Yankees must re-tool

KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:54 PM ET

ARLINGTON - So, where do the Yankees go from here? Back to the bank, for starters because that’s what the Yankees do.

For years this team has been approaching an important crossroad and they may finally have arrived at that point Friday night. The core of iconic players - Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera - who made so much magic in the late 1990s and into the new millennium, is getting old. Okay, not so much Rivera, the greatest closer the game has known.

In this American League Championship Series, the others looked their age. Jeter and Pettitte are free agents. Posada has a year remaining on his contract.

If he wasn’t already a Yankee legend, Jeter, who will turn 37 next June, as a free agent could probably expect a $4 million contract on a one-year deal, maybe $7 million for two years. With the Yankees, he’s probably going to get three years and $40 million and nobody will begrudge him a nickel. By any statistical standard, this was his worst year.

Pettitte was sounding like a guy who would re-sign as well. He’s 38 but coming off a decent year. More to the point, the Yankees still need him and his predictability to off-set the mercurial and expensive A.J. Burnett.

“There’s nothing more that I want to achieve in this game,” Pettitte said. “But I’m a man and I want to work and you want to do stuff and this is all I know. I don’t want to shut it down and regret not playing. That’s my biggest fear. I know now that if I’m healthy I could pitch for a while. My decision will solely be on my family.”

Posada is pretty much finished as a big-league catcher. The Rangers ran with abandon on his arm, as did most American League teams this season

“They manhandled us,” the Yankees general manager said as he watched the Rangers celebrate their first-ever pennant. “We’ve never been dominated like that.”

Cashman was talking about multiple phases of the game but pitching is a huge concern for this team going forward. They paid four starting pitchers - CC Sabathia, Burnett, Pettitte and Javier Vazquez - about $63 million this year, almost as much as Texas’ entire payroll, getting value only from Sabathia and Pettitte.

This off-season, they will almost certainly re-sign Pettitte and they will try to make an offer to Cliff Lee that he won’t be able to refuse. Let’s put it this way: if Lee decides he wants to, say, stay in Texas with the Rangers rather than join the Yankees, he might have to leave $50 million on the table.

When all is said and done and Rivera is back in the fold, that Yankee payroll, pegged at $213 million this season, could top $225 million next year.

General manager Brian Cashman insists that Joe Girardi will be his manager next year, though Girardi continues to get criticism for over-managing, especially during these playoffs.

“He’s absolutely coming back,” Cashman said and indicated that contract will be dealt with immediately.

The Yankee offence which scored 859 runs in the regular season, by far the most in the majors, averaged just six hits and three runs per game in this ALCS.

Alex Rodriguez, who was paid $33 million this year, batted just .219 in the playoffs with a .281 slugging percentage. He did not hit a home run and drove in just three runs. Against Texas, he hit .190. This, just a year after he broke through as a dominant force for the Yankees in winning their 27th World Series title.

“This is going to hurt,” said A-Rod. And it’s going to hurt for a while. And it should. We expect to win every year and our front office has put a team on the field that’s expected to win and should win, and we came up short. I’m a big part of that and we’re going to get better.”

This winter, without a serious reality check, the Yankees may discover that they’re not getting better, they’re just getting older.


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