You Have No Marbles: The 2011 Yankees Postmortem

Posted: October 7, 2011 by Keith Stone in baseball, MLB, Yankees


During Game 5, I was sitting behind a guy who was wearing a rabbit sock puppet and would make it jump around with the music. The rabbit was wearing glasses and a Yankees hat. Surprisingly, the guy was there alone. When the Yankees went down 3-0, he switched over to a squirrel, then went back to the rabbit for the later innings. He should have stayed with the squirrel.

Sometimes you just have a bad day and can’t get over the hump. That’s what happened to the Yanks. You can’t dwell on it. From the collective failures of A-Rod, Teixeira, and Nick Swisher to Nova’s injury, Girardi’s overmanaging, and eventually CC’s vincibility out of the bullpen, it just wasn’t our year. I’m blaming the sock puppet.

*****

The problem with the Yankees is that, with the exception of Robbie Cano, there just isn’t anybody with any huevos. We need guys with big, hairy huevos. When everyone is hitting, it’s all sunshine and gumdrops, but when the team is in a jam, it gets tighter than Sean Penn’s butthole. Of course the problem is that especially in the Division Series, one or two bad pitches can put the entire season in a precarious position. We learned that before Ivan Nova had thrown 10 pitches.

Tino Martinez, Paul O’Neill, and Bernie Williams didn’t have the natural talent like the guys on this year’s squad but when the going got tough, you know you could always count on them to get a big hit or even just draw a walk. I can’t even imagine them leaving this many guys on base or striking out with the bases loaded during a do-or-die game. For all the talk about baseball being a stats game, real fans know there’s a lot more that goes into a Championship team.

The 2012 Yankees will be bringing back most of this team. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing. They won 97 games with their cleanup hitter missing a signifant amount of time. Despite the fact that he was anti-clutch in the playoffs, A-Rod did have an injury excuse. He was battling knee and finger issues at the end of the season, and still managed to get good wood on a few balls against the Tigers. If a few drop, we’re not talking about him as a goat.

The pitching rotation was also a huge question mark during the season and should be Brian Cashman’s #1 priority. CC Sabathia will likely opt out of his current contract, but will stay with the team for a bigger deal. Nova is fine, but is young and shouldn’t be relied upon as the Yankees’ second starter. Matt Cain has been mentioned as a possible target and the Giants might be willing to give him up since they scored about 38 runs this season.

The most likely change to the lineup will come in right field. Nick Swisher has a reasonable option for 2012 but hasn’t shown up in the playoffs for each of the past three years. Might he be a possible trade chip? Not to say that he’s overvalued, but I think the spotlight of New York raises his demand more than if he played in Kansas City.

Jorge Posada is also a probable goner although he played valiantly in October. Jesus Montero should handle DH duties but could serve as trade bait along with pitching prospects Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances. Cashman has shown to be patient in recent years, holding onto Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain (remember him?) but dealing Ian Kennedy, who is now one of the best pitchers in the Majors.

The 2011 Yankees were a disappointment and a failure, but that’s obviously not a reason to blow up this team. With a bounce here or there, a little luck on the injury front, and an addition or two to the pitching staff, they will no doubt be contenders for the 2012 Crown. However, as we learned, you never know what exactly will be the tipping point. Or maybe it’s all on the rabbit.

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