I don't want this to come off like I'm criticizing the manager or trying to play Monday morning quarterback with his decisions, because that's not my intention. Just like it's far too early to make too much of the players' performance, 8 games is hardly a sizable enough sample to start nitpicking the managerial decisions and blaming the manager for losses. There have been a few moves that I've found particularly puzzling in these first 8 games, however, and I feel like I need to at least get them out of my head and onto the blog for the sake of discussion. It all really started with the 19-inning game on Friday. Since then, it seems like it's been a nonstop rotation of rest days for multiple guys at a time and a very strict use of the platoon rule. I understand Friday night was a whale of a game to play in this early in the season and I fully respect Joe's desire to make sure his age 30 and up veteran core gets enough time to recover. But when we're still giving Brian McCann and Chase Headley and Stephen Drew games off on Sunday night and Monday night, that seems a tad excessive, especially when the bench options to replace them in the lineup are less than optimal (see: Petit, Gregorio)
Same deal with the platooning stuff. Does Gregorio Petit really need to be in the lineup against a lefty pitcher because he swings from the right side of the plate? Does Brett Gardner deserve to be benched in favor of Chris Young against a southpaw more than Carlos Beltran? Does Brett Gardner need more rest than Carlos Beltran? And if we're talking about who needs rest and who needs to be platooned, why are all of these guys getting worked into that mix while the 39-going-on-40-year-old guy coming off a year plus away from the game and multiple hip surgeries is out there every day, against righties and lefties, and playing multiple positions?
The pinch hitting calls have been strange too. The results were obviously as good as they could be, but the decision to pinch hit Drew the other night with the bases loaded over McCann or Headley was wrong. The decision to pinch hit Petit before A-Rod in the 9th inning last night was also puzzling. That's the word I think I would use to describe some of Joe's calls over the last few games, puzzling. Very puzzling.
But maybe there's more to his decision-making process than he's letting on. Maybe this is part of a plan to get guys more rest early so they can be leaned on more later in the year. Maybe Joe is still trying to work some things out in terms of how he wants his platoon and rest rotation to work and tinkering with matchups and possibilities to see what works best. Whatever he's doing, I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt this early in the year. He's got a lot of new pieces to work with this season and he still probably has some things to learn about how those pieces best work together. Hopefully he figures it out soon and we start to get some consistency in the lineup. I don't want to still be feeling puzzled when May and June come around.