Now, to be fair, I don’t have a problem with Swisher getting a day off from playing the outfield. He was dealing with a groin injury through most of Spring Training, so making sure that he didn’t play three straight games on the turf at The Trop is certainly defensible. However, some consideration of the circumstances must be taken into account when making these decisions and, suffice it to say, sticking a fielder as poor as Ibanez in right field with a fly ball pitcher on the mound facing a lineup full of left-handed pull hitters was hardly an inspired choice. If Girardi really wanted to give Swisher the proverbial half-day off (and for all of the talk about how the DH spot was going to be used to give guys “rest,” it’s rather curious that the one Yankee who has actually had trouble with injuries over the past few seasons played third base in all three games) during yesterday’s game, he should have hand Andruw Jones in right field, regardless of what hand the pitcher threw with. Even better, Girardi could have had Swisher DH Saturday and played Jones in right field, with David Price starting for the Rays, and let Brett Gardner play left field. But that would have required either sitting Derek Jeter/A-Rod altogether or not starting Nunez, and we couldn’t very well have that, now could we?
Look, there can be a lot of disagreement between the various defensive metrics, the “eyeball test,” etc., but one thing they can all agree on is this: Raul Ibanez is not a good outfielder. He’s just not. He’s not a dead fish out there, on his good days, so if you really need to stick him in the outfield you can probably justify it, but you need to pick your spots. Putting him in right field at Yankee Stadium with Ivan Nova pitching during a long stretch in June? Okay, I can see that. The third game of the year with arguably your most fly ball prone starter getting the call? Nonsensical.