This postseason has been interesting to say the least. About two weeks ago, I would have told you that the Yankees were going to sweep the Orioles in the ALDS. Their ace was pitching Game 1; the winningest pitcher in postseason history was going in Game 2, followed by their most consistent pitcher all season in Game 3. As we now know, the Yankees-Orioles series wasn’t that easy and the series went all five games, thus preventing CC Sabathia from starting Game 1 of the ALCS against the Tigers.
As I sit here typing this and the Yankees are down 3-0 against the Tigers. This series has been frustrating to say the least, but so has the entire postseason. The Yankees offense has fallen silent over these past couple of weeks and as a result are staring elimination from the postseason in the face tonight. It is pretty unfathomable that the Yankees are just 3-6 in the playoffs when their pitching staff has put up an ERA of 2.25. If they had gotten just average production from their offense it is safe to say that things would be much different.
The thing that has pissed me off the most is that everyone is jumping on Alex Rodriguez. I get it. The guy makes a lot of money. He has done several things that have been questionable in terms of public relations throughout his career. But let’s step back for a second and really ask ourselves if this is all A-Rod’s fault. Sure, he has been awful this postseason – he is 3 for 23 (all singles) with 12 strikeouts. He looks lost at the plate and has been a liability with runners in scoring position. But let’s not forget who we are talking about. We’re talking about a man who has hit 647 home runs in the big leagues, who with a couple more healthy and productive seasons could end up retiring as the all time leader in runs, home runs and RBI. Not to mention in his meager state he can still put together a pretty decent at bat.
Benching and pinch-hitting for A-Rod were both bold and necessary moves. However, I think it has begun to go a little too far. I was surprised that Joe Girardi did not start A-Rod last night and am disappointed that he’s on the bench again tonight. Eric Chavez is 0-14 in the postseason and does not represent much more of a threat than A-Rod does right now. The more Girardi benches A-Rod, the more of a story it becomes. The New York media loves to jump on A-Rod. Everyone has figured that out by now. But it is starting to get ridiculous. I cannot believe that stories were published that accused A-Rod of flirting with fans during the game. To those writers, I beg you to find something real and substantial to write about. I am certainly no journalist, but I would be ashamed to find my career path end up consisting of smear campaigns of professional athletes.
A-Rod is not the same player he once was. I think we can all agree on that. But I truly believe that he can still be a productive player and that he still has something left in the tank. People have forgotten about 2009, when A-Rod put the team on his back and helped the Yankees get a ring. They don’t win that World Series without him. Not a chance. I understand that New York is a “what have you done for me lately” sort of town. I was born and raised there. But there are other people that need to be held accountable. A-Rod is just one player on a team full of people struggling.
The Yankees have come to bat in 40 innings against the Tigers this series and have scored five runs. They scored those five runs in two of those 40 innings. That makes 38 innings in which the Yankees have not scored against Tigers pitching. That is brutal. Robinson Cano, who looks like a little leaguer when he comes to bat nowadays, finally broke his postseason hitless streak in the ninth inning of last night’s game. His at bats have been absolutely brutal and have not been representative of the person who is supposed to be the most dangerous hitter on the team. Everyone was clamoring for Girardi to move Cano up in the lineup, but he has done nothing to justify those wishes.
While Cano and A-Rod have both been black holes in the middle of the Yankee lineup, the person who makes me wince every time he is at bat is Curtis Granderson. If swinging and missing were a sport, the Grandy Man would be a first ballot hall of famer. I get it, striking out is part of his game. That is fine. But he literally has zero chance on anything that is off-speed right now. If I were on the Tigers staff, I would absolutely not give him any sort of fastball to hit. He has struck out 6 times in his 10 ALCS at bats, while walking twice. He does not have a hit. Girardi made a point of saying that the Yankees needed to make adjustments after the team’s Game 2 loss. Granderson clearly has not made any kind of adjustments. He seems like an automatic to strike out every time he is at the plate. I was hoping that Girardi was going to bench Granderson last night, but he finally has done so tonight.
Nick Swisher has developed a reputation as someone who cannot come through in the postseason. I don’t know if I necessarily buy into that – maybe he just has gotten cold at the wrong time the past few years. Maybe he does indeed put more pressure on himself. I’m not inside his head, so I don’t know. What I do know is that Swisher needs to be himself and get on base if the Yankees have a prayer tonight. He is an integral part of their lineup and they should go to every length they can to re-sign him this offseason, short of giving him a ridiculous contract. Swisher was riding the pine last night but is back in the lineup tonight. Hopefully the night off can get him going.
Losing Derek Jeter after Game 1 almost seemed like the nail in the Yankees coffin. Now that the team is down 3-0 in the series, it almost seems inevitable that the Yankees offseason will begin in short order. But there is a tiny glimmer of hope. I fully expect CC Sabathia to go out there tonight and pitch a great game. If the Yankees bats can finally wake up, then maybe they can get him a win. Andy Pettitte will keep them in the game if he gets the chance to start tomorrow night, and a win in Game 5 would give the Yankees all the momentum going back to the Bronx for a potential Game 6. It’s an incredible long shot. Only one team in history has come back from a 3-0 deficit, and I like to pretend that it never happened. But tonight is all that matters. Let’s get the bats going gentlemen. It’s not over just yet.