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Palladino: A-Rod Is Old News As Yankees' Youth Movement Hits High Gear

By Ernie Palladino
» More Ernie Palladino Columns

For all the blubbering Joe Girardi did after the world bid adieu to Alex Rodriguez, he sure got over it fast.

Not that this expedited grieving process wasn't necessary. There's still season ahead of the Yankees. They have as good of a postseason shot as the Mets, even after their 12-3 loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday.

They'll have to do it with a youth movement that went into full swing a New York minute after Rodriguez' farewell press conference. Out with A-Rod, in with Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin.

The very rapidity of the moves made one's head spin.

The oldest of the old went out, and in came the kids. Not just to get some at-bats like some September call-up, but to actually contribute. Judge, for instance, will play the departed Carlos Beltran's right field spot every day. Austin played first base, but one has to know that the everyday job will still belong to Mark Teixeira until he's done at season's end.

Still, their immediate, history-making contributions Saturday of back-to-back homers in their first major league at-bats signaled that the youth movement is now in full swing. The franchise has wasted no time in turning the pages from the old and highly-paid to the fresh young faces, and there is an excitement to that.

Just ask the folks who showed up Saturday for Judge and Austin's homers. Or the ones who, on the day the Yanks enshrined Mariano Rivera into Monument Park, witnessed Judge's line-drive homer in the third.

Lots of juice there.

But, of course, one shouldn't get too excited. These are not Mantle and Jeter coming up. Judge had his troubles hitting Triple-A pitching early on. His power surge could just be a product of a typical first go-around against pitchers who have no book on him. Austin was nearly sent packing in the offseason after battling a wrist injury. The only reason he's in pinstripes today is because nobody claimed him off waivers.

Gary Sanchez, getting significant work at catcher and DH, isn't Yogi Berra at this point, either.

The Yanks may not see another pair of impact homers out of this young group until next season. Rookies are like that. But the flip side is that some of them develop. If that happens this year or beyond, assuming the franchise avoids the temptation to trade them, the gap between the struggles of this year and future successes will be minimal.

The movement isn't over, either. Not by a longshot. By next season, corner infielder Greg Bird will have rejoined the Yankees after labrum surgery cost him 2016. He'll be easily found, as he'll be standing in the retired Teixeira's spot at first.

Perhaps the issues that shackled Luis Severino to a 1-8 record and 7.12 ERA after Sunday's 3 2/3-inning, seven-run disaster get solved and he becomes a functional part of the rotation. Perhaps Clint Frazier, the outfield prospect that came in the Andrew Miller-to-Indians windfall grabs a spot in spring training and adds his power to Judge's. And wouldn't it be nice if Gleyber Torres, the centerpiece shortstop of Aroldis Chapman-to-Cubs, makes a meteoric rise through the minors to at least give Girardi and Brian Cashman thoughts about a late-season elevation?

It all could happen. Or maybe this whole youth movement falls as flat as a pancake.

Rebuilds are iffy things. But the Yanks needed to get away from the big-contract veteran and build from within. Judge and Austin provided with blinding speed an early view of what that youth-filled future could look like.

As good as it was to see the two kids come up and contribute immediately, in historic fashion no less, it was just as great to see Girardi's tears over A-Rod dry so quickly.

No time for sentiment here.

On to new beginnings.

Follow Ernie on Twitter at @ErniePalladino

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