By Jeff Zachowski on August 14th, 2008 1:58 PM
Saw something in the Yankee game yesterday that I hadn’t seen in a long time: Both middle infielders attempting to cover the bag on a routine stolen base. Now I know Wilson Betemit doesn’t play a whole lot of shortstop, but even so, he should know the signs by now, shouldn’t he? My friend Dino tells me that Richie Sexson missed a sign the other day as well. Hey, it happens. But it’s happening too much lately for Joe Girardi‘s Yankees.
Underline that last part, because these aren’t your big brother’s Yankees. These aren’t Joe Torre‘s Yankees. These are Hank Steinbrenner‘s Yankees, and in case you missed it, he’s already laid out a comfy mattress in case his new manager gets knocked to the canvas. We’ll get ‘em next year, tiger.
Torre, meanwhile, is laughing all the way to the postseason.
By the way, one could argue that the Marlins are having a better season in ’08 with an inferior roster than they sported in ’06 under Manager of the Year Joe Girardi. Just sayin’.
Seriously though, a pragmatic Yankee fan had to have seen at least a hint of this coming in the offseason when the team showed Torre the door after 12 straight playoff appearances under the skip. Sure there was a large segment of fandom that felt Torre had lost his touch, and his laid-back attitude was to blame for the team’s frustrating and indifferent play in the postseason. However, it was never a particularly rational sentiment. For me, the biggest X-Factor wasn’t Joe Girardi walking in the door, but whether or not a dark horse team or two would rise up to the challenge and exploit a fragile Yankee team. Thus far, underdogs like the Rays and Twins have answered the bell.
You can kill the Yanks for refusing to part with Ian Kennedy for Johan Santana if you want, but how’s that working out for Minnesota?
And speaking of Johan and his Amazin’ Mets, can you imagine a more nightmarish middle infield combo than Jose Reyes and Robinson Cano? Don’t get me wrong, I think Jose has extraordinary defensive ability, and Robbie can pick it as well when he’s properly motivated, but the pair of them would have their heads in the clouds for eight out of nine innings.
Some more food for thought: Might it finally be time to move Derek Jeter down in the order and slide Bobby Abreu into the 2-hole? Such a move would allow Xavier Nady, hitting .329 with a .943 OPS, to bat third in the order and provide a maximum of RBI opportunities for Alex Rodriguez and his .996 OPS in the cleanup spot. The rest of your order would then alternate lefties and righties very nicely with Jason Giambi, Jeter, Cano, Pudge Rodriguez, and Melky Cabrera. The notion that Giambi ever hits higher than Xavier Nady in the lineup is confusing to me.
And while we’re talking about the X-Man: I can’t say I remember seeing it live, but I know that the Pirates had played Nady in centerfield at various points over the last two seasons. Willie Randolph was always down on Xavier’s defense during his time with the Mets, but I honestly think he may have been a bit hard on the guy. Nady’s a decent defensive player, and might even benefit from a move to center where it’s often easier to get reads on balls that aren’t hooking like they do in the corners. Obviously I’d like to look at some tape from Pittsburgh before throwing him out there, but it seems to me it’s an idea that should at least be under consideration with Johnny Damon‘s arm no longer adequate for the position and Melky Cabrera on the cusp of being run out of the Bronx by pitchforks and torches.
It’s time to Think Different in the Bronx.
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