Full disclaimer before I rail against the New York Yankees (or as my brother so aptly calls them, the Stanks), everything that I’m about to write I’ve expressed at some point during the season. Don’t call me Captain Hindsight, I’ve seen this collapse coming for some time. But it could have been avoided.
The Yankees biggest flaw comes at the top of the clubhouse -- Joe Girardi. He lives and dies by statistics. If his binder tells him to make a move, he does it. There’s no intuition. And I could argue, there’s no faith either. No confidence. Don’t let his hardened exterior fool you, Girardi is the master of panic.
You know why I love Jim Leyland? He could have used Justin Verlander in Game 5 of the ALDS. Verlander was undoubtedly the best pitcher in baseball this season, and could very well win the AL MVP.
But it wasn’t Verlander’s turn in the rotation. So Leyland said he wasn’t going to use his ace, even in the do-or-die game.
Many questioned this decision. But I loved it.
Leyland had real confidence in the starter he was throwing out there -- Doug Fister. He wasn’t going to have Verlander on reserve because he wouldn’t allow himself to think that Fister would fail. The Tigers were going to win or lose behind Fister. And Fister didn’t have to keep looking over his shoulder all game to see if Verlander was warming in the bullpen.
Girardi doesn’t have that confidence in anybody but CC Sabathia.
But what the stubborn Girardi does have is a loyalty to veterans and big-money, big-name players who continually fail in the clutch.
Mark Teixeira, who plays a nice first base and hits a lot of home runs, hasn’t had a big hit in his pinstripe career. If you want Teixeira to drive in a run, it better be the first inning or the Yanks better have a seven-run lead.
Did it surprise anyone that he hit two home runs against the Rays in game 162 -- a game that meant the world to Tampa Bay but was completely worthless to New York?
Teixeira should bat no higher than seventh.
And A-Rod? I’m finally over him.
He’s pathetic. Seriously, he should go back to the ’roids, because whatever he’s doing now, it ain’t working.
Yes, the Tigers have a pretty good pitching staff. But 79-year-old Jorge Posada was the Yanks’ best hitter in the series. You’re telling me that Tex and A-Rod couldn’t get one meaningful hit between them?
They’re big names with big contracts, but Girardi simply cannot afford to keep batting them in the heart of the lineup.
And speaking of the lineup, how can Girardi not give Jesus Montero more than two at-bats in this series? He’s a rookie, but he’s also a stud. He had two at-bats and had two hits against the Tigers, but as the Yankees clearly couldn’t get anything going offensively in Game 5, why not give him an AB? What have you got to lose.
Girardi, who couldn’t make enough pitching changes apparently, didn’t make one single change in his lineup during the game. Really? Except for Robinson Cano, Brett Gardner and Posada, nobody was swinging the bat well. So why not give Montero a shot? You gotta do something -- can’t just sit back and watch A-Rod continually strike out.
I’ve questioned Girardi’s managerial style since he took over as the Yankees skipper. It’s too National League for my liking.
But aside from his style, his decision-making is awful.
All you need to know is that earlier in the season, Ivan Nova get demoted to Triple-A. By the end of the season, he was clearly New York’s No. 2 starter.
When I heard Nova had been sent down, I nearly had a heart attack. Here’s a young kid who I thought should have made the postseason roster a year ago, and now a year later, Girardi still doesn’t understand how great he is.
He won 16 games as a rookie! And spent nearly a month in the minors!
Seriously, Girardi is killing me.
Look, I never thought the Yankees were going to win the World Series this year. I just felt they had too many flaws -- they relied too heavily on the long ball, the bottom of the rotation was inconsistent, CC struggled in August and September.
But to go out like this, to lay down offensively in the season’s final game, it’s inexcusable.
I blame Girardi. I blame Teixeira. I blame A-Rod.
All three have a lot to prove to me and to all Yankees fans. Because they all made the offseason a little bit longer and a little bit tougher to deal with.