A-Rod is benched but is it for the right reason?

Posted on 17 October 2012 by Trish Vignola

Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher were benched by the Yankees for Game 3 of the American League Championship series at Detroit tonight. Welcome to the latest attempt by New York to reverse a deep hitting slump that threatens to knock New York out of the postseason.

Now with Phil Hughes being taken out of the game with a reoccurring back issue in the 4th, those bats are needed more than ever. Hughes left the game, only down by one.

For any other team, they’re still in the game. For the Yankees, it’s a well-documented problem this entire postseason.

”We talked about the dimensions here, and we talked about, fly-ball pitcher today, and we’ve had some guys struggling, so we decided to make some changes,” manager Joe Girardi said to Fox.

It was the second time Alex Rodriguez has been benched this postseason. Easily one of the greatest hitters in the history of the game, Rodriguez is hitting .130 (3 for 23) with no RBIs in the playoffs. He went 0 for 18 with 12 strikeouts against right-handers.

What’s interesting though is, why did Girardi bench Rodriguez now against Verlander? Detroit right-hander Justin Verlander, last year’s AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner, took the mound tonight against New York. He’s trying to help the Tigers to a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. He is a master. However, the one person in the Yankee lineup he doesn’t have a mastery of? Alex Rodriguez.

Rodriguez didn’t talk to reporters as we he walked onto the field for pregame warmups. He was smiling, joking and laughing with teammates as he stretched. Someone not taking his benching as well is Nick Swisher. Swisher has struggled about as much as Rodriguez. Hitting .154 (4 for 26) this postseason, Swisher is 1 for 34 with runners in scoring position in his postseason career.

Eric Chavez, 0 for 11 in the playoffs, started at third base in place of Rodriguez. He has a decent history against Verlander. Brett Gardner led off and played left field, his first start since April 17. Gardner hasn’t see live pitching since before the All-Star break. The most controversial move was moving Eduardo Nunez to shortstop. When runs are obviously at a premium, as evidenced in the 4th inning, why did Girardi put such an error-happy player in such an important position?

”We have a lot of guys in there working toward one common goal and that’s to come back and beat the Tigers and get to the World Series,” Gardner said to Fox. ”We’re all pulling for each other.” Gardner has been recovering from a right elbow injury that required surgery in July.

”Gardy, we believe, is one of the best leadoff guys in the game when he’s healthy and has had a chance to play,” general manager Brian Cashman said to Fox. ”He’s healthy now and he’s going to get a chance to play. With all respect, he can’t give us any less than we’ve gotten.”

He also wasn’t written up in today’s gossip page. Rodriguez’s benching came following a New York Post report. Citing an unidentified witness, the Post said Rodriguez flirted with two attractive female fans near the New York dugout after he was pulled late in Game 1 against Detroit.

Let me say…if this story is true, I detest it. Nonetheless, the organization pays Rodriguez a lot of money to do a specific job.

Girardi would not comment on that report and said the decision to bench A-Rod was strictly performance related. “Part of it has been his struggles against right-handers in the playoffs,” Girardi said to Fox. I question this.

He hasn’t struggled against Verlander.

Nick Swisher’s benching was richly deserved. Swisher was unable to catch Delmon Young‘s double in the 12th inning of Game 1, a 6-4 Detroit win, saying he lost the ball in the lights. Eligible for free agency, Swisher complained after Game 2 about hearing from angry home fans in the right-field corner. You know the pressure is getting to Swisher when the fans are getting on his nerves.

It’s hard to figure out the Yankees game plan. Hughes can’t help a potential lumbar problem, but why wasn’t CC Sabathia brought back on short rest? The team potentially could go 0-3. Why are you playing for tomorrow? I understand wanting Chavez’ glove in the game, but aren’t you counteracting that with Nunez? Couldn’t Rodriguez play shortstop?

”I wouldn’t say desperate. We are down 2-0 but there was an extended period of time when opportunities were given and now we’re going to give them to some other people who are legitimate major league guys who can contribute,” Cashman said. ”It’s not like we’re dropping off the face of the earth.

So, is this really the appropriate time to teach Rodriguez a lesson?

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