Here’s a fun fact: the only one of the Yankees’ five highest-paid players to actually have a successful ALDS against the Tigers was A.J. Burnett.
But who is the most to blame for the series loss? Let’s go in reverse order.
5. Joe Girardi – I don’t think he’s the main culprit here, though he could have employed a quicker hook with a struggling CC Sabathia in Game 3. One can also argue that he should have been more aggressive in using his best relievers — Mariano Rivera and David Robertson combined to pitch 3 1/3 innings in five games — but as well as the other relievers did, it probably wouldn’t have mattered much. Pinch-hitting Eric Chavez for Brett Gardner in Game 2 was his one bizarre move, and that one definitely didn’t work.
4. Derek Jeter – The Captain hit .250 with just one extra-base hit and an 8/1 K/BB ratio in the series. In the seventh inning or later, he was 2-for-9 with no RBI and five strikeouts. He also made an error that helped lead to two runs in the 5-3 loss in Game 2.
3. Alex Rodriguez – A-Rod managed just two singles in 18 at-bats in the series, though he did drive in three runs and walk four times. Thursday’s performance was his worst: he fanned in three of his five plate appearances, including in the game-ending at-bat against Jose Valverde.
2. Mark Teixeira – Girardi should have moved A-Rod out of the cleanup spot earlier in the series, but the likely replacement, Teixeira, may not have been any better. Teixeira finished the series 3-for-18. He did double and drive in a run with a bases-loaded walk tonight, but he failed to collect an RBI in the first four games.
1. CC Sabathia – Six runs in 8 2/3 innings for the Yankees’ ace. Things may turned out a whole lot differently if not for the Game 1 suspension (he came back on two days’ rest to start Monday and then two days’ rest in his Game 5 relief appearance), but Sabathia’s struggles are the biggest reason the Yankees didn’t advance. If he could have allowed two or three runs over six innings Monday, the Bombers probably would have won that game (the Tigers prevailed 5-4), and making the first relief appearance of his career, he gave up one run in 1 1/3 innings in the 3-2 loss tonight.
People are the absolute worst sometimes. The latest example: someone stole one of Jose Fernandez’s high school jerseys, which had been displayed in his old high school’s dugout for a vigil last night.
That report comes from Anastasia Dawson of the Tampa Bay Times who covered the vigil at Alonso High School in Tampa yesterday. Her story of the vigil is here. Today she has been tweeting about the theft of the jersey. She spoke to Alonso High school’s principal who, in a bit of understatement, called the theft the “lowest of the low.”
The high school had one more Fernandez jersey remaining and has put it on display in the school. In the meantime, spread this story far and wide so that whatever vulture who stole it can’t sell it.
In an earlier post I made a joke about the Indians starting Dennis Martinez if forced to play a meaningless (for them) game on Monday against the Tigers. On Twitter, one of my followers, Ray Fink, asked a great question: If you had to hand the ball to a Hall of Fame-eligible pitcher to give you three innings, who would it be?
The Hall of Fame-eligible part gets rid of the recently-retired ringers, requiring a guy who has been off the scene for at least five years, ensuring that there’s a good bit of rust. I love questions like these.
My immediate answer was Mike Mussina. My thinking being that of all of the great pitchers fitting these parameters, he’s the most likely to have stayed in good shape. I mean, Greg Maddux probably still has the best pitching IQ on the planet, but he’s let himself go a bit, right? Mussina strikes me as a guy who still wakes up and does crunches and stuff.
If you extend it to December, however, you may get a better answer, because that’s when Tim Wakefield becomes eligible for the Hall. I realize a knuckleball requires practice to maintain the right touch and subtlety to the delivery, but it also requires the least raw physical effort. Jim Bouton went well more than five years without throwing his less-than-Wakefield-quality knuckler and was still able to make a comeback. I think Tim could be passable.
Then there’s Roger Clemens. I didn’t see his numbers for that National Baseball Congress tourney this summer and I realize he’s getting a bit thick around the middle, but I’m sure he can still bring it enough to not embarrass himself. Beyond the frosted tips, anyway.
So: who is your Space Cowboys-style reclamation project? Who is the old legend you dust off for one last job?