Daily Archives: October 19, 2012

Another Unhappy Ending

The 2012 Yankees season ended in an all too familiar fashion for the Yankees. It ended without a parade down The Canyon of Heroes, just like every season has other than 2009 has since 2000. This postseason exit, at the hand of the Detroit Tigers, was probably only topped by the 2003 collapse against Boston as the most embarrassing postseason exit yet.

It is unfortunate that the futility of the Yankees in the ALCS will override the regular season they had, as it was one of the most satisfying regular seasons the Yankees have had in a while. It was not just another ho- hum division championship. The Yankees had to battle every single day down the stretch in September, with the Orioles giving them no breathing room. They avoided loosing a 10 game lead and overcame a mountain of injuries to key players like Alex Rodriguez, Mariano Rivera, Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte and Brett Gardner. It really is amazing that the Yankees won 95 games with all these injuries and Joe Girardi deserves credit for squeezing everything he could out of this team.  However, the 2012 Yankees will be remembered for none of that.

They will be remembered as the team that batted an anemic .157 in the ALCS, which is the second lowest total for teams participating in a LCS since 1969. They will be remembered for the RISP fails that crippled them. That was a little overblown during the regular season, but it certainly was not in the postseason. The Yankees showed a lack of mental toughness that is unexpected from a team of veteran players and so unlike the 90’s Yankees.  What will also be remembered is that the Yankees wasted the champiohsip caliber pitching that they got.

This will also be remembered for what happened to Alex Rodriguez. He was unfairly benched by the organization, while others around struggled as much or more than him. He was the scapegoat and the reason for the benching probably goes beyond his performance on the field, as they probably wanted to embarrass him enough so he might waive his no-trade clause. It is a shame that something like that would come before winning.

The Yankees scored six runs in four games against Detroit, after scoring the second most runs in the AL this season. Without Raul Ibanez’s heroics in the ALDS it would have been the same story in that series. The really scary part is that other than Justin Verlander, the Yankees did not see another elite pitcher in these playoffs. The Yankees face a similar problem this offseason that they have in the past. How can they get an offense to hit in the regular season and the postseason? That is one of many questions they must answer heading into the offseason.

This is the kind of series that you think will evoke change and if it doesn’t there obviously is a big problem. We will have plenty of time to get into what’s next later, as this winter could be one that shapes the Yankees for awhile. Today is about remembering what was and reflecting on that. It was really a fun regular season, that was really satisfying, and it ended about as bad as you can imagine.  It seems so strange that the team showed such toughness in September and once October came it all went away.

Many fans expecting a World Series championship every year are spoiled. 26 other MLB would have loved to have the season that the Yankees did and would love to have their playoffs. However, how they went out this year is unacceptable. The feeble at bats, not putting up a even a fight and seemingly looking like a little league team in the elimination game was truly awful.  This kind of performance should leave a sting.

Remember this season however you want, but in five years we might look back at it as the season that changed the direction of the Yankees. We might look back at it as the last stand by some of the core guys the Yankees have had over the last decade. It was another fun season that ended wrongly, that will lead to another winter of discontent. That has become too much of the norm lately.

Scattered thoughts on post-mortem day

It’s become a fairly understood thought, if not a law in sports, that anything short of a championship is a failed year to the New York Yankees. The late George Steinbrenner instilled this mentality when he purchased the team in 1973, and it continues to this day now a few years after his passing.

So as the Boss would look at it (95 wins, home-field advantage, and a 17th playoff appearance in 18 years) this season was a failure. The Yankees got swept aside by the Detroit Tigers in four games in the ALCS, and while most teams would be content with playing in October, the Yankees feel they need to win it all in this glorious month for them to be satisfied. And we as fans accept that.

Blame anyone you want, [aside from the World Series-caliber starting pitching they had] but this was a complete team failure. There’s no doubt they went up to the plate trying to do the right thing and pick up hits and drive in runs, but when all nine guys struggle each night so immensely, this was the only way it was going to end.

The Bombers just barely survived the ALDS against their renewed foe in the Baltimore Orioles, and the A.L. Champion Tigers would not let the Yankees survive any longer on historically bad hitting and late-inning comebacks. Give credit where it’s due – Detroit earned this pennant. But the Yankees lost it more than the Tigers won it in my opinion.

Playing without Derek Jeter will be an excuse many will bring up, but I don’t want to hear it. This team without Jeter was good enough to win, had they played like they did in the regular season. No doubt he has the biggest impact on the lineup, but the two through nine hitters still should have been getting the job done. It’s horrible to think, but in a way this lineup’s RISP fails ultimately cost them their Captain. Had they capitalized on those three bases-loaded rallies in the first nine innings, the extra ones don’t happen, and the Yankees win Game 1 by a landslide and Jeter never fields that ground ball. It could have completely changed the series. But could’ve, would’ve, should’ve – that’s the name of the game in October.

Look, Alex Rodriguez certainly didn’t help the Yankees a ton, but stop treating him as the scapegoat. That’s like asking a dog to stop barking, but the fact remains with his contract aside, Alex had a statistically better postseason than Nick Swisher, Curtis Granderson, and Robbie Cano. Making 25 million dollars a year will never make his mistakes excusable, but like I’ve mentioned he’s older and his prime has long past, and it’s unbelievable to think the front office couldn’t have seen this coming  when they signed Alex to that mega-deal in 2007.

Unfortunately lost in this debacle is the outstanding pitching the Yankees received almost every game. Had starting pitching been the only factor that matters in the postseason, the Yankees win the World Series. CC Sabathia was dominant in his two ALDS starts, and unfortunately just ran out of gas yesterday and you couldn’t expect him to do it all. Andy Pettitte pitched better than anyone could have thought after taking a year off, and he deserved two more postseason wins added to his amazing resume. Hiroki Kuroda truly paid off as well, owning the Orioles and Tigers bats in the two starts he made. Phil Hughes also pitched a gem in Game 4 of the division series, and it looked like he’d grind another game out in Game 3 of the ALCS before tweaking his back. Too bad there’s no trophy or award they can win, but it certainly was some of the better starting pitching the Yankees have gotten since their late-90’s dynasty run.

Finally, just a quick note on Joe Girardi. As much as we all question him [and if I were GM he would have been fired four times already], his managing tactics were not something to look down on this October. He had an incredibly depleted team throughout the year, and managed to overcome the loss of Mariano, the loss of CC for a month, Andy for three, A-Rod for two – you see what I mean? And yet the Yankees still won the AL East and still looked like a good favorite to win the pennant. Wow.

Overall, this was a failure. The Yankees looked absolutely lost at the plate and never held a lead in the series. But people should not forget how the Yankees proved life does move on after Mariano, and they can survive losing their ace mid-season, and how this aging team can still come together and make a few more championship runs. Whether it’ll happen in 2013 is a big question, but the fact remains this year was very exciting and I’m proud of what the Yankees did – all the way up to the 12th inning of Game 1 of the 2012 ALCS.

Thanks for a wild ride guys.

Morning Bits: Welcome to the Off-Season, free agents & more…

Happy Friday all.  Well not very happy for the bombers as they were eliminated yesterday.   If you weren’t apart of our blog last off-season stick around for many articles on season reviews, trade ideas,  and who should stay and who should go.  Thanks for the support and visiting our blog as always.

Now for some links…

Ian O’Connor writes it’s time to break up the Yankees or they won’t see next October.

ESPN STATS looks into what led the Yanks to an early trip home.

Wallace Matthews gives the list of Yankee free agents and club options.

Mike Bauman mentions the Yankees need to retool not rebuild.

Peter Botte writes the Yankees need to hope Pettitte wants to return if they want to compete next year.