If you asked New York Yankee fans what their team’s biggest weakness was heading into the 2012 MLB playoffs, it is unlikely that they would have said, “It’s the hitting, stupid.” Yet, here we are, and the offseason agenda may be different because of it.
New York is down 3-0 in the ALDS because its lineup has packed the punch of an altar boy. At the Yankees’ playoff pace, they would need 280 games to reach their regular season total of 245 homers. It would take them 306 games to match the 804 runs.
The Yankees were lucky to even make it this far.
Fair or foul, the baseball universe has come to expect postseason shortcomings from Alex Rodriguez. His “performance” may be the least upsetting of any Yankee.
The same could be said about Nick Swisher, who has officially become annoying as opposed to endearingly carefree. His career numbers are horrendous. He now has a .167 playoff batting average. I wonder if he even knows.
But Robinson Cano? He concluded the regular season on a nine-game multi-hit streak. Cano was hit-less since the second game of the Baltimore series before his ninth inning single last night.
Curtis Granderson has been so bad that Yankees fans are beginning to wonder if he’s too one-dimensional—a major accomplishment in baseball’s home-run-obsessed culture. He has one postseason homer to go along with 15 strikeouts.
Coincidentally, Cano and Granderson will be free agents this offseason. I wrote a week ago that the negotiations figure to be anything but smooth, citing Cano’s age (29) and Granderson’s second-fiddle status as possible breaking points. Their collective postseason letdowns cannot make the negotiations any better.
Still, the Yankees must lock up Cano with a lifetime contract. He’s their best player and a top 10 hitter in the league. I’d rather him be a financial liability in 2020 than see him anywhere else before then.
It would be a critical error to be swayed by such a small sample size. Cano has had an OPS of over 1.000 in three different postseasons.
Granderson should return too.
People are going to say the Yanks need to rethink their offense approach—focus on small ball and reduce the fixation on home runs—but like it or not, New York isn’t reinventing itself anytime soon.
Whether it’s the stadium, the preference of Brian Cashman or anything else, for better or for worse, New York will place a premium on the long ball until they start counting for less. They need Granderson’s power, plain and simple.
Almost as shocking as the inept offense has been this postseason has been the strong starting pitching. New York starters have a postseason ERA of 2.37. They had a 4.05 earned run average during the regular season—15th in the bigs.
Overreactions aside, this is still where the team’s true weakness lies.
Andy Pettitte won’t do much good in the regular season. Ivan is No-Va to be found in the playoffs for a reason. To call Phil Hughes an enigma would be a compliment.
This means New York cannot afford to lose a starter. While not as important as Cano, the Yankees cannot part with Hiroki Kuroda.
Only time will tell if they will be active in the offseason in pursuing other free agents. If they are, starters like Zack Greinke, Edwin Jackson and/or Brandon McCarthy should be top interests as opposed to finding another bat.
The 2012 postseason has been frustrating for the precise reason that New York has failed in its areas of strength, but the worst possible result would be thinking that hitting is the issue in New York. Let’s not lose sight of the real problem.