A manager pinch hits for a right-handed batter hitting .083 in the series for a lefty swinger and the move is being called "gutsy," "ballsy" … "took a lot of courage."
The only reason such praise is being heaped on Yankees manager Joe Girardi this morning are:
- The move to pinch hit for Alex Rodriguez risked pissing off A-Rod.
- If pinch-hitter Raul Ibanez didn't contribute to a rally, Girardi would haven been raked over by the media. (Ibanez, of course, did more than contribute. He hit tying and game-winning HRs in a 3-2 victory against Baltimore in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series.)
Fact is, the word that best describes Girardi’s move is this: smart.
Girardi wasn’t risking losing A-Rod -- the star has been lost for a while. He was 1-for-12 with 7 Ks in the series when Ibanez hit for him.
Rodriguez might prove to be a very productive player for a couple more years, but his annual enhanced stats are a thing of the past.
To his credit, A-Rod said all the right things after the game, how he loves Girardi and it's all about the team. But you know his pride took a hit.
In Ibanez, Girardi had a guy who already had produced big hits in recent weeks. He hit a two-run homer in the 13th during an eventual 14th-inning win against Oakland on Sept. 22; and a game-tying, two-run homer in the ninth during a 4-3 win in 12 innings vs. Boston on Oct. 2.
Girardi's decision to pinch hit for A-Rod wasn't courageous. It was smart.