1) Injuries: Mainly the season-enders to Chien-Ming Wang and Jorge Posada, those were the real killers. Not only did they lose a guy who is 54-20 with a 3.79 ERA in his career, but they lost a guy who usually pitches into the 7th inning of games. So he would have helped the team two ways; by pitching like he normally does, and by saving the pen from being overworked. Also remember who replaced him in the rotation; Sidney Ponson.
Derek Jeter is the captain, but Jorge Posada is the vocal leader of the team and has been for years. He also is one of the best hitting catchers in the game. Losing Posada hurt this lineup a lot, and was a big reason why they scored under 800 runs this year. He was replaced by Jose Molina, who did a very good job, but did not hit anywhere close to how Jorge would have, and Ivan Rodriguez, who was virtually invisible as a Yankee.
You have to believe that if both these two stayed healthy this year the Yankees would have been at least six games better.
2) Didn’t beat up on weak teams: The Yankees had a 38-27 record against teams with a losing record, which is OK, but not what you would expect from a team that was supposed to make the playoffs. For example the Red Sox went 46-18 against teams with a losing record.
And to break it down a little more, their record vs. these teams was particularly unacceptable:
that’s a grand total of 15-21.
3) Relied too heavily on the kids: Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy combined for a 0-8 record with a 7.45 ERA. When you rely on two rookies to make up 40% of your starting staff this is what you are risking. Young pitchers struggle, it’s very normal, which is why the real problem wasn’t even these two but the fact that the Yankees did not have an adequate backup plan if the two had growing pains. And as we saw they both did.
4) 789 runs: Where was that potent Yankees offense? How this team was held to two runs on less in 50 games this year I will never understand. Before the season I really thought this team had a chance to score 1000 runs, well they sure proved me wrong.
The loss of Posada hurt, but still they should have done better than 789 runs. I mean come on, the freaking Minnesota Twins scored 829 runs, and they have two guys who can actually hit that ball in that lineup.
So what caused this? It was a combination of things. As I said the Posada injury hurt, so did Matsui’s injury. The sub-par seasons from Cano and Melky and lack of clutch hitting from Giambi and A-Rod also were major factors in this team’s poor offensive performance. But even with all of that, they still should have scored at least 850 runs.
5a) Complacency: Just because they started off slowly last year and made the playoffs didn’t mean they could do the same this year. I truly believe that last year’s slow start and late season turn around gave this team a false sense of security this season. They probably felt they could turn things on when they needed to and they would make the playoffs, well it didn’t work out that way.
And why didn't it work out that way this year?
5b) Tough division: The Yankees finished with a record of 89-73, the fourth best record in the American League, and finished 3rd in their division. That’s just unfair. Remember, the 2000 Yankees won 87 games and won the World Series.