Commentary

Something's gotta change ... right?

C'mon, Yanks, give NYC a sign that you understand the status quo won't work

Updated: October 20, 2012, 9:55 PM ET
By Stephen A. Smith | ESPNNewYork.com

In the aftermath of an epic playoff collapse that should leave the New York Yankees mired in embarrassment for the entire offseason, hell-bent on coming back next year as a changed product, it's important to note we're not just talking about changing the team psyche.

We're talking personnel changes.

That means you get rid of Nick Swisher and keep Ichiro Suzuki. It means you give serious thought to losing Curtis Granderson. It means you keep Alex Rodriguez rather than pick up $100 million of his remaining five-year, $114 million contract for him to go and produce for someone else.

Adding another ace to the rotation would be nice. And, most certainly, it means that every option should be exhausted to get a infusion of youth on the roster -- specifically to hammer home the point that these experienced, accomplished, overpaid veterans are supposed to be paid for what they do, not what they have done.

If ever there were a time to emphasize that point, it is now. The Yankees' .188 batting average over nine games was the worst playoff output in baseball history. They failed to grab a single lead in their ALCS sweep at the hands of the Detroit Tigers. Along the way, the Yankees were exposed as old, tired, weak and, dare we say, resigned.

They actually looked defeated long before the final out of their season arrived.

"We got our butts kicked," A-Rod deadpanned after producing an anemic .120 batting average in just nine ALCS at-bats.

"It was embarrassing," ace CC Sabathia added.

And as for the Yankees scoring in just three of the 39 innings in the ALCS, batting .157 to warrant the broomsticks:

"Sometimes you can't put your finger on it," hitting coach Kevin Long tried to explain. "We never got on track. There was no consistency. Our lineup was always built on good at-bats and consistency and we couldn't string enough together."

Let the record show, nobody on this page is trying to get Long fired. It wouldn't be fair, considering that the Yankees did lead the league in homers this year and certainly didn't win 95 games this season because their pitching was so stellar. The only problem with Long is that no one wants to hear such drivel right now.

Come talk to New Yorkers when there's a logical explanation for Granderson hitting 3-for-30 in the postseason with 16 strikeouts, or A-Rod going 3-for-15 with no RBIs, and 0-for-18 with 12 strikeouts versus right-handed pitchers.

Maybe Long's words would matter more if Swisher was better than a .167 hitter (5-for-30), or if Russell Martin wasn't worse (.161, 5-for-31), or if Eric Chavez wasn't making history for all the wrong reasons, going 0-for-16 with eight strikeouts.

It's one thing for key players to freeze up and appear inept. But when the whole lineup looks like an East Coast version of the Houston Astros, somebody needs to remind Long how lucky he is that George Steinbrenner isn't around anymore.

"If somebody wants to put the blame on me, feel free," Long added to reporters. "I feel about myself like I do about the players. I know my work and what I do on an everyday basis works. It didn't work in this series and it's unfortunate."

If only he realized.

The Yankees need to shake things up. Change is necessary when one star (A-Rod) is reportedly flirting with women in the stands during a game, and your starting right fielder (Swisher) is too busy complaining about reaction from the fans to remember he was 1-for-36 with runners in scoring position in his postseason career in pinstripes.

Clearly, a youth movement is necessary when this type of nonsense is going on. So is some accountability beyond A-Rod saying, "The [Tigers] outplayed us in every facet of the game. They were the better team."

Now what's needed is something that tells us the Yankees know modifications need to be made.

This doesn't have to be 2008, when they went out and spent $423 million to buffer their roster and bought a World Series. Evidenced by the Baltimore Orioles and Oakland A's, change needs to have some degree of longevity attached to it, represented in a roster that doesn't appear a heartbeat away from expecting their AARP cards.

"We'll sit down as an organization and discuss things," Yankees GM Brian Cashman told reporters. "You don't want to make rash decisions so quickly after a loss like this."

That much is understandable. Once upon a time, it was good enough.

But not right now. Not today. Not after witnessing how sorry this bunch truly can be.

Stephen A. Smith | email

ESPNNewYork.com columnist
Stephen A. Smith is a featured columnist for ESPNNewYork.com, a co-host on First Take" and a regular on "SportsCenter."

EDITORS' PICKS