By David Britt
The words that all fans hate to utter: There’s always next year.
Yankees fans are already saying that because the Detroit Tigers eliminated them after an embarrassing four game sweep.
There are plenty of players who deserve blame for the way the season ended, but here is one true reason why the Yankees were eliminated as quickly as they were.
No, it was not the fault of the umpires.
Robinson Cano was called out at first base when the bases were loaded with two outs in the second inning of Game One of the American League Championship Series. Cano was actually safe as instant replay showed. The Yankees would have led if the right calls were made.
In Game 2, the Tigers were handed runs when, with two outs in the eighth inning Omar Infante was called safe when he was clearly out. Had the right call been made, the inning would have been over and the Yankees would have only been down 1-0 not 3-0.
But as easy as it would be to blame the umpires who made terrible calls throughout the series, the blame cannot be on them.
The blame is on the Yankees’ offense entirely. Alex Rodriguez was awful. Nick Swisher was terrible. Curtis Granderson struck out more times than some players do in an entire month. Robinson Cano was historically terrible.
Only three hitters were any good: Derek Jeter, who went down with an injury in Game One, Raul Ibañez and Mark Teixeira. Everyone else was around the Mendoza Line.
Teams cannot win without scoring any runs. The Yankees proved that this postseason. The Yankees’ offense needs to come back next season and perform.
First, Rodriguez needs to be traded. It’s time for him to go. He cannot hit right-handed pitching. Most of his power is gone. Old age has clearly taken over. Yankees fans are tired of him and his constant failures in the postseason.
The problem is that Rodriguez has five years and $114 million left on his contract. If some team is even willing to talk about acquiring Rodriguez, the Yankees would have to pay most of that salary.
Rodriguez also has a no trade clause. If he says he does not want to be traded then the Yankees must keep him. There is only one team Rodriguez might even consider and that is the Miami Marlins as he is from Miami.
The options at third base would not be terribly limited. They could platoon Eric Chavez and Eduardo Nuñez. If anything, the Yankees could make a trade for a low-value third basemen who could get the job done.
Next, the Yankees must let Swisher walk. Swisher is a free agent but he still does not perform in the postseason. The Yankees have good enough outfielders to replace him and Swisher is too much of a liability in the field to be allowed to stay. The Yankees could also pursue an outfielder in free agency.
The Yankees must then re-sign Ichiro Suzuki. Ichiro came over to the Yankees and was a changed man. He played great offense and defense for the Yankees. He could move back to his natural position of right field with Swisher being out of the Bronx.
Then, the Yankees must pick up Curtis Granderson’s option and trade him. Trade him to any team that is willing to take him, even if it means paying part of the $12 million he is owed. Granderson is good, but he is an average defensive center fielder who has become a homerun-or-bust type of hitter. The Yankees do not need more homerun-or-bust type hitters. They do enough of that as it is.
The pitching depends on the decisions of Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda. Should Pettitte and Kuroda return, the Yankees will have a rotation of CC Sabathia, Pettitte, Kuroda, Phil Hughes and then they would have a choice to make. It would come down to Ivan Nova or Michael Piñeda.
Yankee fans can only hope that the Yankees improve next season. If the Yankees are on all cylinders they are one of the best teams in baseball. However, until it happens all we can say is that there’s always next year.