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Old Timers impressed by 2019 Yankees depth

@ladsonbill24
June 23, 2019

NEW YORK -- It was Old-Timers' Day at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, and it was great to see former Yankees reminisce about the great times they had in the Big Apple. But a few of the Old Timers couldn't help but talk about the 2019 Yankees, who entered Sunday's action

NEW YORK -- It was Old-Timers' Day at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, and it was great to see former Yankees reminisce about the great times they had in the Big Apple.

But a few of the Old Timers couldn't help but talk about the 2019 Yankees, who entered Sunday's action in first place, 5 1/2 games ahead of the Rays in the American League East.

Several of the Old Timers believe the Yankees are good enough win their first World Series title since 2009.

"They are so much fun to watch, because they play team ball. They play with energy. They are very impressive," said former Yankees first baseman Tino Martinez, who helped them win four World Series titles. "It says a lot, starting with [general manager] Brian Cashman on down the line -- the scouts, instructors in the Minor Leagues."

Yankees legend Lou Piniella, who won two titles in New York, went so far as to say the Yankees are the team to beat the rest of the season.

"I'll tell you: These young kids who they have come up, they really held the fort well," Piniella said. "It's a tribute to the farm system that they have. They are loaded in the Major Leagues. They are going to be a team that is going to be hard to contend with the rest of the year."

Former left-hander David Wells, who helped New York win a championship in 1998, is impressed with how the Yankees didn't skip a beat after Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorius and Giancarlo Stanton went down with injuries for a long period of time.

"The young players stepped up. They won a lot of series. They were hungry. That's what you do," Wells said. "You see [Clint] Frazier go back down to the Minor Leagues because they made the trade for Edwin Encarnacion. But Frazier did his job. He got beat up with the media, but the kid made a statement with his bat.

"That's what these young guys did. That just proves the depth the 2019 Yankees have. Now that they know these guys can play in any situation, it's a beauty, because guys are ready to play."

World Series hero Bucky Dent sees a comparison between the 1978 Yankees to the current team. Dent believes the current team may have been better than the one that came back from 14 games down to win the AL East.

"When we started out [in ’78], we had a lot of injuries, we had guys fill in," Dent said. "We finally started getting guys healthy, and we came back. The current team had a little more depth than we had."

Infielder Jerry Hairston Jr. was on the last Yankees team that won a World Series title, 10 years ago. He is now a pregame and postgame analyst for the Dodgers and hopes to see both teams meet in the World Series.

"The 2019 Yankees have the firepower. They really have some good experience. They have guys that know how to win," Hairston said. "[Manager] Aaron Boone has done an incredible job, especially with all the injuries. I thought trading for Encarnacion was special."

Bill Ladson has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2002. He covered the Nationals/Expos from 2002-2016. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.