The Detroit Tigers sealing their trip to the World Series with an 8-1 win and a series sweep over the New York Yankees felt about as academic an outcome as anyone could remember. The Yankees had pitched respectably enough but their completely failure offensively meant they at least looked sunk long before Phil Coke secured the final out last night.
Throughout the series the Yankees had been accused of being too old and too reliant on home runs to have a chance of progressing. Both arguments have some merit but I have my doubts that, for those that have been beating this team with that particular stick for the last several years, this Yankees collapse vindicates an argument that has finally held up. This team won 95 regular season games in a division that, while it might not have played quite as tough as expected during the spring, was still clearly one of the more difficult in baseball.
No-one could have predicted that the Yankees best player would look this bad in October. To be clear, that statement is about Robinson Cano’s damaging 0-29 skid rather than any drama surrounding A-Rod. It was the poor performance of Cano as well as Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson that hurt the Yankees more than anything their third baseman did or didn’t do. A-Rod obviously looked bad but we’re talking about a 37 year old who has put his body through 2500 games and is just coming back from a strength-sapping broken hand. The talk of paying A-Rod his full salary to perform for another team is most likely born out of frustration at his diminishing skills rather than something the Yankees are seriously considering doing. At least that’s what fans should be hoping.
Heading into the off season it is hard to imagine Brian Cashman looking at this team and thinking it is one that needs blowing up. The pitching is solid enough and should be retainable as long as HIROK and Andy Pettitte are willing to return for another year while Michael Pineda should be ready to contribute after missing this summer through injury.
As for the core of the everyday lineup, it is mostly nailed on due to contracts that can’t be moved. They will need a better option than Eduardo Nunez to spell Rodriguez at third to try and keep him healthy and Nick Swisher is a free agent who looks increasingly unlikely to return. Some Yankees fans on Twitter have suggested Chase Headley as a trade target who would be a great addition to the line up but I suspect the prospects required to get him will be sky high coming off a career year and with a very cheap contract. Martin Prado has also been suggested but someone like Kyle Seager of the Mariners could be a useful if less heralded target. Obviously Josh Hamilton’s name is out there on the free agent market but adding another ageing star with a hefty contract doesn’t seem the best way forward for this team.
Looking at the way this Yankees team is constructed and what it is set up to do next year, I’m not sure the adjustments needed are much greater as a result of going out to the Tigers the way they did than they would have been had they advanced. This is still a good team and its flaws remain fewer than the vast majority of other teams. Some perspective on what’s already in place will be required for Yankees fans who will understandably be hurting in the coming days.