The need for more speed

Hughes cleared to throw following back stiffness
Blue Jays claim Cory Wade off waivers from Yankees
(Gregory Shamus/Getty)

Joe Girardi has had to tinker with his lineup far more than I’m sure he would have liked this postseason, and it was all out of necessity. Alex Rodriguez simply has not hit right-handers at all, and the duo of Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher went from middle of the order thumpers to bottom of the lineup automatic outs. He inserted both Brett Gardner and Eduardo Nunez into the starting lineup last night and was mostly rewarded, as Nunez drove in their only run with a solo homer while Gardner had some of the team’s best and longest at-bats. The Yankees still lost though.

I expect tonight’s lineup to be very similar to last night’s with maybe one or two minor changes. Maybe Swisher is back in the starting lineup and Granderson sits, something like that. Either way, I think the stretch of 9-1-2 hitters — Nunez, Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki — will remain the same to give the team some speed on the bases. They didn’t use that speed at all last night though, as Ichiro singled twice and didn’t bother to steal second either time even though the one thing Justin Verlander will let an offense do is steal a base. I understand that every base-runner is precious when you’re struggling to score, but I felt the situation called for pushing the envelope.

Max Scherzer is a bit more stingy with the stolen base than Verlander, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the speed game should come out of the playbook. Frankly it doesn’t make sense to play Nunez and Gardner and not have them try to steal when they do reach base. Obviously the whole getting on-base thing is quite important, but Scherzer hasn’t been himself lately and is probably the least effective Tigers’ starter right now. If last night’s ninth inning mini-rally is going to carry over to today, it will be because Detroit’s starter is still dealing with some nagging shoulder issues and can’t reach back for 95+ when in a jam.

Desperate times do call for desperate measures, and Girardi did sorta take those measures with his lineup moves last night. If he keeps Nunez and Gardner in the lineup for Game Four, even if they don’t bat back-to-back, the club has to try to take advantage of their speed. I’m surprised they have yet to lay a bunt down towards Miguel Cabrera at third or even Prince Fielder at first, but if Scherzer is pitching well the first time through the order it might be a shot in the middle innings. The Yankees have to try to generate some offense in different ways tonight and hopefully going forward later in the series, and taking advantage of the fresh legs (both Nunez and Gardner missed a big chunk of time with injury this season) could be one way to do it.

Hughes cleared to throw following back stiffness
Blue Jays claim Cory Wade off waivers from Yankees
  • JonS

    They need more speed in their line period. The entire team is pretty much station to station except a bench player and two OFers.

  • WhittakerWalt

    I was stunned that Ichiro never even attempted a steal either time. It’s like Joe’s inability to feel desperation completely neutralizes his ability to improvise. He just keeps believing his guys are going to wake up with the bats. He’s been wrong, every time.

    • Mike Myers

      Except when he put in Ibanez for Arod. Which won one of the best games I have ever seen and helped beat the Os for the series.

    • Jim Is Bored(CC the Savior)

      But what’s he supposed to do? Even when we have guys on 3rd with < 2 outs, guys are striking out or popping up weakly.

      I agree we should try to utilize our speed more, I just really don't know how many options Girardi has right now. The entire lineup stopped hitting at the same time.

      • 0 for infinity and beyond

        Steal home, BOOM

    • jjyank

      I agree with you about Ichiro, but I don’t think there was some inability to feel desperation behind it.

  • Eddard

    I agree. That’s why Nunez, Ichiro and Gardner should be starting the rest of the playoffs. They wreck havoc on the bases. Ichiro should be re-signed instead of Nick Swisher, who I think is done as a NYY. Just imagine the lineup next year with Jete, Gardner, Ichiro and Nunez. They need a new philosophy offensively because this boom or bust, swing for a HR or strikeout, just isn’t working.

    • Tcmiller30

      Exactly. It didn’t work to the tune of the best record in the AL.

      sure the playoffs have been brutal, but I don’t think it’s they’re a homer or nothing team. It just seems like everyone (minus a select few) is pressing. In particular is Swisher who does this every year, and I hope has had his last at bat as a Yankee.

      • JLC 776

        The team needs some tweaks, but they aren’t nearly as bad as the microscope of the playoffs (and cacophony of fan voices) make them out to be.

        I can point to one or two spots where if luck had swung our way or a call was made that wasn’t and we’re talking about CC trying to tie up the series tonight instead of trying to save it.

        They are playing terrible baseball at the worst possible time and it sucks to watch, but there were at least three extended streaks this year where the team was unbelievable from top to bottom. It can happen in a blink.

        • Jim Is Bored(CC the Savior)

          I really wish Swisher had caught that ball in the 12th inning of game 1.

          • JLC 776

            Huge moment in the series. Just huge.

            My mind also keeps going back to 2nd and 3rd with no one out (although we still tied the game later, so that one is kind of moot) and later in the game Gardner on 2nd with 1 out and Russell Martin swinging for the fences when only a base hit was needed.

          • MannyGeee (Dead Men Walking)

            this. I think he punched his ticket out of town this month with that play as the icing on the cake.

            so bummed out, I really like Swish most months of the season.

        • LarryM., Fl.

          The HR or bust does not fit the Mission Statement to win the WS every year. A more balanced approach with contact hitters and some HR hitters provides a constant threat on the other team.

          Jeter probably broke down in some respect to a 38 year old playing 150 regular season games + playoffs. Nunez being incorporated into the mix may allow Jeter to stay healthy and productive, plus get Nunez some experience. Nunez should work at SS and 2nd base.

    • Get Phelps Up (wins needed: 8)

      I don’t want Ichiro in a starting role next year. I would love him back, but only if he is willing to take on a 4th OF/platoon role.

      • Little CANOlli (Big ChickenCutlet)

        he’ll probably end up getting 2/19-20 from somebody

        • Jim Is Bored(CC the Savior)

          If Yankee Ichiro is the real current version of Ichiro, I think that’d be a fair contract.

          I think the previous season and a half is what a team will be getting, though.

          • MannyGeee (Dead Men Walking)

            somewhere in the middle is my guess, and that doesnt warrant 2/20 from anyone… but mark my word someone will pay it.

      • Cris Pengiucci

        Perhaps not a 4th OF/Platoon role, but if the Yankees decide to sign him next year, they need to be prepared to rest him regularly (along with ARod & Jeter). Signing him also means a primarily left-handed batting OF. They’re 4th should be a RH bat that has the ability to play decent D and hit for power. That person would be the 4th, as most pitchers are righties. And that also assumes Gardner will be heathy all season (and able to hit lefties to some extent). I’m not fully sold on brining Ichiro back, but that doesn’t mean the Yankees won’t do it. They hardly ever listen to me. :-)

    • Thunder Road Runner

      Strongly Agree!

  • Nick


    If he benches arod for chavez ill turn off the game…ive seen enough of chavez to last a life time

    • WhittakerWalt

      Three days ago everyone was begging for Chavez over Arod. When no one’s hitting, there are no solutions.

      • 0 for infinity and beyond

        How about Nix at 3B?

        • bg90027

          Nix is 0-9 with 7 k’s and 1 GiDP against Scherzer.

          • MannyGeee (Dead Men Walking)

            but one of only like 3 guys with good swings this post-season. Pick your poison, SSS version, I suppose.

  • Little CANOlli (Big ChickenCutlet)

    Any update on Martin’s thumb, is he good to go?

  • JLC 776

    I’d sit Ibanez to keep him as a late inning PH. I love the guy and what he’s done, but he seems to be significantly less effective as a starter and I’d rather insert him when damage can be done.

  • Rich in NJ

    They need more speed, but I don’t understand batting Gardner leadoff given how long he has been off. And as long as they decided to start him, contrary to their prior inconsistent statements about his readiness, why not use him before having to face the top (or one of the top two) starters in MLB, in what was the most important game of the season (more important than tonight because winning it would have made this a series).

    I think it reflects desperation rather than a well-thought out plan.

    • JLC 776

      I agree that he shouldn’t be at the top of the lineup, but I’m fine with him starting (desperate or not). His glove is a beautiful, beautiful thing. It just needs to be in CF.

      • Jim Is Bored(CC the Savior)

        Completely agree with this.

      • Rich in NJ

        I agree, but my point is that if he was healthy enough to start, he should have started ahead of the dreadfully slumping Swisher or Granderson several games earlier.

        • MannyGeee (Dead Men Walking)

          not exactly. To manage in NY, you need to trust your big names (almost to a fault, as you’ve seen). I would have a hard time starting a guy with 50 ABs in 2012 over a guy who hit 43 & 28 HRs respectively…

          That said, I would have started him in Game 5 of the ALDS over Granderson all day long (yeah, he hit one out in game 5, I know…) The lesser of 2 evils is the guy who takes 7 pitches before grounding out instead of the guy who swings through 3 pitches.

    • Slugger27

      the well thought out plan was that veteran hitters who hit well all year wouldnt be automatic outs. desperation is what the situation calls for.

      • Rich in NJ

        They didn’t hit well in last season’s ALDS either, and many of them didn’t hit well all year. To the contrary, the team scored less runs than it had in years.

        • Jim Is Bored(CC the Savior)

          “To the contrary, the team scored less runs than it had in years.”

          So did every team, so relative to the rest of baseball, we were still ranked about the same.

          • Rich in NJ

            Which was forseeable for various reasons, yet the GM thought it would wise to sacrifice offense for pitching.

            • Jim Is Bored(CC the Savior)

              Not that Montero provided a whole lot of offense this year.

              • Rich in NJ

                Well, he played in an extreme pitchers’ park. On the road he hit: .295 .330 .438 .768 (9 HR). And btw, the RF at NYS seemed well-suited for him.

                But even if they were convinced that he had to be traded, it should have been for offense.

                • MannyGeee (Dead Men Walking)

                  12 months ago we were saddled with CC, AJ, Hughes, Freddy & Colon as our rotation. Freddy finally turned into a pumpkin, Hughes was a GIANT question mark, Colon went down with a case of the PEDs, and AJ was the biggest villian this city had seen since…. well, A-Rod the last time we hated him.

                  In November 2011, a young power arm that was cost controlled for 6 years was a wet dream, and it cost us a guy almost none of you thought was going to catch long term (yeah, a 21 YO DH… awesome).

                  I swear you guys are worse than my wife with your revisionist history lessons and selective memory.

                  • MannyGeee (Dead Men Walking)

                    All of this said, I loved me some Montero. Saddest day to me was the day we traded him. That said, it was a necessary evil at the time and outside of the blown shoulder and DUI (that none of us could see coming), I would still do that deal again.

            • Little CANOlli (Big ChickenCutlet)

              Didn’t they score the 3rd most runs in baseball? I had and still have no problem with the Pineda trade, our rotation next year is ridiculous, especially if Kuroda and Pettitte re-sign

  • WhittakerWalt

    Guys. Stop it with the “this would be my dream lineup for tonight’s game” shit.
    Nobody has been getting it done. Shuffle away, plug in whoever. No one’s doing it.
    Play Chavez? Chavez has done nothing. Play Gardner? Gardner has done nothing. Now I see calls for “Play Dickerson.” Really?
    When you’re hoping for Chris Dickerson to come in and contribute to save your season, the problems are too big to fix.

    • Jim Is Bored(CC the Savior)

      Gardner should be in there for defense. His bat can’t be any worse than anyone else’s, so might as well save a run or two if you can.

      • JLC 776

        It’s funny, I love – and I mean LOVE – Gardner’s ABs and his general approach to hitting (spray baller and all that), but I wonder if he’d be better off laying down a bunt now and then as he’s still getting acclimated to ML pitching again.

        Or maybe bunting is even harder – I honestly don’t know.

        Hell, at this point, I want to see Granderson drop down a bunt just to get something going.

    • Eddard

      Gardner gave us some good ABs last night. He was working counts, fouling pitches off and that was even with a crooked ump behind the plate. What’s the alternative? Swisher going up there and striking out on 3 pitches. Granderson swinging for the fences when a simple single is all that is required. Gardner plays.

      • WhittakerWalt

        I agree Gardner should play (even if it’s just for defense alone), but “good at-bats” are all he’s contributed at the plate. Let’s not pretend he’s done any more than any other member of the .000 club just because he’s fouled off more pitches.

        • Jim Is Bored(CC the Savior)

          Well at least he’s gotten the pitch count up, and given the guys behind him an opportunity to see the pitcher a bit more. Not that they’re doing anything with that information.

          I’d like to see him bunt and force Miggy to make a play.

          • WhittakerWalt

            Now THAT I’d be in favor of. No one’s even tried bunting on Cabrera this series. I’m scratching my head over that.

            • Hoss

              Just ask Michael Kay. The Yankees are star players who never had to bunt in their careers, so they can’t bunt…

              • Tcmiller30

                Nunez Gardner and Ichiro should be able to bunt. I’m not advocating that Tex should lay one down. The left fielder could probably pick it up and gun him down at first before he got there. Man is he slow!!!!

        • MannyGeee (Dead Men Walking)

          not all 0-fers are created equal. making Verlander throw 15 pitches sprayed over 3 ABs (or 21 over 4) is better than the 9-12 Granderson would have undoubtedly swung through.

          Gardner has made the pitcher work more yesterday than Granderson has all series. facts are facts.

  • deadrody

    Don’t think I would agree that leaving the last game of the year with a stiff back counts as an injury plagued season.

    If you count on this past season as the expectation for Hughes, you absolutely, undoubtedly sign up for that for multiple years at a reasonable price.

  • noseeum

    Why is Chavez playing? If Arod is benched tonight, Girardi should be fired. Chavez is 0-14. Arod’s a better player and despite having a bad postseason, he’s actually been better than Chavez.


    • Jim Is Bored(CC the Savior)

      I was fine with the first benching, but I’m on this side too, now.

    • Long-Past-His-Day-Rod

      I couldn’t care less about this. Play either, 0-4 with pop-ups and grounders from Chavy or 0-4 with 3Ks from Alex. I bet Alex gets the start tonight though.

      • MannyGeee (Dead Men Walking)

        I hope so. Alex feeds on bad pitching, it would be a feel good story if he went 2-3 tonight. Feel good to me and Alex, at least

  • RetroRob

    Gardner is in Spring Training and Chavez hasn’t contributed this series either

    The Yankees won 95 games to win their division and have made it to the ALCS and the final four. If they’re going down in this round, go with the horses that got them there considering the replacements don’t look all that good either.

  • Jose M. Vazquez

    I thought that the reason to place Gardner and Nunez in the lineup was to bunt, steal and hit and run more. Of course baserunners have been lacking, but as you well said, it’s surprising that no one tried to steal.

    • Jim Is Bored(CC the Savior)

      I think it’s even more surprising Gardner never tried to bunt. I know he’s not an amazing bunter, but any time you can force Cabrera to make a tough play from 3rd, you should do it. Especially since Brett probably isn’t at 100% at the plate right now.

      • Hoss

        Tigers were probably expecting the bunts and the stealing, so we fooled them by swinging away and going for the fences.

      • Cris Pengiucci

        And, ya know, he’s fast. Force Cabrerra to try to make a tough play.

      • Long-Past-His-Day-Rod

        He did square on the first pitch of the game, but pulled back and got a Verlander strike on the outside corner.

        • SammySosasBleachingCream

          …a Verlander strike on the outside corner a foot outside.

          Fixed it for you.

  • Mike

    Here’s my lineup:

    Michael Kay
    Kevin Long
    And I’ll be batting 9th.

    • Graig not Craig

      I’d put you in the cleanup spot. Move Cashman to 9th, and replace Gardner with Axisa. That would be perfect. And John Smoltz should manage. He knows everything about everything.

      • MannyGeee (Dead Men Walking)

        Billy Crystal obviously leads off.

        “I play catcher or I play NOTHING” – For all you Arrested Development fans.

  • Little CANOlli (Big ChickenCutlet)

    Maybe Bud will just let us break out the metal bats for the rest of the playoffs

    • Tcmiller30

      As long as you pretend you didn’t know (Sammy Sosa) I think it’d be fine.

      Unfortunately. Metal bats still wouldn’t help Grandy Swish Chavez/Arod right now.

  • Effthisnoise

    Was Jeter at the game last night? Why so invisable?

    • Slugger27

      he wasnt at the game. are you kidding? he wouldve been shown more times than hughes was in the first 3 innings if he had been.

      • Effthisnoise

        My point. Hes the captain, the leg specialist can wait. Like he just accepted that the yanks. Mariano is at almost every game, so wa Pettitte when he was injured. But the captain pulls a houdini during the playoffs? Seems shaddy

        • sangreal

          Yeah, I’ve brought this up before but nobody else seems to care. I think it is ridiculous that the “Captain” chose not to travel with the team

          • effthisnoise

            He has always been around, throughout any injury. Just seems wrong that there was no post game interview with him after the injury…and hes just been invisible. This guy has been the face of the Yankees for years and now when the team needs his leadership the most he’s just gone? why does no one else think this is funky? Because its Jeter? for me, BECAUSE ITS JETER is what makes it so weird

            • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

              Isn’t he at the specialist’s in Charlotte?

        • JLC 776

          This wasn’t his choice – it was brought up right after the injury. He was required to see the specialist before being able to travel or something like that.

          I’m hoping he’s throwing out the first pitch in Game 6.

  • Matt :: Sec110

    Ummmm, is anyone else hearing/seeing these rumors about talks between ARod/Marlins?

    • sangreal
      • Matt :: Sec110

        Yeah, I mean it’s big news. I only brought it up here, because I heard it from 2 sources.

        Apparently Cash just shot it down, but of course he has to.

        • TomH

          It’s only plausible if the Yankees deny it a second time.

      • MannyGeee (Dead Men Walking)

        Also, Donald Trump is a reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeal piece of shit.

    • Eddard

      If the Marlins want him they can have him. If we have to take on Heath Bell so be it. They need to be rid of Swisher, ARod and Granderson. In the middle of a postseason game where the Yankees are fighting for their lives, Alex Rodriguez is trying to get a date. That was the final straw and that’s why you didn’t see him budge from the bench last night.

      • MannyGeee (Dead Men Walking)

        A-Rod for LO-MO, he takes over RF. and we’ll take Bell of your hands too. I guess…

  • Darren

    I used to defend Grandy’s defense and say that he might get a lot of bad jumps but he still got to the ball, similar to Bernie.

    After last night’s absolute catastrophe, which is the third or fourthe brutal play he’s made this post-season, I am absoultely sick of seeing him in center. I know it’s not gonna happen, but I’d LOVE to see Gardner in CF. Play Grandy in left, or sit him, I don’t care.

    I never wanna see him in CF again.

  • mustang

    Does any of this really matter now?

    I say roll out the same line-up they been playing with all year. If they win great maybe it will be the start of something if they lose then they can be on the field dealing with the embarrassment of the sweep.

  • Athenian

    not even full attendance in St. Louis… wonder how many shots will be shown and then how many pointless stories will surface about the attendance… oh wait, this is St. Louis not NY..

    • Hall and Nokes

      Those fans are so great they don’t even have to go to the games.

  • justsayin’

    Granderson’s misplays that resulted in runs, Swishers misplays that resulted in Runs, The team on a 20 inning scoreless streak, Phil Hughes leaving the game for no apparent reason but then is ready to throw THE VERY NEXT DAY, Jeter’s “injury” that Ive seen on replay a bazillion times and still doesnt make sense. His then utter disappearance from the team and no post game conference about his injury. Doesnt travel with the team to Detroit. He’s the captain, doesnt matter if he cant play. A Rod picking up girls DURING the game. Guess what folks. The YANKEES ARE THROWING this series. Not the first time its happened in baseball. This sport has been riddled with cover ups and scandles for decades.

    • Matt :: Sec110

      this was funny, although I wouldn’t quit your day job to become a standup comedian.

  • BronxNative

    This team is done guys, let’s not be delusional. They could either start the usual lineup or 9 wiffle ball players from the Bronx, it wouldn’t make much of a difference at this point.

  • Wayne

    Speed is what we have in Gardner and granderson. But i want to make recommendations how we can acquire speed in offseason. So as far as speed goes in offseason well I hate to say it but that and our clutch hitting is in need of a serious youth movement during the offseason. Trade Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano along with A prospect like Bryan Mitchell and a David Phelps even cause we got plenty of depth in relievers in our minor leaguers especially at aa
    And you get a speedy outfielder and second baseman. I don’t want to invest in cano for 100 million at 32 man for one thing. Granderson is even more likely to be traded since you don’t want to do the same with him either as far as money goes beyond next season and he could give another team 40 hrs next season. you could get some serious prospects for a guy like granderson especially. Like talented speedy situational hitters who play great defense in your outfield and at second base possibly. It’s been proven you don’t need home run hitters to win cause Yankees proved that in the 90’s.

  • Jarrod

    I am really confident the Yanks can come back and win the series, just look at the numbers:

    – Our power hitting shortstop is hitting 0.333 with a bomb and RBI!
    – The mighty Robbie Cano is 1 for his last 1 – that’s 1.000!
    – Switch hitting monster Tex is also 1 for his last 1, again, 1.000!
    – Boone Logan got a RHer out!
    – Robertson and Soriano are very well rested after the off day and sleeping through yesterday’s game!

    I say if we jump out to a quick lead today, pull CC and start him again tomorrow….then repeat….and repeat…repeat – comeback over, Yankees win!!

  • Laz

    LF Gardner
    RF Ichiro
    SS Nunez
    DH Ibanez
    1B Teix
    2B Cano
    C Martin
    CF Granderson
    3B Arod