Rounding Third: Girardi's bold move has Yanks on doorstep of ALCS

    9:53 AM, Oct 11, 2012   |    comments
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    Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The problem with a lot of younger managers these days is that they don't seem to rely on their gut enough. New York Yankees skipper Joe Girardi is a prime example of a manager who relies heavily on his trusty binder of stats.

    So much so that there is an actual Twitter account named GirardisBinder and in its bio it states, "I control Joe Girardi's life. All decisions made on the field are approved by me. I don't care if they make sense. I'm The Binder, and it is what it is."

    As funny as that may be, it's how a lot of Yankees fans and the media, for that matter, view Girardi.

    That is until now.

    Girardi pulled off one of the gutsiest moves of all-time on Wednesday when he sat the struggling Alex Rodriguez in the ninth inning in favor of pinch-hitter Raul Ibanez, who made his manager look like a genious with a game-tying home run.

    Then if that wasn't enough, Ibanez homered in the 12th inning to give the Yankees the victory, a 2-1 series lead and a chance at closing out the Baltmore Orioles on Thursday to secure their third trip to the ALCS in the last four years.

    "I just felt I had to do what was in my gut, what my stomach was telling me and what I thought was the best thing to do," Girardi said. "As a manager, sometimes you manage different in these types of games than you would necessarily during the course of the season because you have a long time to deal with it. But today, I just felt like this is what my heart is telling me to do, and I'm going to do it."

    As bold a move as it may have seemed to pinch-hit for Rodriguez, a three-time AL MVP with 647 career home runs, it was the right call. A-Rod has looked lost this postseason, hitting a mere .083 (1-for-12) with seven strikeouts.

    "Well, (Joe) knew Raul was going to hit a home run and that he was going to come back up ... and hit another home run." Yankees captain Derek Jeter said afterward.

    Now, of course, Ibanez makes Girardi look even better because it did work, but can you imagine the radio airwaves on Thursday had the move not paid off?

    "You are going to be asked a lot of questions if it doesn't work," Girardi acknowledged.

    Regardless if it was the right move or not. Rodriguez was the perfect teammate after the game on Wednesday. You have to wonder, though, what his reaction would have been had Ibabez not come through.

    Keep in mind Rodriguez's relationship with former manager Joe Torre was never the same after the skipper dropped him all the way down to eighth in the order back in the 2006 postseason.

    "Maybe 10 years ago, I would have reacted in a different way," Rodriguez said. "I'm at a place in my career where the team is everything."

    Now the Yankees face a left-hander on Thursday in Joe Saunders, meaning Rodriguez is certain to be back in the lineup. But what happens the next time the Yankees face a right-handed pitcher?

    It's almost inconceivable to think that Girardi would bench Rodriguez, a player who was largely responsible for his lone World Series title back in 2009. Then again, Rodriguez is also probably one of the bigger reasons why they don't have another title since.

    Ibanez has hit six home runs since Sept. 22, while Rodriguez has one extra base hit in his last 20 games.

    The die was cast on Wednesday. You probably don't have to rely on any binder to figure out what's going to happen next.

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