The Yankees have been in an absolute dogfight over the past month or so, as Baltimore has constantly been on their heels. Currently, New York holds a half game lead, and the Orioles are leading 4-3 against the feeble and useless Red Sox. As the Yankees fight to maintain their grip on the AL East, one thing has caught my eye recently: Joe Girardi’s managerial decisions have sometimes left me scratching my head. Let me explain.
First of all, why is Andruw Jones sniffing the batters box? I know he hit a pinch-hit home run the other day against Minnesota, but his play recently has been abysmal. In the first half of the season, he was contributing nicely, hitting .244 with 11 homers and 22 RBIs. Since the All-Star break however, Jones has disappeared. He is hitting .146 with just three homers and 12 RBIs, yet Girardi continues to plug him in against lefties. For the season, Jones is just .205 with 10 homers against southpaws, anything but success. Today, Jones started against Ricky Romero, and was immediately pinch-hit for as soon as Romero was out of the game – in the fifth inning Raul Ibanez took over. Why start Jones if you’re so quick to pull him? You can’t keep sticking with guys hoping they’ll eventually come through. Results have to outweigh loyalty now. This time of the year, you need results, and Jones has given the Yankees nothing. I hope he proves me wrong.
I know today was a day game after a night game, but why is Girardi resting Russell Martin? He’s been one of the Yankees best hitters in September, hitting .274 with six homers and 16 RBIs, by far his best month of the season – he needs to be in there. At this point in the year, everyone is tired. I can understand resting him in April, May, June, July, August to save him for the end of the season. Well, it’s the end of the season and Chris Stewart is in the lineup. As far as I’m concerned, it’s all hands on deck and you have to worry about playing and winning today, not down the road.
I know Eduardo Nunez is a defensive liability, but his bat has plenty of pop in it to help this Yankees offense score runs. Today, Girardi lifted Nunez halfway through the game and inserted DH Derek Jeter in at shortstop. The move cost the Yankees the DH spot, meaning that the pitcher now had to hit. Obviously, Girardi was just going to use the bench for the pitchers spot, but what if the game had gone into extra innings? I agree Nunez needs to be pulled LATE in games for defensive purposes, but not halfway through the game. The Yankees lost his bat and had to use up their bench for the remainder of the game. I think Girardi pulled the trigger too early on this move.
Hindsight is 20/20. Always. With that being said, Girardi should’ve let Hughes stay in to face Denard Span in that game when Boone Logan coughed up the lead. That game resulted in a Yankees loss, on a night when they could have gained ground on the losing Orioles. Span had been 0-for against Hughes that night, but the numbers dictated that Logan should’ve came in. If CC or Pettitte were on the mound, Girardi would’ve let them finish that inning – Hughes was only at 99 pitches. How can Hughes have confidence in himself if his own manager doesn’t have it? This is my problem with Girardi sometimes – he’s too much of a numbers and binder guy instead of a gut-feeling guy. Now if Girardi had left Hughes in, and he had given up the runs, he would’ve been questioned about why he didn’t bring Logan in. It’s a no win situation for the manager, but with the way Hughes was pitching and the way he battled back to strike out the batter before Span, I felt he should have stayed in.
I might be nit-picking a little bit, but Girardi has made some moves recently that are questionable. No doubt the absence of Mark Teixeira affects things – he should be due back for the Boston series. Let’s just hope the Yankees are in a position to punch their AL East Division ticket then.