Jack Curry of the YES Network, citing Michael Kay, reports that soon-to-be-retired Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez asked Joe Girardi if he could play third base on Friday, his final game. Girardi said no. ESPN’s Andrew Marchand reported earlier in the week that Girardi said, “My job description does not entail a farewell tour. My job description is to try and win every game and put everyone in the best possible position, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
I would be a lot more sympathetic to Girardi’s position if he treated Derek Jeter the same way. In 2014, Jeter’s final season, the future Hall of Fame shortstop played in 145 games and stepped to the plate 634 times, batting a meager .256/.304/.313. He was worth -0.1 Wins Above Replacement according to FanGraphs, the worst mark among 22 qualified shortstops.
In 2014, the Yankees finished 84-78, 12 games out of first place in the AL East and eight games out of the second AL Wild Card slot. The Yankees didn’t have any eight-win options at shortstop — just Brendan Ryan and Stephen Drew — but the club could’ve vied for a serious upgrade in the offseason leading into 2014, or acquired one at the trade deadline. But they didn’t. The Yankees were wholeheartedly committed to giving Jeter his farewell tour.
This year, the Yankees have already traded Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, Carlos Beltran, and Ivan Nova. They’re 57-56 in fourth place, seven games back of first place in the AL East and they’re 4.5 games out of the second AL Wild Card slot. They’ve given up. Yet Girardi’s concern even after trading away arguably the best closer in the game, the best set-up man in the game, and one of the best offensive players in the league is that he’s trying to win games? His reasoning is incongruous when matched up with how he handled Jeter. There’s no defense behind not letting Rodriguez play every day this week if he wanted to, but even more so, there’s no reason not to let him play the field in his final game.
Lots of people don’t like Rodriguez and lots of people like Jeter, that much is obvious. Playing time, however, shouldn’t be decided by a popularity contest. But that’s exactly what it has been with Girardi’s Yankees.
Thursday gave us a light schedule, one that’s already halfway complete. The afternoon saw the Diamondbacks trample the Mets 9-0, the Pirates blank the Padres 4-0, and the Astros bashed the Twins 15-7. Rockies/Rangers and Braves/Brewers are still in action, while the Orioles and Athletics started not too long ago.
So let’s talk again about Rockies rookie outfielder David Dahl. We noted last week that Dahl hit safely in the first 10 games of his major league career. With a first-inning single in Thursday afternoon, Dahl kept his streak alive, which is now at 17 consecutive games to begin his career. That ties a major league record for the longest hitting streak to begin a career. The Reds’ Chuck Aleno also hit in 17 straight to begin his career in 1941. Dahl passed Juan Pierre, who hit in 16 straight, for the Rockies club record.
Dahl, rated as the Rockies’ second-best prospect by MLB Pipeline, entered Thursday’s action .365/.394/.619 with three home runs, nine RBI, and 16 runs scored in 66 plate appearances. That’ll do.
The rest of Thursday evening’s action…
Houston Astros (Chris Devenski) @ Minnesota Twins (Tommy Milone), 7:10 PM EDT [Game Two]
Los Angeles Angels (Jhoulys Chacin) @ Cleveland Indians (Corey Kluber), 7:10 PM EDT
New York Yankees (Michael Pineda) @ Boston Red Sox (Eduardo Rodriguez), 7:10 PM EDT
St. Louis Cardinals (Carlos Martinez) @ Chicago Cubs (Jon Lester), 8:05 PM EDT
Chicago White Sox (Miguel Gonzalez) @ Kansas City Royals (Danny Duffy), 8:15 PM EDT
Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth went 2-for-3 with a double, a walk, a three-run home run, and three runs scored in Wednesday afternoon’s 7-4 win over the Indians. In doing so, Werth extended his on-base streak to 40 consecutive games.
As MLB.com’s Alex Putterman notes, the Nationals’ club record is 43, set by Ryan Zimmerman back in 2009. The major league record is 84 games by Hall of Famer Ted Williams, set in 1949 with the Red Sox. The National League record is 60, held by the Pirates’ George Van Haltren who accomplished the feat in 1893.
Werth, 37, is hitting .253/.345/.439 with 15 home runs and 50 RBI in 426 plate appearances this season. He’s under contract with the Nationals for one more year at $21 million and can become a free agent after the 2017 season.