The Yankees managed to pull out another squeaker yesterday, scratching a run across in the top of the 9th to beat Seattle and keep their "close game" record going strong. Those of you who watched the game, particularly the final 2 innings, were probably left wondering if the game would have been that close late were it not a few questionable non-pinch hit moves by Joe late. With 2 outs and a runner on 2nd, Joe let Vernon Wells hit against a righty, which led to an inning-ending groundout, and in the 9th he let both Reid Brignac and Chris Stewart hit with a RISP.
In both of these instances, Joe had Lyle Overbay ready and waiting on the bench and chose not to use him. Overbay spent the majority of this weekend series glued to the bench after moonlighting as a right fielder against Cleveland earlier in the week. Removing him from the outfield was the right move, but if Joe isn't going to use him as a lefty pinch hitter in obvious situations like yesterday then what the hell is Overbay on the roster for?
Before you counter with the "Seattle could have just gone to a lefty" counterpoint, know this. Seattle had just brought right-handed reliever Yoervis Medina into the game in the 8th specifically to face Wells. Assuming this umpiring crew actually knew the rules of baseball and didn't screw up the call again, he had to face at least 1 batter one way or the other. Overbay was guaranteed a plate appearance against a righty in that situation, the type of handed pitcher he's hit .284/.329/.522 against this season. Wells hasn't hit anything or anybody this month or most of last. What was the line of thinking there??
And while Seattle did have the option of going to a southpaw in the 9th, I think I still would have rather gone with Overbay over Brignac or Stewart just to force Seattle to make that move. Oliver Perez has done a good job re-inventing himself as a quasi-LOOGY in Seattle, but he's still Oliver Perez, king of chokejobs. As it is he loaded the bases after entering the game in the 9th. Even lefty-on-lefty, Overbay was probably the best hitting option in that situation with Youkilis being hurt. Don't you still have to go to your best option to try to get the game-winning hit?
Yes, Stewart got the hit and the Yankees won and all of this kinda doesn't matter because of it. It still leaves me scratching my head about what Joe's plans are for Overbay. He's got a viable left-handed pinch hitting option on the bench in Overbay, something he didn't have for most of the season up to this point, and he's been fantastic when it comes to making moves with this undermanned roster (still think he's the runaway AL MOY right now, BTW). Why didn't he make the move there? With Teix back, this is the best way to get some value out of Overbay. He's only valuable if he's got the bat in his hand, though, and Joe needs to be cognizant of that and keep getting Overbay at-bats when and where he can.