Games like tonight’s really piss me off.
I was out, having a Friday night. I saw Spider-Man 3 with my friends, enjoyed a burger at the Burger Joint behind the curtain at Le Parker Meridien, and then settled in for a beer at a nearby bar before my friends and I scattered for the night. And then along comes the end of the Yankee game, and this breathtaking sight of the Yankees scoring 11 runs against the Mariners â€” the Mariners! â€” and still losing. Why? Because Joe Torre can’t manage a bullpen, and Brian Cashman can’t construct a pitching staff.
The last time the Yanks had a viable pitching staff, the calendar read 2003. Mike Mussina, David Wells, Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens led a dominant staff all the way to game 6 of the World Series. Now, we have Kei Igawa and Carl Pavano draining precious resources. We also have a bullpen run in the worst possible way. No joke.
Let me draw up a situation for you: It’s 8-6 in the 5th inning of a game that is clearly going to a slugfest in which the bullpens play a clear role. You know your bullpen will have to pitch a bunch of innings. So to start the 5th, your overpaid pitcher (who isn’t really underperforming but is just living up to his scouting report) starts off the inning by by giving up two hits and up to the plate strides the opposing team’s most fearsome power hitter.
By no stretch of the imagination, I can confidently say that this is a situation in need of an out. It may be early yet, but it is the time to go to the guy you know will retire this batter. Stop the bleeding before it gets too late, and worry about the 6th inning in the 6th inning and the 7th inning in the 7th inning.
What does Joe Torre do in this situation? He goes with Brian Bruney, the strikeout guy who’s been great out of the bullpen.
No, no. Wait. He doesn’t. He doesn’t go with any reliever that would get a key out in this situation. Instead, he goes with Colter Bean, the last guy out of the Yankee pen, and someone who’s been returned to the Yanks after a Rule V selection and cleared through waivers within the the last two and a half seasons. He goes with someone who shouldn’t be on the team.
So of course, Bean gives up four runs, and Torre then turns to the second worse guy in the pen who also gives up two runs. Yanks lose. End of story. Nothing new here.
Down at AAA, the Yankees have Chris Britton, a bona fide Major Leaguer with a season of success under his belt. Hell, they even have Ron Villone, the last guy â€” outside of Bean and Vizcaino â€” I want to see come out of the pen in any situation ever.
I hate to blame Joe Torre for this loss because Brian Cashman, who was told that Kei Igawa would be this bad, should shoulder some of the weight. But putting in Colter Bean in a two-run game with Richie Sexson representing the go-ahead run at the plate is inexcusable.
If the Yanks shut down the Mariners in the 5th, momentum is on their side. And if Torre was worried about the 6th, 7th and 8th innings, well, he had to get there first. In those situations, you have to go with the guy who will get the out. I don’t know how many times Joe Torre will go with the Colter Beans and Jeff Weavers of the world when the Brian Bruneys and Mariano Riveras watch from the bench. But once again, it cost the Yankees and lead to one of the most embarrassing games of the season.