Should the Yankees get younger?

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In a piece for the New York Times, Jonah Keri makes a rather interesting and detailed case for the Yankees to get younger next season.
While the dangers of complacency are numerous, he highlights the 2002
Anaheim Angels as the classic cautionary tale for what Yankees general
manager Brian Cashman faces in the coming months.




After winning the World Series in
2002, the Angels replaced just two players during the offseason, a
roster that was largely built on a house of cards due to small sample
sizes from the likes of Scott Spiezio, Adam Kennedy, Ben Weber, Russ
Ortiz and Jarrod Washburn. In 2003, the Angels lost 22 more games,
finishing below .500 and in third place in the American League West.




Obviously the Yankees are a much
different case, with an ability to absorb a few bad contracts, but Keri
sees danger in the Yankees standing pat going into 2010. He writes that
few players are more likely to see a regression than those in their
late-30s following a bounce-back season. Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon
and Andy Pettitte all played key roles in New York’s championship run
in 2009, however they are all 35 or older, with regression to the mean
far more likely than repeating their previous success.




Though he doesn’t offer alternatives to the players mentioned above, Keri argues that the Yankees should
try to add younger players to avoid such regression. As of now, it looks like the Bombers won’t heed his warning, as they hope to retain Damon while Pettitte is also expected to return.
To Cashman’s credit, Matsui, the biggest injury risk due to his surgically-repaired knees, is on the back burner.

Astros advance to the World Series with 4-0 finale against Yankees

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The Astros punched their ticket to the World Series on Saturday, shutting out the Yankees 4-0 to take their first Game 7 victory at home. Charlie Morton was nearly untouchable on the mound, holding the Yankees to two hits, a walk and five strikeouts en route to his first career postseason win.

Morton and Sabathia carried their duel through three solid innings. Morton struck out three batters and allowed just one baserunner. Sabathia worked in and out of jams in the second and third innings, supplying and stranding two runners in scoring position.

Evan Gattis was the first to strike. In the fourth inning, he punched a 2-2 slider from Sabathia into the left field wall, where it registered a projected 405 feet and broke a homer-less streak of 115 at-bats by designated hitters in the 2017 postseason. The home run signaled the beginning of the end for the Yankees’ starter. He induced a groundout from Marwin Gonzalez, then walked Brian McCann on six pitches and allowed Josh Reddick his first base hit of the playoffs. That was enough for Joe Girardi, who pulled Sabathia for righty Tommy Kahnle and an inning-ending double play to close out the fourth.

Even with Sabathia gone, there was still some hope that the middle of the order could bail the Yankees out. Greg Bird led off the fifth with a first pitch double and Aaron Hicks took a four-pitch walk. A wild pitch from Morton allowed Bird to reach third base, but Alex Bregman and Brian McCann weren’t about to let the Yankees spoil their starter’s shutout. Todd Frazier bounced a ball toward third base, where Bregman grabbed and fired it to home plate, catching Bird just as McCann put his glove down.

The bottom of the inning wasn’t any easier for Sabathia’s successors. Jose Altuve went oppo-taco on a 1-1 changeup from Kahnle, postmarking it 364 feet into the right field stands. Kahnle labored through the next four at-bats, handing out a pair of singles to Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel before sending Gattis down swinging. The next at-bat was even more troublesome. McCann roped a two-out, two-RBI double to the warning track in right field, clearing the bases and boosting the Astros’ to a cushy 4-0 lead.

The excitement fizzled a little over the next few innings. Brett Gardner muscled a leadoff single off of Lance McCullers, but was later caught at second on a force play to end the sixth. McCullers didn’t let go of the ball again. He was lights-out through the end of the game, scattering a walk and six strikeouts over four innings and clinching the pennant with a 1-2-3 performance in the ninth.

Whatever confidence the Astros had coming off of their three-game sweep in the Division Series was tested and tested again in their pennant run. They battled through three tough losses in Games 3 through 5, staved off elimination with a gem from Justin Verlander in Game 6, and finally emerged victorious tonight. Three days from now, when they enter Dodger Stadium for Game 1 of the World Series, they’ll have the chance to do it all again.