Joe Girardi Believes A-Rod Can Still Be Extremely Productive, Maintains That ALCS Benching Was Baseball-RelatedOctober 22, 2012 – 6:45 am by Steven Cuce
The New York Yankees will look back at the 2012 season and realize that it ultimately ended up being a disappointment, especially after their embarrassing performance in the American League Championship Series, where they were swept by the Detroit Tigers. This team overcame a myriad of injuries and was still able to post the AL’s best record. As noted by manager Joe Girardi in the following interview, you have to be able to overcome things like injuries and be strong-minded. In the end, the Bronx Bombers’ collective failures at the plate once again sent them home without a World Series title.
One thing is for certain: Alex Rodriguez should not shoulder all the blame as to why the Yankees didn’t get it done at the plate. A-Rod was just one of many players on this team outside of Derek Jeter, Ichiro Suzuki, Raul Ibanez and Eduardo Nunez who didn’t get it done. Girardi maintains his support for A-Rod and why he benched the struggling star in the playoffs.
Joe Girardi joined WFAN in New York with Mike Francesa to discuss the difficulty in benching Alex Rodriguez during the American League Championship series, that move not affecting the Yankees’ team morale, the benching being his decision, sitting Alex Rodriguez, Nick Swisher and Curtis Granderson, the Alex Rodriguez benching having nothing to do with him allegedly flirting with two women outside of the Yankees’ dugout during Game 1 of the ALCS, Rodriguez rewriting the script next season and his belief that A-Rod can still play at a high level.
Were you completely behind the organization with the Alex Rodriguez decision? How hard was it to sit him before Game 3 in Detroit?
“It’s never easy to sit someone that has accomplished what he has accomplished. I think you have to evaluate it fairly. That’s something that I tried to do. I looked at his at-bats in September, I looked at them in the playoffs and the struggles that he had against right-handers. And [Eric] Chavez had been very productive against right-handers over the course of the year, and it was just something that I decided to do. It wasn’t necessarily that it wasn’t thought out. There’s always going to be discussion about who you play and who you feel good about that day. … Everyone is going to always have somewhat of a different opinion. We had a lineup up the other day where we didn’t know if Russell Martin was going to be able to play because of his thumb, and we had Chris Stewart in there.”
The world only cares about Alex Rodriguez. Did the Alex Rodriguez benching “knock the pins” out of your team?
“I don’t necessarily think so. You have to be able to overcome things. You have to be able to overcome injuries. We were able to do that during the season. We didn’t have A-Rod for six weeks. We didn’t have Mariano Rivera and we were able to overcome that. You have to be strong-minded to be able to overcome things and there was nothing that would have led me to believe we wouldn’t be able to because we had done it all year long.”
So you’re telling me this Alex Rodriguez benching was your decision and nobody else?
“Yeah. I seek input, but the bottom line is [that] I sign that [lineup] card. I’m the one that puts the lineup up. I’m going to seek input and talk to my coaches and talk to our staff, like I do on an everyday basis. My preparation, my thought process of how we do things, is not going to change just because it’s the playoffs or I am just going to become a guy that goes off into a room and close my door and say, ‘OK, I am doing it now.’ No. Every day I sought people’s opinions, like I would during the course of the season, but the bottom line is that I have to make the final decisions.”
But do you hold Alex Rodriguez to a higher standard than the rest of the struggling players in your dugout?
“I sat [Nick] Swisher; I sat [Curtis] Granderson. [Mike Francesa: Only one game apiece though?] Right. I understand that. If you look at their track record off of righties during the course of the season, it was a little bit better than Alex’s. We had a number of people that struggled. That’s the bottom line.
So let’s clear the air. There was nothing else going on with the Alex Rodriguez benching? It had nothing to do with Alex Rodriguez allegedly flirting with two women outside of the dugout and getting their numbers on a baseball?
“It had nothing to do with anything, but what I felt was our best opportunity that day.”
Your best decision in the postseason was pinch-hitting for Alex Rodriguez with Raul Ibanez in Game 3 of the ALDS. But what does this say about Alex Rodriguez moving forward? You are treating him like just any other player? Is Alex Rodriguez done moving forward?
“No I am not saying that. The one great thing about the sport of baseball is every day you have a chance to rewrite the script and how you are doing. One year doesn’t necessarily mean that you are done. If you remember there were a lot of people that were ready to write Derek Jeter off — same age as Alex is right now, after about three months in the year 2011, and we saw what he did. … [Rodriguez] talked about it. He has a chance to rewrite the script and make it to where we don’t have to make decisions.”
Do you think there is anything left in Alex Rodriguez?
“I do. I really believe this guy can still play and be extremely productive. I think the big thing, too, is keeping him healthy. [Mike Francesa: If you think Alex Rodriguez still has it than how does he sit on the bench with his sweatshirt on the entire Game 3 of the ALCS against the Tigers in a 2-1 game?] I know. It’s a decision I made. I knew if I pinch hit for him, they were going to bring Joaquin Benoit in, and it’s pretty hard to argue with what Raul Ibanez has done during the month of September and October. It just means that Alex is struggling.”