More than half of yesterday’s Yankees starting lineup is heading for free agency this winter. So is exactly half of the postseason rotation, the guy who was supposed to be their closer, and (potentially) the guy who wound up being their closer.
It’s virtually impossible for this to be a totally quiet offseason.
“You’ve got to get away from the emotions, the anger, the disappointment and whatever (word) you want to use,” Brian Cashman said. “Step back, assess what you have, gravitate and wrap your arms around the ones you want to keep, try to pursue the ones you want to retain that are free agents, and then see what else is out there.”
There are decisions to make in the coming weeks and months, but beyond any individual roster move or free agent target, the Yankees most significant decisions seem set in stone.
Pitching is the “key to the kingdom,” and the lineup will be built around “big, hairy monsters.”
“We found a lot of ways to be the best team in the American League in the regular season, get through Baltimore in the first round, and get four games away from the World Series,” Cashman said. “There’s things I don’t want to forget about what got us here, what took place, the positives, that this team showed a lot of heart and guts to get through a lot of injuries. But it’s certainly disappointing and hard to stomach how we played here recently at the most important time of your year.”
Pitching is not the reason the Yankees are flying home today with nothing left to play for, and it’s not the team’s pitching decisions that are facing the most scrutiny right now. The Yankees offense was historically bad in the postseason, and there’s a widely held belief that it’s a philosophical shortcoming, not a sample-size anomaly.
“Raul Ibanez didn’t hit in last year’s postseason for Philadelphia; he hit in this postseason for us in a massive way,” Cashman said. “Why did we gravitate to him? He’s left-handed, he’s got power, he’s selective — big, hairy monster. He was great. I think people were happy with that decision. If you have a philosophy you believe in, that’s been tested, I have no problem with people asking about it — clearly trying to challenge it, trying to dissect it and tear it apart — but I am not going to turn myself into, as Joe (Girardi) used earlier in the year, the Bronx Bunters because all of a sudden we didn’t hit for this week in October. That’s not our DNA. That’s not what makes us successful and that’s certainly not what’s getting us in the postseason every year but one year since I got here.”
Granted, there’s something funny about Cashman choosing a bald man as his example of a big, hairy monster, but there was no hint of a smile on his face last night. The Yankees led the Major Leagues in on-base percentage, home runs and OPS this season. They were second in slugging percentage and runs scored. It’s compelling evidence that — long term — the Yankees philosophy is effective. What’s up for debate is whether that philosophy is ineffective in the postseason, or recent postseason failures are simply the product of random, hard-to-predict ebbs and flows.
“I would disagree that we’ve left ourselves vulnerable the last three postseasons,” Cashman said. “You open the postseason with one of the better run-producing clubs in the game. Just because you might not have produced in the last two or three postseasons or whatever, it doesn’t mean that that offense is really anemic and that’s what they really are. It’s almost like you put together a 162-game season with an offense that does what it does, and then you want to turn yourself into something that never would have gotten you into the postseason when you get there. That makes no sense for me.
“… If you believe in something strong enough, it should stand up to every challenge. Does that mean you’re going to win every year with it? It doesn’t mean that, but you should be very competitive.”
Associated Press photos