Friday, October 7, 2011

Bats - not arms - cost Yankees ALDS

By Alan K. Stout

The 2011 American League Divisional Series between the Yankees and Tigers ended last night, with the Yankees losing the decisive Game 5 by a score of 3-2 at Yankee Stadium. I blogged last week about how I felt the team was playing with "house money" in the post-season this year, because I really didn't feel as if they had enough starting pitching to battle through MLB's often brutal three-tier playoff tournament. I was not alone, as it seemed few people were picking the Yanks to win. But after watching the games, we now know the Yankees pitching was not the problem.

It was the bats that cost them the ALDS.

A-Rod hit .111.

Texiera hit .167.

Swisher hit . 211

That - more than anything - killed the Yankees.

The starting pitching really wasn't bad at all. The Yankees were in every game that they lost and, with the exception of Game 2 - when they were no-hit for six innings -they had plenty of chances. They left tons of men on base. They did not get the big hits. And they lost three games by a total of four runs.

Most of the blame falls on the 4-5-6 guys in the lineup. Overall, the Yanks hit .260 in the series and had 45 hits, which isn't bad for the playoffs and certainly not bad considering they got nothing from the heart of the order. Yet already, some of the idiots on sports-talk radio are saying that Girardi was "too tight" as he managed the team in Game 5 and implied that he managed with fear. Bullshit. The only reason he took Nova out in the second was because he got hurt. And while I did think he was a little bit quick in yanking Hughes, the only move he made that I didn't really feel good about was bringing in Sabathia. There was just something about CC's body language on the mound that didn't look right to me. He looked tired, and the one run he did cough up did come back to haunt the Yanks. But let's not get carried away and start piling on Joe Girardi. His starter gave up two runs in the first inning and then got hurt, and he still pieced together a game in which Detroit ended up with only one more run. If some of the big bats got a few hits, we'd be talking about what a brilliant job Girardi did in patching the game together.

Another easy and not-so-smart thing to do today is to start bitching about how the Yankees are "old." It's an easy cop-out after a tough loss, but it's an exaggeration. Go around the entire diamond in your mind, and you'll realize that we've got a guy at shortstop and a guy at third base that are in their mid-30s, but other than that, this is not really an old team. We also have an above average bullpen and some nice young talent on the roster. Other than trying to improve the starting rotation, there is no need to "blow the whole thing up." They need to keep Sabathia and try to get a strong No. 2. That's it. I also might consider letting Swisher walk, but I'm not sure what's out there on the market to replace him. He is a very good regular season player hitting in the six hole, but he seems to be very streaky and vanishes in October. Cashman needs to figure that one out.

One other thing I realized in watching the ALDS is that the Yankees, when facing another team's ace pitcher, never seem to win. Just once, it'd be nice to see the big thumpers smack somebody like Verlander around in a playoff game, but that never, ever seems to happen. And with the way the heart of the order hit in this series, it would be very hard to imagine them getting a couple of wins off of some of the other pitchers they would have faced in the ALCS or World Series. But ... we'll never know.

Again, it was the bats that cost the Yankees the ALDS, not the the arms. And while I'd usually say there are many reasons that a team loses a post-season series, and that it's usually just too difficult to nail it down to just one, I can do just that in this case. One reason. Three stats:

A-Rod - .111.

Texiera - .167.

Swisher - .211

Enough said.

1 comment:

Lee said...

I'll take it a step further...not only do they not hit aces well, they also GACK against rookies and youngsters. There is something about young guys that seem to cross up the Billionaire Boys Club.

But to last night, I cringed watching Gardner and Posada coming through and ARod, Tex and Swish unable to get even a fly ball with men in scoring position. Heartbreaking, really...

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