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Playoff Pansies
by Tony Aubry, BaseballEvolution.com
October 10, 2006

Playoff Pansies

Since 2001, the Boss has bought players like Giambi, Mussina, Sheffield, Matsui, Damon, Pavano, and Wright. None of them under the age of 30 (well Pavano was, but by the time he pitches again heíll be 37). Most of them have had great seasons, but in the postseason itís been a different story. All of them with the exception of maybe Matsui have had their ups and downs to say the least. Giambi hit those two HR against Pedro in 2003, but is hitting .220 in his last 86 post-season at bats. Sheffield is 8-45 and A-Rod, who is the poster boy for all this, is 4-41.

 

So the Yankeesí 4-5-6 batters are hitting .180 in their last 172 postseason ABís. Wonderful, isnít it? Mussina was great in game 3 of the 2001 ALDS and had a great relief outing in game 7 of the í03 ALCS. However, he couldnít hold a 3-1 lead on Thursday against a team he dominated back in June. He lost game 5 of last yearís ALDS, and couldnít hold a 6-1 lead against Anaheim in 2002. In all probability, a good chunk of these players wonít be on the Yankees next year.

 

 

You can kiss Sheffield goodbye. Wright is due 7 million next year, but missed 75 days, so the Yankees can pay him 4 million and ship him out. Mussina has a 17 million dollar option that wonít be picked up. Whether he wants to stay for half of that will be up to him. The Yankees could try to shop Pavano around, but he has less value than my 11-year old brother. Giambi still has about 40 million left over two years, which means heís going to stay.

 

That leaves us with A-Rod. If you have read any of my articles, you know I love him and have defended him to death. Deep down, in my heart of hearts, I donít want to see him go. It probably would be better for both A-Rod and the Yankees, but I donít want see it happen. Maybe now that Pinella is likely to manage next year, he can fix his head.But who knows?

 

Back to postseason performances, now. The Yankees have now lost 3 consecutive postseason series. They havenít done that sinceÖ wellÖ they have never done that. Theyíre also 3-10 in their last 13 postseason games. That is their worst stretch ever. In their most recent bust, the lineup that I thought put Murdererís Row to shame completely flopped. Since Damonís HR in game 2, they hit .186 and went 20 innings with out scoring a damn run. In 1927, Mudererís Row hit .280 and scored 6 runs per game. Kenny Rogers, who had been the playoffsí all-time worst pitcher, looked like Sandy Koufax. Jeremy Bonderman, who was smacked around twice by the Yankees early in the year, looked like Bob Gibson. Iím not trying to take anything away from these two, but theyíre simply not that good. Since when do two average pitchers pitch the game of their life on back-to-back days against a great lineup? Since the 2006 ALDS, I guess.

 

In 2005, this same group of guys, minus Damon, flopped. The best offense in the league was shut down once again. They averaged 5.5 runs per game, and in the playoffs, they scored under 5 in all but one game. A-Rod was 2-for-15 and hit into an infamous double play. Matsui was 4-20 and Sheffield was 6-21. That doesnít sound so bad, but I remember him leaving a tiny island on the bases.

 

We all know about 2004, and talking about that is prohibited in my household, so letís move on.

 

Keith thinks Iím a spoiled Yankee fan, and I have nothing to complain about since my team makes the playoffs every year, and won it 4 out of 5 years. Well yes, I am spoiled, but that isnít my fault. It isnít my fault that my team makes the playoffs every year. Even though they did it win it as recently as 2000, I never saw them win it. In case you didnít know, Iím 17. In 2000, when they won it, I was 11 and I was asleep. So just like any other Cubs fan who is under the age of 100 or any Indians fan under the age of 65, Iíve never seen my team win it. So I think I have every damn right to complain when my team has a hall of fame player at every single position and fails. I have every right to complain when perennial All Stars under achieve when it matters most. Speaking of having All Stars at every position, that could well change.

 

During this off-season, tons of things probably will change. Sheffield definitely wonít be here, and Mussina could be. Johnson still will be, and Wang obviously will. That leaves two spots open. One of them could be occupied by Phillip Hughes. Hughes is the biggest pitching prospect the Yankees have had since Pettitte and Scout.com rated him as the best prospect in the country. The last spot could very well be filled by another overpaid free agent. It could be either Zito or Schmidt. If either of them come here, theyíre going to be overpaid, as their best years are most likely behind them. Or, they could try out Darrell Rasner or Jeff Karstens, but that just isnít the Yankee way. Another position that is probably going to have to be filled is first base. Giambi is going to have off-season wrist surgery and isnít going to be able to play first as much. Another position could be third base, but only if A-Rod is traded, obviously.

 

Whomever the Yankees sign or trade for, I hope they realize that the blueprint for drawing 4 million people is not the same blueprint for winning a championship.




Disagree with something? Got something to add? Wanna bring up something totally new? Tony Aubry lives in Queens, New York, and can be reached at tony@baseballevolution.com.


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