The New York Yankees will not win the World Series this year and, already, the cries for change in the Bronx can be heard from Rochester.

As always, the team is being thrashed by New York media for not bringing home a championship and, as always, the Yankees’ front office – owner George Steinbrenner and general manager Brian Cashman – will respond this offseason with a series of personnel moves.

Steinbrenner has an opportunity this offseason to prove he has learned a little something from the Yankees’ postseason failures. Here are three important lessons George should have learned by now:

1) Good pitching beats good hitting, especially in the playoffs – it’s no secret. The Yankees got their first taste of this in 2003 when Josh Beckett, Dontrelle Willis and the rest of the Florida Marlins’ pitching staff stifled Yankee bats in the World Series. Then the same thing happened versus the Angels in 2005, versus the Tigers in 2006 and once more against the Indians last week. What was considered a fluke loss in 2003 has now become a trend. The Yankees consistently lose in the postseason to teams with strong, young starting pitching staffs and steady bullpens.

2) Adding more hitting does not reverse lesson No.1: The perennial response to postseason failures has been to add more sluggers. Giambi, Matsui, Sheffield, A-Rod, Damon, Abreu. Not to mention serious runs at Carlos Beltran and Vlad Guerrero. All of these guys were perceived to be solutions to Yankee postseason batting woes and none have won a World Series in pinstripes.

3) Signing old pitchers is dangerous: The Yanks have made a habit of paying big money for dying arms. This has two major consequences. First, these guys just have not been very good in New York. Kevin Brown, Randy Johnson, Jose Contreras, David Wells (second stint), Al Leiter and, most recently, Roger Clemens were all, at one point, saviors of the Yankee rotation. In retrospect, not at all. Secondly, signing old pitchers stunts the development of young pitchers because they do not get enough major league experience. This year, for the first time in a while, the Yanks pitching staff got big contributions from young, homegrown studs. Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy, among others, were given an opportunity out of desperation and excelled.

With these lessons fresh in mind, it is absolutely mind-boggling that Steinbrenner’s first priority at season’s end is to fire manager Joe Torre. The Yankees have made the playoffs every year he’s been in charge. More importantly, he is humble and has earned the complete respect of his players. He is unfazed by the pressures of playing in New York and seems to possess that rare capacity to remain cool under the tensest circumstances. The firing of Torre would be a laughable decision and would destroy any credibility that Steinbrenner still retains as owner.

That being said, it is not time to panic in New York. The Yankees need to look no further than within their own organization this offseason to find all the pieces they need to be a deep postseason threat. Here are three simple things that Steinbrenner and the Yankees can do this offseason to prepare themselves for next year:

1) Keep Joe Torre – there’s not a better man for the job. Also, his presence will help the Yanks sign key free agents Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada, all of whom have pledged their allegiances to Torre.

2) Move Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain into the full-time starting rotation – these guys are young, brash and absolutely filthy on the mound. This, of course, means that Clemens and Mussina will have to go, but it is time for them to pass the baton anyhow.

3) Sign A-Rod – his contract will be in the hundreds of millions and a lot of people think he’s not worth it, but he is. The guy is superhuman. New Yorkers have come around to him and this year’s postseason failures cannot be placed on his shoulders.

The Yankees have all the pieces they need to win next year in the dugout of this year’s final loss in the Bronx. It will be interesting to see which pieces will still be in that dugout come the first game of 2008.

Juron is a member of the class of 2008.



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