Yankees: Trying in vain, Girardi can’t remove Headley from the lineup

Chase Headley (Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images)
Chase Headley (Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images) /
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The Yankees have a problem. They have three players worthy of playing every day. And the trouble is one of them just won’t do what he’s supposed to do by taking a seat on the bench. What’s a manager to do?

The Yankees made a trade at the deadline this season that continues to haunt Joe Girardi in a good way. Because when third baseman, Todd Frazier, came over from the White Sox and Greg Bird returned from injuries, Chase Headley was figured to be the odd man out as a regular in the lineup.

So much for “figuring,” because Headley has refused to go along with the plan. He’s not sulking or anything like that. Instead, he’s making a statement with his bat.

In September, Headley is 7-15, a .467 clip with two home runs. Overall in the second half, he is batting .329 with seven home runs. This compares to the Pre-All Star period when he hit only .251 with three home runs, and most of that came on the strength of an April that saw him come out of the gate hitting .333.

The man just won’t go away. And it was only during the offseason that Headley was attracting a lot of attention, only that time the discussion was about him going away for good, as to some other gullible team that would take him for a bag of peanuts.

Yanks Go Yard and others wrote stories with titles like “New York would still love to trade Headley” (12/20/2016) and “Chase Headley is Stephen Drew 2.0” (2/4/2017). And YGY wasn’t the only one hopping on the bandwagon. Others, like Bleacher Report, contributed to the speculation Headley would and should be dumped in favor of someone, anyone, even if he is an untested rookie like Miguel Andujar.

Chase Headley is not the kind of player who is going to carry his team. He’s a role player who hits deep in the Yankees batting order, and he does not normally hit with power. But he’s a contributor, and it’s safe to say he’s been a big reason for the Yankees being where they are today.

And he also has a remarkable tendency to come up with a big hit.

His manager speaks highly of Headley and Girardi will not forget how Headley reacted when Frazier was brought in and the hole at first base was still open. As Girardi recalls it:

"“The key to it was when we were in Minnesota and the trade was announced,” Girardi said. “He came into my office and said, ‘I’ll do whatever you want.’ It’s the attitude. He’s embraced it.”"

And at that point, a time when the Yankees were struggling mightily, Headley walked into the job at first base without missing a beat.

Yankees contemplate the future

Headley’s future with the Yankees remains uncertain. He has one more rather expensive year remaining on his contract, after which he will become a free agent at the age of 34.

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Until he was injured and out for the season, the Yankees have been grooming Gleyber Torres for the job at third base, meaning that Frazier’s tenure with the team could be in jeopardy as well after this season.

But Headley is a bird of a different feather, and it could turn out that he joins Ronald Torreyes next season as a go-to guy Girardi can use as a super-sub. And I wouldn’t be surprised to see Headley taking some fly balls in Spring Training next year.

It’s always fortifying when we see a player take control of his fate, especially amidst adversity as Headley is doing this season.

As one of those “feel-good” stories of the season, the Yankees can only feel better when Chase Headley is on the field.

Yankees history footnote (2007)

Brought to you by National Pastime.

Unknown at the time, Bob Sheppard works his last game at Yankee Stadium, a task he has performed over 4,500 times since becoming the team’s P.A. announcer in 1951. The 96-year-old ‘Voice of God’ is replaced by his longtime sub Jim Hall and Paul Olden, who will fill the position when the team moves to the new ballpark in 2009.

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