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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sliding Slumping A-Rod

Game 3 of the ALDS between the Orioles and the Yankees begins shortly in the Bronx.  The teams split the first two games in Baltimore.  The final three games of the five-game series will be played in New York.  The first two games of the series involved some great pitching, some ugly defense and some bizarre base running.  But all the talk heading into tonight's game is about whether Yankees' manager Joe Girardi should move Alex Rodriguez out of the third spot in the batting order and slide him down in the lineup.

A-Rod, has been awful in the first two games of the playoffs.  He has gone 1 for 9 with 5 strikeouts and no RBIs.  That is indisputably terrible.  Therefore, the fans and talking heads on sports radio have declared that Girardi's decision is a no-brainer.  A-Rod must move down in the batting order.

But, I say it's not that simple.

First of all, baseball is a long-term sport.  The season is an eternal 162 games.  Streaks, good and bad, happen.  If the argument is that A-Rod should have been batting 7th or 8th all season, well, there might be some merit to that.  That is a different discussion altogether.  But, surely Joe Girardi considered his lineup all season long and decided heading into the playoffs that 3rd was the best slot for his 3rd baseman.  Again, reasonable minds can differ on this point.  But, nothing that happened in the first two games of this series ... or any series ... is a reason to abandon the long-term plan.

But, more importantly, who do the Yankees really have that they can count on to be better in that spot

Jeter, the reliable captain, is leading off.  The red-hot and speedy Ichiro is batting second.  Robinson Cano, the Yankees best player, is batting clean-up.  No one is suggesting that any of these guys should move.

So, who are the other candidates for the 3rd spot in the order?  Switch-hitting Nick Swisher's name has been bandied about.  But, Swisher has been having his own struggles.  Swisher is a chilly 1 for 6 in the playoffs and, during the regular season, had the same .272 batting average as A-Rod.  Mark Teixeira is another popular name.  Tex hit well in the first two games in Baltimore.  But, over the course of the 162-game season, he batted a meager .251.  Curtis Granderson?  He hit 43 home runs this year and batted in 106 runs.  Not too shabby.  But, the Grandyman either hit it out of the park or went down swinging.  He struck out 195 times this season on the way to an ugly .232 batting average.  The other two men in the line-up for Game 3 are catcher Russell Martin and third baseman Eric Chavez.  To describe Martin as a light-hitting catcher is an insult to light hitters.  Martin batted .211 this season.  Chavez has acquitted himself well at the plate when he has been in the lineup this season, but he is a part time player.

If I was Joe Girardi, I honestly do not know what I would do with the Yankees lineup for Game 3.  But I do know that it is not a simple or obvious decision.



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