By John Schmeelk
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Here are some of the things I’ve heard from Yankees fans the last couple days:
It’s a shame the Cubs already hired a manager, they can’t take Girardi away from us.
We need a new general manager since Brian Cashman let Cliff Lee get away.
Phil Hughes is not a big game pitcher and he doesn’t have the mind or stuff to ever become one.
It’s crazy. The Yankees couldn’t hit in this series, their starters were terrible, and the bullpen (besides Wood and Rivera) couldn’t get it done either. They were outplayed so badly, it wouldn’t have mattered what Joe Girardi did in this series, the Yankees would have lost. Cliff Lee started one game for the Rangers. ONE. The Yankees managed to get dominated by Colby Lewis twice and besides Game 1, couldn’t hit the Rangers bullpen. This is the same core group that won the World Series last year, so how could it be Brian Cashman’s fault? Finally, filing Phil Hughes as a postseason choke artist after one year and two starts is beyond simple minded. He pitched like garbage, but that doesn’t mean his future is set.
World Series title or failure is the mantra of the Yankees and their fans, and it should be. With the talent on the Yankees that should always be the goal, and anything short is a disappointment. However, there shouldn’t be some kind of panic and “the sky is falling” mentality when a team loses in six games in the American League Championship Series. The team is very good, and might need some tweaks, but there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with it. Cashman and Girardi don’t need to go and the roster shouldn’t be gutted. Overreactions like a lot of Yankees fans are advocating are the types of things that can destroy a franchise.
The Yankees were badly outplayed in a short series. It can happen to anyone. The bigger concern should be the poor performance the last two months of the season. A lot of that has to do with an under-performing pitching staff. Andy Pettitte was hurt. Hughes had a bad August and September. A.J. Burnett and Javier Vazquez were terrible. Bringing in a pitcher in free agency and convincing Pettitte to return solves much of the problem.
The lineup, which also didn’t consistently perform this year, is a tougher problem to solve. Look at the stars of this team that had down years this season: Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira. You have to hope Teixeira is just a blip on the radar and he’ll be fine. Granderson had a good last couple months and the adjustments he made with Kevin Long seem to have made a difference.
The other three are more problematic. Jorge Posada has one year left on his contract, and can be phased out as a full-time catcher next year. From what I’ve heard, the Yankees don’t think Jesus Montero is quite ready for the majors yet, especially defensively. But he’s an option to give Posada a blow and keep some offense in the lineup something Francisco Cervelli can’t do. Alex Rodriguez is in decline. He hasn’t hit more than 30 HR’s or higher than .290 the last couple of years. But the Yankees are committed to him, and they’ll be stuck with a declining player with a bad hip and a monster contract for another decade. Then there’s Derek Jeter, a complicated topic that requires a lot more space than I can dedicate to here.
That’s more than half the lineup that underperformed. It should be no surprise that the team didn’t win the World Series. It’s not as easy as the Yankees of the late 90’s made it seem. There are bumps in the road. There’s a reason no team has repeated as champions since the dynasty Yankees. And I know I’m going to sound like a Mets fan when I say this, but Yankees fans, please stop acting like spoiled little brats that are owed a World Series title every year. It doesn’t work that way. Be disappointed, but don’t overreact and embarrass yourselves. Get some perspective and lose with some class.