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Which vets crack the Bucket List?
03/19/2008 9:00 AM ET
Americans love old people. It's true. We do.

From John McCain to Colonel Sanders to Frank Costanza to the old guy on the box of Quaker Oats Oatmeal, one thing has become obvious: Americans are softies for oldies.

(Need more proof? Bob Barker, Orville Redenbacher, Dave Thomas, Betty White, Sean Connery, Grandpa Simpson, Bill Cosby, Barbara Streisand, Clint Eastwood, Paul Newman, Yogi Berra, Beth from "The Gauntlet III," Don Rickles, Barbara Bush, Lester Freamon, Mr. Furley, Brett Favre, David Letterman, Suzanne Somers, Uncle Junior, Larry David, Tony Bennett, Ric Flair, Hubie Brown ... and that's just off the top of my head.)

This new love for the old was further embossed this past January when Warner Bros. Studios released "The Bucket List," a film starring a pair of 70-year-olds in Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. And despite a predictably thin plot line followed by predictably awful movie reviews (40 percent on, the good folks at the WB have raked in a predictably cool $137,121,000 so far in gross revenue; also known as more than half the value of the company formerly known as Bear Stearns.

Not surprisingly, this love for the old has translated seamlessly into the fantasy realm, as the elder statesmen of the baseball diamond continue to be plucked in drafts despite their senior-citizen status.

This got me thinking: Is this just another "Bucket List" example of America's blind love for all things old? Or do these familiar veterans actually have something left in the tank? I thought you'd never ask ....

Veteran: Jamie Moyer, SP, Phillies
Age: 45
Bucket Lister: Yes
Analysis: Perhaps no one was more excited over the retirement of 49-year-old Julio Franco than Jamie Moyer, who now officially holds the prestigious title of oldest player in baseball. And for someone who is just 20 years away from paying half-price at movie theaters, he's actually doing pretty well for himself (14 wins, 6.0 K/9 in 2007). But let's not start poppin' the prunes just yet. The soft-tossing veteran posted a 5.78 ERA after the All-Star break last year and hasn't struck out more than 150 batters in a season since 1998. Mixed leaguers should feel safe avoiding the 45-year-old Moyer until at least the 45th round of their drafts.

Veteran: Orlando Hernandez, SP, Mets
Age: 38*
Bucket Lister: Yes
Analysis: Even though all the evidence verifies that he's from Guaji, Cuba, El Duque may as well join the Ultimate Warrior in being from Parts Unknown. That's the only rationale for explaining the controversy surrounding Hernandez's date of birth. Consider the following: claims that El Duque was born Oct. 11, 1969, meaning that he is currently 38 years old. However, Wikipedia, Yahoo, ESPN and Baseball Almanac all say that he was actually born in 1965. Personally, I wouldn't be surprised if he remembers the War of 1812. Anyway, in addition to being the Dikembe Mutombo of baseball, El Duque is simply too much of an injury risk to draft in mixed leagues, as he's topped 150 innings in a season just once this millennium.

Veteran: Gary Sheffield, DH, Tigers
Age: 39
Bucket Lister: No! Of course not! Never!
Analysis: Sheffield proved that he still has something left in the tank when he blasted 25 homers and drove in 75 runs last year despite missing close to 30 games with a shoulder injury. Coming off a full offseason of rest, the Tigers designated hitter is a good bet to build on those numbers out of the No. 3 spot in the revamped and devastating Tigers lineup. OK, I'll be honest; with back-to-back injury-filled seasons to his name, the 39-year-old Shef doesn't exactly inspire high hopes. But frankly, after reading what he had to say about his own former agent ("I'm going to warn everybody ... there's certain people you don't want to mess with -- and I guarantee you I'm one of them."), I'm simply too scared to see what he would do to some punk 23-year-old baseball writer if given the chance. So with that in mind, expect MVP-like numbers from Sheffield, who'll look to easily take home the American League Triple Crown this year and somehow win the Cy Young Award -- and even the Vezina Trophy (why not?). Woo! Go Sheffield!

Veteran: John Smoltz, SP, Braves
Age: 40
Bucket Lister: No
Analysis: Even though his balding pattern is starting to resemble Eliot Spitzer's, don't let the thinning hair fool you; John Smoltz can still flat-out pitch. The long-time Braves ace churned out another terrific season last year with a 14-8 record and 197 strikeouts, good for third in the National League. Even though he turns 41 in May, Smoltz is fully capable of registering a 13th consecutive season with a sub-3.50 ERA, so don't hesitate to make him one of your front-line pitchers.

Veteran: Mariano Rivera, CL, Yankees
Age: 38
Bucket Lister: No
Analysis: Sure the 3.15 ERA last year was his highest since his rookie season in 1995. And yeah, maybe the signs of his collapse are there considering that the 1.12 WHIP was his highest since 1997. And of course, the Yanks have Joba Chamberlain, who could handle the closing duties in a New York minute. But at the end of the day, we're talking about the guy who is likely to go down as the greatest closer of all time ... right? And despite the rocky season, Yankees saw enough out of Mo to give him a three-year, $45 million contract, so they must see something that we all can't see ... right? And it's not like the Yankees are ones to just toss money around like that ... right???

Veteran: Moises Alou, OF, Mets
Age: 41
Bucket Lister: No
Analysis: I know what you are thinking. Alou has to be a Bucket Lister since he already practices one of the most common traits of old people: questionable bathroom habits (for further detail just Google how good ol' Moises avoids blisters while using a wooden bat with no gloves). Certainly, the hernia that will keep him out of action until May only strengthens that argument. But I think he's at the point in his career where we accept the fact that he will miss 50 games or so with various injuries. It's almost part of his charm. Because when it's all said and done, Alou is one of the most productive players in baseball ... when healthy. If you were to project Alou's stats from the last three seasons over 500 at-bats, you have a guy who batted .320 with 25 homers and 85 RBIs per year. He may be slowed by injuries, but they haven't sapped his skills at all.

Veteran: Greg Maddux, SP, Padres
Age: 41
Bucket Lister: No
Analysis: Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe now at the age of 41, in what could be his final season, the corner-painting soft-tosser will reach the end of the road. But I'm just not one to bet against Greg Maddux. Not when he has posted 13 or more wins in each of the past 20 straight seasons. And especially not when he makes half his starts in the pitching Garden of Eden also known as PETCO Park. So bank on more of the same from Maddux. Just like the Mahjong he will soon play, the Salisbury steak he will soon eat and the prune juice he will soon drink, he's a classic.

Veteran: Randy Johnson, SP, Diamondbacks
Age: 44
Bucket Lister: Yes
Analysis: Even though he managed to whiff 72 batters in just 56 2/3 innings last year, Big Unit has probably seen the end of his time as a reliable fantasy pitcher. Call me crazy, but I just can't see a 44-year-old with the height of Mark Eaton and Uwe Blab recovering from a hernia to handle a 200-plus-inning workload this year. Especially not with the return of that mullet. I just look forward to the day when Johnson dominates his Del Boca Vista-like retirement home's shuffleboard league as he shatters disk after disk with his long windup and 99 mph shove of his cue-stick-thingy.

And of course, if that doesn't work out, he can always just be a stand-in for that old guy on the box of Quaker Oats.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.