The basic premise is that the New York Yankees, despite president Randy Levine’s protestations, don’t really care if they win the World Series as long as they make money.
If management wanted to maximize their chances of becoming World Champions this past season, general manager Brian Cashman would have been allowed to sign or trade for one or two top pitchers instead of settling for a number of retreads, such as Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia.
Near the July 31 trading deadline, Cashman said “I’d be shocked if I could trade for anything better than what I’m getting off the DL, both with starters in Colon and Hughes and in the bullpen with Soriano.”
Don’t claim that the Yankees lost to the Detroit Tigers because they failed to hit with men on base or that Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher were at fault. Yes, they were at fault because of the situations they were put into by the lack of top-flight pitching.
After Robinson Cano slugged the Yankees to a 9-3 win in the ALDS opener, the Yankees scored three runs in the second game, but Freddy Garcia gave up four runs, three of which were earned. Luis Ayala allowed the Tigers’ fifth run.
The three Yankees’ runs, which were scored in the eighth and ninth innings, might have been enough offense if the starter had been someone more effective than Freddy Garcia.
In the third game, the Yankees had an ace, a top pitcher, going for them. They scored four runs but C.C. Sabathia allowed four runs and Rafael Soriano allowed the filth run.
How often did David Cone, David Wells, Andy Pettitte or Orlando Hernandez need more than four runs?
No, this is not a comparison to those teams. It is a belief that the Yankees lack of clutch pitching is what cost them against the Tigers.
Down, two games to one, the Yankees sent A.J. Burnett to the mound to save their season. Why did they have to take a chance on Burnett? Because they didn’t have any other starters, that’s why.
Does anyone thing that Mark Buehrle, Ian Kennedy (whom the Diamondbacks would never trade but who once was a Yankee), Wandy Rodriguez, Matt Garza or even Zach Greinke might have been a better choice than Burnett?
Well, Burnett pitched well enough to win, in part because the Yankees, who didn’t have enough offense, managed to score 10 runs in a 10-1 win.
No one knows how effective Burnett would have been if he had pitched in the second game, when the Yankees scored three runs, or in the third game, when they scored four, but in the first four games, the Yankees scored nine, three,four and 10 runs. That is not an offensively-challenged team.
In the fifth game, the Yankees were down, 2-0 going to the top of the fifth inning. Joe Girardi brought in C.C. Sabathia in relief. It was the first relief appearance of his career. The Tigers scored their third and final run against him. It was the difference in the game.
As Casey Stengel used to say, you don’t ask a player to do what he cannot do.
One more vital factor was the ball park. If the ball park had the acoustics that were present in Yankee Stadium, the crowd noise would have been as loud as it used to be.
There is an excellent chance that Valverde, who was shaky, might have become rattled enough so that the game would have ended differently.
All of the above is interesting, but the bottom line remains that the Yankees didn’t have the ace pitcher necessary to make three or four runs stand up. Who shoulders the blame?