Sep
16

From the bench, pressing all the wrong buttons

By

We've all been scratching our heads lately. Credit: AP Photo/LM Otero

The last 10 games have not been kind to Joe Girardi and his Yankees. The team is 2-8 over its last 10 games and has lost three games in the standings to the now-first place Tampa Bay Rays and four to the Boston Red Sox. With 16 games left in the year, their playoff spot remains secure, but everything that could have gone wrong for the Yanks has lately. I can’t help but level some of the blame at Joe Girardi.

For the last three years, Joe Girardi has been a fine manager. He’s not an exceptionally great strategic leader, but he’s succeeded where later-years Joe Torre could not. He’s managed to take advantage of a full bullpen of arms and doesn’t burn out his best relievers. He keeps his veterans happy and, outside of a few hiccups with injuries in 2008, he has placated the New York media as well. Although the Cubs job will be open this winter, the Yankees have shown every indication that they want Joe Girardi back, and despite my current frustration with him, he ought to be managing this team come March 31, 2011.

Lately, though, as the Yanks have played through a stretch of some of the most unlucky and uninspired baseball we’ve seen since 1994, Girardi’s decisions have become easier and easier to question. He had Francisco Cervelli sacrifice bunt on a 3-0 pitch with a runner on second and no one out and later defended the move by noting that he wanted to “move up the runner.” He had Curtis Granderson, batting .270/.342/.495 over his last 231 plate appearances, sacrifice against right-hander with on a 2-0 count with a runner on first and Colin Curtis up next. These moves aren’t just bad in hindsight; they’re just flat-out bad.

Beyond that, his roster management has suffered lately as well. Since the Yanks expanded the bench, Girardi hasn’t been able to figure out which buttons to press, and he appears to be suffering from the paradox of choice. With too many players available, he isn’t making a good use of any of them. The way Girardi approached the eighth inning last night is a prime example of this problem.

With the Yanks down by a run, they had Robinson Cano, Lance Berkman and Jorge Posada due up with Austin Kearns and Colin Curtis to follow. When a lefty on the mound, Cano reached on an infield hit, and Girardi went to Marcus Thames, the team’s biggest power threat off the bench. The Rays immediately brought in a right-hander to counter Thames, and Girardi, who didn’t want Berkman facing a lefty, got burned. Thames struck out, and after Jorge Posada walked, the two bottom-of-the-order hitters couldn’t do anything. After Kearns struck out, Girardi inexplicably allowed Colin Curtis to hit for himself, and the inning ended with a groundout. While Juan Miranda isn’t much of an offensive upgrade, against Grant Balfour and with Greg Golson on the bench, it was the obvious move to make, and it’s one Girardi hasn’t been making lately.

The other questionable move came an inning earlier. Phil Hughes started the 7th with a low pitch count and got two quick and efficient outs. Once Matt Joyce reached though, the decision to let Hughes face Dan Johnson again is a questionable one made even worse when Johnson deposited his second two-run home run into the right field seats. With Boone Logan unavailable, the Yanks could have gone to Royce Ring, but that lefty hasn’t seen Major League action since 2008. Girardi could have gone with Joba Chamberlain who doesn’t give up many home runs and has been dominant of late. Instead, he rolled the dice and let Hughes face Johnson. As with so many of Girardi’s moves lately, this one cost the Yanks. For the last ten days, many moves he’s made, defensible or not, just haven’t worked out.

Girardi’s comments to the media, as Ken Davidoff wrote this week, make it clear that he’s managing with an eye toward October. He wants to keep his bullpen strong and healthy. He wants to make sure Brett Gardner and Nick Swisher, his banged-up Yankees, are feeling OK for the playoffs. Brian Cashman, too, supports this approach. “I want a team ready to play to its maximum potential in October,” the Yanks’ GM said. “I want to win the division, without question, but if I have injury problems. I don’t want guys playing with ailments that linger into October.”

Yet, I want to see the Yanks reel off a week of solid play. Let’s wrap up that playoff spot, and then rest everyone. Right now, the Yanks aren’t playing with urgency, and they aren’t being managed with much either. Maybe that’s just the reality of a six-game lead with 16 left, but the Yanks are going to have to win a few more games to get to October, and winning is something of which we’ve seen very little lately.

Categories : Musings
  • Hughesus Christo

    Very little of this has to do with preparing for October. Seeing what Berkman can do versus an October-bound lefty would be prepping for the playoffs. Same with Granderson in that kind of spot.

    He’s just screwing up. He’s panicking, and Girardi’s response to panic is to inject himself into the action.

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

      Seeing what Berkman can do versus an October-bound lefty would be prepping for the playoffs.

      No, it wouldn’t, because Berkman won’t face a lefty in the playoffs. Not with Thames around. Our order of desirability would be:

      1.) Berkman v. a righty
      2.) Thames v. a lefty

      (gap)

      3.) Thames v. a righty

      (huge gap)

      4.) Berkman v. a lefty

      Against righty starting pitchers, Berkman will start at DH. If they bring in a lefty, we’ll replace him with Thames. If that causes Thames to face a righty later in the game, so be it, it’s still better than Berkman v. a lefty.

      Berkman against a lefty in the playoffs is a situation we will avoid at all costs and likely never see.

      • Hughesus Christo

        i think we only have one each of Marcus Thames and Lance Berkman. Could be wrong!

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

          My point

          ———

          your head

          • Hughesus Christo

            Your point seemed to be that we only need on bat off the bench. I disagreed.

            • Hughesus Christo

              And I would be ASTOUNDED if Thames/Berkman got every DH start in the playoffs. I will walk to Minneapolis if that happens.

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

                Who else is getting the DH starts? Having them be co-starting DHs is exactly what they were acquired for.

                • Hughesus Christo

                  I would wager dozens of dollars that Posada and/or ARod will get DH at-bats in the playoffs.

                  • Not Tank the Frank

                    NOT DOZENS!!! Think of your children!

            • http://www.twitter.com/tomzig Tom Zig

              That wasn’t his point at all. His point was that Thames mashes lefties and Berkman mashes righties and Thames vs a righty > Berkman vs a lefty.

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

                But that’s managing in a vacuum. You still have to figure out what to do with Kearns and Curtis. If you have only one Marcus Thames, using him in place of Berkman while allowing Kearns and Curtis to bat isn’t maximizing his value. Not using Miranda simply compounds that problem.

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

                  Kearns and Curtis aren’t relevant to the point at hand.

                  Hughesus Christo began this discussion with the idea that having Berkman face the lefty would have value as preparation for the playoffs. That point does not hold water because Berkman won’t be facing lefties in the playoffs.

                  • matthaggs

                    Even forgetting about Kearns and Curtis, last night’s scenario could easily be an ALCS scenario.

                    If the exact situation comes up in the ALCS, I think letting Berkman face Choate gives the Yankees a better shot than pinch hitting Thames and having Balfour/(any pitcher better than Choate vs righties) enter the game. Only because Choate is that bad.

                    But Girardi wouldn’t agree so I guess it doesn’t matter.

                  • Hughesus Christo

                    I said it would be prepping for the playoffs. The “Get ready for October” strategy sees what you have on your roster. The “Win today” strategy doesn’t burn your last pinch hitter with Kearns and Curtis on deck. Girardi found a choice that wasn’t even given.

                • matthaggs

                  Yes.

                  Also, Randy Choate is terrible, Balfour is not.

                  So Berkman hitting righty against a crappy pitcher (esp vs. righties) is more desirable than Thames hitting against a good right-handed pitcher.

                  Then you have Thames left for Kearns/Curtis.

                  Seemed like a no-brainer to me.

                  • Dalelama

                    Exactly……

              • Hughesus Christo

                Except it wasn’t just “Hit Thames for Berkman.” It was “Hit Thames for Berkman AND accept a Kearns/Curtis at bat.”

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

                  No, that wasn’t the point at all.

                  We were talking about the playoffs. Kearns and Curtis don’t enter in to it at all.

          • http://www.twitter.com/tomzig Tom Zig

            It’s too bad we can’t fuse Thames and Berkman into one person. Marcus Berkman. He’d be pretty bad defensively, but he could mash both lefties and righties.

      • http://twitter.com/dpatrickg Dirty Pena

        Why is Thames facing a righty that much better than Berkman facing a lefty? Their career splits would tell me Berkman is better at getting on base in that situation, Thames is more likely to hit a home run, but it basically evens out. Personally, I’d rather have Berkman in there against a tough lefty than Thames against a tough righty.

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

          Their career numbers are irrelevant. The Lance Berkman that could hit lefty pitching doesn’t exist anymore.

          • http://twitter.com/dpatrickg Dirty Pena

            Because of 78 AB’s, with a .210 BABIP? Last year was the first year he “couldn’t hit” them (.710 OPS) and even then he had a .245 BABIP (again, only 134 AB.) Last year, Thames had a .757 OPS vs. righties and that was with a .287 BABIP. Again, I think they’re about the same, and I’m not about to write off Berkman’s abilities vs. lefties because of an unlucky ~200 at bats.

    • Brooklyn Ed

      apparently 2010 is the season of a “bad year”. ex: Jeter and Berkman. I assume when Berkman began the year on the DL with the Astros, something must had went wrong during his rehab. Hopefully, Berkman will smash the lefties during the playoffs.

  • Not Tank the Frank

    This is a great, well-written, objective post. However, I think Miranda is a huge offensive uprgade to Curtis….anyone is.

    Miranda: .845 OPS career in the minors
    Curtis: .722 OPS

    You can even look at their major league numbers, which I didn’t list because of the SSS. But even so, it’s clear that Miranda was a MUCH better option in that spot.

    I also don’t agree that Hughes should’ve been taken out of the game at that point. From what I saw, Hughes was showing no signs of fatigue and I had confidence that he could make it through the 7th inning with a tired bullpen waiting behind him. I think Hughes got squeezed during that AB in the 1-1 call. The count went to 2-1 instead of 1-2 and completely changed the AB. Hughes then went to 3-1 before missing his spot completely. Dan Johnson isn’t someone you gameplan around and I agree with Girardi (God help me) for not wanting to burn his only lefty on Dan Johnson instead of Crawford or Pena. If Dan Johnson beats you, tip your cap. And that’s exactly what he did.

  • Brian in NH

    Girardi should still be managing next year, and I’d like him to be. He’s done a good job overall, but lately I’m not sure what his motives for moves are. I just want them to win some games!

  • http://twitter.com/joero23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

    I just couldn’t understand why he left Hughes in to face Johnson in the 7th last night. I usually at least get why Girardi tries what he does – like with the discussion yesterday about leaving Nova in the game on Tuesday – but this time I can’t figure out how his interest in leaving Hughes in that game could possibly have outweighed the benefit of bringing in a reliever in that spot. Is saving your bullpen from having to face that one batter really so important that you let Hughes face the go-ahead run in the guy who’d already taken him deep? And I’m not making the mistake of assuming the reliever retires Johnson – I’m saying it’s one batter because if Johnson reaches base in any way in that AB against Hughes, Hughes is coming out of that game anyway, so it’s a one-AB swing either way. So it’s not like Hughes was giving the Yankees some great benefit by resting their bullpen or anything like that… It’s a big game, late in the season, and there’s little benefit to leaving Hughes in for that AB.

    Long comment about a not very complicated topic, sorry. I just didn’t get that move and I find that surprising, usually I feel like Girardi at least had some sort of compelling reason to make his decisions (whether I agree with those decisions or not).

    • Esteban

      Of the moves/non-moves Girardi has made, I find this one the least objectionable. It’s Dan Johnson, and though, yes, Hughes had already given up a homer to him, no one was worried about Dan Johnson there. I don’t think Dan Johnson was someone Joe Girardi was worried about in that situation. Why make a pitching change for the sake of it because you may or may not take out the pitcher if the current batter reaches base?

      • http://twitter.com/joero23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        At that moment, when Johnson came to the plate, you weren’t concerned, in the least?

        “no one was worried about Dan Johnson there.”

        I was worried – as were many other people, judging by the reaction to it.

        I’m not saying Dan Johnson is Babe Ruth and you have to gameplan for him, far from it. But in that spot, on September 15 in the third game of a 3 game series on the road in TB with a 1/2 game lead on TB and Hughes in the 7th inning at 100 pitches and facing the guy who’d already taken him deep (and who is just about assured to be Hughes’s last batter of the night whether he retires him or not)? That’s a different story altogether.

        • Esteban

          Yes, my immediate reaction was that a reliever should have been brought in, but then I thought about it and realized that is more hindsight than anything else. I certainly wasn’t worried about Dan Johnson and his .207/.361/.431 against righties and other people shouldn’t have been ‘worried’ before the at bat. Of course it out poorly, but Joba is just as capable of making the same bad pitch and there would have been people outraged at Girardi overmanaging.

          • http://twitter.com/joero23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

            Well, as long as we all know what we should or shouldn’t think about. Thanks.

          • http://twitter.com/joero23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

            Also, I am not one of those people who would have been “outraged at Girardi [for] overmanaging” had he brought in another reliever and that reliever had given up the HR to Johnson. There are plenty of people who comment here who would vouch for the fact that I’ve been very supportive of Girardi and am not one to completely freak out when he makes a move that doesn’t work out – and I’ll also note I’m not outraged even though I disagree with the move last night, I’ve never evidenced outrage in my comments here. You’re painting me with an argument I haven’t made nor would I make, it’s a total straw-man.

            • Esteban

              I don’t know why you’re so combative, but sure, nitpick every character I wrote and make it seem like I was personally attacking you. I never called you a Girardi basher or anything close to that, or said that you would be outraged, and I guess I can concede that I could have said “probably shouldn’t worry about Dan Johnson if you had looked at his performance this season. I’m not saying you shouldn’t think or believe whatever you want, I think that not taking out Hughes there was very understandable.

              • http://twitter.com/joero23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                I never said you said I did those things, that’s why I said you were arguing against a straw-man. You’re arguing against someone else who you’ve made up, not against the words I wrote on the page, and by arguing against that made-up person (the straw-man, if you will) you’re not actually addressing my arguments.

                • Esteban

                  You’re right, I argued against hypothetical people that would have been mad had Girardi put in Joba who then gave up a homerun. I’m talking about hypothetical people having a hypothetical reaction to a hypothetical situation, which is why I never singled you or any person out. You’re worked up over my assertion that some people would have been mad had Joba given up that homerun? Really?
                  My position is that in no way was a pitching change there necessary, and leaving Hughes in to face another batter (who is not a good hitter), that he should have been able to get out was not objectionable. I also would not have been upset if a pitching change had been made. Either decision would have been justifiable, and therefore, I don’t think it’s fair to criticize Girardi over his decision there.

                  • http://twitter.com/joero23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                    I’m not worked up over anything, I just pointed out that you made a straw-man argument. Methinks someone might be projecting just a tad.

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

        If anything, the homer he gave up to Johnson earlier made me more confident he wouldn’t make the same mistake twice.

        I was wrong. I wonder if Girardi thought the same thing, that his pitcher would be once-bitten, twice shy and would be extra careful to avoid Johnson’s wheelhouse.

    • Not Tank the Frank

      Excellent point. For me, though, it depends on if Girardi had Ring as a true option. If that’s the case I can see why Girardi wouldn’t want to burn his only lefty on that batter. Pena is the much more dangerous hitter regardless of what was going on in that game. But the more I think about it, it looks more and more like he was intent on using Joba no matter what…and that Ring wasn’t really an option in a high-leverage situation. If that’s the case, then I disagree with the move.

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

        Ring is sort of the strawman here though. We don’t really want Ring in the game; we want the Yankee pitcher not to give up a home run. At that moment in the game, that outcome probably involved replacing Phil Hughes. In hindsight, we know it did.

        • Tim

          Royce Ring should not even be included in this discussion, because there is no way he was ever going to be brought in in that situation. Bringing in Ring leads TB to pinch hit for a terrible hitter (Johnson) with a less terrible hitter in Willy Aybar. If anyone was coming out of the bullpen, it would probably have been Chamberlain. And can anyone believe that there are people out there actually killing Girardi for using Hughes instead of Chamberlain?!? Wasn’t Chamberlain an over-rated, worthless, ruined piece of crap a few weeks ago?

    • ZZ

      People are putting far too much emphasis on the fact that Dan Johnson hit a HR off Hughes earlier in the game, so he shouldn’t face him again.

      Dan Johnson is not some great hitter or someone that own Hughes, or even a hitter who you would expect to own Hughes. He didn’t come up the first time he hit a 2 run HR and just beat Hughes. Hughes made a very poor pitch that was very easy for a LH batter to hit out, and he did.

      The next time up, Hughes again missed his target and made a very poor pitch that would be very easy for a LH batter to take advantage of. You just don’t gameplan around Dan Johnson to beat a pitcher who was throwing the ball great a second time.

      If any other player had come up in that spot and hit that HR there would far less second guessing.

      Hughes really was very impressive last night the way he was throwing the ball. You leave a pitcher throwing the ball like that to face a .220 hitter. The earlier at bat does not factor into the decision in this case.

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

        If any other player had come up in that spot and hit that HR there would far less second guessing.

        Repeated for emphasis.

        • http://twitter.com/joero23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          Neither of you can say that as fact. In that situation, I would have wanted Hughes out of the game if he was facing anyone with some power who could hurt him. Did it set off more alarms because Johnson happened to have taken him deep already last night? Sure, of course. But that doesn’t mean it would have been the right move if it had been another batter, or that nobody would have taken issue with the move if it was another batter.

      • http://twitter.com/joero23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        Again, considering it was almost assured to be Hughes’s last batter of the night… Why is it so important that he face Johnson in that spot? I get that you don’t change your gameplan based on one guy hitting a HR early in a game, but I don’t understand what the compelling reason is to leave Hughes in there. It was the 7th inning of a very close game on the road and he was at 100 pitches… What’s the compelling reason to leave him in there? He’d done his job, leaving him in there was an unnecessary risk, in my opinion.

        Look, I’m a HUGE Hughes fan, I’m not knocking him or the job he did last night. He was very good.

        I get why you don’t overreact to Dan Johnson, of all people, hitting a HR… But I still haven’t heard what the compelling reason was to leave Hughes in to face him. It’s not enough to just attack one side of the argument, you have to show why the alternative was more compelling.

        • ZZ

          Whenever you bring in a new pitcher, you are risking that pitcher not having it that night. This is especially true for relief pitchers who are wildly inconsistent.

          This is incredibly true for a relief pitcher who also has very poor mechanics which is who you have in Joba Chamberlain.

          Hughes had it last night. It is a much safer bet to stick with the pitcher that was throwing very well than to go to a pitcher who could throw very well.

          • http://twitter.com/joero23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

            Ok. It’s a subjective matter, so there’s no definitive answer, but I appreciate you at least explaining what you think the compelling reason for your side is.

            I’ll just offer one more argument. Hughes has a 1.32 HR/9 this season. Joba has 0.71. Hughes has also given up a bunch of homers recently (1.8 HR/9 since beginning of July).

            This idea that Hughes, in that spot last night, was definitely the better option because he’s the better pitcher overall, is an idea I just can’t get behind. I don’t disagree that he’s the better pitcher, but that doesn’t mean he has to be used in that spot, in those circumstances.

            Agree to disagree.

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

              Agree to disagree.

              You got it… fatty.

              • http://twitter.com/joero23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                (eats bacon)

    • Brian in NH

      I know its a little ridiculous to say this, but I had such a bad feeling when Dan Johnson came to bat in the AB he hit the second home run. Of course, how do you let dan fucking johnson who had all of 3 homers all year, and hadn’t had a multi-homer game since 2007 beat your team?! He should have pulled Hughes.

      I’ve actually been angry all morning about that at bat.

      Also, is it just me, or did Austin Kearns look complete scared/lacking all confidence at the plate last night?

      • rek4gehrig

        Then its all your fault for having negative vibes :-)

  • longtimefan

    Great article. And add the use of Kearns to the screw-up list. How can he continue let him bat last night with 7 strikeouts in the past 2 games, most with runners on. Waiting for the wildcard to face the Twins can backfire quickly–lets win the division and let the chips fall where they may.

  • http://www.twitter.com/jordan_smed JGS

    He had Francisco Cervelli sacrifice bunt on a 3-0 pitch with a runner on second and no one out and later defended the move by noting that he wanted to “move up the runner.” He had Curtis Granderson, batting .270/.342/.495 over his last 231 plate appearances, sacrifice against right-hander with on a 2-0 count with a runner on first and Colin Curtis up next. These moves aren’t just bad in hindsight; they’re flat-out bad in practice.

    This is true, but it’s a consequence of conventional baseball wisdom being dead wrong. Managers are more afraid of doing unconventional things and having them backfire (and subsequently getting pilloried for them) than they are of making the conventional move, even if it’s a bad decision. Every other manager in baseball has Cervelli and Granderson bunt there.

    • Hughesus Christo

      3-0 bunts aren’t conventional moves.

  • Fair Weather Freddy

    Honestly, I was hoping he would let Berkman bat there and pinch hit Thames for Kearns. Choate doesn’t have the greatest control, and Berkman is a very discipline hitter. Maybe he would ahve gotten a walk, or if they still brought in Balfour, Berkman is a much better hitter lefty. Kearns has been an absolute killer lately, either striking out or hitting into DPs with men on base. Would have saved Thames to hit for Kearns instead, and yes, I would have hit Miranda for Curtis.

  • vin

    “Right now, the Yanks aren’t playing with urgency, and they aren’t being managed with much either. ”

    I’m not sure that’s a fair statement. The players seem to have plenty of urgency. Take Jeter’s acting job for example, or the (for the most part) great job by the pitching staff of late.

    I also don’t think Girardi isn’t managing with urgency. Seems to me that his decisions haven’t been working of late. He was ready to yank Nova, until Pena talked him out of it. Next batter (who is a lefty) hits a blooper for a hit. Then he brings in Logan, Madden pinch hits the switch hitting Aybar, and home run. With 3 lefties due up, Logan should have been brought in on the previous batter, but he wanted to give his young starter a chance to battle through the jam.

    All the tight games that were played over the weekend forced his hand on Monday night when he brought in Mitre. He managed his bullpen with urgency in Texas (because those games were winnable) and it hurt him in the Tampa series. He ran Gardner and Swisher onto the field in Texas despite them being injured, and it took them out of the equation for the Tampa series.

    He managed the Texas series urgently, and it impaired his ability to do the same in Tampa.

  • http://twitter.com/cephster Ross in Jersey

    A lot of these moves should be inconsequential, but because the Yankees have played so many close games, they aren’t. So, we look to these moves and say “Girardi lost this game”. I am as guilty as anyone for doing this. He’s been the victim of some bad choices (bunting) and some bad luck (the Aybar/Johnson HRs), and we should probably cut him some slack. The entire team has been shit these last 10 games. Not just the offense, not just the manager. Everyone.

    That said, the “blame Girardi for everything” meme is a bit overplayed. Joe does deserve some blame for his questionable moves, just like the offense deserves some blame for not knocking in some of these baserunners. He shouldn’t get off scott-free just because he’s the manager.

    Hopefully it’s just a slump, and the whole team comes out of it together.

    • Brian in NH

      I think that blaming the manager in any situation makes for a nice narrative. But managers don’t have the same kind of influence on a game that a football or basketball coach does. Girardi should have pulled hughes, but Hughes really shouldn’t let Dan Johnson beat him twice. Pitch choice is largely between the pitcher and catcher, and all teh manager can really do is shuffle guys in and out. Its not like he can design a great play or defense to mess with the other team. All he can do is say “you’re in, do a good job”

      • ZZ

        Pitch choice was not the problem at all last night.

        Execution was.

        • Brian in NH

          Yes. But i was merely saying how Girardi has little influence in each at bat outside of putting guys in. Maybe he can help come up with an overall game plan for approaching the Rays, but its up to the pitcher and catcher to select the proper pitches and execute them. Even if Hughes should have been pulled and wasn’t, he should have executed

          • Guest

            Sorry, didn’t see this response before I posted below.

      • Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Blog

        I second both this comment and Ross’s original, good stuff.

      • Guest

        I don’t think the Johnson issues arose because of pitch choice, they arose becasue of pitch execution. Hughes said he wanted the first fastball up and in. It was over the middle of the plate. He said he wanted the second one down and away. It was over the middle of the plate. If Hughes had executed his pitches as he intended, Dan Johnson would probably still have only 3 HRs on the season.

        You can miss with a fastball, or you can hang a curveball. If you do, the wisdom of your pitch selection is largely irrelevant. Both kinds of pitches have a reasonable chance of going into the people.

  • Dumbfounded

    I posed the question yesterday as to why both Maddon and previously R Washington both managed the Yanks series like it was a playoff game……using front line players and repeatedly using their best relievers
    while Joe G was resting key guys and being focused on Oct baseball…

    What makes it different for Rays and Rangers to win and not for Yanks?

    Why is Joe G trying to see how Nova will handle pressure or Colin Curtis
    can hit in a key situation?…….win the Division, THEN do this!!!

    • http://twitter.com/cephster Ross in Jersey

      The Rays and Rangers are much, much younger than the Yankees. Also, a lot of the Rays players (e.g. Soriano) won’t be back next year, so why bother worrying about their workload? Most of the Yankee arms and players are more important to their team in the future.

      • Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Blog

        Great, go with real reasons instead of a snarky response.

        Well said.

      • Guest

        This.

        The Yankees will need to be firing on all cylinders come October, because the opposition with be much stronger than last year. The ’10 versions of the Rays, Rangers, and Twins are >>>>> the ’09 versions of the Angels, Twins, and Red Sox.

        Given that the team is old and banged up, they are going to need rest to be ready. We rested our players last year down the stretc, and I think it made a huge difference.

        While the division is clearly up for grabs, the WC is all but won (it would take a collapse of epic proportions, which is not out of the question, but highly unlikely). We want that “A” lineup every night and rested arms on the mound. And if that means we don’t win the division, well then so be it.

      • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

        Yep. Well-said. Also keep in mind, a lot of the bazillion relievers Washington went to were September callups that will not be on the playoff roster. So he actually wasn’t managing like it was the playoffs. In the playoffs, maybe we’d win that game where we forced CJ Wilson out early, because Washington couldn’t use ten billion relievers, he’d probably have to stick with a few guys for longer.

        Also, I saw Joe Maddon managing that last game in Boston where the Rays got ridiculously blown out like it was Game 7 of the World Series with a one-run lead. Minus Soriano, he used all the relievers I see him go to over and over. Matchups with two outs and nobody on base with the Rays losing like 11-4 and etc. Maybe that’s just how he manages.

      • larryf

        I like this theory in regard to kearns-the won’t be back next year part.

        We were doing SO well with ARod and berkman out and Nunez and Pena providing the spark. Wa happened???

        • CBean

          Don’t you know? It’s all A-Rod’s fault.

          • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

            A-Rod told Jeter to fake getting hit by the pitch then whispered in his ear not to argue against the ump (because every other player would’ve told the umpire “I did not get hit”).

    • Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Blog

      Why didn’t Girardi manage like it’s a playoff game?

      Because it’s not a playoff game?

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

        That.

    • nsalem

      Who do you think should have been playing right field instead of Curtis?

      • Jerome S

        Mo always said he’d like an OF start…

    • http://twitter.com/dpatrickg Dirty Pena

      To the Rays, winning a division actually means something. Why Ron Washington is managing like it’s the World Series, I have no idea.

      • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

        I’m sure winning the division means a lot to the Yankees too. Would they rather kill everyone on the team to win the division, and then be totally wiped out for the playoffs? No. They’d rather have everyone be healthy and get the Wild Card. And I’m sure that’s the case with the Rays as well. But winning the division means something to them, it’s silly to pretend it doesn’t (not saying you were being silly, just talking in general).

        It’s like Ross in Jersey said above – Maddon can use Soriano for four days in a row (and five out of six, I think) because he’s very important to them right now and they don’t care what happens to him next year, he won’t be their problem. Girardi would never do that with Mo and I’d be pretty annoyed if he did.

        • http://twitter.com/dpatrickg Dirty Pena

          I meant winning the division in a vacuum, not the rewards that come with it. The Rays will be proud to put up a “2010 AL East Champs” banner, the Yankees obviously not so much.

          • http://twitter.com/dpatrickg Dirty Pena

            By “will” I meant “would”.

    • Brian in NH

      Maybe they just really want to beat the yankees.

      I was listening to ESPN radio this morning, and they were playing an audio clip from the rays Radio broadcast team when Jeter got awarded that HBP. They literally said “He didn’t get hit by that ball, it hit the bat. But the Umps won’t change that call because they are afraid of Derek Jeter and the Yankees”

      Seriously?

      I think its that kind of mentality that opposing orgs have of the yankees that has Washington Maddon trotting out their A/A- lineup while the Yanks are starting their C lineup (partially due to injuries)

      • rek4gehrig

        “God ahead and hate us, it only makes us greater”

        • rek4gehrig

          My bad

          “God ahead and hate us, it only makes us greater”

          • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

            Our God/Mo is an awesome God?

      • CBean

        “He didn’t get hit by that ball, it hit the bat. But the Umps won’t change that call because they are afraid of Derek Jeter and the Yankees”

        Of course, that’s why last week when they made the bad safe call on the Ian Kinsler tag, they promptly reversed it as soon as Derek Jeter asked them to. Oh wait…

  • chaz2010

    Well- if we’re at the point when we are arguing the merits of Curits vs. Miranda in that spot, there’s really nothing more to talk about.

    The fact that these two players were Girardi’s options says more about the roster than it does about Girardi. Injuries can really screw up a team, especially when two thirds of your outfield is unavailable.

    Hey, there’s a super manager doing his thing in the home dugout at Citifield this weekend. Why don’t you go watch him if you’re sick of watching Girardi and his .603 winning percentage.

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

      (golf clap)

    • Yank the Frank

      Really? Who are the Mets playing?

      • Thomas

        The fact the Mets are playing the Pirates makes these two comments even better.

  • nsalem

    I agree that Joe’s recent offensive decisions have been bewildering and I also don’t understand why he still sometimes see’s Joba as a superior option to D-Rob or Wood. However I believe that our recent woes are due to the
    (lack of) health of our offensive starters. Everybody is hurting or slumping except Berkman and Granderson. The failures of Vasquez and Burnett to step up and our inability to hit with RISP since this slump has began. These are factors Girardi has little to no control of.
    While the content of the post is fair, I don’t think the headline is.
    Although he has mad a few mistakes over the course of this slump, he is managing with a healthy October as the priority, which is surely the correct strategy.

  • steve s

    Being in a “decision” slump is one thing but I am almost more troubled by Girardi’s demeanor over the last 10 games. He’s getting tighter and tighter (e.g. rude response to Kim Jones after the 1-0 loss to the Rays and another printed interview (a few days back; don’t remember the columnist) where he said to the effect that playing ball and managing is work to him, not fun). He is starting to look like a guy on the verge of a nervous breakdown and I wouldn’t be surprised if he walks next year (even if the Yanks want him back).

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

      Yeah… no.

    • Brian in NH

      yeah where the frig did this come from?

      • steve s

        I gave you 2 examples of where the frig it came from. If you don’t think this guy is wound tighter than usual during this stretch you’re not paying attention. Open your eyes a little bit.

        • Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Blog

          Please see my comment below.

          Then see someone.

        • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

          So because he got irritated with a reporter over a tough loss and because he said managing/playing baseball is his job, he is too tightly wound? Honestly, I think Girardi’s pretty tightly wound all the time, and as others have said, is he supposed to be all smiley and laugh-y when the team isn’t particularly doing well in sort of vaguely playoff-ish games? He can be a “not very fun” guy and not be on the verge of a mental breakdown.

          • steve s

            Well, I agree that he seems to be more of a “not very fun” guy as a general matter. Based, however, on his Florida experience (getting fired for screaming at your boss in a very public way is not high up on the rationality scale for me) makes his demeanor and other public reactions in times of stress something to be wary about and at least worthy of analysis.

    • http://www.twitter.com/deanezag Zack

      And what would you say if he was joking around and smiling while losing? HE’S NOT TAKING PLAYOFF PREVIEWS SERIOUSLY!!1!

      • steve s

        Joking and smiling is not the opposite of being tight. The Torre confidence and calmness (but ,of coursr not the Torre handling of the bullpen) would be what you’d be hoping to see in a manager during this kind of stretch.

        • http://www.twitter.com/deanezag Zack

          Says you.
          Other people say that he should be getting thrown out of games to “jump start” the team, others say he should be concerned because the team is dooooooomed, others say he should be laid back so the players stop pressing in tight situation.

          Point: However Joe acts, someone is going to bitch about it

    • nsalem

      Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown opens at the Belasco Theatre on October 2 and will run through November 4 basically coinciding with the post season.

    • Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Blog

      Being in a “decision” slump is one thing but I am almost more troubled by Girardi’s demeanor over the last 10 games. He’s getting tighter and tighter (e.g. rude response to Kim Jones after the 1-0 loss to the Rays and another printed interview (a few days back; don’t remember the columnist) where he said to the effect that playing ball and managing is work to him, not fun). He is starting to look like a guy on the verge of a nervous breakdown and I wouldn’t be surprised if he walks next year (even if the Yanks want him back).

      FTFY

      • steve s

        Great addition to the discussion. Nice job.

    • http://twitter.com/cephster Ross in Jersey

      Girardi was snippy with Kim after Monday’s game. And he did allude to that managing is no fun. That is true. The conclusions you tried to draw from it are false. Chances are, he was just as frustrated as the rest of us.

  • Yank the Frank

    The Yankees are not getting their normal share of key hits and a good portion of Joe’s decisions are not working out. This too shall pass.

    • Jerome S

      good song.

      • Yank the Frank

        I thought that was “All Things Must Pass”

      • http://www.twitter.com/jordan_smed JGS

        great song

        • http://ballcraft.blogspot.com Zanath

          Great song? Or greatest song?

          • http://www.twitter.com/jordan_smed JGS

            Dunno–I was imitating that weird ad that ends with the guys getting thrown out of the window

            • http://ballcraft.blogspot.com Zanath

              That ad has to be the most poorly edited ad on TV right now. The cut right after they shake hands is so bad, it’s hard to see how that could have gotten approved.

  • http://www.creativejamie.com CreativeJamie.com

    the bunts are troubling, as was leaving Hughes in – but i haven’t lost confidence in Girardi. I feel like when he’s not saving guys for the playoffs (the Sabathia at Tampa game served up by Mitre), he’s testing guys for the playoffs (the Nova debacle against Tampa)

  • http://www.batterchatter-mike.blogspot.com/ Batter Chatter

    I’m not sure how much sway Tony Pena wields, but aren’t the in-game strategic shortcomings the bench coach’s fault too? seems like Girardi’s got a dozen different aspects to his job, while the bench coach is really just about strategy.
    Will Girardi let a vet manage this year, like Torre used to do?

    • larryf

      Girardi/Pena next year to coach Jesus. All will be forgiven and all will be good.

  • Tank Foster

    There are many ways to look at all of this stuff. You have a great chance of getting a bunt-able fastball on 3-0, and if you’re sure that you want to bunt, you want as many chances to pull it off as possible. Waiting for the count to (likely) go 3-1 might not be the best way to get the bunt you want.

    I agree, though, that I probably wouldn’t have bunted there on 3-0, but there is more than one way to look at it.

    The Yankees should have scored plenty of runs for Phil last night, and they didn’t. That’s the problem, not pinch hitting Thames. At that point, they needed a homerun, and Thames isn’t a bad bet, against a lefty or a righty. Again…they wouldn’t have been in that position if not for their futility with men on base during the rest of the game.

    Using a military analogy, Girardi is mediocre with “tactics” (short term, small scale, in-game stuff), and very good with “strategy” (long range decisions, roster management, overall approach to the season and particular players, etc.).

    He’s the least of the team’s problems now. The problem is they aren’t hitting enough. I’m sure the pendulum will begin swinging back soon and hits will fall and big hits will start coming again with men on base.

    Not worried….not any more than I regularly worry, anyway.

  • loviehowell

    Maybe joe doesn’t want his players ground into the ground. maybe joe also doesn’t want the other teams having a playoff preview. maybe he wants the yanks to have an underdog mentality and a not a we are the champions mentality.

    maybe he’s being brilliant and we don’t know it.

    • Yank the Frank

      Maybe you will finally get off the island.

  • http://nohelpisanailand godfather

    i second the post that said phil should have executed, which i define as not throwing anything near a ball johnson could, uh, yank; it’s as though hughes was dippy enough to challenge him with a “let’s see you do it again” mindset; i would have been fine with a replacement but i thought phil had grown last night, mixing speeds, shaking off jorge and pitching instead of just throwing; ok now, where is ailand in all this? i have yet to read any positive input on his value to the club; i think the babying of phil and joba is as dumb as it gets; they would be in a lot of rotations now had they been dealt and exposed to the game without training wheels on their every movement; i’d really like to read and stomach some positive words on ailand’s contribution to the cause; if ailand fell in the dugout, would anyone hear it? i’d be simmering, too, were i jg; they have invited bawston to stick around…not a good thing; it would be a nine-game streak of woe were it not for the homers by swish and jorge

  • DSFC

    I’m late to this one, but hey, some of us have to work……I honestly have no idea how anyone can get themselves worked up about letting Hughes face Johnson (well, other than the eventual outcome. Those of you with a crystal ball, hooray for you)

    Dan Johnson is a 30 year old who’s barely played in the majors since 2007. Pulling your starter there because he’s facing some random scrub who happened to hit one out earlier in the game. Unless you know the outcome ahead of time (which you didn’t), there’s no reason to pull Hughes there.

    • nycsportzfan

      Go to the Yankee MB(GDT), and you will see, Me and a couple others loving the move to let hughes come out, but i said, “if he gets anyone on, u gotta yank em, be smart joe”… That was before the outcome, and seemed more then logical to me.. It was more Ill logical to let em face anyone else, simply because of his fastball locationn, which tends to be prone to Mistake.. Does it really take any thinking to see or know that? I mean, come on, there is no Sticking up for joe on that one, if u weren’t thinking that, then u weren’t thinking, period….

  • Geezus

    I agree with the criticism of Girardi’s not yankiing Hughes prior to facing Johnson in the 7th. Boone Logan has been excellent vs. LH batters and has certainly not been over-used lately. Hughes hadn’t thrown a whole lot of pitches, but hadn’t pitched 7-full in a long time. It’s always easy to criticize these things after the fact, but bringing in a lefty to face Johnson in that situation–since Johnson had already taken Hughes deep–is a pretty textbook move. If Girardi was thinking that he wanted to avoid bringing in a LH at that time in anticipation of needing one a little later in the game, that just speaks to the poor composition of the Yanks’ bullpen. (Yes, yes, I know the numbers have been great. But the Yanks don’t win championships with just one lefty in the bullpen, do they?)

  • hogan

    Whoa… pump your breaks. Is this stretch worse than September of 2000? They lost 18 of 20 that month and finished with 87 wins.

  • Cy Farnsworth

    For what it’s worth, Olney was just on Baseball Tonight saying that people around the Yankees think that Girardi is getting tense because of his unresolved contract situation.

    I’m sure the Yankees will make him a nice offer to stick around because of the WS championship, but Girardi feeling the pressure reminds me of what happened in ’08 and that worries me.

  • nycsportzfan

    i disagree that Joes been a Good Manager for US, hes been more lucky then anything, and thats the truth.. Anyone can manage this team to a Winning Record, and the playoffs, how can they not? Theres 2much talent, and if anything, this team, would have more wins in the Regular Season then they have had, without him… He made similar moves last yr, but the team, overcame them more often then not, So it wasen’t as noticable to some… I found myself constantly questioning certain moves, before the Result occured, very obvious decisons, two…..

    WIth the Hughes Debacle, joe should’ve simply looked at what happened with AJ and Moesley, the exact same thing! All 3, Hughes, AJ and Dustin, have had there moments, but have all struggled as well, and if your getting any type of deep into a game with them, and any type of situation approach’s, u have to make the move, knowing, what possibly could happen, why risk it? U got 3 8th inning guys at your disposal, and it just makes no sense, plus u got Logan, your not overworking the guys, not even close, its such a joke! There relievers, use the freaking guys, there throwing a inn at a time for godsake, plus Javy’s Outhere.. Hughes main problem has been, locating his fastball, and u know, no matter how good hes doing, your one Bad Location away from giving up the lead, to a guy whos already cranked one, and u still let em pitch to em? Why? It just isn’t smart managing.. Its one thing if u are up 2or3 or more runs, but in a tight game, come on, gotta be smarter then that! Then, he uses Joba for a 1.1inn stint anyways..lol Why not just have him go after Djohnson, and then if Johnson goes Yd, at least u can tip your cap, and know, you got beat, by the best Decison u could’ve made…Girardi defys logic, and this teams, not as good as last yr, so sometimes, we can’t overcome it like last yr… It would be a Godsend, if Joe leaves after this yr, i’m telling you! Tony Pena, Donnie Baseball, a couple Darkhorses i like, Dave Righetti, Jim Hickey, are all guys i’d be interested in seeing over here, and i gurantee would at least bring LOGIC with them…

  • JoeNY07

    This is the way it goes Girardi never gets the respect due to him.Keyboard managers are a dime a dozen.Remember last years 3 man rotation in the playoffs.Torre was great with the press he had no problem playing the game with then.Girardi won 3 rings with the Yanks he coached and worked for YES.He knows how it works but because he refuses to play along with the press they knocks him at every opportunity and people who believe everything they read question him every day.I hope he signs a 5 year $20 million contract with the Yankees.