While there is no doubt the biggest issue with the 2014 Yankees is the abysmally inconsistent bats on display each day, it's safe to say in this instance that the manager also shares a substantial part of the blame as well. Now hear me out before you lynch me with comments on how the players performance out on the field is out of his hands as I have substantial evidence to support this claim.
Today, and on multiple occasions this year, we've had runners in scoring position and failed to hit them in. In fact, this afternoon we had an impressively awful 1-17 with runners in scoring position. While I'd be a millionaire if I could fix the Yankees bats, it doesn't take a genius to realize with these types of recent struggles that the Yankees should be manufacturing runs wherever and whenever possible. For instance, in the first inning of today's game when we had the bases loaded and no outs, yet still failed to score a single run (second time in a month this scenario has played out) players went for the big hit rather than the easy run in their hitting approaches. Again in the ninth, Ichiro lead off with a single and advanced to second with one no outs. Rather than attempting to advance the runner with the remaining outs, Girardi decided to play for the hit, and the rest is history. Why after such poor clutch showings by any player not named Yangervis Solarte has the GM not budged from this all or nothing mindset?
Another point of interest for me is Girardi's handling of the bullpen this year. While I'll admit this point is a matter of philosophical stances on the game, it's hard to believe the Yankees can afford to save relievers arms for future games when they are struggling to put more than 2-4 runs on the board. When we are in a position to win, it's my opinion that we must play for the win and let tomorrows bullpen be considered after. Too many times this year we have lost games after one abysmal inning in the 6-8th inning because the top reliever for the situation was held back due to a long stretch of games coming up. If a pitcher is healthy and ready, they need to be in there. While Daley, Claiborne and Warren are serviceable arms, I think most would agree a close ball game in the eighth has no business being in anyone's hand but Dellin Betances then handed off to Roberts for the ninth. We need to play for the now, or we wont have a later.
Now to hit the nail on the head! Why is Jeter still batting second in a struggling lineup? I absolutely love Jeter, but the front of the lineup should be filled with table setting players with high on base percentages. Every time Jeter hits a weak groundball after Gardiner gets on we are shooting ourselves in the foot. This may be Jeter's farewell tour, but I feel nostalgia is clouding the judgement of the man making the lineup card. Unfortunately though, Girardi has a bad habit of batting the name, and not the numbers (why else would the strikeout machine and defense deficient Soriano have more playing time than Ichiro?).
Here's my suggestion for a lineup to help liven up our order:
1. Brett Gardiner (.277 AVG, .340 OBP) LF
2. Yangervis Solarte (.294 AVG, .366 OBP) 3B
3. Jacobi Ellsbury (.288 AVG, .354 OBP) CF
4. Mark Teixeira (.240 AVG, 366 OBP) 1B
5. Carlos Beltran (.223 AVG, .272 OBP - Until he heats up and is finished rehabbing) DH
6. Ichiro Suzuki (.313 AVG, .373 OBP) RF
7. Brian McCann (.230 AVG, .288 OBP - Another guy due to move up when he gets going) C
8. Derek Jeter (.258 AVG, .317 OBP) SS
9. Brian Roberts (.237 AVG, .313 OBP)
There you have it! A solid all around lineup that values OBP to utilize the speed of our players, one of the few things that is truly working for us this year. Girardi, if you're reading, please open your eyes and work with the team you have now. I still believe we have a quality ball club, but we may be out contention before they get around to showing it if we do not react and change our mentality, and fast.