Daily Archives: October 11, 2012
RHP Phil Hughes
— Joe Girardi said that Derek Jeter will go through batting practice but right now, Jeter is the DH. It’s either he DH’s or he’s doesn’t play at all.
— Also some sad news, Joe Girardi’s father passed away on Saturday at the age of 81. Girardi will still be with the team tonight to manage the game but if the Yanks advance to the ALCS, he won’t be with the team for their workout on Monday. Our thoughts and prayers go to Joe Girardi and his family.
— This is the game that could define it all. Can the Yanks win it and knock out the Orioles to head to the ALCS or will the Orioles tie it up–again? (Yankees fans are going with the first one).
As regular as the Yankees being in the playoffs has become, so has the annual jeering of third baseman Alex Rodriguez. Despite carrying the team on his back to the World Series in 2009, all that was forgiven has re-surfaced as Alex has followed ’09 with three consecutive horrid postseasons.
Of course, this October is hopefully still just beginning for the Yankees after an exciting Game 3 win that put them up 2-1 in the ALDS. As you know, Raul Ibanez hit the game-tying and game-winning home runs in the 9th and 12th innings making for a truly historic playoff win. But unfortunately, the bigger story is that he came into the game for A-Rod, who has now struck out in 7 of his 12 playoff at-bats. The cheers that were heard when A-Rod was taken out rivaled the cheers that erupted following Ibanez’s homer(s).
You can’t go on one sports website (even here at Yankees Fans Unite) or watch one sports show without them bringing up the tremendous struggles of the Yankees’ $300 million man. They all point to that bust of a contract and also how he continues to bat third in the order through the first three games, despite clearly not deserving to be.
No doubt people have a solid argument to be mad at A-Rod and want him either benched or off the team completely. But they are thinking in terms that would have applied several years ago, but not at this present time.
Get it through your heads Yankee fans – Alex Rodriguez is no longer Alex Rodriguez. Forget about his contract; he clearly isn’t worth the money. But the guy is 37 years old, and a former steroid user. Not only is he at the age where most athletes begin to break down, but he’s also at the stage in his life where performance-enhancing drug use starts to take its toll.
Granted, he is far more mature and smarter than he was when he juiced down in Texas. Yet the fact remains that he is simply an aging superstar who is past his prime. Actually to me the numbers he put up this year are impressive considering he played in just 122 games. He will never hit 30 home runs again, and likely won’t fare too well in other offensive categories as he plays out the final half of his 10-year deal. He simply isn’t the same A-Rod, and yet Yankee fans think of him as that guy who should be carrying this team and getting at least a hit if not a home run every at-bat, which sparks their hatred and dislike towards his play.
Another gripe quick-thinking fans have with Alex is that he hits third in this Yankee playoff lineup. Correct me if I’m wrong, but does he put out the lineup card every day? Does he decide who to pinch-hit for and who to bring in from the bullpen in close games? No. Those are the duties of the Yankees manager, and that is Joe Girardi. Alex doesn’t ask to bat third and won’t refuse to when Joe says so. A-Rod batting third is nothing of his own fault. I’m not saying blame Joe, but certainly don’t act like him batting third is something that is catastrophic to the Yankees’ chances. Because the players fans want to replace him in the three hole – be it Robbie Cano, Nick Swisher, Curtis Granderson, or Mark Teixeira -none of them have done that much better as far as producing runs. (Teix has hit better than the other three, but he too has had his struggles)
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like Alex Rodriguez. I never have, and simply root for him mutually for him being a member of the Yankees. But acting like he is the only one causing the Yankees’ offensive woes is ridiculous, and so is the idea that he should be hitting like the A-Rod of old, because he’s long gone. What you have now is simply an old A-Rod, and fans need to accept it and understand him still being on the team is something to point fingers at Brian Cashman and the late George Steinbrenner for. The Boss especially had a change of heart after letting him walk and quickly re-signed him in hopes of him continually breaking records and establishing himself as an MLB legend in the Yankee pinstripes.
Instead of signing Mike Lowell, or trading with the Florida Marlins for Miguel Cabrera, George wanted A-Rod back, and he wanted him back for another decade. How could anyone turn down the money he was offered, and also, how could anyone have thought that at age 37 he’d still be hitting 40 home runs and being one of the top hitters in baseball? Not me. Most 37 year olds aren’t, no matter how legendary or productive they were in their prime. And especially considering his PED use, he only adds to the lesser production a veteran player like him will contribute to the Yankees.
So before you begin to hate on A-Rod and want him kicked out of New York, remember it was barely his fault he’s still here and certainly not his fault that at age 37, he can’t hit like he’s 29. I don’t remember too many others who were able to do that.
Call it a great move, call it desperation call it whatever you want – but Girardi finally saw the light and pinch hit for ARod against a tough RHP in the 9th inning last night. Jim Johnson had made Alex look helpless, striking him out in Games 1 & 2 challenging him with his sinking Fastball. So staring a 2-1 series deficit and a potential elimination game in the face, Girardi finally let egos be damned and made a move that was long overdue. Obviously the move looks genius now because of Ibanez’ game-tying and game-winning HRs but it would have been the right move even if Ibanez struck out. Ibanez & Chavez have worn out RHP all year-long while Alex has clearly had trouble posting a .391 SLG% and .717 OPS.
Some people have said fans are overreacting about ARod after 3 poor games in the playoffs. But it has been a season long problem with RHP that Girardi should have addressed long before the playoffs. However, in Joe’s defense, he didn’t have his full starting lineup for much of the final 2 months so lineup changes were difficult. The question now is, after pinch-hitting for Alex, will Joe finally move him down in the lineup or take him out all together versus tough RHP? He definitely needs to do it BUT Game 4 is not the game to do it. Hitting against LHP has not been a problem for Alex as evidenced by his .308 BA and .924 OPS in 2012 – and he belongs in the 3 or 4 spot today. Lefty Joe Saunders will be on the mound and like several other Yankees, ARod has had success against Saunders. Here are the career #s vs Saunders:
Based on Nix’s 3 for 10 with 3 HRs vs Saunders and his more reliable glove than Nunez, Joe may have to go with Nix at SS to give Jeter a day at DH to rest his foot. The other guy you have to find a space for is Ibanez. Not only has he been amazingly hot in big situations but he has had success for Saunders in the past. Ibanez could play OF with Swish Tex or Granderson sitting out. With Hughes on the mound, Granderson’s speed in CF is important so I’d probably sit Tex or Swish.
Winning the Bullpen Battle
Coming into the Series, it seemed Baltimore had an edge over the Yanks in 1 category – the Bullpen. However, the Yankees pen has been excellent while the O’s have lost both games because of their pen. Baltimore relievers have thrown 10 innings and have allowed 6 Earned Runs. By comparison, their starters have allowed just 4 ERs in 19 ip. All-Star closer Jim Johnson led the A.L. with 51 saves in the regular season but has allowed 5ER already.
Yankee relievers have thrown 5 shutout innings allowing just 2 hits with David Robertson pitching 3.1 ip of that. DRob was a concern as he didn’t pitch well down the stretch but he’s been awesome so far. He’s mixed in his Curveball much more often than he had been in September and it’s been a very effective pitch for him. One of the resons for the bullpen’s success is the length given by the starters. Both CC & Kuroda pitched into the 9th inning and Pettitte gave 7 solid innings. This has enabled Joe to skip over his middle relievers and go straight to his set-up men and Closer. Game 4 may require more work from the pen since Hughes averaged 6.0 innings per start and had a shaky September with a 5.19 ERA. Soriano (1.1 ip) and DRob (2 ip) both went more than an inning last night so guys like Logan, Joba, Lowe & Phelps could play a larger role tonight.