The New York Yankees, the American League East Champions were swept tonight by the AL Central Champion Detroit Tigers in the American League Championship Series, losing Game 4 by a score of 8-1. The Yankees made headlines in the series for their putrid offensive display which caused manager Joe Girardi to bench star players at a dizzying clip. The loss was rather humiliating in the end and has ignited the Hot Stove fire.
With their ace CC Sabathia on the mound the Yankees hoped they would make it to see another day and string together another win to get the series back to the Bronx. Even CC at his finest would have had a hard time recording the win as the Yankees offense continued to stumble managing to score only one run.
Detroit’s Max Scherzer was fantastic, holding a no-hitter into the sixth inning. A triple by Eduardo Nunez broke up the no-no and Nick Swisher got his second career hit with runners in scoring position in his 36th try. Yes, that’s 2-for-36. It’s been nice having you in right field these last four seasons Nick, but you may have worn out your welcome in the Bronx.
While Scherzer was setting down Yankee batters with ease (he had ten strikeouts) Sabathia labored from the opening pitch. He didn’t look like a guy with an extra day of rest. He looked worn and couldn’t make it out of the fourth inning. He was not helped by his defense early on and ended up leaving down 6-0 after two-run homers by both Miguel Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta.
This series will be remembered for the inept offense and the lineup decisions Girardi felt he was forced to make. Yankee batters struck out 36 times in the ALCS. The Bombers hit .157 for the series. In the end it seemed that no matter what move he made with the offense it didn’t work. Of the starters who played all four games only Ichiro Suzuki hit over .300 (.353).
The offseason will have plenty of storylines some of which began while the ALCS was in progress. Typically after a season ends the team will look at its coaching staff first. If there is a coach who should be concerned about his job security it would be hitting coach Kevin Long. I’m not sure they fire him, but he could be on a short leash next season if they start out slowly. In my estimation Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild are very safe as is bench coach Tony Pena, though he will make the rounds to interview for managerial positions (he already interviewed with Boston).
As for the players, Alex Rodriguez will be the main focal point for the media. Will he indeed be moved by the Yankees in the winter? If he isn’t traded, what will his role be and how is his relationship with Girardi going to play out?
Will the Yankees simply exercise the option on Robinson Cano ($15 million) and deal with an extension after the 2013 season? Or will they try to use his awful postseason as leverage against him and his super-agent Scott Boras and get a deal done now? Despite his horrendous 3-for-40 showing in the postseason, Cano is the Yankees best player.
I can’t imagine that Curtis Granderson will play in pinstripes beyond his 2013 option year in which he would make $13 million should the Yankees pick it up. He’s become an all or nothing hitter, who doesn’t run much anymore and plays poorly in the field. Some team will be willing to give him serious money in 2014 and the Yankees would be foolish in my opinion to keep Granderson around beyond 2013. I wouldn’t be opposed to them letting him walk now as I’m not convinced he is worth $13 million.
There are plenty of other question marks surrounding the Yankees. Will Rafael Soriano who has an opt-out clause enforce it if he feels he can parlay his 43 saves into a multi-year deal now? Will Mariano Rivera indeed make a comeback? Will Andy Pettitte return? Do the Yankees sign Ichiro to a deal? What about Hiroki Kuroda and Russell Martin? Can Derek Jeter return 100% healthy after having ankle surgery?
There is a question to be asked at every turn when looking through the Yankees roster and the organization’s brass will work tirelessly over the offseason in the hopes of building a team that can bring a 28th World Championship to the Bronx.