'We're a hit away from moving on," Joe Girardi said yesterday at Yankee Stadium, and that's not as ludicrous as it sounds on the surface.
The Yankees dropped a five-game ALDS to a tough Tigers team. They lost the last game by one run. Stuff happens. They truly were one hit away from moving on.
Thankfully for Yankees fans, the club doesn't actually believe the notion that this season constitutes a failure, and it will not make any rash decisions based on the tiny sample size of five games played over seven days.
Just in case they're looking for help from the outside, here's what I'd do to prepare this club for a 2012 championship:
Re-sign Brian Cashman
Extend CC Sabathia's contract
The Yankees expect to hear from Sabathia's agents well before the deadline to opt out of his contract (five days after the conclusion of the World Series) with a proposal to keep Sabathia in pinstripes beyond the existing four-year, $92-million commitment.
What's reasonable? How about keeping the current deal as is and then throwing on an additional two years and $52 million for 2016 and 2017? That matches Cliff Lee's annual average value of $24 million.
It's an immense risk, unquestionably, but no greater a risk than they were willing to take a year ago with Lee, whom they didn't know personally.
Cano is a no-brainer, and Swisher only a quarter-brainer. Yup, Swisher tightens up in the postseason. Nobody's perfect. Maybe he'll figure it out next year, after a characteristically strong regular season.
Burnett makes $16.5 million in 2012 and 2013, while Lowe makes $15 million next year and then becomes a free agent, so the Yankees would have to include a healthy amount of dough to make this palatable for Atlanta.
But who in New York doesn't have A.J. fatigue at this point? As Girardi said Tuesday of Burnett, "You get older as a pitcher, you're not immune to adjustments. And you have to make them, because sometimes you're going to lose a mile or two."
Burnett is not a "make adjustments" type of guy. You know who is? Lowe, who -- if you look at his peripheral numbers -- got hurt by some bad luck in 2011, should be motivated by his walk year and doesn't get fazed in pressure situations.
Acquire John Danks from the White Sox
The 26-year-old lefthander is a free agent after 2012, and the White Sox are rebuilding. Because Danks is under contract for only one season and he's coming off a down year -- like with Lowe, the peripherals are encouraging -- he won't exact a gargantuan price in prospects.
The Yankees have constructed a strong farm system. They should use it for trades like this. No, don't give up Jesus Montero, Dellin Betances, Manny Banuelos or Mason Williams, but there are many other interesting pieces (Austin Romine, Gary Sanchez, Adam Warren, Slade Heathcott) who can be used as chips.
Sign David DeJesus
Another case of buying low, as the free agent DeJesus is hardly the first position player to experience offensive misery in Oakland.
A strong defender, he'd have to be sold on the notion of DHing more often, giving the Yankees a good option against righthanded pitching. He could also start in the outfield and one of the regulars could get a DH day. Maybe the promise of playing for a contender on a sizable one-year deal would make it happen.
Sign a lefty reliever
Given that the Yankees haven't experienced much recent success in this area, they should put the names of Mike Gonzalez, John Grabow, Javier Lopez, Darren Oliver and Arthur Rhodes on a game-show wheel and charge fans $10 each to spin the wheel. Whoever gets the most hits receives the Yankees' money, funded partly by the game-show endeavor.