A-Rod needing two days off brings up an issue, one that’s been simmering under the surface all season. In a perfect world, we would have been DHing Alex once a week to keep him fresh. But we live in an imperfect world, and now A-Rod has worn himself out to the point that we’ve lost him for two days, and at a point of the season where we’re coming off a bad stretch (caused in part by Alex’s struggles) and could really use a fresh Alex and his bat.
Hideki Matsui presents the biggest problem for this team roster-wise. Heading into this year, he had to hit A LOT for him to make any sense for this team, and up to now he hasnt. His OPS is the lowest
of all the starting regulars except for Melky, who is light years ahead of him defensively. If you try to play Hideki in the outfield, the difference between Hideki’s .818 OPS and Melky’s .793 isn’t worth the defensive downgrade. Whenever you try to find ways to rest the regulars, or give up a little hitting to upgrade your defense, you quickly realize that you’re stuck and Matsui is involved.
If Hideki can play the field at all (doubtful) he’s a Left Fielder at best. He really doesn’t have the arm to play Right. Girardi has no desire to play Damon in CF anymore, where Johnny is no longer an adequate defender, so in order to play Matsui that means you have to sit Damon or DH Johnny and sit Posada. In either scenario, you have weakened the team both defensively and offensively in order to play Hideki. If you bite the bullet and move Damon to CF and play Hideki in LF, you have a slightly better lineup but one of the worst defensive outfields in the game. Again, not worth it.
I’ll run through some of the scenarios, each of which could help the team but inevitably Matsui complicates things.
DH Posada more-3 of the starting 5 pitchers have had issues with Posada at some point this season. At 37, you’d like to DH Jorge more even if the pitchers all loved him, which they don’t. But DHing Posada more means Hideki sits and rusts on the bench. But I think Girardi is moving in this direction anyway, particularly vs tough Lefties.
Rotate the aging regulars through the DH-We already covered Posada. Coming off hip surgery, A-Rod needs some days off from playing the field. Damon and Jeter are 35 and could use a blow here and there. There are even situations where you would prefer to DH Nick Swisher and go with your best defensive OF in Gardner/Cabrera. But Hideki would almost never play if we did this.
Play Matsui in Left Field-Perhaps the worst of all scenarios. Playing Hideki over Johnny Damon would be a downgrade offensively and defensively. Johnny runs the bases better, makes the lineup go and is one of our more consistent hitters, wheras Matsui is one of our more streaky hitters. With Johnny’s new found Yankee stadium power, even his OPS is higher than Hideki this season. You only do this if Johnny’s hurt.
Trade Matsui for a PTBNL-Can’t do it. At 13 mil you’d have to eat most of the contract in order to move him, at which point you might as well keep him around rather than pay him to help someone else.
BTW-This is without Xavier Nady on the team, who should return in a few weeks. Nady figures to give us yet another LF/DH to try to find playing time for.
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