The following obituary is one Yankees fans have been writing in their heads since Derek Jeter went down with his ankle injury on Saturday night. Never before have I seen such an inevitable sweep unfolding from seemingly the first pitch of game one. You want a series analysis? The Yankees lost to a team that is far and away better then them in every category. Going into game four, having already mentally accepted the inevitable fate of the Yankees, I wondered if this series would be different had Derek Jeter not gone down. Yes it would have, but as yesterday’s 8-1 thrashing showed us, nothing short of Babe Ruth was going to help the Yankees advance to the World Series.
We should have seen this coming from a mile away. The roster assembled by Brian Cashman has fundamental flaws. The age, lack of diversity, and lack of depth can all be cited as reasons why the Yankees lost the ALCS in horrific fashion. We can ponder what would have happened if Derek Jeter had played, and we can second-guess the constant soap opera that was the Alex Rodriguez lineup shuffle from now until March. The bottom line is this: the Yankees are not who we thought they were. An aging group of sluggers, along with an aging roster building philosophy must be dumped or an ALCS sweep will start to become something to celebrate, not a disappointment.
The 2012 season will be remembered for its shortcomings as opposed to its triumphs. Even though we saw a career renaissance from Derek Jeter, an A.L. East championship, and impressive performances from C.C. Sabathia and Andy Pettitte throughout the season this 95 win season was a failure. It could be a forgettable season that does not influence any real changes, sort of like last season, or it could be a season that teaches us about the flaws with the Yankees and the Yankee way.
For starters, the three run bomb is much less prevalent in October. This has been true since the very first October disappointment in 2002 at the hands of the then Anaheim Angels. Yet, the roster philosophy has been to target the best home run hitters, and outspend everyone. When the Yankees were winning World Championships in the 90s, the following players would not be on the roster: Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeria, and Nick Swisher. Wait, you want to get rid of Curtis Granderson, you protest, but he hit 43 home runs! Yes, and the Yankees hit 245. It did not help at all in October. Small ball and good pitching become the desirable roster traits when the calendar turns. The Yankees big bats worked themselves into slumps against good pitchers, and where other rosters had the ability to manufacture runs the Yankees did not. The Yankees have four or five Curtis Grandersons in their lineup, and may be pursuing another one this offseason in Josh Hamilton. These players are either out of or nearing the end of their prime and are being compensated like they are the best in the game at their position. This machine of over spending for limited results forms teams that are not effective when it matters and, frankly, hard to root for. Why do Yankees fans boo Alex Rodriguez mercilessly the second he starts to struggle? You try rooting for a guy making $30 Million when he is probably the fifth or sixth best player on his own team.
The story of the 2012 Yankees is one we have seen before. Different names, different faces, same ideas. The problem is Brian Cashman and Randy Levine are tied together, and if one goes the other probably does as well. I would guess Brian Cashman doesn’t go anywhere, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t. In 2012 I found it harder and harder to root for the players. I found myself rooting for the interlocking NY on their cap and jersey. Unless changes are made in philosophy, and personnel at the top 2013 looks to provide the same disappointing, hard to root for brand of baseball.