Monday, October 15, 2012

Lineup Needs To Be Blown Up For Game 3

(Just sit down, Curtis.  Courtesy of Getty Images)

The offense is fucking up big time in the postseason. They are the primary reason why the Yankees had to go 5 games to beat Baltimore in the division series and why they currently find themselves down 0-2 going on the road against Detroit. There’s no point in trying to say it any other way; these guys, with a few exceptions, have flat out sucked a dick at the plate and wasted what has been a great team pitching performance. The Yankee starting pitchers have allowed just 14 runs in 7 postseason games, a number that even in my wildest dreams I wasn’t expecting them to do, and yet the Yankees are 3-4 in those games. That’s almost hard to fathom given the names and reputations and career numbers in the Yankee clubhouse, but it’s a sobering stone cold fact.

Joe and Kevin Long have stayed consistent with their messages of guys “needing to step up” and needing to “make adjustments up there” to try to turn this around, but it just isn’t happening. The hitters clearly aren’t making adjustments, the small tweaks to the batting order and baserunning strategy are returning little to no dividends, and the clock is starting to count down on the Yankees’ season. At this point, the time for waiting and adjusting is over. The Yankees need a spark, something to try to generate offense where this is none, and it needs to start with a major shakeup of the lineup for Game 3.

If I were running the show, here’s what my lineup card would look like for Game 3:

1) Brett Gardner- CF
2) Ichiro Suzuki- LF
3) Mark Teixeira- 1B
4) Raul Ibanez- DH
5) Nick Swisher- RF
6) Eric Chavez- 3B
7) Russell Martin- C
8) Robinson Cano- 2B
9) Eduardo Nunez- SS

Is that a knee-jerk reaction to what happened in Game 2? You bet your ass it is.  But it’s also taking into account what guys have and haven’t done throughout these 7 playoff games. Down 2 games in this series, and facing the best pitcher in baseball at home on Tuesday, what other choice do the Yankees have than to try to take a big swing and see what happens? They’ve got nothing to lose. During the regular season you can live with a sputtering stretch of offensive futility like this because there’s plenty of time to correct it or let it correct itself, and the Yankees made it through a couple of those stretches this season. But that luxury goes away in the playoffs, and it needs to go away now for the Yankees seeing as how things are only getting worse with each passing game.

Alex Rodriguez hasn’t hit right-handed pitching at all in the last 2 weeks, and has been a shell of himself for over a month now. I don’t care about career numbers against Justin Verlander, I care about the here and now and right now he’s absolutely useless offensively against righties. He’s out. Curtis Granderson, righty-lefty advantage being what it is on paper, is getting fooled by every pitcher out there regardless of what hand he throws the ball with, and has been the biggest offender of taking good pitches to hit and flailing away at everything out of the zone and off the plate. He’s a walking strikeout and got another shaky jump on Quintin Berry’s double in the 7th yesterday. He’s out. At least Eric Chavez and Brett Gardner can work some counts and maybe put some balls in play, and Gardner is an upgrade over Granderson in the field regardless of how much time he’s missed.

Ichiro hasn’t been great this postseason, but he’s done enough to still be a power and base-stealing threat at the top of the lineup, and that’s valuable. And with Teix and Ibanez being the 2 best hitters right now, I want speed ahead of them. Even if they are only drawing walks or hitting singles, at least those will help move runners along, and along faster with the speed those runners have. Teix and Ibanez have also been good about seeing pitches and working counts, which would give Gardner and Ichiro more chances to steal their way into scoring position if they get on. The results haven’t been there for Swish or Martin, but the approach has and they’ve both hit some balls on the screws, so they stay in and move up in the order.

Robinson Cano, Tebow bless his soul, is the next biggest black hole in this lineup right now, and gets dumped down to 8th. If he doesn’t like it, good. He’s not supposed to, but his happiness doesn’t mean shit when he’s setting postseason records for hitless streaks. Lastly, might as well throw Nunez in there at short. Nix had some good swings and played a solid shortstop in Game 2, but Nunez is more of an offensive threat with his speed and I’ll sacrifice defense for offense at the bottom of the order.

It’s completely insane that we’re even discussing making such drastic changes to the New York Yankee lineup in the postseason, but that’s how bad they’ve been. This is now the 3rd straight postseason where the offense has completely folded its tent, and this edition has been the worst one yet. Jobs are on the line here, future options are on the line here, and most importantly the opportunity to win a world championship is on the line. You’ve already shown the ability to put feelings aside and focus on winning baseball games in small doses in these first 7 games, Joe. Let the floodgates open and do something major for Game 3. The only thing that matters now is winning games, and you can’t win games scoring 0 runs.

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