From Baseball Prospectus:
Seriously, when are they going to announce the death of Kenny Lofton? The Yankees don't have a deep or effective bench, but Lofton has value as a left-handed bat and pinch-runner. Over the past two nights, there have been countless points at which he should have been inserted into the game for Jorge Posada, for the execrable Tony Clark, or for Ruben Sierra. Torre hasn't taken advantage of any of these, and it's cost the Yankees dearly.
Consider that last night, Sierra reached first with two outs in the ninth inning and Keith Foulke pitching. Foulke isn't great with baserunners, and getting the go-ahead run to second base has a lot of value with two outs in the ninth. Had Lofton been deployed as a pinch-runner, as Dave Roberts had been used, to steal second, he could have scored on Clark's ground-rule double and this column would be much, much shorter.
Later, Gary Sheffield reached on a strikeout while leading off the 13th inning, this time with Tim Wakefield on the mound. Wakefield, like most knuckleball pitchers, is pretty easy to steal on. Had Lofton been given an opportunity to do so, the Yankees could have taken advantage of the passed balls yielded by Jason Varitek in the inning and perhaps scored. As it was, the Varitek let three balls get past him--he catches Wakefield as often as Torre pinch-hits--but the Yankees couldn’t score.
Sierra struck out to end that inning, his second straight ugly strikeout. (He'd gone down in the 10th while swinging and missing pitches at ankle level and forehead level, which is some kind of achievement in GuillenLand.) With runners on base, you don't need a deep drive, just a line drive, preferably one that finds grass. Lofton isn't Juan Pierre, but he's certainly a better choice than Sierra if what you need is a single.
I've concluded that Lofton is actually dead, and that the Yankees are withholding this information so as to keep the Red Sox having to think about him, as well as to abide my MLB's edict about making announcements that take attention from the playoffs. It's awfully mean to Kenny's friends, family and fans, though. [i]