Chad Jennings over at LoHud recaps some of the decisions that did and didn’t work for the Yankee manager this season. I’ll go through them individually, with comments of my own. Here goes:
Three decisions that worked
Taking the fifth: Robinson Cano and Phil Hughes
Agree. It was time to challenge him entering his age 27 season and he didn’t disappoint. We all knew the tools were there with Robbie and his profile is that of a perfect #5 hitter given how much he swings the bat and his contact rates. The Yanks have wanted him there for years, and 2010 was when he finally put it all together. On Hughes, his strong 2009 out of the bullpen and upside as a starter made him an easy call as well, unless you had your mind made up about ‘Joba the Starter’ going into 2010 spring training.
Trusting Tex: In the No. 3 spot, Mark Teixeira rebounded
Agree, but it’s not like he was going to bench a player who signed a massive 8 year contract just a season earlier. We all know he’s a notorious slow starter, and this is something the manager and fans will have to live with.
Resting Rodriguez: Days off kept Alex Rodriguez fresh
Again, easy call. The Yanks aren’t about winning games in June, they’re about October. If anything, in retrospect he may wish he rested Alex more given his late season injury and lackluster 2010 playoffs.
Also give him credit for: Recognizing Javier Vazquez couldn’t start… Sticking with Marcus Thames through a brutal spring training… Pushing the right buttons with minor league call-ups in the middle of the season.
Thames I’ll give you, though it was similar to Tex in that the Yanks didn’t have a ton of other options for power off the bench against Lefties. Vazquez’ stuff was way down all year and he pitched himself out of the Yankee rotation, twice. I can’t give Joe too much credit for recognizing the obvious.
Three decisions that didn’t work
Hoping for better: Keeping Derek Jeter in the leadoff spot
Given Derek’s 15 year track record and Brett Gardner’s tenuous status on the team at the time, this was another easy call. You could argue that Derek should have been dropped down around mid season, but Jeter has been so good for so long you almost have to give him a full season to succeed or fail. As Chad said it didn’t work out, but Derek has meant so much to the team over the years that you can’t mess around with him too much, especially as a manager on an expiring contract. Had he fooled around with him, we’d all be blaming Joe for the down year.
Joba rules: Or maybe he doesn’t
The Yankee brass had a lot riding on Joba, with how he’s been handled and all the debate he’s stirred in his time with the team. In 09 he was given every chance to succeed as a starter, in 2010 he was given a full shot as a reliever. Neither worked out, so now the blame falls squarely on him. I’m in the camp that thinks if there’s a deal out there to be made, the Yanks won’t let him stand in the way of acquiring a needed piece.
Bad platoon: Austin Kearns kept getting at-bats
I didn’t get this one either, but between Kearns and Gaudin most of September seemed to be spent auditioning for October. Neither worked out.
Also worth questioning: Using Chad Gaudin ahead of playoff pitcher Sergio Mitre down the stretch… Treating A.J. Burnett considerably differently than Vazquez, despite similar seasons… Keeping Francisco Cervelli partnered with Burnett, despite poor results.
There are 4 years and 67 million reasons why the two pitchers were treated differently. As to pairing Burnett with Cervelli, I think the manager believes Posada is too old and slow to handle Burnett’s hard breaking pitches and overall wildness when he’s off his game. As a former Catcher, I’ll take his word for it.