THE NEW YORK YANKEES players keep fluffing their lines. Now it seems their manager has lost the plot too.
This column was the first to praise Joe Girardi for his manipulation of the bullpen under trying circumstances earlier in the season.
But his decision to pick Justin Christian ahead of Johnny Damon as leadoff hitter against the Minnesota Twins last night beggared belief.
Damon (.322) has the best batting average in the American League. Christian (.250) has managed just ten hits in 40 at bats in his first season in the Majors.
Christian failed to get a hit in four at bats. Questioned about his strange team selection by the YES Network's clubhouse reporter, Kim Jones, after the Yanks’ lifeless 4-0 loss, a defensive Girardi growled: “Justin Christian has had a lot of success against left-handers; that’s why he played.”
In Girardi’s defense, Damon went 0 for 3 against Glen Perkins when he pitched at Yankee Stadium last month.
In the case against him, left-handers have been hitting Perkins well and two of the Yankees’ paltry four hits came from Bobby Abreu…a left-hander.
Christian, Sexon should be bench players at best
Girardi could have also been questioned about his choice of Richie Sexon over Jason Giambi at first base.
Sexon (.223) is simply awful. That’s why he couldn’t hold down a place on the worst team in the American League, the Seattle Mariners.
This is no time to be governed by leftie/rightie stats. Now five games out in the wild card race, the Yankees are a sinking ship and it’s a case of all hands on deck.
Girardi should be picking his best team every night. And his best team does not include either Christian or Sexon. Christian should be used purely as a pinch runner and Sexon, at best, as a pinch hitter.
Girardi can count himself lucky he wasn’t given a more severe grilling about these blunders by timid Yankees beat reporters.
Nobody likes criticism but Girardi appeared to be particularly prickly last night when questioned by his former broadcasting colleague Jones.
Funny that. He was happy enough to take the YES Network’s money as an analyst when he was out of work last season. Another case of poacher turned gamekeeper.