Here is what I would do with the lineup. I know it is very early (can’t get too crazy) and the weather has been really poor, but Jeter simply doesn’t look any different right now. All the issues I had with his balance are still there and as I said, I didn’t think the issue was his stride as much as his bat being in a different location too often and not having the bat speed of old. While I would be OK waiting until after the SkyDome series where the weather should be nice, my thoughts are as follows:
Jeter was still good against lefties last year and this year he has a .796 OPS against southpaws (.493 against righties). Have him leadoff against lefties and bat last against righties. I would flip flop him and Gardner as a 9th man platoon. This is also the same thing I thought made sense last year. The main issue doing this now is that Gardner isn’t hitting either. Therefore, why not use them at the bottom of the order and once we go through the first 7 guys, we then have out “leadoff guys” in front Tex, ARod and Cano (assuming ARod is ok – which of course is critical regardless of how much better our bench is this year with Chavez). This would mean we go very unconventional and have Tex leadoff and ARod 2nd and Cano 3rd. Yeah, I know this is impossible; nobody does that, what an asinine idea. Well, the truth is that the only difference in a lot of the leadoff guys and the some of the middle of the order guys is speed. Wade Boggs was a great leadoff hitter because he was a great hitter who got on base and forced the pitcher to work. You want your OBP guys up before your sluggers in general, but you also want your better hitters getting the extra AB a game; it is as simple as that (on top of trying to mix your lineup as to not make it easy to bring a specialist to counteract your strengths or take advantage of your weaknesses)
Will Girardi do it, no, but that doesn’t mean he is putting his players in the best position to win games.
Hughes: It was pointed out to me that awhile back when there was talk of trading Hughes in the Santana deal, I stated that “If Hughes can throw 94-95 like the Yankees say he can, then I would not deal him, but if he throws 91-92, I would trade him for the right pitcher.” Forget that Santana is injured now, the concept was that 2 years ago, I saw how important the velocity for Hughes is and he is FAR more effective with the 3-4 extra MPH on his fastball. Now most pitchers would be that way also, but some guys have more complementary type of pitches. For example, Garcia threw nothing but slop all game, but he had movement, control and changed planes and angles all game. He is now the rare craft righty! BTW, wasn’t it very comforting to see him pitch well? Give Cashman credit, while Garcia may get beat up once in a while and he only has only started once; Cashman found Colon and Garcia for nothing and both guys are part of our pitching staff right now. I hope Hughes gets back a few MPH as it is a huge setback if he is a mediocre 5th starter because we could have gotten a lot for him. The talk prior was Seattle wanting Montero, Hughes and Betances for King Felix. During the summer, the Yankees would have said no, that is far too much; right now, I would jump at that.
A few other notes: In the last game, there was a squibber hit in front of the plate that Martin jumped on and threw to first base and the play was very close (Texas argued he was safe but replays showed he was barely out). This was the same play I have spoken about in the past years where the 1st baseman fields the throws from the catcher or possibly the pitcher with his left leg on the bag and the right leg in the 2nd base line (facing home plate). The issue I have with this is that the 1st baseman not only doesn’t stretch toward the throw, but doesn’t step toward the throw and pickup that extra 3 feet or so. If Tex would have just stepped toward the ball, the play would not have been that close. I know the ball is coming fast and there is less risk in fielding it this way, but on a close play you need to extend toward the ball; I don’t understand this basic step is missed by most? Just to act out what I am saying. Stand with your legs wide and face straight ahead with your glove hand extended out in front of you as far as possible without tipping over (my legal team had me right don’t tip over ) and see how far you can reach without moving your feet. Now take your right foot (the left was on the bag) and step toward the ball and see how much farther you can extend. You could extend even farther by stretching and righties may even do this with their right foot on the bag, but again that does have more risk. Anyway, you see the point and while it didn’t hurt us, it will happen again and at some point it will.
Martin picked off a guy the other day, but Cano supposedly missed the tag. My opinion was that while Cano made the mistake of not putting the ball by the bag and then moving toward the runner, I still think he tagged him on the leg before his hand touched. But, c’mon, guys tagging 101, you don’t reach for them until after you have placed the tag down when they must eventually go and then while on the ground you slide the glove toward the runner if you have enough time.
I hope Joba doesn’t get “Proctored” as he is on pace for over 100 games. Most should get that reference.
We are 3 games in 1st and 4.5 ahead of Boston! Not bad with our offense scoring the 9th most runs!