Manny Ramirez 1, Joe Girardi 0

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Is the honeymoon over? Are we allowed to criticize Joe Girardi yet? Today, I’d like to criticize Girardi.

When Mike Mussina and Josh Beckett face off, it’s toughJoba Chamberlain. Power vs. power, heat vs. heat. But after a lengthy conference at the mound, Girardi stuck with Mussina, Moose gave up a hit and the Yanks lost a game they could have won without ever using their best bullpen arms.

The problem I have with Girardi’s decision — besides the utter stupidity of allowing Ramirez to face Mussina late in a close game with first base open — is the way he went about making it. It was in fact a classic Joe Torre Era mistake. Peter Abraham relates information about the exchange on the mound:

Joe Girardi went with what Mike Mussina wanted to do. The Moose was more comfortable going after Manny than facing the ever-selective Kevin Youkilis with the bases loaded.

“I’ve been pitching a while, so he asked me what I felt like doing,” Mussina said. “I told him what I thought.”

Girardi after the game took the blame, but he has to know Mussina’s limitations. He has to know Manny Ramirez’s ridiculous history against the Yankees. He has to take the ball from Mussina in that situation.

In the end, Mussina wasn’t terrible. He gave up 4 runs in a 5.2 innings largely because Brian Bruney didn’t get the job done either. But again, Mussina went to his fastball too often. That 87 mph meatball he threw to Manny Ramirez was simply indicative of a less-than-stellar Mussina outing.

After the game, Girardi and Moose both said the right thing. Too bad they didn’t do the right thing during the game.

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  • kunaldo

    i agree…i mean, i understand in a vacuum why you don’t walk ramirez, just for the simple fact that you’ll have such small room for error when you face youkilis

    on the other hand(the correct one), the whole point of having an absolutely dominant pitcher in the pen is to wiggle out of game changing situations, be it in the 8th inning or the 6th(heck i’d argue the 5th)….even if joba didnt exist, you bring in Mo in that moment….you dont save your best pitcher for a situation that may never happen(the “save” situation)…it’s utterly ridiculous….the indians did it best last year w/ the two rafaels…relief aces…that’s the way to go

    • Yankee Psycho-fan-t

      Too bad none of the Rafaels can pitch after last year.

  • Jamal G.

    I do believe you use your relief ace whenever the situation is the worst. I DO NOT believe in that when your relief ace is also your closer, but luckily for the Yankees that is not the case right now. I don’t think the biggest issue was with Girardi leaving in Mussina, I think the biggest issue is Girardi allowing any Yankees pitcher to face Manny Ramirez in that spot. I understand Kevin Youkilis has a Giambi-esque eye at the plate, but no matter which way you look at it he is by far an inferior hitter to Manny Ramirez.

    I just fail to see the wisdom in that decision, by both Mussina and Girardi.

  • GoYankees

    It was a no-brainer to pass on Manny and then to go to Joba or any other righty with stuff in that spot. Even if the batter was not Manny it would have been a no-brainer.

    With two out, fast runners on second and third, late in the game, Moose about cooked on his third time around the lineup, first open, slow runner up next, any high school coach would have walked to runner and told the SS to move back a couple of steps to cut off a grounder or bloop and to throw the short way to second or third.

    With Manny up, and a chance to steal a game from Becket, it was inexcusable to seemingly pass the decision to the pitcher, when Girardi had apparently already had his mind made up.

    But then, where was the new pitching strategy? Was it to throw a hanging curve inside like on the gopher ball? Or to throw a soft fastball waist high and mid-out?

    Come on , Joe, we forgive this mistake. Just don’t do it again.

  • Bart

    all correct – except joba was warming
    — Bruney was and I fear if Girardi had yanked Moose he would have gone to Bruney — because it “wasn’t the 7th mentality” and I fear – that fear word again – that Girardi is also a producr of i”t’s not the 7th or 8th we don’t use Joba mentality”

    We — the fans who think this way — would use the BEST we have to try to control the the tipping point moment in the game.

    Maybe there is “generalship” here – maybe Girardi doesn’t want to use Joba in a vulnerale situation and have the mental dynamic change for the season if Joba gets beat in such a game saving situation. “Not enough experience thinking” to risk a tough LOSS

    — I am not excusing this – only mussing
    — the other side – is that in such situations IF Joba dominates then the “well of BEST experience geets deeper”
    — Giradi has to understand those human dyanmics as well

    Hopefully all that rattled around in his head — HE SHOULD NOT talk about it to us — but hopefully he is thinking through it in the effort to build Joba into a truly dominant force

    Stil hopefully Giradi is not of the 7th – inning menatality that “automaticallY held Joba out of the tipping point

    With the same situation reversed the Sox didn’t hesirate to use Paplebon – depsite the fact that last year he hit the bomb off Papleboon to win one

    • Yankee Psycho-fan-t

      It’s a good thing us fans are professional baseball people and know how to run a major league baseball team. Wrong decision, I agree, but who are we to tell a man who has earned a job as manager of the Yankees what to do?

  • Mike P

    I don’t think Moose was cooked and had to leave the game. I think you leave him in to face Youkilis and pitch selectively. Remember, Mussina didn’t give up any BB’s. Then if Moose does the job, and the game is still close in the 7th, bring in Chamberlain.

    Mussina was doing really well and had a low pitch count. If he does face Manny, he has to be really stingy. The blame definitely goes to Girardi for not walking Ramirez. But Mussina has to be blamed for not being careful enough. With first base open, Ramirez has to see nothing but junk.

  • Jamal G.

    According to the Journal News, Girardi talked it over with the Yankees coaches and they came to the conclusion to pitch around Manny and walk him if Moose fell behind in the count. After really thinking it over I am beginning to see the logic because pitching to Manny Ramirez with room to walk him does seem like the lesser of two evils if compared to pitching to The Greek God of Walks with no room to walk him.

    The bottom line is that after all this back and forth, Mussina made a bad pitch. He hit 87 MPH on that fastball so it seems that he had something left in the tank for that inning. However he left it over the outer half of the plate and Manny did exactly what he was supposed to do, line it into the gap. If Mussina doesn’t make a bad pitch there then more than likely the walk would have been isued because I don’t think Ramirez would have chased pitch after pitch to get himself out.

    It was a risky and very questionable call but after thinking about it time and time again I do see the logic in it. To be honest, I am not going to call it a mistake or a dumb move but I still don’t agree with it. Mussina did carve up David Ortiz the previous AB and slumping hitter or not, that sequence was beautiful.

    Like I said, bottom line is Mussina let the two seam run back over the outer half instead of the outside corner. The move was very questionable but made sense on some levels. Not a dumb move in my opinion.

    BTW, fuck you Bill Madden for saying this is up there with Grady Little’s decision to leave Pedro Martinez in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS. That was Game 7 of an LCS, this was Game 12 in April you asshole.

    • soxfan

      Jamal –

      Calm down with the profanity, you are extending your stereotype.

    • Yankee Psycho-fan-t

      I agree completely, Bill Madden is a GIANT bag of douche. BTW who let a sox fan in here? Don’t you people have Red Sox discussion boards? Go talk about your own team, we’ve got a handle on ours thanks.

      • Whitey14

        Why can’t we all just discuss baseball together? My god, we’re part of the greatest rivalry in all of sports and it just keeps getting better every year. There are so many angles and conversation threads to hit on and that’s what makes it so much fun.

        I’m a competitive person and every time one of you tells me, or any other Sox fan to go away, it just makes me want to stay more.

        Besides, I don’t go to blogs to share hugs and kind words with other people who feel the same as I do. I want to know what other people are thinking and if that sometimes escalates from discussion to argument so be it.

        I’ve learned things here and I’m not afraid to admit that. There is a decidely different perspective here than there is on Sox blogs and that’s why I visit. For those that have engaged me in pleasant conversation, I thank you.

        When I’m rude, I expect to get hammered in return, but when I ask a simple question or disagree with somebody, I wish it would stimulate conversation rather than threats to ban me from the site, or somebody reaching into their sixth grade name calling guide to insult me.

        • Ben K.

          when I ask a simple question or disagree with somebody, I wish it would stimulate conversation rather than threats to ban me from the site

          Yeah. My fault. That was inappropriate yesterday. Sorry.

          • Whitey14

            Apology accepted. I got out of line later on with some of my comments and I apologize to those that were offended. My language was innappropriate and I lost my temper more than once. If you had banned me it certainly would have been justified. I think you guys are doing a great job and I appreciate you letting me stay. I will try to not be an asshole in the future. I really love talking baseball and there’s no better subject than yankees-Red Sox and some of you have fantastic information, philosophies and past experiences of the rivalry that I enjoy hearing about.

  • Chris

    If you let Mussina go after Ramirez with runners on second and third, then why don’t you also let him go after Youkilis with Manny on second?

    Moose was at 71 pitches, and had pitched pretty well, and gotten out of jams in the first and second. If he had stayed in the game, he probably could have gone 7 innings. With our young pitching staff, every inning you can get out of the starter is a big deal.

    This is a game in mid-April, and losing this one game isn’t a big deal if you can learn something about your pitcher, or show that you have some confidence in him.

    • JRVJ

      I fully agree.

      Girardi has only been managing the Yanks for 12 games, and he is still learning what to do and when.

      Plus, Mussina had actually been pitching well up to that point (really, if Mussina gets Ramirez out, we’d all be writing about how Mussina seems to have found a second life as a solid junkballer). Heck, I thought that 4 runs per Mussina start is supposed to be something we’re all happy about!!

  • pete

    on the bright side, beckett is their ace, mussina is our (eventual) 6th starter. But i do completely agree that that is the situation you bring joba into. Girardi made a Torre-esque move there, and hopefully he’ll learn from it.

  • mike

    As frustrated as I was watching Moose tiptoe-thru-the-tulips all game, I hate to think that Joe was – in a sense- trying to steal the game with the “Moose has gotten us this far, were not supposed to win this one anyway” mentality.The smart move was to bring in Brunney to face Manny ( if not why have him up?? to face Youk who Brunney will never get out because of his difficulty in throwing strikes?) – b ut only because Joe left himself with few options. Olie was the right choice to have up to face Manny with gas and a propensity for ground balls, but Joe hamstrung himself where the options were limited, and i dont know why at the ket point of the game our choices were Brunney or Moose with the heart of the order up. The next time around the heart would face Mo, so this was the crucial moment, but i think Joe was asleep at the wheel.
    If we will give in to the “psych” crowd with Joe’s desire to rehab Moose, or terst Brunney for later in the season, we now know two things – neither were able to step up, and the Yanks need an additional win over the season to make the playoofs

  • Wolf Williams

    Here’s what a coach or manager always has to be thinking: We take away their strength, and if they still beat us, then hats off to them. Girardi blew this call by not thinking that way.

    You NEVER let Manny have a crack at a big hit in that situation. Mussina is not a staff ace anymore. He does not have an ‘out’ pitch. He relies on a hitter making a mistake. Manny isn’t likely to make one in that situation. Why let Mussina face the teeth of the Red Sox’ strength? Walk Manny, and if Youkilis gets a hit or a walk, against Moose or Bruney or Joba, then so be it; sometimes the other team is just better in a particular, crucial situation.

    But the thinking always has to be: If they beat us, it’s going to have to be someone other than Manny. Not only is a Manny hit competitively damaging, it’s a psychological lift for the Sox because they already believe this guy is going to do it against the Yanks. Why confirm that and give him an even bigger psychological edge (as if he needs it) the next time around?

    Poor strategy, and terrible tactics, on Girardi’s part. Next time, Joe, make the Sox beat you with a weaker link than Manny.

  • whozat

    It’s not like Moose executed and got beat. The plan was fine…Moose just hung a curve on the outer part of the plate.

    Frankly, I’d trust Moose to pitch around someone much more than I’d trust Bruney.

  • Rich

    I would have used Joba against Youkilis as well, although I would have been fine with using Mo instead. Girardi made the cardinal sin of trusting Mike Mussina even though the guy who wears the uniform is. for all intents and purposes, no longer Mike Mussina, but rather a league average starter or worse.

    If Torre had done that, I would have excoriated him, so Girardi deserves the same treatment.

    We can only hope that the situation becomes an instructive example of one-trial conditioning for him.

  • DaBXBomber

    Oh no … the season is over … what are we going to do? I mean it’s April right, and our manager just made a blunder that’s right up there with the infamous decision that cost Boston the ALCS. It sure didn’t take the News long to bust out the “Clueless Joe” moniker. They were wrong about that the first time, too, right?

  • Simon B.

    Guys, please shut up about the “eighty-something fastball”.

    Despite what many have said, Mussina has not been relying on “smoke and mirrors”. He’s not been relying on luck and guile. He’s had excellent stuff in his last three games. That curveball, changeup, and two-seamer have been superb.

    When he’s made mistakes, it hasn’t been with the fastball, it’s mostly been with the curveball.

    He pitched a quality game yesterday. I really wish they had walked Ramirez, but you can’t win them all.

    I have been thrilled with what Mussina has had in the start of the season. The only thing I’m worried about is if he gets fatigued as his workload mounts, but because his pitch-count has been low, I think he might be able to be a very effective starter throughout the year. It just seems to me that a lot of people are waiting for him to fail, and I don’t believe that.

  • DaBXBomber

    It’s April … Girardi is feeling out his pitching staff. He trusted Mussina in a big spot and Moose didn’t get the job done … I think Joe G. will remember this come the fall. For Madden to compare a mistake in April to one in the ALCS shows what a genius Madden is.

    • Yankee Psycho-fan-t

      It shows the kind of sensationalism the New York Tabloid “media storm,” prefers to write over level headed, intelligent sports writing. I don’t know as a player if I would be concerned with the New York media anymore. Sure, there are a lot of them, but I can count the good writers on one hand.

  • Realist

    I felt Moose shoulda pitched around Manny or Bruney should have came in….that’s not hindsight , that is exactly my thinking at that point. It’s too bad but only one game in a long season. I am actualy quite suprised by Moose’s pitching this season…he is doing much better than I anticipated :-)

    On another note , why is Giambi still at first when he can’t field OR hit?

  • Yankee Psycho-fan-t

    1. Never EVER bring Mo in, in the sixth inning in April. I don’t care if its the Red Sox and you have to beat the Red Sox at all times, you just don’t do it. Anyone who thinks that is a good move is smoking something.
    2. That was maybe a Joba situation, but in April, in your first year, you have to try and establish trust with and for your players if you’re Girardi. Is it season ending that Moose gave up that double? Most certainly not. Was it unfortunate and hard to watch…yes.

    I think everyone is suffering from post-bad breakup syndrome. We have sat by and watched Joe Torre make decisions for no reason that have cost the Yankees important games. Joe Girardi had a plan at least, and it didn’t work. You can be sure he’ll remember it next time. He is a very smart baseball man, and will be a good manager. I commend him for staking his trust in an aged veteran. The onus is on Moose in this one. If he makes his pitch, the Yankees get out of it, you give the ball to Joba and Mo, theoretically you win. Personally, I think that either of those two could have given up a one-run lead, because frankly, the Red Sox are a good team and the Yankees aren’t hitting.

    I think everyone needs to chill out, and be encouraged by the honesty we got from both our manager and our pitcher after the game. We didn’t get excuses, we didn’t get bullshit, we got answers. It was kind of disarming, but it certainly calmed my temper. In case you didn’t read that article you can find it on the Lohud Yankees Blog, it was written by Sam Borden.

    • zack

      Why can’t you bring Mo in in the 6th? Because he’s the “closer,” a totally artificial stat invented by the media? Because he somehow might get hurt b/c its April or taken out of a routine?

      Look, the point is, do you want to win or not? If you do, you bring in one of your best two pitchers when the game is on the line, and clearly, it was. If not, fine build up trust, go to your “6th inning guy” or whatever. But thats bullocks. If you need to get out of a potentially game situation, trust be damned, you bring in your best. Moose has been around long enough to get over a little hurt feelings. Its not like Girardi doesn’t know what he has in him.

      • Whitey14

        Just finished reading the Bronx is Burning last night after the game. Interesting book. If yesterday had been 1977 sparky lyle would have come in in the 6th and finished off the game from there. Today’s closers (no matter the team) are such pussies by comparison.

        On another note, soxfan, we don’t need somebody from Red Sox Nation making racist comments, grow up and cut the shit! I’m giving us a bad enough name here already and I don’t need any help from you!

  • Realist

    Completely uncalled for “sox fan”…..

    I am sure you are one of the new “bandwagon fans” that don’t know how to act properly. Most of the longtime Boston fans would find your statement irresponsible and ignorant.

  • Realist

    Completely uncalled for “sox fan”…..

    I am sure you are one of the new “bandwagon fans” that don’t know how to act properly. Most of the longtime Boston fans would find your statement irresponsible and ignorant.

  • Realist

    Something’s awry??? I have twice tried to place this after “soxfan’s” racist comment to Jamal and twice it posts below????

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    I actually completely disagree with this point. If Moose felt more comfortable pitching to Manny, then he should have pitched to Manny. There is no shame by getting beat by one of the best hitters in baseball.

    I think the idea that Youkillis would be more selective sounded perfectly logical for that moment.

    I’d rather get beat this way than get beat because we couldn’t hit some scrub pitcher in Tampa.

    Let’s move on. New day. New game. Go Yanks.

  • Jeff

    Joe made the correct call in pitching to Ramirez.

    In order for an intentional walk to pay off with 2 on and 2 out, the batter at the plate needs to be significantly better than the guy on deck. James Click over at Baseball Prospectus has written about this and has a set of criteria where the percentages justify the intentional walk in these situations. Manny isn’t a better enough hitter compared to Youkilis to justify the decision.

    Just looking at AVG/OBP/SLG over 2005-2007 shows Ramirez with a modest advantage (not enough according to Click’s criteria).

    The advantage gets smaller when you look at situations with runners in scoring position. Manny’s edge is also smaller against right handed pitchers. In 2007, Youkilis was actually a better hitter vs RHP. In 2008 Kevin is off to a better start than Manny.

    I think people are falling prey to the Manny mystique. He’s a solid hitter, but with Youkilis protecting him, the correct call was to pitch to Ramirez.

    I posted more details on my blog at


    • GoYankees

      I’ve thought about this.

      The strategy of walking the bases loaded is only useful at a critical point towards the end of a close game. Also, the stats of the specific pitchers against hitters must be taken into account by any statistical estimates. All other general stats are bullshit, overwhelmed by the case at hand.

      If it works (say 70%), your best pitchers will save the game almost all the time. If the strategy fails, you get blown out of the game. But the chances were already (say 30%) that two runs score in either case. So the risk taken in walking Manny is only the difference between Manny and Youkilis! (Less than 10%)

      (Apologies to non-statisticians %!

  • Mike A.

    I thought this was a no-brainer. Right after Moose struck out Ortiz I left a comment on the game thread saying “Ortiz is so clutch … now walk Manny.” It … just … seemed … so obvious.

    It’s a one run game, the tying and go ahead runners are in scoring position, and their best hitter – one of the very best RHB alive, and a noted Yankee killer (thanks Joe Buck and Tim McCarver) – is at the plate. So Youk works the count well, big deal. The odds that Manny would hurt you in that situation are far greater than the odds that Youk will.

    It as a brain fart by Girardi, a rookie mistake by a basically rookie manager. Hopefully he learned and won’t let it happen again. That’s how we’ll be able to tell if he’s a great manager, seeing how he takes this experience and uses it in the future.

    • dan

      I think if it’s July, Girardi takes Mussina out. He has to trust him in April and find out if Mussina can do it, and if he doesn’t find out then Girardi will take him out EVERY time. IOW, if Girardi takes him out in this situation, then he can never leave him in a situation like this again, which in my opinion is wrong to do. That might be his reasoning.

  • pete

    all i can say is, the matchup was Mussina vs. Beckett, and to be honest, what more could we have expected out of moose than 4 runs (1 not scored on him).
    BTW molina shouldn’t have gone out to get Melky’s throw – manny would have probably been safe, but it was a good enough throw to try it – all the way in the air and only slightly to the 1st base side. Considering it was essentially a grounder, I thought that was a surprisingly close play, even w/ melky out there.

  • http://deleted Seamus O’Toole

    ok.. show me the person who commented in the game thread during that situation not afterwards.

    joba was not warmed up for that spot and there was no way he could get warmed up fast enough for youk. there are no “joba rules” per se, but they will stick to the rule where they only bring him in when he’s fully warm. did everyone here have faith in bruney coming in to get ramirez or youk? especially youk with the bases loaded?

    i feel that often, you can make the right decision and just not have it pan out. ramirez could have just as easily lined out to an outfielder and we wouldn’t even be having this discussion. so often we base the quality of a decision after the fact and i think that is so wrong.

  • Manimal

    I’m not so worried about his decision about pitching because they do have some sort of logic to it. But Shelley Duncan is Slugging 1.500 vs Giambi’s .240

    • Manimal

      whoops, commented with out finishing LOL

      That makes no sense. Giambi is a lost cause, Duncan is clearly the better option.

      Same thing with Betamit vs. Ensburg and Gardner vs. Damon.

  • mustang

    Girardi messed up period. Hopeful he will learn form this and not make the same mistake twice.
    Talking about “honeymoon over” its time for Mr. Hughes to bring it. No more excuse about age, experience, weather,etc. These are the Red Sox if he is going to be the ace we all hope he will be than it starts tonight.
    Last thing what’s up with FOX and switching the game to FX in the middle of a at bat to put on NASCAR. MLB really needs to do something about that.

    • Manimal

      Seriously, I got grounded for screaming FUCK out loud because my mom heard it. I was searching for FX and found it before the next pitch.

  • mustang

    Cool facts you guys probably already know:
    Hughes grew up a Red Sox fan. ( farvorite players Garciaparra and Mo Vaughn)
    Man ! That makes me feel old. LOL
    Hughes will be the youngest Yankee to start at Fenway since 19 year old Jose Rijo in 1984.

  • LiveFromNewYork

    I’m sure I’m in the minority when I say that I think there wasn’t a way to win this one and that what they did wasn’t a horrible thing. I thought he should have walked Manny but I don’t think it would have helped with Youkilis coming or Joba warming. I think that it was a tough decision, Joe Girardi had the choice of telling him to walk him and pissing off Mussina who has a tendency to get wild when pissed. Or Moose pitches to Youk, Youk slams one out and Girardi looks like an a-hole.

    If he has walked Manny and gotten Youk out, great managing and brilliant pitching. If he walked Manny and then pulled Mussina, that’s not putting confidence in a guy who pitched a good game. If you walked Manny and left Moose in, he might have given up a big one to Youk.

    Bruney wasn’t having a good time with Youk. Joba and Youk have bad blood.

    COMON GUYS. It was a no-freaking win situation. The ONLY way to get through it was to pitch to Manny and strike him out. And that did not happen.