An elbow injury, a one-inning pitcher and a rain delay that never came

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Fun times in the bullpen

When Joe Girardi was in Florida, his handling of his young pitching staff during a rain delay earned him quite a bit of criticism and potentially a one-way ticket out of his job.

The day was September 12, 2006, and Josh Johnson was on the mound when an 82-minute rain delay hit. Girardi put Johnson back on the mound, but the youngster came down with a case of forearm tightness that night. He would throw just 15 innings in 2007 before losing last year and this to elbow surgery. While Johnson has publicly stated that the rain delay was not the cause of his elbow woes, this incident lingers on Joe Girardi’s record.

Nearly 19 months later, Girardi found himself faced with another young pitcher and another case of rain. The forecast in Kansas City tonight called for rain, lots and lots of rain, and so Joe Girardi opted to keep Kennedy out of the game so as not to burn a Kennedy start and so as to avoid managing through a rain delay.

During the early innings, it seemed like a wise strategy. For once, the weather forecast was right, and rain came down in sheets, blanketing the field in rivulets of water. But onward marched the game. Brian Bruney shut down the Royals; Billy Traber shut down the Royals; and for one inning, Kyle Farnsworth shut down the Royals.

But then disaster struck, and it is here that we have to wonder whether or not to nitpick tonight’s game. With no score in the fifth and the rain visually lightening up, Girardi left Kyle Farnsworth in to pitch a second inning. Kyle Farnsworth is the master of the one-inning appearance. He made a grand total of zero appearances last year of more than an inning, and while he has complained about that, the results tonight bore out Joe Torre’s one-inning handling of Farnsworth.

In this second inning, Farnsworth gave up a home run to John Buck, hitting just over .100 on the season, and then another run on an 0-2 slider to Jose Guillen, hitting .128 at the time. He lost his effectiveness, and he lost his pitching smarts at the same time.

In the sixth inning, Girardi brought in the starter Ian Kennedy for a brief three-inning appearance. Kennedy got into some wind-aided trouble in his first inning of work and gave up two runs. But he settled down after that to restore some faith in his pitching among Yankee fans.

The nitpicking is, of course, moot. The game should have been stopped for rain at some point; the field was a mess, and both teams were struggling through the weather. But had Girardi’s strategy been put to the test, the Yankees pitchers needed to pitch 9 scoreless innings to keep pace with this team’s anemic offense.

I can’t help but question Girardi’s decision tonight. Call it Monday-morning quarterbacking; call it the nature of a baseball blog. For four innings, Girardi’s choice looked like a solid one, but in the fifth, it fell apart. Why leave Farnsworth, a one inning at his best, in for a second inning? Why not go with Ian Kennedy when the game was clearly going on? Missing offense or not, the ghost of Josh Johnson’s elbow loomed large over this game.

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More offense from Charleston
Fun times in the bullpen
  • Joe

    I agree with basically everything you said up there. I liked the strategy, and it even seemed to be working until Farnsworth tanked. But not putting Kennedy in to start the fifth when the weather was clearing, where he’d have had to pitch at most five innings, is kind of odd IMO.

    Bruney was impressive again, though, which I like.

    • http://pinstripealley.com Edwantsacracker

      I think it was a good idea. The game should have been stopped. If the tarp was on the field in the 2nd and 3rd inning when it really poured then when it stopped raining in the 5th or 6th inning the game could ahve been played on decent conditions.

      I can’t believe they sent those teams out to play on a field with standing water on it. I would have put Ian in at a point where he could have pitched 5 innings.

      On a positive note thats another good outing by Bruney and Traber.

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  • stuart

    I have no complaints with what Girardi did, none.

    The need to hit, which they will.

  • http://yankeesetc.blogspot.com/ Travis G.

    like you said, the reason they lost is they didn’t score. hard to win when that happens.

    i’m watching highlights of other games and i’m thinking “those hitters make it look so easy. how are they scoring 6, 7, 8 runs and we’re not? i remember when our offense could outslug an opponent”.

  • http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=56352514 Jamal G.

    I agree with stuart. For one, to nitpick this strategy is moot because of the final score, the Yankees did not score a single run. Two, if you agree with what Girardi did for the first five innings you can’t possibly begin to disagree with the entire strategy because of what he did (or didn’t do) in the fifth inning. Now if you’re agreeing with what he did on a whole but just taking issue of his managerial decision to start Farnsworth instead of Kennedy in the fifth (which I think is the case here) then you have a point. My argument to that point would be that it’s early in the season and this is the time and plac where you figure out what your players can and can not do effectively. You find out what you can and can not get from them.

    I don’t blame the John Buck HR on Farnsworth because that just seemed like a pitch that Buck guessed on. You can not blame Farnsowrth for throwing a first pitch FB to a struggling hitter to lead off an inning. Buck guessed fastball and he was aggressive enough to go after it on the first pitch. The Guillen slider can and should be blamed on Farnsworth because it was obvious that pitch just hung. If not for the caught stealing of Joey Gathright (who IMO foolishly attempted to steal 3B) the bases would have been loaded with one out on the back end of consecutive walks issued by Farnsworth. That also shows us that Farnsworth – besides being victimized by an aggressive John Buck – wasn’t as bad as it seems in the fifth inning. He let up a bunt single to Gathright and lost control to two batters. Then he just made one mistake pitch to Jose Guillen when he hung the third of three straight sliders. So two walks and one mistake pitch were the only things we can hang on Farnsworth for that fifth inning so therefore can we really blame Joe Girardi (getting back to the original point) for leaving in Farnsworth for the fifth inning, especially if you subscribe to the pre-determined outcome of Ian Kennedy struggling to start the fifth like struggled to start the sixth?

    I absolutely think there is room to question Girardi’s decision to go with Farnswoth for that second inning of work but I also think that it was the right decision when all things considered. That is Joe Girardi wanted to put Kyle Fransworth through this challenge to see what he has in his reliever and gain knowledge for the future on how and how not to best utilize him.

    • Mike P

      “So two walks and one mistake pitch were the only things we can hang on Farnsworth for that fifth inning”.

      Sorry, that is pretty bad for a reliever who’s only likely to pitch 1-2 innings per game. 2 BB and a mistake (single, double, HR, whatever) almost guarantees at least 1 run scored.

  • GoYankees

    Your reasoning, Ben, is flawless, except that this was not the deciding game of a big series but an early season game where the manager has to see what he has. I’m sure Farnsy claims he was not treated fairly in the past. Now Girardi knows (I hope) that he was.

    Is April over yet? Can’t wait.

  • RustyJohn

    It was a no win situation for Joe G. and the argument is pointless- no offense and IPK gave up runs anyhow.

    My biggest concern, however, is not the offense or tonight’s game in particular but getting starters other than those with the initials CMW to go at least 7 innings so our bullpen isn’t a complete shambles in 3 months. We call that “2007 Seattle Marineritis” otherwise known as the “Jeff Weaver effect.”

    Funny how two weeks ago everyone was still giving CMW crap for his play-off starts and he is currently projected to win 36 games (I love early season stats to play with). I wear my #40 Wang jersey with pride….my #40 Andy Hawkins jersey I do not. It remains in the dresser with my #54 Tim Leary.

    • RollignWave

      the good news is that we have some serious reinforcements if/when that happens.

      I think Pettitte should be able to go 7 once he starts rolling. Moose might be though they probably shouldn’t try that unless it’s a big lead.

      • BigBlueAL

        no Charles Hudson jersey????

  • Mike P

    At least Girardi found out something about Farnsworth today. He can’t be trusted for shit, nor can he throw 2 innings.

    I’ll trade a 2-0 defeat for a 4-0 defeat if it means Farnsworth never pitches 2 innings in a close game ever again in pinstripes.

  • mustang

    I would love to blame one of the Cashman twins for the lost, but I can’t. The Yanks are not hitting plain and simple.
    When I first look at the schedule for this month I was think 2 or maybe 3 games over .500. With 18 out 20 on the road and all that. Now with the injuries .500 doesn’t look so bad. They just have to survive this month. This going to be a real test for these young guns and Girardi. Especially after the job Torre did last year in a similar situation. I think they will be ok.

  • Yankees=warriors

    What this move worries me is that Girardi is abusing the bullpen as much as Torre once did. Thus by the time the offense starts scoring (which seems to be zillion years later), we’re going to be seeing a lot of blown leads…

  • Tripp

    How could that game not have been cancelled. There were foot deep puddles on the field.

    Insane.

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    I did think it was a colossal blunder for Joe NOT to start Ian Kennedy last night, and using up half our bullpen in the process. In the end, though, every one of those pitchers did keep us in the game, and we couldn’t get a run off a pitcher we’ve lit up in the past.

    My patience with the hitting on this team is gone. Your contracts are for the entire season, guys. Start showing up in April for once.

    • steve (different one)

      really, a “colossal” blunder? even though there should have, by any objective reasoning, been a rain delay?

      then if he starts Kennedy, and they call a rain delay after 2 innings….then he has to get 6-7 inning from his pen?

      Girardi was in a no-win situation last night. i appreciate the fact that he tried to do what was best for Kennedy.

      the rest is simply 20-20 hindsight.

  • mustang

    Totally agree with Tripp. At one point I didn’t even care if they won or lost i just didn’t want see another injury do to field conditions.

  • Rich

    Although I have always thought that Farnsworth was one of the few relief pitchers that Torre handled well, I have no problem with Girardi’s pitching decisions either. I trust that he will learn from his experiences with this pitching staff. The overriding problem is that the offense is so impotent that every pitching mistake is magnified. In fact, many of the pitchers may fear making a mistake because their margin for error is so small right now.

  • mustang

    This weekend will be interesting with both teams struggling. I hope the Yanks awake up in time because the one thing I hate is losing to the Red Sox.

  • chris

    this is why fans who believe that this team can make the playoffs with only 2 good established starters are unrealistic. Girardi made the right move potecting kennedy and it seems he will remain overly cautious with the big three and strategies such as this make me doubtful that joba will pitch as a stater until at least mid august when the team is clearly out of the playoff picture. i am not hating on the yankees and will not be screaming for girardi’s head when they finish as a .500 team. it is just too difficult to preserve young arms and still win a ennant because who run into rain, tired bullpens, situations where they are dominant in close games but are up in pitches. these are games that you will see wang or pettite go the extra inning – you will not see the same from the kids.

    i agree totally with his decision only questioning why he brought kennedy in at all, but that had to be done to avoid killing the pen. i hope he remains this cautious all season

  • TurnTwo

    my problem was that Farnsworth is on the team for Girardi to use…

    but that aside, i dont really have a problem with what Girardi did leaving him out there… in fact, maybe he was hoping that by sending him out there for a second inning, he was betting on Farnsworth’s back spasming up, forcing him onto the DL where they could call up some real bullpen help.

    for me, it all comes down to the fact that this offense needs to be able to score 4 runs in a game against Kansas City… if they cant do that, it doesnt matter who Girardi leaves out on the mound to pitch, because this team isnt going anywhere.

  • mustang

    I may argue with you guys about this and that, but I hope the one common bond that we all have is our total hate of the Red Sox. And the ESPN created Red Nation what a joke.

  • chris

    and another april where the player’s can’t hit??? i guess that wasnt a esult of torre’s lax spring trainings.

    it is ridiculous that every time i look up i see 0, 1, 2, or 3 on the yankees side of the scoreboard. they do need to wake up. from what i have seen thoughout baseball over the past few years is the pitchers having the advatage in april accross the league – i remembering it being the other way years ago, but the lack of firepower even with jeter and posada out of the line-up is atrocious

  • Rob_in_CT

    I liked Joe’s plan. I liked what I saw from Bruney. I don’t think the mistake was leaving Farns in for a second inning so much as thinking Farns is fit for anything but blowout mop-up duty.

    If one wants to nitpick, question the start in LF for Matsui over Damon. Then maybe IPK gives up 0-1 runs instead of 2…

    Which, of course, wouldn’t have mattered, since the Yanks were shut out.

  • r.w.g.

    I don’t see what John Buck and Jose Guillen’s current AVGs have anything to do with the hits they got. Both are proven hitters at the major league level and can do what they did to a whole lot of pitchers.

    The KC Royals were the better team last night. Zach Greinke was doing work on the Yankee lineup (just like he did to Detroit.. everybody in the AL better get used to it).

  • r.w.g.

    I also think it’s laughable the way so many people are complaining about the Yankee offense.. as if they are just getting themselves out.

    Good pitchers are taking it to the pinstripes.. the Bronx isn’t the only place on the planet with good pitching.

  • http://mvn.com/milb-yankees EJ

    Tomorrow, Andy Pettitte goes.

    Fresh relief pitchers:

    Mariano Rivera
    Joba Chamberlain
    Ross Ohlendorf
    LaTroy Hawkins

    Could pitch, but it would be nice to rest him:

    Billy Traber

    That’s a pretty tight bullpen if Pettitte gets hammered. He better have his stuff.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

      Ohlie threw 3 innings (and close to 40 pitches) on Tuesday, so I think they’d like to keep him out of the game at all costs.

  • jonnydemon

    Any blame you put on the Yankees must start with Johnny Damon and Derek Jeter. It all starts at the top of the lineup and those two guys have been horrendus. Robinson Cano is off to a disturbingly slow start… aka I have yet to see him hit a ball hard. As far as Jason Giambi goes, I just cannot see him hitting .220 in a contract year. He looks healthy as a horse, seems to be seeing the pitches and strike zone well, he’ll come around.

    What I cannot stand are the excuses that are already becoming a blanket over the team. How does all the young pitching affect their hitting? What impact would “Joba The Starter” have in a game when the Yankees only score 0, 1 or 2 runs? How come the weather only affects our players, both pitchers and hitters? How come the Yankees are the only team with injuries? The first loss to KC we blamed on ESPN. The second loss to KC we are now blaming on the rain. What will be the story tonight? Stay tuned…

    It’s the excuses that are going to kill this team. Look around. Every power team in the AL is off to a slow start. Boston, Cleveland, Detroit and Seattle. The Wild Card, and in my opinion, even the AL East is for the Yankees and the Yankees alone to win or lose. However, I am deeply concerned with all the excuses, and never in a million years did I foresee a Joe Girardi team whining so much.

    • steve (different one)

      who whined?

  • johnjjhs

    Maybe Fenway Park is what the Yankee hitters need? The Yankees are going to get an early look at the 2008 versions of Clay Buchholz and Josh Beckett… and who knows how they will be able to contain Jacoby Ellsbury.

  • kunaldo

    farnsworth may suck, but if our offense cant score 4 damn runs then we have much bigger problems than the way girardi handles inclement weather

  • pete c.

    I haven’t been able to read this whole post yet, so forgive me if someone else said this, that game should have been canceled. The field was a mess. The umpiring crew and MLB should be held accountable.

  • Glen L

    I have no problem with what joe did … once i found out why IPK was scratched i agreed with the move

    and I don’t blame him for not bringing IPK in to start the 5th either .. the weather had been god awful and I, personally, was convinced the umps just wanted to get through 5 and have the game on the books … i thought it would be called after the 5th .. although it became obvious DURING the 5th that would not happen .. but you can’t bring in IPK in the middle of an inning

    whether leaving farnsworth in is a tougher decision .. you didn’t want to completely burn through the pen

    at the end of the day you need to score at least 1 run to win a ball game and the yanks couldn’t do it

  • Yankee1010

    I haven’t had a chance to read all of the posts, but I like what Girardi did last night. It shows that he has learned from the Josh Johnson fiasco.

    As for leaving Farnsworthless in, it’s better to learn that he can’t pitch 2 innings in Game 9 than in Game 159. We can all say “yeah, but Farnsworthless never pitches well in a 2nd inning.” Well, he never pitched 2 innings last year, so how was Girardi supposed to find out about Farnsworth going 2 innings unless he actually pitched 2 innings? Don’t get me wrong, I hope Farnsworth meets the business end of a trident.

    Plus, it’s all a moot point if the offense doesn’t start hitting.

  • http://www.dugoutcentral.com/blog/?author_name=Matt%20Bouffard Matt

    Let’s not forget, that as Coney rightly mentioned, IPK is a starter and requires 15-20 minutes to get loose. I don’t know if he could have been ready in time to pitch the 5th.

    We all know Farnsworthless is crap for a second inning (hell, he isn’t even that good for a first inning), but let’s look at the silver lining here: last night proves that he’s being used as nothing more than a mop-up man. Thus far, it seems pretty clear that the bullpen pecking order goes Mo, Joba, then Ohlendorf and Bruney. And that’s a good thing. Farnsworth and Hawkins have yet to pitch a critical inning.

    The Yankees are going to be very cautious with the Big Three this year. Aside from pitch counts, innings caps, etc, things like last night are going to happen from time to time. I’m totally behind not sending Kennedy out to that mound last night; it’s just not worth the risk of injuring him.

    Anyone else think that they may make another bullpen move today? I figure only Mo, Joba, Hawkins, and maybe Traber are available. Pettitte is probably only good for 90 pitches tops. Problem is Ohlendorf is probably the only guy they can move, and I don’t think they want to send him down.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      Unless they’re prepared to just bite the bullet and DFA Farnsworth, I don’t think they’re going to make a bullpen move. Sending down Ohlendorf – who should be available tonight for 1 inning – is not high on the list of moves they should make right now.

      I hear Morgan Ensberg has an ankle sprain though ;)

      • http://www.dugoutcentral.com/blog/?author_name=Matt%20Bouffard Matt

        I totally agree that Ohlendorf should not be moved, and as much as I’d like to see Farnsworth DFA’d, I can’t see that happening just yet – if at all. But, with Hughes’ 3 inning start on Tuesday and the weather last night, the bullpen is in a bind. You don’t know what you’re going to get from Pettitte tonight, and even though he hasn’t pitched since Sunday, they may not necessarily want to pitch Joba for 2 innings the game before the Sox series starts. But then again, a win would be very nice right now.

        I don’t think they’d DL Ensberg for a pitcher only because with the injuries, they can’t afford to lose any more position players right now. And FWIW, even considering DLing him with a phantom injury last night was a real bush league move.

        A more general point on roster moves: let’s not go freaking out just yet with wanting half the bench replaced. Yes, the team isn’t hitting. Yes, they’re dealing with injuries. Yes, Betemit has been horsehit both at the plate and in the field thus far. But if Betemit or any other back-up infielder is needed to play a crucial role over the course of the year, this team will be in much more trouble than it is now. Replace Betemit with AG and in a month everyone will be complaining that AG can’t hit and they should have kept Betemit.

        One of the big stories coming out of Spring was that the bench is stronger than it’s been in many years. Let’s let Jeter and Posada get healthy and give the team more than nine games before we blow it up already.

  • http://deleted Seamus O’Toole

    maybe joe realizes farnsworth is useless and the faster he burns him out the sooner he can justify bringing someone else up who can do the job.

  • Curramba

    I was thinking they should have brought Kennedy in for the 5th and complete the game instead of letting Farnsworthless show just how worthless he is.

  • mike

    you cannot hide from farnsworthless, nor can you hide from the fact that EVERY time Cano moves up in the order over his career he sh&t’s the bed, Melky did an atrocious job in a rundown, Giambi cannot hit his weight and matsui in the outfiled is an ongoing comedy- right up there with Damon’s arm. It feels like if it werent for Molina and Wang this is a AA team, or a team going thru the motions. They have no long-man in the pen ( which they needed not once but twice in just this series!! ) and demonstrates how the roster is a mess, having a back-up first baseman ( Ensberg ) with 2 career innings at first, backed up by Shelly….enuff said. Their infield sub ( Bettemit) can neither hit or throw ( nice relay last night- Jeter has that guy and Molina is having a soda waiting for him) so they have to make a roster move to fill in for a week… it just makes me crazy – and all we will hear from pro-cash folks is how the minor leagues is the El Dorado for this team

    • Glen L

      he’s right!! the yanks should forfeit the rest of their remaining games then overpay via a trade and sign (in both talent and money) for an aging veteran who will only decline skillwise!!!!!!!!!!

  • http://www.pinstripealley.com jscape2000

    This is largely hindsight. I expected the game to be called after 5. I think that is the reason Girardi left Farnsworth in for the 5th. When they got through the 5th and the game wasn’t stopped, then he put in IPK.

    I’m stunned they played the full game in those conditions.

  • mike

    bottom line – if the $210 million offense scores 5 runs once or twice so far we are not having this conversation, and we are then just in the midst of a long tough roadtrip. that is where the fundamentals the Yanks lack ( working counts, baserunning blunders, poor defense ) have made the difference – and the reason I love young players rather than mercs is their hustle and effort – then I see Melky make a horrible baseball play, Cano lazy at the bat and in the field, Shelly having his fielding issues, Kennedy not throwing strikes, Hughes a little slow covering the bag the other day… its just frustrating

  • http://yankeesetc.blogspot.com/ Travis G.

    two great lines on Farnsworth i’ve read in the past 24 hours.

    1. that knuckledragger isn’t splitting atoms in his spare time.

    2. I hope Farnsworth meets the business end of a trident.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos

      3. Kyle “Sandwich Pick” Farnsworth

      • http://www.dugoutcentral.com/blog/?author_name=Matt%20Bouffard Matt

        That assuming that Farnsworth is even rated a Type B free agent. I wouldn’t bet on that one.

  • GoYankees

    Farnsworth should have started the game and pitched all 8 innings. That way we would know which are his innings. :D

  • Glen L

    i mean its already been 9(!!!) games for christsake

  • http://RiverAve.Blues Joseph M

    Joe Girardi made a mistake last night, I’m a little concerned that he might be feeling a bit of pressure to produce right off the bat. On the other hand, it obviously wasn’t in the cards last night so as they say no harm no foul.

    I do think this, if Kennedy can’t be used last night then he doesn’t belong in the big leagues.

  • tommiesmithjohncarlos

    Maybe Farnsworth can be converted into an OF, like Rick Ankiel.

    He’s a natural.

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

    Ignore the trolls and they’ll go away people. Their vision is based on movement.