talking about a younger player like Aramis Ramirez. But what about, for example, Jason Bay, who currently has an awful .648 OPS for the Mets?

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Would the Pirates be a better team if they had signed Bay to an extension, as some suggested at the time, rather than trading him? No, of course not - they would have been overpaying for a player's decline years. The Pirates were right to let a team like the Mets go ahead and do that. 

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The Pirates have a ton of problems, some systemic, some self-inflicted. But the ability to keep their stars isn't really one of them. Instead, they need to focus on drafting and developing more stars to replace the ones who depart.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.