Joe Girardi’s decision to leave Vernon Wells out of the starting lineup in the New York Yankees’ 6-4 victory over the Baltimore Orioles Monday left many fans dumfounded. In his last 10 games, Wells is batting .313 with three home runs and eight runs batted in. That is nearly a run per- game of production sitting on the pine.
Once inserted into the lineup, Wells tossed fuel on the fire by going one for two with an RBI. So what was Girardi thinking, where was the rationale? How can a guy who apprenticed under Joe Torre stray so far from playing it by the book?
Of course, Girardi’s results this season defy challenge. The Yankees are in first place, even though they could fill their own hospital wing. It is only one game, and Wells did play. So let’s give Girardi the benefit of the doubt and try to understand his thought process, even if it doesn’t make sense.
This is what must have happened. Girardi must have suffered from a bad dream Sunday night. Visions of the Yankees’ poor hitting performance in last season’s post-season loss must have bounced in his head.
You remember that one, right, when the Yankees couldn’t have hit a beach ball with a boat paddle? When only four players batted over .200? So Girardi must have opened his eyes, turned on the light, and grabbed the score book from that series.
No sir! The Yankees are not going to fizzle out this year, he must have thought. This year, the Yankees’ lineup will enter the post-season well rested physically, emotionally and mentally. The load won’t get too heavy if it is spread around.
Alright, if that is the case, why not sit Ichiro Suzuki? In his last ten games Suzuki is batting .162 with seven strike outs. That’s right, the man who has avoided strike outs so well in his career is suddenly heading back to the dugout at an alarming rate. If anyone needs rest, he is the one.
Sure, Suzuki found a way to get a hit. But wouldn’t you prefer giving Wells two more opportunities? After all, it’s real easy to cool- off sitting there on the pine.