The Tampa Bay Rays effectively killed the Yankees season with that 10-3 beat down last night. Am I overreacting right now? No. we just aren’t a good enough team pitching or hitting to win a championship this year or to compete with Minnesota, Texas or Tampa. So here’s my solution to the Yankees problems—next year, because its too late to save the Yankees from a first round playoff exit this year…
- Get Cliff Lee and make either Ivan N ova or Joba Chamberlain a starter next year. As you can see the A.J. Burnett deal is slowly fizzling into a black hole as Burnett hasn’t been able to figure his stuff out now for 3 months. unfortunately in this economic climate no one in their right mind would be willing to take on a contract from a player with 3 years and close to 50 million dollars left on it. especially for a player that can’t find the plate consistently. However, you can dump Javier Vazquez into the Hudson River this season (I meant free agency, though I wouldn’t mind the former). I think Nova is ready to be a starter and you need to find out about what Chamberlain truly is at this point. There is no way to tell if he will be a full time reliever or if they can make him a full time starter with no friggin “Joba Rules.” The rotation next year should look like this: C.C. Sabathia-Lee-Phil Hughes-Nova/Chamberlain-Burnett.
- Sign Joe Girardi to a long-term extension, roughly 5 years/30 million. Why? I mean the guy has won a World Series and has them in contention this year despite not having any type of starting pitching, consistency from his power hitters Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez or at the top of the lineup with Derek Jeter (more on this in a minute). Girardi has been under scrutiny for a while and there have been rumors about him taking the open Chicago Cubs job due to his affiliation with the area and the team. Its important for the Yankees to keep some level of consistency on a team where right now there is none.
- This is the most important note as the Yankees season winds down and it has to do with Derek Sanderson Jeter. First and foremost give that man whatever he wants for a contract for the years that he has put in with the organization and his meaning to the Yankees as a whole. By season’s end he will be the Yankees all-time leader in wins and hits and will start next season less than one hundred hits away from that magical number of 3000. Jeter’s meaning to the Yankees is more than hits or numbers; he’s been the face of the franchise since the late 90’s and could very well be the greatest Yankee ever. If he wants 25 million a year for the next 4 years then give it to him… however as great as Jeter is, Girardi has to make this big decision when it comes to the lineup—drop him to either the seventh or ninth spot in the lineup next year.
His production at the top of the order has been dreadful as he has been hovering around the .260 average mark for the entire second half of the season and his .332 on base percentage hasn’t made driving in runs for the middle of our lineup easy. You have to move Jeter to the end of the lineup and put Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson/ Nick Swisher in the 1-2 holes. Swisher has had a career year platooning between the 2 and 6 slots with a career high in average hovering close to .300 throughout the year. that’s what makes the Jeter quandary so tricky. You would think that Girardi knows this right now but doesn’t want to upset Jeter by moving him to an inferior portion of the Lineup. Listen Joe, I love Derek Jeter he’s been my favorite athlete for 15 years and running now—but at some point you gotta look at Jeter and say dude you have to bat there but you’re killing us here. There was a point in a series against Baltimore at home two weeks ago where we had an opportunity to score some runs with runners in scoring position and I saw that Jeter was up next and I got nauseous.
That to me has been the biggest problem with the Yankees offense this year, I think guys are hitting in all of the wrong areas on this lineup. The fact that Teixeira is hitting .254 and is still third in the lineup puzzles me. The lineup should have Gardner at the top followed by Swisher, Robinson Cano, A-rod, Tex, some combination of Jorge Posada or Lance Berkman at 6 or 7 and flip flop Jeter and Curtis Granderson at 8 or 9. That reflects how these guys have been hitting all year and would give guys like Tex and Jeter better pitches to hit to up their dismal averages. I feel Girardi is respecting his players a little too much and needs to do what is right. If he would’ve started batting Jeter in the 7, 8, 9 slot I guarantee you he would’ve gotten much better production out of him.
However, it’s a little too late to wonder about the what-ifs of this season. Unless the Yankees flip the on switch they won’t be making a run at their 28th title this year. The last two games of the Tampa series proved that beyond a shadow of a doubt. Inconsistent hitting, pitching and mind-blowing under achieving by guys that were expected to be major contributors to a repeat (that’s you Vazquez and you nonchalant attitude towards losing). As a fan it stinks to watch you team win 95 games and know they won’t make a dent in the postseason, but hopefully next year Brian Cashman and company learn from their mistakes and do the right things to make this team better.