Girardi, Manuel handle their players differently

RAB Live Chat
Yanks far more popular than the Mets

For the past three and a half years, I’ve been writing my own brand of game recaps. Little has changed between then and now. The formula seems to work: find the three most important points of the game and elaborate on them. There’s some chronological narration in there, but that’s only when the chronology is important.

This year, though, one thing changed. I started watching the postgame coverage to hear what Girardi has to say about what transpired. This is mostly to get the rationale for various maneuvers: why X came in to pitch when he did, why did he take Y out of the game, why didn’t Z pitch? It’s been valuable. Even when I don’t agree with his rationale, at least I know where he’s coming from.

I’m not sure how Girardi acted last year — the media seemed a bit harsh on him, and I don’t know if that has to do with how he spoke about the players or just his general demeanor. This year, though, he seems like an affable character. He answers questions as they are asked, and he speaks very well. I’ve actually enjoyed hearing him speak about the game, even after a loss.

What I’ve noticed is that he deflects the blame away from the players. When asked on Tuesday about A.J. Burnett‘s performance, Girardi said “I’ll take the blame” for pitching him on a week’s rest. When reporters reached Burnett, they ended up talking about Joe taking the blame, rather than laying an inquisition on him. It might seem like a small deal, but as A.J. intimated, he appreciated it.

Even more recently, Girardi noted the team’s second-inning failures as a reason the Yanks dropped the Wednesday night affair. There was but one gaffe in the second, and it was Nick Swisher‘s baserunning error. True, Girardi volunteered the quote, but even in doing so he didn’t put the blame right on the player, even when the player clearly deserved it.

As Ken Rosenthal notes, “Joe Torre’s greatest strength as Yankees manager was his ability to deflect attention away from players.” It seems Girardi has learned from that. It’s his team, and he’s out to protect his team from the frothy-mouthed press. Again, I’m sure the players appreciate this at least a little. No one wants to be thrown under the bus by his own manager.

This is in contrast to Girardi’s cross-town counterpart, Jerry Manuel, who seems all too eager to open up about his players, for good and especially for bad. Rosenthal notes some of Manuel’s more pronounced criticisms of his team, including his desire to strangle Ryan Church. You’ll also remember that Manuel grew particularly frustrated with Jose Reyes last year, saying “next time he [throws a tantrum] I’m going to get my blade out and cut him.” That came after the first at bat during Manuel’s first game as Mets’ manager.

The best example of their differences can be illustrated with Manuel’s criticism of Mike Pelfrey last week. The starter, pitching on five days’ rest instead of the normal four, got smoked by the Pirates. Afterward, Manuel said, “I was a little discouraged at Mike being where he was today after getting a day off, and kind of knowing what we needed and just not having it. That was kind of disheartening, because we really needed this game today.” Contrast that with how Girardi handled the press when Burnett threw with an extra couple days’ rest.

(And I’m sorry, even if you like Manuel’s in-your-face, tell-it-like-it-is style, it’s ridiculous to call an extra day’s rest a “day off.” We hear over and over again that pitchers are creatures of habit. It’s not that extra rest excuses a poor performance, but it certainly can’t be viewed as a day where the guy dips his toes in the pool, sips fruity rum drinks, and then goes to sleep on top of a pile of money surrounded by many beautiful women.)

I’ll agree with Rosenthal when he says:

I certainly appreciate Manuel saying, “We can’t keep sugar-coating things because that’s not real.” But while I like Manuel a great deal, I’m not sure I would like playing for him.

It’s always refreshing to hear someone tell it like it is. However, that’s shouldn’t be the first priority of a manager. The chief concern is to keep everyone playing at their peaks. It means creating an atmosphere where the players want to go out and fight for you every day. Is that what Manuel accomplishes by constantly pointing out his players’ shortcomings and mistakes?

Having never worked in MLB, and having never been inside a clubhouse, I’m not going to make that call. However, as we saw in the Torre years, the manager’s ability to manage the perception of his players is no secondary task. Is Manuel doing his players a service by outing them to the press? I’m not sure, but I’ll definitely agree with Rosenthal’s conclusion:

The question, in the end, is accountability. Manuel is right to hold his players accountable, but he need not do it so publicly. Accountability also works both ways. It can’t always be someone else’s fault.

Personally, I prefer a manager who handles the press and his players like Girardi, rather than like Manuel and Ozzie Guillen. Clearly, others have different ideas. So, as always, fire away.

RAB Live Chat
Yanks far more popular than the Mets
  • Bo

    So, they both stink.

    • http://www.supertangas.com The man with 33 fingers

      Yep they do.

      Don’t forget to go to MLB.com and vote for all Yankees for the AL and all Nationals for NL(plus Manny).

      • Andy in Sunny Daytona

        I vote for Candela from Argentina.

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

          I’m still waiting for Tahiticora from France to be topped. She’s got ridiculous backside.

      • http://anewfrontier.wordpress.com Pablo Zevallos

        Don’t forget to go to MLB.com and vote for all Yankees for the AL and all Nationals Natinals for NL(plus Manny).

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

      Thank you, Jay Sherman.

      • I Remember Celerino Sanchez

        You should ignore him. He wants the reaction you guys give him.

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

        And Joe wrote above:

        ”…goes to sleep on top of a pile of money surrounded by many beautiful women”

        Two independent “The Critic” references by two different people in the same thread. That’s gotta be a sign of the apocalypse.

        How awkward.

    • A.D.

      vintage

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

        I need a facepalm for that one. Little help?

        • jsbrendog

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          • http://anewfrontier.wordpress.com Pablo Zevallos

            You need a life.

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

              That was just copy and pasting. Why do you insist on picking fights with so many other RAB commenters?

              • Mike Pop

                Leave my boy Jsb alone.

                Dude watches Monday Night Raw!

                • jsbrendog

                  word life.

                • King of Fruity Hypos

                  I’m in awe….

                  Cervelli=C, JoPo=DH, Godzilla=cheers and claps

            • jsbrendog

              and you need an oaktag.

              oaktag.

              youre welcome

  • A.D.

    Has there been a manager in recent memory that calls his players out, such as Manuel, and had success? I know Ozzie is the “in-your-face”, and has the WS ring, but does he throw individual players under the bus like Manuel does?

    • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

      He went on a rant the other day when Alexei Ramirez couldn’t get a bunt down.

      • Drew

        lol didn’t he say the whole team deserved to be in the minors? Something like, “back in my day, these guys wouldn’t even be here.”

        • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

          Yeah, he said something along those lines.

      • V

        And then Alexei promptly hit a homerun in game 2 of the DH.

        • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

          Which I’m sure killed a rally.

          • Mike Pop

            Ietc

      • matthagggs

        From a few years agao but here are some of Ozzie’s greatest hits:

        “Last season he suggested White Sox pitcher Damaso Marte was faking an injury, blamed veteran hitter Frank Thomas for contributing to the team’s prior bad attitude and called former White Sox player Magglio Ordonez a piece of shit.”

        http://tinyurl.com/m5tmw4

        • Mattingly’s Love Child

          As successful as he’s been, it’s amazing that Ozzie has kept his job this long and the players haven’t quit on him. Goes to show that you can be a complete horse’s ass if your GM is a complete horse’s ass.

          I guess the players know if they got Ozzie fired it’s not like Kenny Williams is gonna bring in someone nicer. Probably would bring in someone completely batshit insane.

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

            “I guess the players know if they got Ozzie fired it’s not like Kenny Williams is gonna bring in someone nicer. Probably would bring in someone completely batshit insane.”

            Mike Ditka.

            • Mattingly’s Love Child

              I was going to go with the president of Iran….but I couldn’t remember how to spell his name and didn’t feel like looking it up and having the FBI trace my every move for the next 6 weeks…but Ditka works too.

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

                Ahmedinejhad.

                No, I didn’t look it up.

        • V

          :rofl:

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

    “As Ken Rosenthal notes blatantly lies, ‘Joe Torre’s greatest strength as Yankees manager was his ability to deflect attention away from players.'”

    Fixed.

    • Mattingly’s Love Child

      “As Ken Rosenthal Sucka Aint Got No Juice notes blatantly lies, ‘Joe Torre’s greatest strength as Yankees manager was his ability to deflect attention away from players.’”

      Fixed. :)

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

        (golf clap)

    • Chris

      If that wasn’t Torre’s greatest strength, then what was? Certainly not bullpen management.

      • ClayBuchholzLovesLaptops

        Creating revenue for Dr. James Andrews?

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

        “If that wasn’t Torre’s greatest strength, then what was?”

        Having great timing.

  • matthagggs

    Girardi should talk to Eiland. Hopefully he has.

    Because Eiland is using a “don’t blame me” approach with Wang. While he may be right, his recent comments to the media regarding CMW are the opposite of helpful.

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

      Eiland is using a “don’t blame me” approach with Wang. While he may be right, his recent comments to the media regarding CMW are the opposite of helpful.

      I missed those comments. Link?

      • BigBlueAL

        I assume he meant the quotes of Eiland saying that he cant stand behind the mound with Wang during the games.

      • matthagggs

        This one is mostly Pete Abe’s interpretation (always dangerous), but it’s a running theme with Eiland and CMW. He says he looks fine in the pen and on the side and basically puts it all on Wang (that’s what she said).

        http://yankees.lhblogs.com/2009/06/11/what-do-do-about-wang/

      • ChrisS

        Tyler Kepner’s Bats Blog:

        In the bullpen and before games, Eiland said he likes what he sees. Then the game starts and Wang loses his consistent arm slot.

        “I can’t go stand behind the mound with him during the game,” Eiland said. “He’s got to go out there.”

        That Eiland is real jerk.

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

          Yeah, what an asshole.

          I remember Mel Stottlemyre standing right behind Doc Gooden and Kenny Rogers constantly.

          • matthagggs

            Just saying, Joe points out how Girardi takes blame and deflects attention. His pitching coach kinda doesn’t.

            And if you believe the beat writers, the difference in the relationship between CMW and Guidry and CMW and Eiland is pretty noticeable in a negative way. Whether that is contributing to his ERA of nine zillion who knows, but it can’t help.

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

              I take issue with that statement from Eiland, too. He might be right, but he doesn’t need to basically say “wasn’t me” to the press. CMW is, after all, a member of the Yankees pitching staff. Eiland oversees the pitching staff. So to say “wasn’t me” when one of your guys isn’t performing just doesn’t fly.

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

                Meh, I guess that quote just rubs you the wrong way more than it does me.

                I think Eiland is perfectly accurate in his comments and I don’t see any “throw Wang under the bus” moment in it at all. Ozzie Guillen called Magglio Ordonez a “piece of shit”. All Eiland is saying is “he knows what he has to do, now he has to go do it.”

    • JP

      I’ve always wondered what, if anything, pitching coaches really do. Come on. Leo Mazzone was the Maharishi of pitching coaches, and he flopped with Baltimore, right? Were they any better under him? Rick Peterson, in Oakland, v. Shea?

      I haven’t checked the numbers, but I have yet to see anyone prove to me, with numbers, that pitching coaches have any profound effect on their staff’s performance.

      Maybe they do. Maybe some of you guys who have pitched can say.

      I am reminded of Lee Trevino’s answer to his question about whether he had a swing coach: “As soon as I find a coach who can beat me, I’ll hire him.” Dave Eiland coaching…any of these guys? What was Dave Eiland as a pitcher?

      All you hear pitching coaches talk about today are pitch/inning usage things and mechanics. Ever heard of “paralysis by analysis?” How many golfers have ruined their career trying to make themselves better by ‘improving’ their mechanics? Tiger Woods and Nick Faldo got better after changing their swing mechanics, but how do we know it wasn’t just the extra practice that did the trick, not anything specific about the mechanics.

      Maybe some guys need to simplify things, not get more complicated with mechanics and arm angles. Maybe some guys do better with a coach who says “look, up and in, and low and away. Hit the corners. End of pitching meeting.”

      I’ll take a coach or manager who can motivate a player to work harder, who can foster confidence and guts in a player, over a biomechanical technician any day.

      Not saying I’m right, just ranting. So please, correct me if I’m wrong.

      • matthagggs

        Dave Duncan has magical pitching coach powers (aside from spawning Shelly). But outside of him I tend to agree.

        • V

          See my post from yesterday – Dave Duncan’s coaching powers are limited, but the Cardinals sign the players that fit his philosophy.

          Players that didn’t include Anthony Reyes and Dan Haren.

          • Drew

            they traded harem one of their top prospects for a real good pitcher wasn’t because harem couldn’t pitch for Duncan

      • ClayBuchholzLovesLaptops

        I think the really good players make bad coaches. If they don’t struggle, they don’t have to tinker with what is working or how to get better.

        Imagine Mo as a pitching coach, what would he say to his players? “Just throw a cutter like I used to do, cut his bat in half and induce a weak ground ball”?

        • jsbrendog

          well then eiland should be a great pitching coach cause he was a terrible player

          career:

          12-27
          5.74 ERA
          465 hits in 373+ innings
          so/bb 1.30
          whip 1.563
          ERA+ 76

          how the hell did he become a piching coach? just dot suck like i did! and thats over 10 seasons

        • Mattingly’s Love Child

          I agree, yet again my pos computer went nuts when I wrote a nice thoughtout response…..here was my general point…

          Good players don’t struggle, they don’t have to look at themselves constructively. They don’t have to study their own biomechanics, because they do that stuff right without even trying. Crappy pitchers have to put in the work. How many famous/good pitchers have turned into GOOD pitching coaches? Very few.

          At the same time, there are pitching coaches that are over-rated. Mazzone springs to mind. It is easy to look good telling HoF talents like Maddux/Smoltz/Glavine to throw the ball low and away. But at the same time, the talent (or lack thereof) that he had to work with in Baltimore was pretty shatty. Bedard was the only real major leaguer in that rotation, and he’s turned out to be pretty good.

          Dave Duncan looks good because he’s a sinker/slider coach and gets guys who fit his MO. Give him some power pitchers and they/he struggle to succeed.

          • V

            TOTALLY AGREED.

            As I said above:

            See: Anthony Reyes, Dan Haren.

  • Drew

    The great thing about Joe is, you can tell when he’s pissed. There’s no guessing when he gives an answer, even if he doesn’t vent his frustrations explicitly. More than likely, if you and I are fuming about a game or an outcome, he is probably feeling it even more.

    With Manuel, it seems that he’s willing to alienate his players. Sure, once in a while a guy deserves a tongue lashing, but, that’s what the locker room is for. Coming out to the press about it is seemingly an attempt at covering his own hide.

  • BigBlueAL

    Pete Abe just posted Yankees lineup for tonight, and the OFer benched is Damon not Swisher. Although I assume its just a night off for Damon but so much for disciplining Swisher by benching him tonight after his gaffes the last 2 nights.

    • V

      I believe Ken Singleton mentioned that Damon was blinking a lot last night, and may have been dizzy and unable to focus.

      • BigBlueAL

        I assumed the blinking was just for losing the ball in the lights when he dropped that flyball considering he played the entire game but who knows could be.

        • Drew

          After that drop, he did drop to the ground and clutch his eyes. At first, I thought something was wrong but then, like you said, he stayed in the game. I hope he hasn’t hit his head on anything recently, it would suck if this was some time of concussion deal.

          • Mattingly’s Love Child

            That would be pretty damn terrible. Damon, though struggling recently, has been a huge cog in the wheel. I hope he just had a migraine or something and needed a night off!

      • ChrisS

        In one AB later in the game, I noticed Damon blinking a lot, as if his contacts (if he wears them) were dry. I didn’t see the play where referenced by Singleton, but I noticed it before anything was said on air.

    • Drew

      Ah.. That sucks.

  • Nick

    I love comments sections.

    “Let’s call it what it is and stop sugarcoating things: The Mets have absolutely no “GAMERS”, guys who do things provocative on the field or off to shake things up and get the team focused and playing with a sense that every game is important. I’m referring to guys like Paul O’Neil, Keith Hernandez, Jim Leyritz, Scott Brossius. They had guys like that in the past, but have none now. David Wright is more concerned with being the All-American Boy with the fake Colgate Smile from Virginia and Reyes is more concerned with his geri curls and hooking up with his Dominican homies on other teams than he is with winning. Neither player is a winner and neither will ever be. And don’t get me started on the Puerto Rican Contingent, Beltran and Delgado, who got Willie fired last season. It was unreal to see Randolph get the axe, but Omar Minaya and all of these gutless players got to keep their jobs!
    This mess is Omar’s fault. He’s the one who put this team together. A lot of Latin-American players just resent playing for an African-American manager. It’s not a nice thing to talk about or bring up, but it’s the truth, especially in terms of one particular country in the Caribbean. I won’t mention which one by name, but you can figure out which one.”

    • Mattingly’s Love Child

      Umm what? OAKTAG!

    • A.D.

      Paragraphs?

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

      “geri curls”… CLASSIC.

      Seriously, though, who let Robert Goulet out of his cage?

    • ChrisS

      You’re only gritty if you’re white.

  • JP

    I’ve never managed a baseball team, but I’ve been a leader. I don’t think there is one answer to “how to manage.” Every player is different, and they all react in different ways to managerial styles. While I agree that it seems cruel to call your players out to the press like Manuel does, maybe he feels this is the only way to get through to some players. By the same token, I am sure there are players who might become complacent (I won’t use the “L” word) under the influence of a calm, soothing managerial tactics.

    It’s a hard job. In the end, I don’t know how much, if any, a manager influences the performance of his team. I am pretty sure that the majority – 95% or more – of the credit for winning or losing goes to the players, though. It’s an interesting kind of debate…did the Yanks lose last night because Girardi brought in Aceves to pitch to JD Drew, or is it because CC Sabathia couldn’t get either Nick Green or Dustin Pedroia out. He gets one of those guys out, chances are much better the Yankees win. If he got both of them out, it’s about 95%.

    I disagree with many of Girardi’s decisions; I think he’s braindead with the closer thingie, but all managers are like that, so he gets a pass. I think he’s a thinking type manager overall, and I think he’s astute at handling the team longterm, resting players appropriately, keeping players fresh, etc. He does not, to me anyway, come across as baseball-arrogant, as many managers do. He has lots of energy and he seems very, very focused on winning, and he seems to really hurt when they don’t lose. In other words, he cares, alot. I think that’s important, too.

    • JohnnyC

      Stop being rational, will ya?

    • JP

      “he seems really hurt when the [lose][don’t win].”

      Fixed.

  • JohnnyC

    Sounds like Francesa after a diet coke binge.

  • V

    My new response for Lohud style “ZOMG WHY IS GIRARDI SITTING X IN PLACE OF Y” is:

    “Because he wants the Yankees to lose.”

    • jsbrendog

      iaotm

      i approve of this meme

    • ChrisS

      Obviously, I can’t believe Cashman would hire someone that purposefully wants to lose ballgames.

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

      “Because he wants the Yankees to lose.”

      It’s the Hudsucker Proxy. Hank installed Girardi as his puppet to tank the value of the team and depress the stock so he can buy Hal out.

      Brilliant.

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

        But his folksy Morgan Freeman on ludes act is eaten up by the press.

        I don’t know why Carlos Delgado got hurt… maybe his wings are just too bright to play, and it would be a sin to keep him locked in a cage at first base, and while a part of you is glad that he’s free, another part of you is sad that your world is that much more drab and gray without him.

        I guess I just miss my friend.

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

          Aw, fuck. I put the response in the wrong place and totally shortchanged the joke.

          Epic fail, ME.

          • Whitey14

            +1 for quoting “The Shawshank Redemtion”. Doesn’t matter if it was in the right spot or not my friend :-)

        • Andy in Sunny Daytona

          I still enjoyed this comment very, very much.

      • http://farm1.static.flickr.com/153/413671602_daded72a81_m.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        (You know, for the kids!)

        Love Hudsucker, but isn’t Major League the obvious movie comparison?

        • I Remember Celerino Sanchez

          SIMMONS
          I never heard of half these guys.
          And the ones I do know are way past
          their prime.

          DONOVAN
          Most of these guys never had a prime.

          BUTLER
          (pointing to the sheet)
          This guy here is dead.

          RACHEL
          Cross him off then.

        • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

          This guy here is dead.

          • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

            That’s a shot at Matsui.

  • JohnnyC

    Maybe it’s because I’m not a Mets fan but I’ve always thought Manuel came off as a phoney. But his folksy Morgan Freeman on ludes act is eaten up by the press. Even Francesa thinks he’s kind of cute in a managerial way. See what I’m saying? OTOH, Girardi rubs the beat guys the wrong way since he’s essentially not trying to be an entertainer. Girardi needs a prop when speaking to the press…maybe some green tea or doing some whittlin’ and whistlin’.

    • Drew

      Phony? You mean it like, in a good way. Like how some people use the word bad? Man, that Michael Jordan is so phony.

      • Drew

        Damnit, no one is catching what I’m throwing.

    • Ivan

      That’s why people like Torre. Torre had funny stories and you laugh with him and he had very good one-liners.

      • JohnnyC

        There you go, Girardi needs a gag writer. The team ought to hire one for him. Give him 15 minutes of material a day. Not too topical. Family friendly. Nothing blue. Natch.

        • jsbrendog

          ietc

          • Drew

            How bout girardi win instead of worrying bout gags?

            • Drew

              Hey, that’s not me.

  • Adam

    Joe Girardi just reported on mike francesa that melky bunted on his own… wtf!?

    • Bob Stone

      That was surprising. How does that happen? Melky has no right to do that. I’m glad Girardi told us because he took a lot of heat for that here on RAB (and elsewhere I’m sure).

      • Drew

        He does have the right… Joe explained to him that he wants Melky to drive the runs in, not give up an AB. The guy is 24 years old, he won’t always do the “right” thing on the diamond, he’s still learning.

    • JP

      Girardi’s National League over-managing-hit-and-run-punchless- little-roadrunner-players-run-out-of-big-innings philosophy is obviously taking over the players.