Newsday's Wallace Matthews writes about the Yankees' "good" problem:
- The Yankees have a problem, and for a change, it doesn't involve A-Rod or Joba or the cost of tickets to the new stadium or exactly when this $200-million amalgamation of players finally would conspire to win a ballgame.
In fact, it is a healthy controversy that confronts us today, one that Joe Girardi can live with and one that can only benefit the Yankees in the long run, the way it earned them their first win of the season yesterday.
Namely, how exactly do they work Nick Swisher into their everyday lineup?
Or more accurately, after the day he had yesterday, how exactly do they keep him out?
So far, he has made the most of his opportunities, however limited. In Monday's 10-5 loss, he hit for Cody Ransom and doubled. On Wednesday, he hit for Ransom again and walked.
Yesterday, hitting for himself, he homered in the fourth inning off Orioles starter Alfredo Simon with Robinson Cano aboard to break a 1-1 tie, singled home another run in the sixth off Brian Bass, and finished off his day with a bullet of a two-run double off Chris Ray in the ninth.
So far, his numbers crunch those of Xavier Nady, to whom he "lost" the rightfield job that was never really his to win in the spring. Swisher is hitting .667 with five RBIs to Nady's .231 and one RBI.
Still, Girardi seems to regard Swisher as one more cog in a big machine with many interchangeable parts.
It's a big machine with many parts. Those parts are not, however, interchangeable. Jorge Posada can't play center field, Johnny Damon can't play third base, and Xavier Nady can't hit or field or run like Nick Swisher can. That's just science.
Girardi shouldn't change Swisher's role because of one big game against a lousy pitching staff. He should change Swisher's role because the best way to win games is to have the maximum amount of talent on the field for the maximum number of innings. And right now, Girardi's not getting that done.