The Post-Mortems Begin

September 13, 2008 – 2:51 pm

It looks like the silly season is well on us, and we’re going to start being bombarded by asinine articles like this one.  Oh, if only the Yankees had kept Joe Torre, surely they would have the division locked up by now!  What crap.  As I’ve said before, for the last five years under Torre the Yankees were each year slipping further behind the rest of the league.  Had they kept Torre there’s no doubt they would not have made the playoffs this year.  The disappointment is that Girardi didn’t reverse this five, now six year trend.  But keeping Torre would have changed nothing.  Enough of that nonsense.

And then there’s blaming Cashman for his decision to go with young, unproven pitchers.  Again, what a load of crap.  The reason for the Yankees’ poor performance this year had nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with pitching!  In terms of runs per game, last year they were +0.10 runs better than league average, and this year they were +0.17 runs better than league average.  In spite of everything, the pitching actually improved over last year!  So blaming Cashman over his pitching decisions is ludicrous.

No, the real problem was the offense.  Last year they were +1.08 over league average in runs per game, but this year it’s only +0.06.  That’s more than a run per game difference, and THAT ladies and gentlemen is why they are out of the playoffs and in fourth place.  Where to lay the blame for that?  I’m not sure there is any blame to be had, quite frankly.  By far and away the biggest reason for the offensive shortcomings was the injury to Jorge Posada.  Last year Jorge’s numbers were .338/.426/.543.  In his place, Jose Molina is .219/.264/.311.  That’s over 100 points BA and over 200 points SLG.  Combine that with the terrible years that Cano (.306 down to .261 BA) and Cabrera (.273 down to .242 BA) have had, and you pretty much have the season in a nutshell.  Injuries are part of the game, so there’s not much you can do about that.  And who saw the Cano-Cabrera meltdown coming?

So I’m pretty willing to just chalk up this season to the Baseball Fates — it just wasn’t meant to be.  But that’s not to say there’s not much that needs to be changed between now and next year.  In fact, quite the opposite.  Cabrera I suspect is long gone, and with Nady the outfield looks to be in good shape assuming Matsui can stay healthy next year.  But Cano is a major, major problem.  He’s become a huge offensive liability (his OBP is even under .300!).  Can he turn it around next year?  What contingency plans are there?  Posada is another big question mark — he’s getting on in age, and there’s no telling how he’s going to rebound from missing almost a full season.  Is it time to move him to maybe first base, and bring in another catcher?  And of course there are lots of questions about the pitching as well — Andy Pettitte seems to have hit the wall lately, and you have to wonder if he’ll be back.  And once again they will be relying on young, unproven pitchers.  Clearly they need to bring in at least one solid starter.  Plus, they managed to make it through yet another season without a good setup man — that’s a position that definitely needs to be filled.

All in all, lots of issues for the off season!  And maybe this time next year there will be reasons to complain about Girardi and Cashman.  But this year?  Sorry, you can’t hold either of them accountable.

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