Alex Rodriguez

What’s next for the Yankees?


It’s probably a little early for this sort of talk, but the futures of impending free agents Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera and manager Joe Girardi are sure to be a popular topic of conversation during the winter. The thing is, aside from the chance that Pettitte retires, they are all pretty much locks to return in pinstripes next season.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told Chad Jennings of the Journal News that signing Girardi to a new contract is his first priority this winter.

“I would think that would be the first order of business,” Cashman said. “But I haven’t even talked to our owners yet.”

As for Pettitte, the Yankees re-signed him to a one-year deal last December. The veteran left-hander told Sam Borden of the Journal News that whether he decides to retire or not, he would like a quick resolution this offseason, as well.

“I don’t want to drag it out,” Pettitte said.

Rivera, who turns 41 next month, was just as brilliant as ever this season. His three-year, $45 million contract is up, but it would be tough to envision a scenario where he signs elsewhere.

“We’ll see,” Rivera said. “That I will tell you guys later on, when it happens.”

And, of course, Jeter. Nobody actually expects the shortstop to leave via free agency, but he wasn’t ready to talk about his future after last night’s loss.

“I haven’t even really thought about it,” Jeter said. “We just lost. Coming in tonight I wasn’t planning on this being the end of the season.”

Many are going to focus on how much money Jeter will make on his next contract. It’s irrelevant, really. Yankees’ money isn’t normal money. This is an organization that can pay mistakes like Kei Igawa to be in the witness relocation program. Ignore it.

No, the tricky part will be how the Yankees decide to handle their franchise player as he moves into his late-30s. He already took a huge step back this season at age 36, both offensively and defensively. Is it possible that we could see another resurgence like 2009? Maybe. But such occurrences are much less likely as a player ages. Eventually, someone is going to have to make the delicate decision to set aside legacy for the sake of wins and losses. He’ll get his contract this winter — and deservedly so, I might add — but let’s hope this situation doesn’t get ugly a couple years from now.

There’s no one to blame in Yankees’ loss

Joe Girardi

You’re going to boo All-Star Brett Gardner for striking out against a Cy Young contender?

You’re going to bash Alex Rodriguez for going hitless in another postseason game, three years after his last one?

Maybe you’d prefer to put it all on Masahiro Tanaka for giving up two solo homers to a lineup full of 20-homer guys?

The truth is that the Yankees were supposed to lose tonight. They were facing an outstanding left-hander with their forever-lefty-heavy lineup, and they simply didn’t have anyone pitching like an ace to set themselves up nicely for a one-game, winner-take-all showdown. The 3-0 result… well, that’s how this was supposed to go down.

It didn’t necessarily mean it would; what fun would it be if the better team always won? And the Astros might not even be a better team than the Yankees. However, the Astros with Dallas Keuchel on the mound were certainly a better team than the Yankees with whoever they picked to throw.

I just don’t see where it’s worth putting any blame tonight. Joe Girardi? He could have started John Ryan Murphy over Brian McCann against the tough lefty, but he wasn’t willing to risk Tanaka losing his comfort zone by using a backup catcher.

The front office could have added more talent, perhaps outbidding the Blue Jays for David Price or the Royals for Johnny Cueto, and set themselves up better for the postseason. However, that would have cost them Luis Severino and/or Greg Bird, both of whom went on to play key roles as the Yankees secured the wild card. Would it really have been worth it? I don’t think so.

Tanaka gave the Yankees what they should have expected. Had Keuchel’s stuff been a little off on short rest, Tanaka’s performance would have kept the Yankees in the game.

Keuchel, though, was on his game from the first pitch. The Astros bullpen might have been a bit more vulnerable, and late at-bats from Gardner, Carlos Beltran, Rodriguez and McCann definitely left something to be desired. Still, on the whole, the lack of offense was quite a team effort.

The Yankees got beat by a better team tonight.  I’m not sure the Astros would have been better in Games 2-7 in a longer series, but they had everything in their favor in this one.

Keuchel, Astros cruise past Yankees in AL Wild Card Game

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Dallas Keuchel faced the Yankees two times during the regular season and was fantastic in each outing, striking out 12 in a complete-game shutout on June 25 and whiffing nine batters over seven scoreless frames on August 25.

The 2015 Cy  Young Award candidate continued that trend in Tuesday night’s American League Wild Card Game, limiting the Yankees to three hits and one walk over six innings of scoreless ball as the Astros earned a 3-0 win and advanced to a best-of-five ALDS with the top-seeded Royals.

Keuchel was working on three days of rest but didn’t show very many signs of fatigue, whiffing seven and needing only 87 pitches to get through six. He sure looked like he could have gone an inning longer, but Astros manager A.J. Hinch decided to turn the game over to his bullpen and they added three more big zeroes to the scoreboard at a very loud then very boo-heavy Yankee Stadium. Tony Sipp worked around some early jitters to throw a scoreless seventh, Will Harris kept the Yankees off the bases entirely in a scoreless eighth, and closer Luke Gregerson went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth.

Impending free agent outfielder Colby Rasmus provided the first burst of offense for the Astros in the top of the second inning with a leadoff homer against Masahiro Tanaka. And then deadline acquisition Carlos Gomez, who missed a bunch of time down the stretch with an intercostal strain, got to Tanaka for another solo shot in the top of the fourth. Houston scored its third run on a Jose Altuve RBI single in the top of the seventh.

This is a young, talented Astros team with an ace at the head of its rotation.

Kansas City could have a problem.