Stunned Yankees ponder future

The post-mortem was underway Friday after the star-studded, big-money New York Yankees were sent packing from baseball's post-season by the Detroit Tigers.

"Terrible way for the season to end," said Alex Rodriguez, who had just three hits in 26 at-bats without an RBI in the post-season and was benched for the last two games of the American League Championship Series against Detroit.

"Obviously, we're all disappointed. They outplayed us in every facet of the game," Rodriguez added after the Tigers booked their World Series berth with an emphatic victory over the Yankees.

Even before Thursday's decisive game four, rumours surfaced that Rodriguez could be on his way out of New York.

"I love New York City. I plan to be here and I plan to come back and be productive," he said. "I've never thought of going to another team. My focus is to stay here. Let's make that very, very clear.

"Number two: I don't expect to be mediocre," he added. "I expect to do what I've done for a long time."

The Yankees will have moves to make, however. Nick Swisher and Ichiro Suzuki will be free agents soon. Rafael Soriano could opt out of his contract and pitcher Andy Pettitte is 41.

"I don't know what constitutes major (changes) or not, but we have a lot of players who are free agents and almost every one of them has contributed in a big way," said general manager Brian Cashman. "We have a lot of tough decisions."

The Yankees hadn't been swept in a post-season series since falling 3-0 to the Royals in the then-best-of-five ALCS in 1980.

This time they were doomed by their offensive woes, with A-Rod not the only Yankee to struggle at the plate. Robinson Cano went hitless in 29 straight post-season at-bats and overall the Yankees produced six runs in 39 innings.

"We feel like we can hit anybody. And they got the best of us," Mark Teixeira said. "They just beat us straight up."

The disappointment was even harder to stomach after a regular season in which the Yankees won 95 games and claimed the American League's best record.

Manager Joe Girardi said he and his players could only look forward.

"How do we get better? I mean, that's my message," Girardi said. "Including myself, how do we all get better next year so we don't have this feeling?"

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