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April 22, 2004

by Larry Mahnken

I think Joe Torre just tries too hard sometimes to not be a push-button manager. Man, if you've got Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield, Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada in your lineup, what on earth makes you decide that you want Bubba Crosby to lead off?

Fortunately, that didn't cost the Yankees the game, and I don't think it had anything to do with the Yankees' inability to hit Jon Garland for most of the game. But it was a pretty silly decision.

But anyway, they won, and it was a good win. No, they didn't hit, but Javier Vazquez was fantastic, A-Rod hit a big home run (though he didn't realize it at first), and Jorge Posada hit another one (though Gary Sheffield didn't realize it at first).

With Jorge DePaula out for the entire season (everyone who thought he'd be first, raise your hand), the Yankees are faced with unappealing choices for the first starter until Jon Lieber gets back. DIPS says that Alex Graman wasn't that bad Tuesday, but he was falling behind batters, and didn't do anything to keep the ball away from the defense--which is a must with the Yankees. There's a lot of reasons to think that he's capable of more, and he should probably get another shot at a fill-in start later in the season--but not against the Red Sox.

I think the Yankees should go with Vazquez on short rest--and I would have taken him out after seven innings last night to be safe. It's not just Sunday's game; with an off day on Monday, the rotation next week can shake out like this:

5th Starter vs. Boston
Vazquez vs. Oakland (5 days rest)
Mussina vs. Oakland (5 days rest)
Brown vs. Oakland (4 days rest)
Contreras vs. Kansas City (6 days rest)
5th Starter vs. Kansas City

or this:

Vazquez vs. Boston (3 days rest)
Mussina vs. Oakland (4 days rest)
Contreras vs. Oakland (4 days rest)
Brown vs. Oakland (4 days rest)
Vazquez vs. Kansas City (4 days rest)
5th Starter vs. Kansas City

With option two, you have to use Vazquez on short rest, and still have to use Graman or Osborne on Saturday, but it's better than option one, where you have to go with your 5th starter twice, and you have to use Mussina, Vazquez and Contreras on long rest (Mussina is traditionally poor after long rest, and Vazquez got smacked around by the Sox last week after 7 days' rest).

To me, it's another no-brainer.