Quick Hit: The Amazing, Disappearing Tyler Austin

A bit after 3 PM, the Yankees lineup was tweeted out by Billy Witz of the New York Times. It stood out to me for the simple fact that Billy Butler is starting for the fourth time in five games since his acquisition, and Tyler Austin is sitting on the bench for the fourth game in a row. This feels an awful lot like something the Yankees of years past would do, as opposed to the machinations of team that has largely embraced its rebuild.

To be fair, it does make some sense in a "let's win some ballgames" way. Butler is batting a silly .444/.455/.778 with a home run in 11 PA as a Yankee, and was brought on-board specifically to help against LHP. That being said, the season is just about as close to lost as it can be prior to mathematical elimination, and there is no reason why Austin should be sitting on the bench behind a player that should not and will not be back in pinstripes in 2017.

I am not going to argue that Austin's performance merits being in the lineup right now - but that's not the point. With Greg Bird working his way back from injury and Mark Teixeira retiring, the Yankees need some semblance of a back-up plan at first base, and Austin should have the inside track. Having him sit on the bench day after day does not instill confidence in the player or in the team's plans going forward. And, for whatever it's worth, Austin did bat .258/.343/.548 with 3 2B and 2 HR in his ten starts prior to being benched in favor of Butler.

It may seem strange to get hung-up on such a minor decision at the end of the year, but this decision is endemic of an issue that the Yankees must fix going forward.