The Yankees, if they had a viable choice, would probably move the slumping Alex Rodriguez out of the number 3 spot in the batting order. They might do it anyway if manager Joe Girardi wants to do something different, but the reason there isn’t an obvious choice to shift the lineup around a bit is an inherent problem: they don’t have any clear option to put in the third slot in the lineup in lieu of A-Rod.
It’s not a situation where they’re in the ALCS and are down 3 games to 0 and have to try something else to the degree that all bets are off. The ALDS with the Orioles is 1-1 and while they could put A-Rod fifth, Mark Teixeira third, and Robinson Cano fourth, short of that minuscule change, they’re hamstrung with no escape.
Technically, they could go with a top 3 batters who can run and make contact like Derek Jeter, Ichiro Suzuki, and Eduardo Nunez in some 1-3 permutation, then have the boppers up, followed by A-Rod sixth. Or they could put Nick Swisher second and Ichiro third, telling Swisher specifically not to worry about hitting the ball out of the park, but trying to get on base via the walk. These are extreme examples and it’s not the time for extremities or desperation.
There are many things they could do. But nothing they can do.
Unless Girardi flips A-Rod with Teixeira, moving A-Rod puts Girardi in a situation where he would have to turn the entire lineup upside down for the changes to make some semblance of sense. If he turns the lineup upside down and they lose, he’ll have to answer the questions as to why he turned the lineup upside down in what would appear to be a panic move when it’s not a time to panic. The issue is portrayed as A-Rod, but it’s not A-Rod. It’s Curtis Granderson and Swisher.
Forgetting his salary, is it fair to expect A-Rod at age 37 to be what he was three years ago in the playoffs? He doesn’t have the same tools he once did; he can’t catch up to the power fastball; and he’s got to guess and guess right to do serious damage against top pitchers. But Granderson and Swisher are supposed to be in their primes and have done nothing.
The problem is not A-Rod. It’s ineptitude in other major spots and the expectations of a once all-time player who plainly and simply isn’t that anymore. If there’s someone to blame, it’s the younger bats who were supposed to take the pressure off of the old warhorses and are failing. If they don’t take that responsibility, it’s on them and not A-Rod. If they’re unable to account for declining veterans, the Yankees are going to lose. If they do, don’t blame A-Rod because it would be a team effort and not the failures of one of baseball’s all-time greats who’s experiencing a combination of the ravages of age and a slump.