New York Yankees star third baseman Alex Rodriguez did a lot more swinging and missing than hitting safely in the American League Championship Series and needs to use the off-season to rebuild credibility. Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

New York Yankees Have Problems


There is no patience with the Yankees. They either make it to the World Series (acceptable year), or they don’t (failure). The rules are different in New York than they are in Seattle. If the Mariners made it to the American League Championship Series this year the entire town would declare a holiday. The Yankees flamed out in the ALCS, so they are subject to psychoanalysis.

After being swept by the Detroit Tigers four straight games (now Detroit is a place that appreciates a winner), and the way the American League East champs fizzled, maybe they do need some couch time. It is almost impossible to hit as poorly as the Yankees did as they went meekly into that good night, wrapping up the defeat Thursday with a 8-1 loss.

Alex K. Rodriguez, Curtis K. Granderson, Robinson K. Cano, Russell K. Martin, Eric K. Chavez (.000) and Nick K. Swisher put on a never-to-be-forgotten hitting display that was so bad that they will start spring training in 2013 batting off a tee. In Detroit, of course, they are calling it simply a matter of luckily having a roster with starting pitchers named Cy Young, Walter Johnson, Bob Feller and Warren Spahn.

The Yankees have more money than Wall Street and have never been shy about investing it in the best talent that money can buy for the starting lineup, the starting rotation, and for emergency backups. This year the Yankees had so many injuries that they needed those emergency backups off and on all season and in the playoffs. They sent out SOSs backup help in the post-season when the big dudes got hurt (Derek Jeter) or simply were playing lousy (K-Rod.) This time they didn’t come through.

Manager Joe Girardi spent six months frantically pushing buttons in order to get the team as far as it did. Losing closer Mariano Rivera for the year could have been fatal. Instead, Rafael Soriano was brilliant as a replacement. Jeter played as if he was 10 years younger until he broke his ankle in Game 1 of the ALCS. Girardi may have agonized over some of the moves he made in order to jolt the Yankees out of their hitting funk against the Tigers, but he was bold enough to make them. None was bolder than benching Rodriguez, the $30-million man who is going to be a Hall of Famer.

Rodriguez was in the worst slump of his life and there was no time for him to gradually work his way out of it, so you can’t blame Girardi for his desperate hoping Chavez would jump start things. Instead Chavez couldn’t get a single hit. There is no known explanation for Granderson’s hitting. Although his batting average was not good, the guy belted 43 home runs in the regular season and knocked in over 100 runs. His swinging in the ALCS was so terrible that he joined Rodriguez on the bench at one point, too.

Batter after batter, pitch after pitch, the scorecards read K, K, K, K, K next to Yankee names. Oen thing Rodriguez and Granderson should do is make eye doctor appointments.

The Yankees will brood over this playoff nightmare and as is their way they will make some dramatic off-season moves. Nobody knows what afflicted Granderson all of a sudden, but he’d better put in some off-season cage time to figure out how to reconnect his bat with the ball.

As for Rodriguez, the speculation has already started that he is finished as a Yankee and will be shipped to the Miami Marlins, his hometown team. However, not only does Rodriguez command a salary that will ruin the salary structure of just about any other team, but he has a no-trade clause in his contract.

Rodriguez is 37 and will turn 38 in the middle of the 2013 season. There is no indication he is ready to retire and he is closing in on some significant batting milestones and certainly will want to reach 700 home runs, 3,000 hits, 2,000 runs and 2,000 RBIs if he can. But if he is going to he needs to A) stay healthy, something he has been unable to do for a full season for four years in a row; and B) recover his stroke.

Rivera is determined to make a comeback in 2013 from his lost season. Jeter will bounce back from his bad break during what for him was a remarkable season. Rodriguez needs an Old Alex comeback, too. Whether it is attainable through hard physical work or it is attainable by overcoming a mental block no one knows.

If he wants it badly enough, and Rodriguez’ pride would seem to demand it, he must return to the game next spring completely recharged and capable of putting up All-Star numbers again. Rodriguez will either accomplish that feat or be looking at an earlier retirement than he ever contemplated.

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