Let’s look on the bright side … no, scratch that. There is no bright side. Let’s try to take in the big picture … no, skip it. That’s crap, too.
The Yankees’ 3-2 elimination loss to Detroit on Thursday night was as ugly as a one-run defeat can be. They were a better team than the Tigers, not by much, but a little. They had a lower team ERA and scored more runs, they were playing at home with their relief corps rested, and Justin Verlander didn’t pitch. The Yankees should have won.
Why didn’t they? Well, apparently it is all Alex Rodriguez’s fault. But isn’t it possible that some of the other Yankees didn’t get the job done, either? And what does this tell us about this Yankee team?
Alex Rodriguez didn’t not do the job all by himself. Not by a long shot.
Mike Lupica wrote a whole column about how it is A-Rod’s fault, three days after writing a whole column about how if they lost, it would be A-Rod’s fault. You get the feeling that if he did not play and the Yankees lost, Lupica would switch to soccer or something.
On ESPN.com, Buster Olney tells us that “A-Rod Doesn’t Get The Job Done.” Well, there’s no argument there. He didn’t get the job done, though it might have been charitable if someone at least pointed out that he was playing with a sore knee and has a bad thumb. But when you’re making all that money, you’re not supposed to be vulnerable.
How about the rest of them? Curtis Granderson and Robbie Cano did okay, so let’s leave them out of this. Let’s look at the other big hitters in this series — no, let’s look at them over the last two postseasons.
In 64 at-bats in the 2010 and 2011 postseasons, Derek Jeter has hit just .250 with no home runs, 4 RBIs, and an on-base average of .284. Rodriguez, in 50 at-bats, has hit .180 with no home runs, 6 RBIs, and an OBP of 2.93. Mark Teixeira has been at bat 45 times, batted .156 with one home run, 4 RBIs and a .255 OBP. Nick Swisher has hit 3 home runs, but that’s all he’s done. In 53 at-bats, he’s hit .189 with 3 RBIs – all on the home runs – and an OBP of .259.
Let’s put that all together: Over the last two postseasons, Jeter, A-Rod, Tex and Swish have been at bat 212 times – let’s call that a third of a regular season – and batted .198 with an OBP of .274. In all of those trips to the plate, those four have driven exactly 17 runs.
What accounts for this astonishing record of ineffectiveness? I’d be curious to see what you think, because I haven’t the faintest idea.
Let me add something more: Our ace, C.C. Sabathia, pitched 24.2 innings in the postseason in 2010 and 2011 and gave up 16 earned runs. That’s an ERA of 6.60. In 24.2 innings, he gave up 32 hits and walked 15.
Is this a fluke? Hard to say. Maybe Billy Beane was right when he called the postseason a crapshoot. But let’s not make up our minds until we’ve looked at a few other things.
From the beginning of the season through July, Sabathia’s ERA was 2.85. For the rest of the season he was 5.55, and that doesn’t count his performance against Detroit. Over the past two seasons, Sabathia’s ERA from Opening Day through July has been 2.81, and his ERA for the rest of the way was 4.47. Are we seeing a trend here? I don’t know. I’m just looking at the guy and wondering that if he were in some kind of shape, would his arm be a little less tired as it came down to the end of the season? Is it really all that much of a coincidence that he was the one who gave up the eventual winning run against the Tigers yesterday?
I don’t know what’s to be done about batters who hit during the season and not in the playoffs. Maybe if you come to the plate often enough, it all evens out. But I do think the Yankees have been kidding themselves that they have an ace in C.C. An ace is somebody you can count on to show up in the big games.
The odd thing about all this is that there’s no reason why this team shouldn’t win next year. Ivan Nova looks bona fide, and Jesus Montero should blossom, particularly if Russell Martin is there to ease him into the catcher’s role. I don’t think A-Rod is washed up; I think he’ll come back well when he has an entire offseason to heal. I have no idea what the Yankees are going to do with Jeter, but I’m not counting him out. They’ll lose Posada, and I’m sorry for that, but it happens to us all sooner or later. With Joba back and a good starting pitcher, I don’t know – but at least they’ll finish ahead of the Red Sox.
Al I can say is thank God for 2009, because without it this would have been one lousy ten-year postseason stretch.