The spring of our managerial discontent

The heartache continues as Yanks drop extra innings affair
The problem with starting All-Star balloting early

Last night’s loss to Tampa Bay marked Joe Girardi‘s 189th game as the Yankee skipper. Since replacing Joe Torre, Girardi has gone 102-87, good for a .540 winning percentage. For Yankee standards, that’s not exactly a stellar start.

As this is New York and as Yankee fans are known to be fickle, as the Red Sox’s Tuesday night victory over the Yanks reached its conclusion, the few remaining fans in Yankee Stadium took up a chant. “We want Torre,” they yelled as Joe Girardi walked to the mound to remove an ineffective Mark Melancon from the hill.

It is, of course, the logical response for many fans. The Yankees find themselves under .500 on the season. They’ve managed to lose games by getting shelled and by failing to come through in the clutch. They’ve found no success out of the pen and are 0-5 against Boston. In another era, Joe Girardi would be out of the job for, as David Pinto noted, failing to deliver the goods.

For a real perspective on this issue, though, the man with the green tea had the smartest statement. The L.A. Times asked Joe Torre his take on the situation in New York, and Joe had a perfectly rational and calming answer. No wonder the fans on Tuesday wanted him back.

“Those fans are impatient. I enjoyed the 12 years. They weren’t always happy with me,” He said. “I feel for Joe because this kid’s a good manager and he’s going to be a better manager. We’re still talking about the first month of the season. There’s so much baseball to play. There’s a lot of talent on that club and they’re going to win their share of games.”

It does not look good in New York right now. The Yankees are 5.5 games out of first place after just 27 games of the season, and they are setting themselves up for yet another mid-season comeback. But the Yankees are playing now without their starting third baseman, their starting catcher and their Opening Day right fielder. The team’s setup man is out indefinitely with an elbow problem, and the number two starter is trying to build up strength in his legs. Guys on the roster who have no business being here — Angel Berroa, Francisco Cervelli — have been pressed into action, and that just isn’t Joe Girardi’s fault.

In one day, the Joe Girardi Job Watch can begin in earnest. When A-Rod returns, a big missing piece of the 2009 puzzle will be in place, and as much of a headache that A-Rod can be, he makes the rest of the team better. The bullpen is still an issue, and Brett Tomko certainly isn’t the answer. With A-Rod around, though, the Yanks should put their mediocre play behind them. If they’re still under .500 come June 7, then we can talk about Girardi’s job.

The heartache continues as Yanks drop extra innings affair
The problem with starting All-Star balloting early
  • pat

    Yankee fans are the worst.

    • pat

      Myself included.

    • http://eemack.blogspot.com Jackson

      Unfortunately I can’t disagree. We suck.

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

        My GChat status agrees with you.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Agreed.

      I have never been so disappointed in this fanbase as I am right now.

      My frustration with insane/stupid Yankee fans
      >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
      my frustration with this current Yankees team, which is bound to get healthier and better.

  • http://www.new.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/profile.php?id=594331910&ref=name Jamal G.

    There were some “We want Torre” chants a few sections from us after the Carlos Pena home run, and I aptly responded, “STFU.” Juvenile? You bet. However, I did give myself a nice pat on the back. ;)

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Bluto, D-Day, and the gang: *cough*EAT ME!*cough*EAT ME!*cough
      Hoover (whispered to Boone): Tell those assholes to shut up!
      Boone: HEY, SHUT UP, YOU ASSHOLES!!!

  • http://eemack.blogspot.com Jackson

    Teixeira is 5-14 with a couple of extra base hits this week, he seems like he might be slowly heating up. If he’s hitting and ARod is behind him hitting I have a feeling Joe Girardi is going to begin to look a lot smarter.

  • E-ROC

    Marte is on the DL too.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      We’re currently without:

      -Our best player, who is a 3-time MVP and an eventual first ballot Hall of Famer
      -Our starting catcher, who has two top-ten MVP vote seasons and is an eventual first ballot Hall of Famer
      -One of our top starting pitchers who finished second in the Cy Young voting three years ago
      -Our opening day starting right fielder who has a career OPS of .854 against lefties and figured to be at least an important half of a platoon at LF and DH for our aging lefty hitters
      -Our #1 setup man and primary Bridge to Mowhere
      -Our #2 setup man and secondary Bridge to Mowhere
      -Our opening day primary utility infielder and spot-starter
      -Our 7th starting pitcher in AAA to an bizarre condition where he feels numbness in his fingers

      So… when I hear Brandon Tierney on the radio this morning saying things like that he’s “sick of this team” and that “You have to point the finger at Cashman” and that “Theo Epstein is running circles around Cashman”… it makes me want to reach through the radio and punch him in the face.

      I’d love to see what the Sox record would be like right now if, in addition to losing Dice-K and Lowrie to injury, were also without Youkilis, Mike Lowell, J.D. Drew, Ramon Ramirez, Hideki Okajima, and Michael Bowden. I doubt they’d be over .500.

      Would Tierney then say that other GM’s are “running circles” around Theo the Supergenius?

      • Bo

        Excuses are terrific and you can throw out a bunch of ’em. But they don’t change the record.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          Cashman’s record is better than Epstein’s.

          More wins, better head-to-head record, more division titles, more playoffs, more consistently good play.

          Once you get into October, it’s a crapshoot. Anything can happen.

          (Oh, and if you want to ignore everything I just said and only judge it on titles won… then Cashman, who became the GM in 1998, still has three and Theo has two.)

          Cashman’s still outperformed Theo on all the scorecards as well.

          • Chris C.

            If you are insinuating that Cashman is in any way as good or better a GM than Theo Epstein, you’re are out of your freaken mind!

            All you have to do is look at the minor leagues, player developement, and draft classes of both and it aint even fuckin close! Not close.

            The Red Sox, as an organization, are better and have been better over the past 5-8 years in every conceivable way than the Yankees. And with a much lower payroll as well.

            Sorry, champ. Your skewed bullshit isn’t gonna fool any objective person with at least half a brain.
            Cashman’s plan of simply buying the highest priced players isn’t real inventive, and it certainly hasn’t guarenteed improvement from year to year.

            • Chris

              Since 2004, the Yankees have more wins, more division titles, better head-to-head, same number of playoffs. The only reason the Red Sox are considered so great is because they won 11 post season games in 2004 and 2007.

          • Chris C.

            “More wins, better head-to-head record, more division titles, more playoffs, more consistently good play.”

            Cashman took over in the middle of a dynasty. Zippy the chimp could have looked good under those conditions. And he still botched a few signings, waiting way too long to re-sign Jeter and Williams, which cost the Yankees about an extra 120 millon bucks.
            It’s nice not to have to worry about budgets.
            Let’s be honest here…….Cashman should really be graded from 2002 on, because that’s when most of the dynasty team took off.

            (Oh, and if you want to ignore everything I just said and only judge it on titles won… then Cashman, who became the GM in 1998, still has three and Theo has two.)

            Cashman took over in February of 1998, and your giving him credit for the 1998 title? They already had 114 win talent before he even moved into his new office!
            At least Theo Epstein had a hand in about 90% of the moves that contributed to the 2004 WS championship for his team.

            It really kills me that you put me in a position to defend the Red Sox, but your homerism knows no bounds.

  • ben

    ahhhh torre…. the green voice of wisdom. finally, some calming words that make sense and a necessary post here on RAB to give perspective. june 7 is a good date, i was saying the same thing to my wife this morning.

    this is why i come to RAB for all things yankee, there is generally a higher breed of fan here who is calmer and more rational. and the administrators are top notch in this regard as well.

  • R

    Girardi has made some mistakes and some questionable moves, but he is not the reason the team is playing like this. Look on the field, there are a lot of guys out there not doing their jobs. The outfield is like a leaking sieve. We are not getting any timely hitting and are reduced to one big inning per game. Oh, have I mentioned the growing list of casualties, Wang’s implosion, or the bullpen.

    • Chris C.

      “The outfield is like a leaking sieve. We are not getting any timely hitting and are reduced to one big inning per game.”

      Oh yeah? Well how bout this then…….if you’re a manager, and you notice that your team is CONSTANTLY striking out with men in scoring positions and less than two outs like this team is, WHY NOT SHAKE THINGS UP WITH A SQUEEZE BUNT EVERY NOW AND THEN?????

      Hell, Mike Scoscia does it, even when his team is leading, just so they can feel productive about getting that runner across.

      I’m sorry, but it’s hard to feel bad for a manager who is constantly giving the other team outs with goofy sacrifice bunts by the 7th and 8th hitters in the lineup.

      Having Ramiro Pena bunt runners into scoring position for Jose Molina does not sound to me like a manager that wants to score alot of runs, or has any idea how. Couldn’t believe my eyes when that happened two weeks ago.

      • R

        Bunting in the American League is completely useless. The AL is a hitters league. Now if you want them to steal more bases, I agree 100%.

        Having Ramiro Pena and Jose Molina in the lineup everyday is not Girardi’s fault, it’s the only option he has.

        Again, he’s not blameless, but this is a POORLY constructed team.

  • Steve S

    I dont agree with this but I think Joe might be in trouble if its doesnt turn around in the next couple of weeks. You forgot to mention that they lost their first five against the Sox, which shouldnt be a reason for firing him but it will be.

    I dont know what he could have done about any of the issues but I guess thats why he gets paid. You expected CC and Tex to get off to a slow start but were hoping that one wouldnt. You knew the bullpen would take some time to gel, and it still is. You knew that Posada was fragile, and he is. You hoped that Gardner could prove he belonged but he didnt. You knew Wang might not be 100% coming into April, he wasnt. All things that arent Joe’s fault but you wonder if a manager could have done something.

  • Yankeegirl49

    Well said Ben!

    And well said by the poster named Ben too!

    Im done reading the “amateur” bloggers. I read one last night that made my blood boil.
    This is what was said in that one:”Now back to the problem….Joe Girardi. When will this guy get it? Why is he taking out Mo in that situation? Does he not listen to sports radio or fans or reporters?”

    Yeah, I want my manager managing based upon what reports, fans and radio hosts think. Give me a break….

    • A.D.

      Does he not listen to sports radio or fans or reporters?”

      Yankees should save the millions a year on a manager and just do a text poll for every managing decision.

      • Yankeegirl49

        That line in that blog might be one of the stupidest things I have ever read. Wait..no, not might be..IS!

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

          There is at least one Yankees blogger calling for the head of…wait for it…Kevin Long.

          Basically, in the mind of the collective Yankee fan, management is full of idiots and we are all smarter than they are.

          • Yankeegirl49

            Oh, I have been reading that for a while now, along with the head of Eiland.

            I really need to stop reading all the other blogs and just stay here.

            • Accent Shallow

              At what point do you consider firing Eiland, if the pitching staff continues to underperform? The All-Star break? At the end of the year?

              Calling for his head now is a knee-jerk reaction, but he can’t be untouchable.

              • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

                Absolutely agreed, Accent. The problem is that we as fans are so far detached from the daily goings on that it’s difficult for us to speculate on causality. As such, it should take far longer than a month to determine whether Eiland is at the heart of the matter. How long it will take I’m not sure. I’d probably say the season, but if it’s business as usual by the end of June I can see the Yankees taking action.

                • Yankeegirl49

                  I dont say he should be untouchable, but IMO a pitching coach is there more for the young guys than the vets. You cannot tell me CC & AJ forgot how to pitch. Joba and Hughes are familiar with Eiland, he has helped in their development and helped get them where they are. I would like to see a larger sample from the whole staff before saying we are losing games because the pitching coach sucks.

                • Derby
          • Yankeegirl49

            Oh and BTW Joe..Im stealing that last line for my FB status, because I have way too many friends that it fits perfectly!

            • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

              Damn, now I wish I had put it more eloquently :)

              • Yankeegirl49

                Well, if you had then everyone would know it wasnt mine, cause Im anything but eloquent!

      • Accent Shallow
  • A.D.

    Girardi isn’t making weird line-up decisions, and while he’s been mixing and matching a pit too much in the pen its at least somewhat due to the fact that outside of Mo and Coke no one has and ERA under 4. Otherwise there isn’t much he can do he can’t make guys hit sac flys, and trying a suicide squeeze just to plate a run looks too desperate for an offense that should break out.

    That said 8 relievers is too many, especially given one is a long man that can eat 3 innings at a time. If Aceves is up they need 6 relievers total at most, and take those 2 spots and bring up a serviceable bat. My guess is they’re waiting for A-Rod to come off the DL so then DFA Berroa & bring up a more ML ready catcher, but I still don’t see why some bat can’t be brought up to pinch hit.

    • CT Yankee

      Good point whats the difference between 8 relievers with 5 that suck vs 7 relievers with 4 that suck

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        1.

        (You asked…)

    • Chris C.

      “Otherwise there isn’t much he can do he can’t make guys hit sac flys, and trying a suicide squeeze just to plate a run looks too desperate for an offense that should break out.”

      Making sure you plate a run is desperate?????

  • Accent Shallow

    Watching the team fail to hit with RISP is incredibly frustrating. I’d imagine this has one of three causes:

    A) Hitting with RISP is essentially the same as hitting without RISP, and as such, the Yankees have been unlucky. This should correct itself a bit over the course of the season.

    B) The hitters lack a certain skill set (ability to avoid Ks, ability to make hard contact consistently) that opposing pitchers are able to exploit

    C) A failure of the coaching staff and the hitters to prepare fully

    The only answer that really makes sense to me is “A”, and possibly our perception of the problem is magnified due to a poor bottom third of the lineup.

    This knowledge doesn’t make watching the games any less irritating, though.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

      As to Point A, I think it hits on something lost on most baseball fans (and humans in general). Baseball players have skills which allow them to swing a round stick and hit a round ball. There is no denying that. Otherwise we’d see huge fluctuations from year to year and there would be no “superstars.” So there is measurable skill in a baseball player which allows him to hit a baseball with more or less frequency than his peers.

      However, the timing of these hits is mostly random. Why? Because there are other variables: most importantly the pitcher, but the situation, the way the player is currently swinging, and hell, even the player’s emotions. So the ability to hit .300 might be inherent in some players, but the timing of those hits is left mostly to randomness.

      • http://eemack.blogspot.com Jackson

        You have no idea how many arguments I’ve gotten into about the idea of clutch, re: it’s non existence.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

          I don’t think it doesn’t exist. Hitters in clutch situations are still prone to all the variables above, and are still the benefactors of their skill sets. Perhaps the perceived ability of clutch has to do with a player’s ability to better control one of the variables (emotions, maybe). Yet, again, this is not something easily proven.

          • TC

            Tex last night is the perfect example of this. He gets the clutchest of clutch hits in the 8th and then fails to get a run home from 3rd w/ less than 2 outs in the 10th.

            So is he clutch, or not? If he hits that 2-0 fastball a few fractions of an inch closer to the sweetspot, we maybe singing a different tune.

            It is what it is, and Tex will have just as many situations where he will come through in that situation.

          • http://eemack.blogspot.com Jackson

            Yeah, I kind of agree with you, I think the major crux of the argument is that some of my friends believe someone can raise their ability in a “clutch” situation. Which is just not possible. However, I defintiely believe that someone who doesn’t have total control over their emotions can reduce their ability through nerves. So I guess in essence the idea of clutch does exist in someone who is better able to maintain a certain level of ability.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

              It’s not “clutch” that exists.

              It’s the lack of “clutch” that exists.

              There’s not really any players in any sport who get demonstrably better in big situations, but there are players who get worse in big situations. Because they let the pressure get to them.

              • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

                We should reference this thread whenever someone talks about clutch. I think it’s one the most well-reasoned discussions of it we’ve had.

                • Bo

                  If you don’t think there’s a thing called “clutch” you aren’t watching baseball or sports in general.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

                  If you don’t think there’s a thing called “clutch” you aren’t watching baseball or sports in general.

                  If “clutch” exists, show it to me, Grantbo, I beg of you.

                • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

                  So here we have this reasoned discussion about the perception of clutch, but Bo’s word, without any support, is the final word.

            • Ed

              I think the major crux of the argument is that some of my friends believe someone can raise their ability in a “clutch” situation.

              It’s not really about raising your ability. As you hinted at a little, it’s about controlling your nerves and also your mental focus.

              Some people get nervous under pressure and don’t perform as well. Other people focus better with some pressure. And everyone has a limit of how much pressure they can handle.

              • dkidd

                clutch hitting does not exist
                choking does exist

                • dkidd

                  maybe clutch does exist, but only as the lack of choking

    • TC

      The Yankees had no problems hitting with RISP during their most recent 4 game winning streak, so I’m also inclined to say that “A” is the most logical answer.

      Of course, that is not to say that there isn’t a lack of mental preparation by the players in these situations, but I think that’s a short term issue rather than one that will continue throughout the season.

  • MattG

    My only complaint, and it is a big one, is that Rivera has not pitched enough. He should’ve pitched the 10th yesterday, he should’ve been in the KC game in the eighth, and Girardi should have used him against Boston, even while down a run, to try and win a game. If you’re going to go down, make them beat your best.

    But this is not really a criticism of Girardi, because any manager (except Francona) does the same thing.

    What message would’ve had sent the team to replace Joba with Mariano Rivera, down one in the sixth inning? That is an undeniable rallying cry from your manager. It’s like Adrian telling Rocky to “Win.” And although I really do not believe in Ra-Ra crap in baseball, that would’ve moved me if I were on the field.

    When you’re stuck in a rut like this, something like that can turn it around.

    • MattG

      In English, that sentence would read, “What message would he have sent the team…”

    • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Aunt Becca-Optimist Prime

      They do have to be careful with Rivera–

      I can’t believe this, but why does everyone seem to forget he has shoulder surgery last year?

      He’s probably still building up arm strength!

      • MattG

        You know what, I will except this criticism when the use someone else to protect a 3 run lead in the 9th inning. If you’ve only got a couple of bullets in the chamber, don’t be aiming at mosquitoes.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

      Could not agree more. To think that the media might be the biggest deterrent in a manager properly utilizing his bullpen. The reason managers save their closers for the ninth, they say, is that they’d get heat for using him earlier and having a lesser reliever blow it later. Yet that lesser reliever could just as easily have blown it earlier, relegating the closer to a futile position on the bench.

      You can win or lose a game in each of the nine frames. Why put yourself out of the game earlier than necessary?

      • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt ACTY

        You can win or lose a game in each of the nine frames. Why put yourself out of the game earlier than necessary?

        Because the save is the most important stat in baseball.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          Every save equals a win for your team.

          Therefore, Fransisco Rodriguez is the best baseball player ever.

      • Joe R

        While I dont think it would be bad to use your closer in the tougher spots wether it be 7-8-9, I’d imagine the reason is that if one of the relievers give up a run in say the 7th or 8th, you have more time to make up the run(s) than you would if he blows it in the 9th.

        • Clayton

          However the converse is also true. If you hold a 1-run lead in the 6th, you have more innings to tack on additional runs to make a non-save situation.

  • JackC

    I would respectfully disagree with many of the posters who seem to feel Girardi is, if not blameless, then certainly not a major component of the team’s rank mediocrity. I don’t think the injuries are his fault, o course. Nor for that m,atter, the roster composition and weak bullpen entirely his fault, either (tho I fail to see how reasonable people don’t see how he has played a part inthe bullpen’s ineffectuality). But as for hitting with RISP, I would point out that has been a problem since last year, and that it is more than simply a matter of mathmatics and averages. It seems a silly argument to make, as it completely discounts the psychological component of the game.

    It’s tough to argue that, for lack of a better time, the culture of the team the last two years, hasn’t been that of a team fundamentally back on its collective heels and, more often than not in big spots, waiting for a way to fail. If the manager isn’t accountable for this, what exactly is he accountable for, then? This may be a bit harsh but I feel it’s at least closer to the truth than the somewhat naive “they’ll come out of it eventually” mantra. I fail to see how we can’t — indeed, logically, must — hold Girardi’s feet to the fire when it seems clear the team has, for a year and counting now, looks lifeless mroe games than not.

    I also hear and symptahize with the injury argument. But, it needs to be said, the Sox have also been beset by potentially damaging injuries, and they seem to do just fine. I think ultimately Cashman bears at least as much blame as Girardi, but the call for Girardi’s head may not be as reflexive and rash as people portray it. Granted, the club has been hit with injuries, but even within that context, he juggles the line up to a maddeining degree. Surely as Coke observed last week that at least a small part of the bullpen’s woes may be attributed to the fact that they don’t know their roles, the lineup isn’t really ever allowed to find its groove. The moves he makes often seem too clever by half, and his answers to the media increasingly send up the real red flags taht come when one hears a leader talking of moral victories.

    • MattG

      But just 4 games ago, they went through a 4 game stretch where they were excellent with RISP. Did Girardi forget to whisper something in their ears the last 4 games?

      No, the players must regain their confidence on their own. There is little a manager can do, outside of putting his best players in a position to impact the game. That is why he should aggressively spot Rivera, as it might, conceivably, spark a little confidence in his team.

    • R

      I agree Girardi has played a part in the ineffectiveness of that bullpen, but he doesn’t pitch the ball. These guys get paid a lot of $$ to execute. Torre was not the greatest manager of pitching staffs either, but he had quality guys he could always rely on. Giradi does not. The guys in that pen right now flat out suck. I think what you are seeing is Girardi’s total lack of confidence in anyone but Mo and Bruney when he was healthy. You are seeing with the Rays, Angels, and Sox how teams that are constructed properly can expose the Yankee weaknesses. Those teams run, and field in addition to hitting and pitching. This version of the Yankees finds it hard to beat you in any other way than a bludgeoning.

  • Whizzo the Wize

    Whizzo takes the opposite view: The team needs MORE Joe Girardis.

    Clone Joe. Make the clones play all the positions, and fill all the coaching spots.

    We will intimidate the opposition into submission through our abundance of crew cuts.

    Excelsior!!!

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    I am not a knee-jerk fan whatsoever. I lived through the late 80’s and early 90’s, Chuck Cary, Jeff Johnson, Steve Sax…..the whole nine yards. If it wasn’t for the Yankees, I’d probably be a fan of a small-market, development-oriented team. In other words, I have patience in spades.

    I don’t think calling for Girardi’s, Eiland’s, or Long’s head is knee-jerk, nor is it an uneducated response.

    Simply put, this is the second straight year we find ourselves stumbling out of the gate with a collection of players who should be playing better. Injuries or whatnot, who is on the field should be getting the job done a lot more than they actually are. Last year, the hole we dug for ourselves at the start of the year turned out to be insurmountable. While we’re not 10 games under .500 yet this season, the same streakiness as I saw last year could easily lead us there. Yes, we could use a bit better positional player depth, and our 40-man roster composition is a joke. However, it is not just one of our pitchers who is underperforming. It’s practically all of them.

    When you find yourself looking at consecutive seasons of a team that doesn’t look ready, with a pitching staff that doesn’t look ready, you look at management. Mike Francesa wants everyone traded. I think Mike Francesa is a tool. I do, however, blame management for not putting a team on the field that was ready on Day One.

    I’m a Miami Dolphin fan. For years, under the final years of Don Shula, the Dolphins were known for their December collapses. I don’t want the “April and May stumble” to become part of the Yankee culture. Sorry.

    Just my $0.02. Absolutely feel free to disagree.

    • MattG

      The Yankees have a disadvantage. They can never actually be ready for a season, because as baseball ready as they might be, their daily routine is always mitigated by outside pressures.

      It always takes the Yankees time to get into their routine. I blame the scrutiny, the roster turnover, and Selena Roberts. Supposedly, Joe Torre was some sort of master at insulating the team, but they always started badly under Joe, too.

      They should get over it and play great baseball anyway, but when they don’t, it is easy to look at the group and think, “They’re not ready to play.”

      • Chris C.

        “The Yankees have a disadvantage. They can never actually be ready for a season, because as baseball ready as they might be, their daily routine is always mitigated by outside pressures.”

        Yeah, the Royals and Pirates agree…….the Yankees are at a tremendous disadvantage.

    • Nady Nation

      I understand where you’re coming from, but last year was pretty extreme with injuries. You gotta remember back to ’05 and ’07 under Torre, when the team got off to worse starts than this year, yet still managed to make the playoffs both years. I think Girardi needs the full season to manage the team. If we’re talking about a second straight season of failing to make the playoffs come October, then I agree that his job will, and should, be in doubt.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        What’s the solution, though?

        I was going back and forth with a Sox fan on FB following the first sweep, and one of the things I said to them was the Yankees seem to play like they just assume they’re going to win tomorrow, while the Sox are playing like they are making no assumptions and want to win today. That’s just messed up. You’re right as well……this same thing was happening under Torre, which is why I honestly thought his time was up as well.

        I never fall for tabloid fodder, but I find myself wondering if Bobby V could change the culture of this team a lot lately, and hate myself just as much for falling for this sort of thing.

        Could Mo have pitched to Pena? Maybe. You need to trust the guys you’ve got out there, though. Coke can’t be perfect, but he certainly hasn’t been the problem so far in the bullpen either.

        • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt ACTY

          I said to them was the Yankees seem to play like they just assume they’re going to win tomorrow, while the Sox are playing like they are making no assumptions and want to win today

          You just fell for tabloid fodder. This is the stuff I can’t stand. Do you honestly think the Yankees go out there and say “Meh. This game ain’t too important. I think I’ll take the day off.”? Come on, that’s ridiculous. They got beat because of on-field reasons, not because of lack of heart or lack of caring. They got beat because the Sox scored more runs than them and gave up fewer.

          • Chris C.

            “They got beat because the Sox scored more runs than them and gave up fewer.”

            They got beat because the Sox know how to get runs in every conceivable way, while the Yankees sit around waiting for the longball.

            The Sox are built to win in about 100 different ways, which is why they have a better GM than the Yankees do.
            If you are an objective observer, it really isn’t that difficult to see this.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          What’s the solution, though?

          Patience.

          • Bo

            Did patience work last year? Sometimes its better to pull the plug earlier than later if something isn’t working.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

              Did patience work last year?

              The fact that you asked this question with a straight face means you don’t understand what patience is or how it works.

              [ facepalm ]

  • Yankeegirl49

    I’m a Dolphin fan too..if you care :)

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      I always care. :)

  • The first Fan/Manager

    Why couldn’t Rivera pitch the 10th? Or at least to Pena to keep him in the park?

    • Bo

      Because that isn’t managing “by the book” and Girardi has never had a unique managerial decision in his tenure.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        Because that isn’t managing “by the book” and Girardi has never had a unique managerial decision in his tenure Mariano Rivera is recovering from shoulder surgery and the team is not going to pitch him multiple innings until late in the season.

        OH NOOES WITH THE EXCUSEZ!!!!!!!!!!!!1!!!11!!!!!!

  • The first Fan/Manager

    And although I do quite a bit of second guessing… I actually brought that up to everyone in the room before the inning began

  • Ajay

    The scary thing is this pattern we seem to fall into every year. It’s only April,May etc….That’s all we have been doing for the past few years is make excuses on why this team is better than what they put up. On paper we look good but on the field is what counts and it is what is it is with these guys. We have absolutely no ability in manufacturing runs. We sit on the home run ball. When we hit more home runs than the other team we win,when we don’t we lose. Girardi can’t play small ball because we only have a few players that even fit that mold. Everyone else at the plate does nothing but swing for the fences. Sorry to say but I don’t think it will get much better than this. Even with everyone healthy on this team you can’t teach one dimensional sluggers how to get those villages we leave on the base paths home.

    • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt ACTY

      Small ball does not work. It doesn’t. It costs you runs over the long term. Getting on base and hitting for power, something the Yankees do just as well as anyone in the league, is how you manufacture runs. The Yankees don’t, and shouldn’t, play much small ball. They’re not built that way. Why? Because having a bunch of guys at the bottom of the order to sac bunt isn’t helpful. Twice this year the Yankees have bunted to get to BRETT GARDNER. Think about that. One time it worked and BG got a sac fly up in Boston but you traded two outs for one run–that’s not efficient. Last night, they bunted w/Gardner to get to Melky, Pena, and Molina. I understand Pena got hosed on a bad call or whatever but why would you bunt with those hitters coming up? It doesn’t make sense. Even Gardner should be allowed to swing away in that spot because the chances he grounds into a DP are pretty small. Even if he ends up making an out, at least he could see some pitches first and not just GIVE the defense an out when the Yankees didn’t have many to spare.

      • Ajay

        And that is why we will be sitting home in October once again. Come playoff time good pitching stops good hitting. Good luck trying to hit for power against the Roy Halladays,Scott Kazmir’s etc. Small ball doesn’t work? Did the Rays slug there way to the World Series last year?

        • http://eemack.blogspot.com Jackson

          Did the Yankees slug there way to the Playoffs 13 seasons in a row?

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            Yes, they did.

        • Rick in Boston

          ALDS – 6 HR’s (.507 slugging), 7 SB
          ALCS – 16 HR’s (.508 slugging), 10 SB
          WS – 4 HR (.576 slugging), 7 SB

          Um…yeah, they did slug their way in – 20 HR’s.

          • pat

            Damn I was looking for their cumulative playoff stats where’d you find them?

            • Rick in Boston

              responded partially to the wrong one – BRef.

        • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt ACTY

          They didn’t have great hitting, no, but they had good pitching (and a little bit of luck on the health side of things). What about the World Series winning Phillies? They hit the shit out of the ball.

          • Ajay

            Bottom line is your saying we should hit for power. Come playoff time you face pretty good pitching. So your saying we should sit back and wait for someone to hit a home run rather than try to do the little things to get on base and start the merry go round? Did you not watch the Tigers playoff series a few years back? They took your apporach and we were shown the exit out of the playoffs rather quickly.

            And to Jackson:
            And no we did not slug our way for 13 years into the playoffs. Once Giambi came over that is when things started to trend that way. For our 4 rings we did everything. Timely hitting,advancing runners, good pitching etc. We didn’t have 20 million dollar superstars roaming every position.

            • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt ACTY

              1998: .825 OPS, 1st in AL
              1999: .819 OPS, 3rd in AL
              2000: .804 OPS, 6th in AL
              2002: .809 OPS, 1st in AL
              2003: .810 OPS, 2nd in AL
              2004: .811 OPS, 2nd in AL
              2005: .805 OPS, 2nd in AL
              2006: .824 OPS, 1st in AL
              2007: .829 OPS, 1st in AL

              I’d say their slugging was a pretty big part in their success. They didn’t win in the playoffs because of lack of pitching, not lack of hitting.

              I think in ’06 the problem was the pitching giving up 5.5 runs per game to the Tigers. No matter what style of offense you have, when your staff gives up that many runs, you’re probably not gonna be too successful. What good would bunting and “small ball” have been against the Tigers? Probably not too good.

              • pat

                OPS =/= what I saw with my own two eyes.

              • Ajay

                Now lets look playoff wise at there OPS.
                Small sample size.
                Again Good pitching stops good hitting.

                2005:.347 OPS
                2006:.677 OPS
                2007:.300 OPS

                • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt ACTY

                  You cherry picked three years out of 13. Good for you.

                  Yeah, good pitching is good. Real good. Tell me: what would small ball have done except give those pitchers easier outs? What would it have done? You haven’t argued that side at all.

                • Ajay

                  I am not saying for every guy to bunt. But we do not need 6 guys who hit 35+ hr’s,can’t play defense,can’t run the bases and strikeout way to often. Like someone said earlier we need guys who can hit up and down the lineup and do the little things that win ball games. Clearly by us playing the mash the ball hasn’t worked for I don’t know the last 9 years maybe it is time for change. Yes the home run balls puts fans in the seats and adds an rbi to the stats but this team lives soley off of that. We need to be a little bit more of a rounded team rather than 6 or 7 DH’S running around here.

          • Rick in Boston

            B-REF totals playoffs stats for you.

            It also helps to get rid of the “Rays Small-Ball” fallacy:

            they ranked 4th in the AL in homers last year. They did lead the league in steals, too, but that was really three guys (Upton, Crawford, Bartlett), as well as CS. They were a well-balanced ball club – four guys with double-digit steals, seven with double-digit homers. They also only needed starts from nine starters, which is extremely lucky.

            • pat

              Ahh ok you have to click each individual series. Once I saw they didnt have them readily available on the 2008 rays page I gave up, thanks dude.

              • Bo

                Small ball is overrated. No team wins playing what the media spins as small ball. You need real hitters up and down the lineup. They may not hit 40 homers each but they certainly got enough power. Check Bostons lineup. They won’t have anyone who hits 40 but they got 6 guys who will hit 20+

      • Chris C.

        “Twice this year the Yankees have bunted to get to BRETT GARDNER. Think about that.”

        They bunted to get to Molina once too. I’m not kidding……I wish I was. The only positive ting to say about that is they only did it once.

  • Mark

    Thank you for this.

    I have been a longtime reader and really, this kind of analysis is what makes RAB so unique and so refreshing to read. You guys (from the moderators/authors to the commentators) have always tried to provide sense and not just knee jerk reactions to the emotional rollercoaster that is baseball.

    I also agree a lot with regards to Joe G’s job. Aside from bullpen management (which i think will stabilize once the starting rotations gives us QS after QS which everyone expected at the start of the year) he has not committed a major blunder that will want someone to chop his head off. The injuries are not his fault. I expect the team to take off once everyone is in their rightful in the baseball diamond.

  • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Aunt Becca-Optimist Prime

    Reading some of these comments, you’d forget we were 11-19 just a couple of years ago.

    Last year we went 9-15 without A-Rod. This year, at worst, we’ll (likely) be 13-15. It still sucks, sure, but it’s also four games better than last year.

    Yes, we’re without Nady, Posada, Bruney, Marte and Wang for some time.

    Last year we were also without Matsui, and for all intents and purposes, Canó and Cabrera and Giambi outside of May and June.

    It’s not hopeless.

    For me the most frustrating thing is that we had a chance to win every single one of these losses, but at the same time, it’s comforting in a sense.

    We’re not getting blown out (at least, when Wang’s not starting). We keep fighting.

    Eventually that will turn into wins.

    I know I can be delusional sometimes, but this team’s not the Pittsburgh Pirates or even the Chicago Cubs.

    There’s plenty of reason for hope.

    • Tampa Yankee

      Well put.

    • Yankeegirl49

      Thank you Becca, you put into words perfectly how I see things.

    • Klemy

      While my rational side agrees with you, my not so rational side feels compelled to yell, “These guys suck.” every time we fail to score a man from third with less then 2 outs.

      It feels like every year for the past 3 or 4 seasons we’ve been getting these slow starts. While I can’t fully blame anyone in particular, it sure makes it feel easier to accept the losses by being angry at someone, no matter how rational it is. I hope they pull out of it soon.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        Solution:

        Have your rational side kill your irrational side.

        Trust me, you don’t need it and you’ll be happier once it’s gone forever.

  • JackC

    I suppose my argument is not necessairly to scream for the manager’s head so much as to ask: what, exactly, does he bring to the table? I was excited when he signed up as manager, because I thought his intelligence and intensity would set the tone, but it’s demonstrable that it hasn’t. I also think that making the argument that “he hasn’t made any major blunders” is hardly an enodresment. And, btw, I feel that, too is debabtable. His moves are often, I find, too clever by half. He has aggressivle mismanaged Rivera, I would argue, and I would also point to last seasn’s bizarre infatuation of his with Wilson Betemit. He would frequently rotate the line ups to give players a rest with the consequence that Betemit was in virtually every day. I’m all for resting players, but thre’s also something to be said for a lineup being allowed to gel, and I feel that some of that lack of gelling is Griardi’s fault (obviously the injuries are another component, and for that he is blameless).

    All this is not to say most of the blame (and, let’s bear in mind, I continually tell myself, it’s only early May) is his, or that a much larger portion of it shouldn’t be handed to Cashman; it should. But it’s the feel of the team, a team that seems like it’s expecting to lose in the big moments.

    • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt ACTY

      But it’s the feel of the team, a team that seems like it’s expecting to lose in the big moments.

      No. They’re not trying to lose. Trust me. You think Phil Coke wanted to give up a homer to Pena last night?

      I’m confident in Girardi. He’s overmanaged the ‘pen a bit this year but I think he’ll stop. He’ll see what he’s doing wrong and it’s a mistake that is easily correctable.

      I don’t see what you mean by his lack of influence on the lineup “gelling”. He’s putting the best lineup he can out there. He hasn’t switched it around too much, with the exception of the clean up spot but that’s because the guy who should be doing that is injured. The lineup’s been fine, IMO.

      • JackC

        I never said they were trying to lose; that would be silly this side of 1919 Chicago. I think, however, that they are at least half expecting to lose. That’s the difference. Again, not the manager’s fault entierely, but it’s I don’t see how we can sheild him wholly from it, either.

        • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt ACTY

          I highly doubt they’re half expecting to lose. They’re not losing because they don’t want it bad enough or because they don’t care enough…they’re losing because of on field/baseball reasons. There are tangible things they’re doing that are causing them to lose; mostly, it’s the giving up runs thing.

          • Klemy

            Well, anyone who’s ever played on a team that loses a lot knows that you show up expecting to lose when you’re in fact losing regularly. You get conditioned to it.

            While I don’t think this team fits that description, you cannot deny that losing regularly does indeed bring the expectation that you’re going to somehow find a way to lose again.

    • Whozat

      No manager really brings much to the table.

      • Yankeegirl49

        Ding, ding, ding..we have a winner.
        I have always thought a manager gets WAY too much credit when a team does well and WAY too much blame when they do not. I still believe that.

        • pat

          Wrong, Joe Torre fatherly-ed Derk Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Fear Williams and Andy Pettite into being in the prime of their careers during the Dynasty Years ® ™.

      • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt ACTY

        Yessir.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        +26

      • Klemy

        People are on their own once they step on to the field. No one is going to hit for them or throw a pitch for them, so I’d have to agree with you fully.

  • JackC

    I used to believe that a manger’s influence was usually negligable. But sometimes it does make an impact — see Bob Lemon’s demeanor onthe ’78 team. I think when it does impact the team, it does so in subtle, attitudinal ways. I would say that if the Yankees aren’t half expecting to fail in big spots, they certainly don’t appear confident.

    But all this clouds my larger point — I think we need to ask why, given their budget, they have some baffling holes in their roster (i.e. seemingly no credible position players down onthe farm to at least hold serve during injuries) . This is not GIradi’s fault at all; it is Cashman’s.

    • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt ACTY

      I talked about the roster construction thing last night, I’m not going to repeat myself. The Yankees have depth, it just doesn’t look that way because the guys who were supposed to provide depth are either injured (Nady, Bruney, Marte) or playing full time (Pena, Molina). When the team gets healthy, they’ll look much deeper.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      The 1978 Yankees had Reggie Jackson, Thurman Munson, Chris Chambliss, Lou Pinella, Willie Randolph, Graig Nettles, Ron Guidry (who had a GREAT GOOGILY MOOGILY 208 ERA+ ), Ed Figueroa, Catfish Hunter, Sparky Lyle, Goose Gossage… they were pretty stacked. They were #3 in the AL in OPS+ and #2 in the AL in ERA+.

      1978 Yankees talent >>>>>>>>>>>>> Bob Lemon’s managerial demeanor

  • Bo

    Girardi was sold to us as this new age managerial genius. A Leyland/La Russa guy for the Baseball Prospectus Era. But all I’ve seen is some by the book guy who has never made a unique move or really motivated his players. Torre had the same amount of injuries every year and he prospered and never made excuses like most of you are making right now. Torre made the playoffs with starting pitchers who couldn’t pitch this year for Scranton. There is too much talent for this team to flounder. He’ll have about 2 weeks from the day A-Rod gets back. Otherwise, we’ll be hearing a ton about Bobby V, Pena or some other vet manager.

    • pat

      There is too much talent for this team to flounder.

      Yet this is somehow the manager’s fault? A team full of great players has failed to meet expectations and it is the manager’s fault.

      Does anybody else see how ridiculous that is?

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        When it’s one guy, yes, it’s ridiculous. When you have the majority of 13 (!!) pitchers underperfoming, is it still “you’re on your own when you’re on the field?”

        I see what everyone’s saying, and it makes logical sense, but there is something beyond individual abilities that continues to be wrong with this franchise.

        Rebecca asked whether we’ve forgotten that we were 11-19 at this point two years ago. For me, it’s that I haven’t forgotten, and do not think we should be continuing to assume that July and August are going to be better every year. ‘Wait until everyone’s back!” and “Wait until we’re warmed up!” We’ve been lucky that’s been somewhat true the past few years. April and May needs to be played like July and August and, yes, maybe I am falling for tabloid fodder, but I just have not seen that from this team in years.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          I see what everyone’s saying, and it makes logical sense, but there is something beyond individual abilities that continues to be wrong with this franchise.

          What is it, then? Because all the alternative theories that have been floated other than “It’s just guy’s individual abilities, and it’s bound to change” don’t hold up to logical examination.

          Here’s the one theory I’ll give you: Putting aside the injury reasons why we often start slow, it may be true that some of the guys on this team start slow and have bad Aprils because we as a fanbase saddle them with unrealistic expectations and then punish them mercilessly when they fail to meet those expectations.

          Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia are both healthy but drastically underperforming their career norms. And they’ve been getting booed. By Yankee fans. Maybe they’re pressing and trying to hard because they want to hit homers every AB or strike out the side every inning because they’re trying to avoid getting booed at home by the idiot asshole Yankee fans who would boo their own players.

          There’s that theory: that it’s our fault. That we, as fans, are the ones who should be blamed for putting our own players in impossibly pressurized situations CONSTANTLY and taking them out of their comfort zone.

  • Sal

    If the blame isn’t on the manager who gets it?

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Nobody gets the blame because THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH ANY OF THE PROCESSES OR PROCEDURES IN PLACE. Sometimes you do all the important things right and just don’t get the result you want. People are hurt and people are slumping, and we’ve had a slow start but are still quite firmly in the hunt for the title. The people who have performed poorly aren’t likely to continue to perform poorly forever; the people who are hurt won’t be gone forever, they’ll return. The bad breaks we’ve had (like, for example, countless run-scoring doubles and triples where nobody scores because the ball bounces over the wall and becomes a ground-rule double… that’s happened at least, what, 10 times to us so far?) won’t all break against us all season long.

      All of this is just useless overreacting. Sound and fury signifying nothing.

  • JimT

    I know that Brian Cashman is well regarded on this blog and escapes most criticism but befoer you throw your manager to the wolves you might look at the GM’s performance. Joe Torre wasn’t the problem and neither is Joe Giardi. For most of this decade and certainly for the past four years the organization depth of the Yankees has been poor. That’s not the fault of the field managers.

    Injuries befall every team. Sometimes they come one or two at a time and have little impact and other times they come in bunches and cripple a team. Every team has to deal with them so no whining about injuries.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

      I will fight you to the death over the belief that Joe Torre and his poor, poor managerial and strategy decisions in the 2004 ALCS were directly responsible for the Yanks’ losing.

      Cashman’s current roster construction is questionable, and Mike’s writing that up for a 1:30 post. But Torre was a big part of why the Yanks lost in 2004.

      • JimT

        Please no death matches, besides Torre is in the past. The real question is Chasman’s roster construction and even more important the overall health and depth of the Yankees as an organization. I just happen to believe that Cashman gets to skate on those issues. He gets kudos for signing big ticket FA that in most cases only the Yankees can afford and doesn’t get get brought to task for letting any number of other teams surge ahead in player development.

        Maybe the problem isn’t Cashman at all but the impatience and unrealistic expectations of Yankee fans and senior management. Perhaps even the Yankees with all of their resources can’t reload both the parent club and the farm system at once. The Yankees may be victums of thier own expectations, where anything but a WS victory is considered failure providing them less time, money and energy to reload from below.

  • JackC

    “The 1978 Yankees had Reggie Jackson, Thurman Munson, Chris Chambliss, Lou Pinella, Willie Randolph, Graig Nettles, Ron Guidry (who had a GREAT GOOGILY MOOGILY 208 ERA+ ), Ed Figueroa, Catfish Hunter, Sparky Lyle, Goose Gossage… they were pretty stacked. They were #3 in the AL in OPS+ and #2 in the AL in ERA+.”

    All the more curius then that they floundered so tangibly under Martin and until Lemon arrived. The newspaper strike also helped enoprmously. But that, too, goes toshow there’s a big pyschological part of this

  • http://conservationvalue.blogspot.com Jon G

    I don’t necessarily think Girardi is to blame, but:
    – I think we need a new pitching coach. Why the team has such a horrible ERA with all this talent is beyond me. Where is Mazzone?

    – I don’t like how Cash has handled all this. Why not some pop on the bench. We sure could use it, and even if Shelley is an AAA Babe Ruth, catch him while he’s hot and let him add some pop when it’s needed! Give Miranda a shot.

    Do you think if Ajax can stop k’ing so much, and with Gardner not hitting well (yet at least – he always seems to take some time to pick things up at the next level), he’d be more likely to be considered for an MLB run about now..?