WS Coverage: Girardi Screws Up The Line-Up

Someone warn PETA – a dead horse is about to get kicked again. That horse, of course, is Joe Girardi and his never ending ability to put a less than ideal Yankee team on the field in critical situations.

If you haven’t heard, tonight’s Yankee line-up features both Jerry Hairston Jr playing right field in lieu of Nick Swisher and Jose Molina catching instead of Jorge Posada. Now, ordinarily, this would just be a bad move, an overreaction to last night’s poor offensive showing against a great pitcher. But, given the match-ups, this is borderline malpractice.

The Phillies are sending Pedro Martinez to the hill tonight. Pedro, as you probably know, is right-handed. Also right-handed? Hairston and Molina. You know who has the ability to hit from the left hand side? Posada and Swisher. If you’re going to put Hairston in for Swisher, you essentially have to do it against an LHP, where the disparity in talent is minimized. If only a LHP like Cole Hamels was starting game three on Saturday. Oh, wait, he is.

Against a lefty, at least the two sub-par reserves have the platoon advantage. Putting Hairston in for Swisher against a right-hander is just nutty.

The Molina thing perhaps shouldn’t be as surprising, since A.J. Burnett takes the hill for New York tonight. Girardi has tied those two together due to an irresponsible reliance on catcher ERA – if ever there was a stat that showed the misdiagnoses of correlation and causation, this is it – even as Burnett got bombed with Molina behind the plate in the first inning of his last start. However, Joe thinks that the comfort of his starting pitcher is more important than having a good hitter in the line-up.

The problem, however, is that the Yankees took Francisco Cervelli off the playoff roster before the World Series began. Now, New York is only carrying two catchers, taking away the safety net that allowed Girardi to pinch hit Posada early in previous games that Molina began. If he does that again tonight, he’s essentially gambling that Posada will not get hurt after he enters the game, because with Molina already out of the game, there’s no viable replacement for Posada at that point.

Regradless of whether he takes that risk or not, the cost of starting Molina is higher without Cervelli on the roster. Girardi had to know he was going to do this in game two, so then swapping out Cervelli for Brian Bruney doesn’t really make much sense. Of course, that just makes this fit in with the rest of Girardi’s postseason maneuvers.

The Yankees are still likely to win tonight. But man, their manager seems intent on tying their hands behind their back. You don’t get points for degree of difficulty, Joe – just put your best team on the field and get out of the way.

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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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but Hairston hit well against Pedro – in 2004! can’t you see the logic? :) said in jest