Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano are using these playoffs to make a powerful case for avoiding a mega-long-term commitment to Cano.

Rodriguez is just now at the halfway mark of his 10-year, $275 million contract and to say he looks helpless against righties is an insult to the helpless. The Yankees don't want to see five more minutes of this, much less five more years. He is the cautionary tale about erosion during the life of an extended deal.

Cano is supposed to be the logical heir to A-Rod as both middle-of-the-order thunder and top-of-the-pay-scale wage earner. Brian Cashman had even hinted during the season about breaking Yankees' policy and trying to sign Cano long term before he actually reaches free agency after 2013.

But the Yankees will have pause now with Cano and also Curtis Granderson. Plus, if there was even a lingering thought of retaining free-agent-to-be Nick Swisher, that has probably evaporated, too, in yet another postseason to forget.

The foursome has been so woeful that Raul Ibanez and Russell Martin were Joe Girardi's choices to bat 4-5 yesterday in ALCS Game 2. Still, within that failing heavyweight quartet, the biggest responsibility belongs to Cano. For he is one of the great hitters alive. Yet he somehow is hitless in his last 26 at-bats, which is the longest single-season futility streak in postseason history.