Forget A.J. Burnett, forget Cliff Lee; the real story is the Yankees offense

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The first thing everyone wanted to do after the Rangers’ domination of the Yankees last night was to speculate how much New York would now pay for Cliff Lee this winter. Fun topic, but let’s save it for the hot stove season, OK?

The second thing everyone wanted to do after the Rangers’ domination of the Yankees last night was to fret about A.J. Burnett starting a pivotal playoff game. Also a fun topic, but with Joe Girardi making it clear that he’s sticking with Burnett, it’s not really a debatable point anymore.

The third thing on people’s minds is the most interesting and most important: where is the Yankees offense? Yes, Cliff Lee was incredible last night, but the Yankees lineup didn’t do much against Colby Lewis of C.J. Wilson either. But for a single breakout inning in Game 1 that was probably more the fault of Ron Washington’s bullpen mismanagement than anything else, the hitters have been silent. The tale of the tape:

  • Mark Teixeira: 0 for 11;
  • Alex Rodriguez: 2 for 13;
  • Derek Jeter: 3 for 13;
  • Nick Swisher: 1 for 11;
  • Jorge Posada: 2 for 10;

Of the Yankees’ primary offensive weapons, only Robinson Cano, who is 5 for 13 with a couple of homers, has been contributing in a material way.

So covet Cliff Lee all you want, Yankees fans. And freak out about A.J. Burnett all morning and afternoon.  But know this: if the Yankees end up losing this series, it will not be because of those two guys. It will be because the vaunted Yankees offense is not getting the job done.

Royals sign Michael Saunders to a minor-league deal

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Free agent outfielder Michael Saunders has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Royals, the team announced Friday. While the move comes just two days after Saunders agreed to terms with the Pirates, he allegedly asked for his release after the club acquired outfielder Corey Dickerson in a multi-player swap with the Rays on Thursday.

After earning his first spot on an All-Star team in 2016, Saunders followed up a solid campaign with a career-worst performance in 2017. The 31-year-old split the season between the Phillies and Blue Jays’ camps, batting a combined .202/.256/.344 with six home runs and -0.7 fWAR in 234 plate appearances. Although he remained healthy throughout the year, with no sign of the lingering hamstring strain that has plagued him on and off since 2013, he wasn’t productive enough to merit a full-time role on either roster.

With Dickerson slated for a starting role in Pittsburgh, it was unlikely that Saunders would have commanded anything other than a backup role in 2018. Now, however, he’ll compete for playing time amid a slew of outfield options, including Alex Gordon, Cody Asche, Jorge Bonifacio, Tyler Collins and Paulo Orlando.