You probably watched the game on Friday night: tied in the 9th inning with one out, Carlos Beltran hits a single off LHP Brett Cecil. Chase Headley is about to come up to bat. Chris Young, probably the best lefty-masher on any MLB bench, is available to pinch hit. I'm at the game, waiting for Joe Girardi to make the no-brainer move. And then... Chris Young pinch runs for Carlos Beltran. What the hell happened? Why did Girardi, who plays the percentages as well as any manager, not make the switch to his best hitter? I react:
Are you kidding me Girardi? You need to pinch hit Young there. Or at least save him for Didi or Drew.
— EJ Fagan (@ejfagan) August 8, 2015
Pinch-running Young, who hardly steals bases these days, felt like a tremendous waste that took me a little bit to process. Even if you want to let Chase Headley bat, Young can hit for Didi or Stephen Drew if Headley hits a single or takes a walk. And then, I realized: if Girardi brings in Young, the Blue Jays can go to Osuna, a righty, out of the bullpen. Girardi would then be forced to either let Young turn into a pumpkin without the platoon advantage, or go to his lefty bench bat: Garrett Jones.
The game continues. Headley grounds into a double play. The Blue Jays score a run in the top of the 10th. Didi Gregorius and Stephen Drew are pretty terrible hitters. If there is any situation where Garrett Jones is a useful baseball player, it is to pinch hit against a righty for the Yankee middle infielders. And instead, Girardi went with Didi and Drew with the game on the line.
I don't think Girardi made the wrong move. Jones has been worse than either Gregorius or Drew in 2015, and was terrible in 2014 as well. But that still begs the question: why the hell is Jones on the roster? It's certainly not because he's a strong defensive player. They punted on Jones after Dustin Ackley went down. They had better options than re-signing him.
The Yankees could call up the following players from Triple-A to do a better job:
- Ben Gamel, LHB, OF: .294/.360/.444 against RHP
- Greg Bird, LHB, 1b: .288/.368/.502 against RHP
- Cole Figueroa, LHB, 2b/3b/SS: .313/.366/.411 against RHP
The point isn't that these guys are superstars. The point is they fill the role better than Garrett Jones, who is terrible. Some or all of them will likely be on the team once rosters expand in September, but there is a lot of baseball to be played between now and then.