Mailbag: Arms were Tigers' answer

Mailbag: Arms were Tigers' answer

This is no night for yours truly to be pulled over.

As I step out of Comerica Park and into my car, I can't help but wonder if the pungent smell of champagne will make me look like a DUI waiting to happen.

But fear not, Mailbag readers. I have not been drinking on the job. I've merely become an innocent victim of the Tigers' clubhouse celebration, which included 400 bottles of bubbly, only 15-20 percent of which was actually ingested. The rest is either sitting on the clubhouse floor or, in my particular case, soaked into clothing.

Hey, it's all in good fun. And watching the Tigers topple the Yanks this weekend was a lot of fun -- unless you're a Yankees fan, of course. This building was electric when the final out was made Saturday night, and my e-mail inbox has been equally lively the last few days.

So, one last time, let's dip into the mail and see what's on your mind ...

The Tigers lost their last five games of the regular season. How did they pull off a series win over the Yankees and that lineup?!?
-- Brian P., Toledo, Ohio

A few words of wisdom, Brian: Never wear a belt with suspenders, the sun doesn't shine on a sleeping dog's behind and good pitching will beat good hitting any day of the week.

One need look no further than the 20 consecutive scoreless innings turned in by the Tigers' pitching staff to see how this series decisively shifted, beginning Thursday in New York.

Kenny Rogers' performance was the emotional highlight, but you can't ignore Justin Verlander's first career postseason start in Game 2, Joel Zumaya's stellar work out of the 'pen and Jeremy Bonderman's five perfect innings in Saturday's clincher.

We, the overfed, poorly dressed and under-slept members of the media, spent the early part of the week slobbering over that Yankee lineup. But the Tigers' Major League-leading 3.84 ERA was too-often overlooked. Now the Yankees have received a bitter taste of what such a pitching staff is capable of in a short series.

Do you think the fact that A-Rod (aka K-Rod) has not come through for the Yanks, they are more likely to get rid of him in the offseason?
-- Jeremy, New York

That could depend on whether there's a clause in Rodriguez's contract that stipulates he lose pay for every K, Jeremy. I don't believe that's the case.

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Actually, Rodriguez's contract isn't quite as hard to swallow as one might assume. Because the Rangers assumed a decent chunk of it at the time of his trade to New York in 2004, the Yankees are "only" paying A-Rod roughly $16 million a year through 2010. Not many clubs could take on such a sizable sum, but all it takes is one.

Given his performance in this series and his struggles this season, Rodriguez might be more apt to be dealt than ever before in his time in pinstripes. This will certainly be an issue worth keeping an eye on this winter.

Who do you think was the Tigers' MVP in the ALDS?
-- Megan C., Novi, Mich.

You could pick out several members of this lineup and give them a big chunk of the credit. Curtis Granderson, Carlos Guillen and Placido Polanco all had an incredible series at the plate. On the mound, Zumaya, Todd Jones and Bonderman stood out.

But if I have to pick an MVP, I'll go with Rogers. One can't overstate the importance of his Game 3 start. His shaky postseason history and his past troubles with the Yankees provided an intriguing background, and Rogers went out and turned in the performance of his life.

The Game 2 win in New York got the Tigers -- and their fans -- believing in themselves again. Game 3, sparked by Rogers, gave Detroit control for good.

I think Joe Torre has made (or not made) some questionable moves with the bullpen.  But how much can a manager help, if his players don't hit? With the Yankees' loss, I think this will be Torre's last season in pinstripes. Do you think it should be? And who might replace him?
-- Christian G., Brigantine, N.J.

Next year is the final year of Torre's contract extension. He's set to make around $7 million in 2007. I wouldn't expect the Yankees to give him the axe.

That's not to say Torre managed particularly well this series. Every time he juggled the roster (Bernie Williams over Sheffield in Game 3, Melky Cabrera in place of Jason Giambi in Game 4) it didn't work out, and you're right about some of the bullpen moves. Then again, it's hard to blame the guy for the inefficiency of the Yankee bats and the effective pitching of the Tigers.

The way Rogers and Bonderman pitched in the final two games, it hardly mattered who was on the hill for the Yanks. But fans will probably fault Torre in the coming days for going with Jaret Wright in Game 4. Torre's choices were Wright or Cory Lidle. Both ended up pitching in the game and neither did well. Starting Chien-Ming Wang on three days' rest might have been the better option, considering the magnitude of the game.

The Yankees' offense is being called by many "the best offensive lineup ever assembled." They literally have an All-Star at every position. But as I sit here and watch the Detroit Tigers -- a team given little chance of beating the Yankees in this series -- win this series, I wonder why George Steinbrenner hasn't figured out that pitching is what wins games. This year, as in every year since 2000, the Yankees' powerhouse is being beaten by a scrappy team with solid pitching. So why don't the Yankees try signing some decent pitching for a change?
-- Warren W.

Perhaps the Yankees will use yet another postseason disappointment as a lesson learned, Warren. The White Sox proved pitching pays with last year's World Series win, and the Tigers pitched their way to this upset in the ALDS.

Can a team replace an injured player on its playoff roster?
-- Glenn B., San Diego, Calif.

Yes, the postseason rosters can be updated after each round.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.