By Sweeny Murti
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Random thoughts from the place that's "improper" for Major League Baseball:
*Tropicana Field really is a strange place. In the past week they've had a batted ball shatter a light on the catwalk, a bank of lights went out after a lightning strike, a speaker system buzzing during the game made the players stop and wonder what was going, and—in what has become almost normal here—we saw another foul ball strike the catwalk and fall to the field as a dead ball.
I'm waiting to see what's next? The fish tank in right-center explodes? I don't know if we'll ever see a new stadium down here, but the old one doesn't have many supporters.
Besides… I can't say "catwalk" without thinking of Right Said Fred.
*How much upstream swimming are the Rays doing this year? Consider that Tuesday night was only the third time since May 11th that Tampa Bay gained a game on both the Yankees and Red Sox. Think they're in favor of the extra wild card?
*Brett Gardner is making us all think again about what he could do in the leadoff spot. But his streaky nature is holding him back from being a classic everyday leadoff hitter. Yes, he had a .621 OBP in the first seven games after the All-Star Break. But he also had a .265 OBP in the last 18 games before the All-Star Break.
If he can be more consistent, he will be the leadoff hitter everyone wants him to be.
*Meanwhile, Derek Jeter's status as leadoff hitter is being evaluated again too. His 5-for-5 on that milestone Saturday at the Stadium has come in the middle of some barren stretches. In the ten games before he went on the DL in June, Jeter was 10-for-42. In the first four games in his return, he went 4-for-18. Since the 5-for-5 performance, Jeter is 6-for-30. That equals a .222 batting average (20-for-90) outside of one game over the last month and change.
Does Joe Girardi make a move? Probably not a drastic one. But it's entirely possible that he employs a top three of Gardner, Jeter, and Granderson. That can work fine while A-Rod is out, but what about when he comes back? Well, that's when things get interesting.
For now…Yanks might have to do something. Their lineup is markedly different the last few years when A-Rod isn't in it. And it's more of the same right now.
*And is there a better spot to hit in the Yankee order than 2nd? Think about the last three years: Johnny Damon, Nick Swisher, and Curtis Granderson. Seems pitchers are always leery of putting too many men on base in front of Teixeira and A-Rod.
*Rafael Soriano will eventually pitch the 8th inning again for the Yankees, even if it isn't immediately upon his return from the DL, which is imminent. Yes, David Robertson has earned the right to stay in the 8th inning role, but the Yankees aren't paying Soriano $10 million to be their third most important reliever.
As for Robertson? He says all he cares about is winning, and where he pitches doesn't matter. And he's not clenching his teeth when he says it. He really means it.
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