I'm angry, disgusted, frustrated and astounded.
Those aren't typically the adjectives you expect to hear about a 95-win ballclub that went to the ALCS. But that's how I feel about the way this season ended for the Yankees. Winning the division is great, but to see a season end like that was brutal.
It was a big missed opportunity. I hadn't seen such excellent pitching from the Yankees in the playoffs in my life. Yet, the Yankees—as it seems in almost every recent postseason—fell asleep at the plate in crunch time. In nine postseason games, the Yankees scored just 22 runs. Their pitching staff gave up more than three runs only twice, Games 1 and 4 against Detroit.
Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez, Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano batted a collective 19 for 125, a whopping .152 batting average. If it weren't for Raul Ibanez, the Yankees probably wouldn't even be playing this far into the season.
A lot of the woes at the plate fall on Kevin Long, the Yankees hitting coach. He should be feeling the hot seat after that abysmal performance by his lineup.
And to top it all off, Derek Jeter went down with a fractured ankle. After one of the best seasons in his career, his future is unclear.
How much worse could it possibly get?
Going down in four straight games to Detroit was the culmination of a doomed season that had a lot of promise. It kills me to think that if the Yankees, who hit 245 home runs this season, could have scored at least three runs a game, they might have won the it all. It just wasn't meant to be.
Now the Yankees enter an offseason that will involve a lot of decision-making. Swisher, Ichiro, Russell Martin, Eric Chavez, Raul Ibanez, Andruw Jones, Hiroki Kuroda, Derek Lowe, Jayson Nix, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera all are eligible to become free agents. Granderson also has a $13 million option for next season, and Cano is due to become a free agent after next season.
I think it is pretty safe to say that Jones and Lowe will probably not be back. But I think Chavez, Nix and Ibanez will all return and be given short contracts. These three players give the Yankees a good amount of flexibility on their bench.
Hiroki Kuroda should be given a very nice reward for the season he had. While CC Sabathia and Pettitte were injured, Kuroda stepped up mightily. He was arguably the Yankees' most valuable player and made the Yankees rotation one of the best in the league.
Russell Martin should be re-signed as well. Although he isn't a very good hitter, he is great behind the plate and will come at an inexpensive price. Plus, there aren't a lot of better options at catcher right now.
The other important offseason decision is whether to keep Ichiro, Swisher, or neither one. Swisher wants Jayson Werth-money and the Yankees shouldn't be the team giving it to him. Ichiro is another story. He struggled before being traded to New York, but since joining the Yankees, he had a .322 batting average. I think Ichiro gives the Yankees more diversity on offense and is a better fielder than Swisher. Cashman should re-sign Ichiro and give him another chance at a ring.
The more recent piece of offseason drama will be whether the Yankees talk about dealing Alex Rodriguez. Talks have surfaced about a potential deal with Miami that would send Rodriguez to the Marlins for Heath Bell.
This really isn't a bad deal for the Yankees. Although Bell struggled with the Marlins, he wouldn't have a very large role in the Yankees bullpen, especially if Rafael Soriano decides not to opt out of his contract. Most importantly, it gets A-Rod out of town. It has gotten to the point where I am unable to defend him anymore. He isn't worth half of the money he is making, and his playoff struggles are just too much to handle.
A-Rod says that he will not waive his no-trade clause if a deal were to be reached. I doubt this deal ever materializes beyond just rumors.
This offseason for the Yankees will determine where the franchise goes in the future. This team needs to get younger and hold on to their precious prospects. It is time to stockpile youth and not give it away for players like Michael Pineda (that deal will be a bust, just watch). The Yankees are too old, and if they don't bring in some youth, the franchise will crumble.
This offseason will be a tough one to predict, but all I know for sure is that based off of that playoff performance, a lot will be changing in the Bronx.
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