Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Girardi steps to the plate for his hitters

Joe Girardi stepped up to the plate to defend his hitters by arguing that their lack of production in the American League Division Series had a lot to do with bad luck. Apparently, he didn’t see what the rest of us saw.

If he had, he would have noticed that Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher failed in key situations in the playoffs for the third consecutive year, which is enough of a sample to indicate that they are simply not clutch postseason players. Girardi would have noticed that Alex Rodriguez, aside from his performance in 2009 (which he definitely deserves a lot of credit for), has reverted to bad form in the playoffs. He would have noticed that his #9 hitter Brett Gardner had as many runs batted in (5) as his 3-4-5 hitters.

“I guess I could have put Gardy fourth,” Girardi said sarcastically when questioned about why he kept running out the exact same lineup in the ALDS.

No, Joe. No one is suggesting that you bat Gardner in the cleanup spot for the New York Yankees. What people are suggesting is that the lineup needs to be shaken up, that ARod, Tex and Swish can’t be allowed to continue coming up short in the playoffs in key situations. The biggest shake-up would be for the Yankees to let Swisher walk away and give right field to one of their young hitting studs, likely Eduardo Nunez, or go shopping for a relatively inexpensive, but clutch veteran.

Moving Robinson Cano into the third spot in the lineup for the playoffs was a good start, a move that Girardi was obviously not afraid to make and should stick to, unless he decides to bat Cano cleanup. But Girardi is going to have to seriously rethink his lineup. Should ARod continue batting fourth? Not if he can’t protect Cano. Who replaces Jorge Posada at designated hitter and where should that person bat? If it’s Jesus Montero, do you put more pressure on the kid by batting him in the middle of the lineup or do you protect him by slotting him seventh, where Posada batted most of the year?

These are legitimate questions and Girardi has to seriously consider them all. Unfortunately for the Yankees, he has plenty of time to think these days.

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