Aging Yanks Have A Host Of Issues
NEW YORK (AP) The Yankees never came close to repeating. Not really.
A six-game loss to Texas in the AL championship series was mostly a wipeout, and New York heads into the offseason with gaps in its starting rotation, holes in its bullpen and an offense that never did recover from the loss of Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon.
And now the Yankees have to deal with contract negotiations for Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and perhaps Andy Pettitte, plus their likely attempt to woo Cliff Lee and possibly Carl Crawford.
Figures to be an offseason of pinstriped pursuit.
For now, losing the World Series title will hurt.
“They outhit us, they out pitched us, outplayed us and they beat us,” manager Joe Girardi said after Friday night’s defeat. “You take away one inning and one game, and it was very one-sided. We just didn’t get it done.”
The Yankees’ first-round sweep against the banged-up Twins, who entered the postseason without Justin Morneau and with Joe Mauer playing hurt, masked a team that went 29-30 from Aug. 1 on.
New York was outscored 38-19 by Texas, outhit .304 to .201 and had a 6.58 ERA to Texas’ 3.06. New York batted .151 (8 for 53) with runners in scoring position to .328 (19 for 58) for the Rangers, and while Texas swiped nine bases in 10 chances, New York stole just two.
Alex Rodriguez hit .190 with two RBIs in the ALCS, while Brett Gardner slumped to .176 and Nick Swisher to .091. Mark Teixeira was 0 for 14 before straining a hamstring, leaving his two-year postseason average with the Yankees at .180.
Last year, their left fielders and designated hitters – primarily Damon and Matsui – hit .296 with 15 runs, five homers and 21 RBIs in the postseason. This time, with Gardner and Marcus Thames getting most of the at-bats, the left field and DH slots combined for a .220 average with five runs, two homers and nine RBIs.
CC Sabathia’s postseason ERA rose from 1.98 to 5.63 and A.J Burnett’s from 5.27 to 7.50. While Damaso Marte (0.00 ERA) and Phil Coke (five scoreless appearances before allowing two runs in Game 5 at Philadelphia) gave them solid left-handed relief in 2009, Boone Logan had a 10.80 ERA in the playoffs.
This was only the second time the Yankees were outhit by 100 points in a postseason series, the first since the New York Giants outhit them .309 to .203 in the 1922 World Series, according to STATS LLC. And was it the biggest ever difference for the Yankees’ ERA over an opponent’s, topping the 1976 World Series, when Cincinnati had a 2.00 ERA to New York’s 5.45.
This winter’s moves should overshadow the minor makeover that followed World Series title No. 27.
Girardi’s initial $7.8 million, three-year contract as Joe Torre’s successor is expiring, but there’s little doubt he will return.
“I would think that would be our first order of business,” general manager Brian Cashman said. “But I haven’t talked to our owners yet.”
Other than the trade for outfielder Curtis Granderson, who finally started to hit consistently in September and October, most of the Yankees’ offseason moves didn’t work out.
Javier Vazquez, acquired from Atlanta in the Melky Cabrera trade, was a bust with a 10-10 record and was dropped from the postseason roster. Brittle Nick Johnson, signed to be the DH in his return to the Yankees, didn’t play after May 7 because of his repeatedly injured right wrist.
Now they enter an offseason when they are expected to lavish a nine-figure offer on Lee, the left-hander who is 3-0 against them in two postseasons, and perhaps pursue Crawford, who likely will be sought by the Los Angeles Angels.
In addition, three of the core four are finishing contracts, with Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte all eligible for free agency.
Jeter is coming off a $189 million, 10-year contract at 36. He is expected to re-sign, perhaps for a higher average salary over a four- or five-year deal.
“I haven’t even thought about it,” he said. “It’s 15 minutes after we lost. I’m not thinking about what we need next year.”
New York could start to think about transitioning Jeter from shortstop to make room for Eduardo Nunez, a Triple-A All-Star who hit .289 with four homers and 50 RBIs at Scranton-Wilkes-Barre.
Rivera, finishing a $45 million, three-year deal as he turns 41 next month, also is likely to be back. Pettitte, who made $11.75 million at 38, probably will have to decide in the next few weeks whether to return or retire.
“I wish I knew. I’ll talk to my wife and see what she’s thinking,” Pettitte said. “And then see how I’m feeling about it, whether I want to do it again. It’s the family. Those off-days get hard. You fly home and see the family for a couple of hours.”
More pressing is the defensive deterioration of Jorge Posada, who at 39 threw out just 10 of 82 runners attempting to steal during the regular season (12.2 percent). Posada is due $13.1 million in 2011, the final season of a $52.4 million, four-year deal.
Behind him is Jesus Montero, a Triple-A All-Star at Scranton who will be 22 next month. He batted .289 at Scranton with 21 homers, 75 RBIs and a .517 slugging percentage. The Yankees may want to hold him back until about Memorial Day, ensuring he wouldn’t be eligible for salary arbitration until after the 2014 season.
Kerry Wood, acquired at the trade deadline, also can be a free agent. New York could try to re-sign him after his solid effort as a setup man for Rivera. Lance Berkman and Austin Kearns, other July pickups, probably will depart and New York is likely to seek an upgrade over Thames.
Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain are eligible for arbitration for the first time and will get huge raises. Chad Gaudin, Sergio Mitre, Dustin Moseley and Logan also can go to arbitration, which might make them too pricey for their roles.
Defeat will spark a turnover.
“That nasty feeling we have in our stomachs right now,” Swisher said, “that’s definitely going to help us this offseason.”
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