Aug
31

Joe Girardi & Restraint

By

Deceiving top picture is deceiving. (Elsa/Getty Images)

On the surface, a 5-2 win doesn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary. Three-run leads are pretty substantial, even against a great lineup like the one the Red Sox ran out there. Of course the game never felt like the three-run lead was all that significant, mostly because the Sox had runners on base pretty much all night. Ultimately, the relief quartet of Cory Wade, Boone Logan, Rafael Soriano, and Mariano Rivera got the final nine outs to preserve the lead, but it’s what Joe Girardi didn’t do that’s worth talking about.

After throwing 18 pitches on Sunday and 19 pitches on Saturday, David Robertson was unavailable out of the bullpen last night according to Girardi. Those pitch totals aren’t extreme by any means, so in all likelihood Robertson could have actually pitched without it being too big of a deal. He might not have been able to go more than an inning, but pitching three straight days isn’t exactly unheard of. Instead, Girardi showed some restraint and rested one of, if not the best setup reliever in all of baseball. He gave the ball to inferior pitchers against a great lineup in a relatively close game.

Now, it’s easy to back off a key reliever in a generic August game, when you’re facing some middling fringe contender in a game everyone will forget by the morning. It’s another thing to do it in a game like last night’s. Consider…

  1. It’s the Red Sox!
  2. The Yankees had won just two of twelve against Boston coming into the game.
  3. CC Sabathia hadn’t beaten the Sox all year and just gutting out 128 pitches in six innings.
  4. First place was kinda sorta on the line. It was either tie things up or fall two back in the loss column.
  5. It’s the Red Sox!

It wasn’t a must win game, but it was definitely a pretty big game considering how the season series has played out so far. Girardi could have easily handed the ball to Robertson in the eighth inning and I don’t think any of us would have had a problem with it. Instead, he took his foot off the gas and looked at the big picture, which is something he’s done during his entire tenure as Yankees’ manager. We can quibble about individual moves until we turn blue in the face, but Girardi’s overall bullpen management is clearly a strength, and games like last night are reason why Robertson will be fresh and (theoretically) more effective later in the season and potentially into the playoffs.

Categories : Death by Bullpen

46 Comments»

  1. Karl Krawfid says:

    Joe G needs to show emotion like he did in that picture more often.

    Sometimes it’s like he doesn’t give a damn.

    I got amped up with him last night.

    • The umps told him that Saltalamacchia got hit by a pitch which caused him to swing.

      Yes, it’s batshit insane.

      • Mike Axisa says:

        Even if it’s true, it doesn’t matter. A swing is a swing.

        • CP says:

          I think the better explanation would have been: He held up, but then appeared to swing when he was trying to get out of the way of the ball, so it wasn’t actually a swing.

          I could actually understand how that would happen.

          • MattG says:

            Still no good. The bat was in a position to hit the ball. Whether or not the batter intended it to be there would be irrelevant if the bat and ball collided, so it is equally irrelevant if they don’t.

            • CP says:

              I disagree. If a guy wildly flails the bat while dodging a breaking ball at his feet it’s not considered a swing – even if the bat happens to pass over the plate. Or if a batter pulls the bat down and drops it in front of him while dodging a ball at his head. It’s not as simple as ‘was the bat in the strike zone at any time.’

              • jsbrendog says:

                but it is. it really doesn’t matter what you think cuse what you think contradicts the rules.

                • CP says:

                  but it is

                  Sorry, but you’re wrong.

                  If the bat happens to pass through the strike zone, but without the intent to swing, then it’s not called a strike. That may or may not be the right way to call it based on the rule, but that’s how umps call it.

                  Besides, what is the exact rule? They were saying on the broadcast that there isn’t a specific rule on it….

                  • EJ says:

                    Sorry, but YOU’RE wrong.

                    I’ve yet to see someone try to get out of the way of a pitch and commit to a swing and not have it called a swing. Last night, that was a swing, a missed call, period. Nothing came of out of it so no big deal, but don’t tell someone they’re wrong when they’re right…

                    • CP says:

                      I’ve yet to see someone try to get out of the way of a pitch and commit to a swing and not have it called a swing.

                      I’ve seen it plenty of times. Players jump back and release the bat with one hand and it passes through the strike zone. Obviously there was no intent to swing, so the pitch is called a ball.

                      Last night’s play was much more of a gray area. He started to swing, but then stopped. Then as he was hit or trying to avoid being hit, the bat passed through the strike zone. The question is where his swing stopped and avoiding the pitch started. I believe it was a strike, but it’s not 100% clear.

                      It’s certainly not clear that any time the bat enters the strike zone it’s a strike. There is a judgment by the umpire of whether or not he intended to swing or not.

              • MattG says:

                There actually is no rule in the rule book (according to Michael Kay) regarding what is a swing, therefore what I wrote is more my opinion of what should be than what is.

                I like Al Leiter’s philosophy on the issue–if the batter might spoil a tough pitch by having the bat in the strike zone, then in all fairness, if he doesn’t touch it, it should be a swing.

                • jsbrendog says:

                  i thought there was? in fact, i was under the impression there was. awesome, well, then my comment above yours is completely irrelevant and useless.

                  awesome

            • Graig not Craig says:

              Some baseball rules are very black and white. If a player swing at a ball that touches him, it is a strike. If a pitch touches a player in the strike zone, it is a strike.

              But some baseball rules are not so black and white. What constitutes a swing? Look it up. It is not there. Nothing about wrist breaking or bat advancing beyond the front of the plate. It is up to the judgment of the umpire.

              So, if a player’s bat goes through the strike zone while he is jumping away from an inside pitch – it is the umpires call as to whether he “struck at” the pitch.

              While I believe it was definitely a bad call – I understand that according to the rules of baseball, it is the umpire’s judgment whether the batter “struck at” the pitch or not. Honestly. There is no definition of a “swing” in the official rules of major league baseball. If you don’t trust me – look it up.

              • MattG says:

                The part with which I take issue is that it is black and white if the ball hits the bat. That ball is in play, whether the batter struck at it or not.

                So, I believe it should be equally black or white if the ball misses the bat. His bat was in the zone, therefore its a swing.

                I know that’s not the rule. I am saying it should be the rule.

                • Graig not Craig says:

                  He doesn’t have to offer at the pitch for it to be fouled off his bat. It could hit his bat extended fully behind him way outside the strike zone and still be a foul ball.

                  • MattG says:

                    Wait, so you’re saying that since the black and white ball-hits-bat rule can occur when the batter clearly hasn’t swung, we can’t extend it to when the batter sort of swings?

                    Actually, that makes sense.

                    OK, then forgetting about legislating the rule, if it is a judgment, I feel umpires are too forgiving of batters on check swings. In many instances, while it might be that the batter did in fact show remorse at having swung in time, the bat is still there, in the strike zone (at the same time as the ball), ready to spoil a nasty slider. In fairness to the pitcher, I feel that if the bat might have made contact, thus spoiling a nasty pitch and prolonging an at bat, the pitcher needs to get credit for that strike when it doesn’t make contact.

      • Alibaba says:

        If anything can make me stop watching baseball, it’s the officiating. Every season I think it cannot get any worse and these people prove me wrong every single time! Selig has to be ashamed, if he has any shame.

        All these reminds me a joke. A boy is watching a game with his father and asks, “Dad, what happens to players when their eyesight diminishes?” Dad replies, “Son, they are made umpires.”

    • Stuckey says:

      I hope Joe is listening.

      Managing one of the best teams in baseball isn’t good enough for us Yankees fans. You need to up the entertainment value for us watching on TV at home.

      Your cooperation is expected and appreciated.

    • I’ve never got the impression that he doesn’t give a damn. Just because someone is tame at time, it doesn’t mean that they don’t care.

  2. Johnny O says:

    Joe Torre was watching the game from home and had ‘Nam-like flashbacks and went to the kitchen to call Scott Proctor in from the bullpen.

  3. MattG says:

    I hated it–I wanted Robertson–but there is no way I am going to question Joe on his bullpen management. He is King Midas with the bullpen, and I’m a guy with a MLB.com account.

    Is this an inappropriate place to talk about my disappointment with Rafael Soriano? His last pitch was a good pitch, but the 22 that preceded it ranged from bad to putrid. But the real issue (it was just one inning) for me is that it felt sort of like his prototypical inning.

    • The Raging Platypus says:

      He’s been pitching very well lately. I wouldn’t be too worried about him – his location was clearly off the norm in his last outing.

    • Mike Axisa says:

      Soriano was doomed to disappoint. He was very unlikely to repeat what he did last year just because most relievers don’t string two straight years like that together. Plus his personality wasn’t going to help.

      • MattG says:

        Soriano did have two years like that in a row. He was gunning for three.

        You’re right, though. Best thing I attribute to Cashman (without evidence, but still): bullpens through the draft.

    • Wolf Larson says:

      Soriano seems to weaken on second of back to back games. Which raises question: who is available out of pen tonite? Both Sori and Mo have pitched two straight. Really could use another reliable arm out there– but A-Rod injury, roster issues, seem to make a call-up impossible.

  4. theyankeewarrior says:

    Maybe he should rest our below-league-average first basemen (vs. RHP) tonight…

    .222/.325/.473

    Chavez can pick it at 1B and Tex can get a much needed day off.

    Then we can have a pop-fly-free game for once.

  5. Eric says:

    I have to say, the title and picture made me think that this was about a different type of restraint. I agree completely, though I wonder if the same article gets written if the Yankees give up the lead and lose the game. It’s easy to talk about making short-term sacrifices for the long-term when you still win, but I imagine some people (not necessarily Mike) would not react this way had Boston come back.

  6. YankeeRio says:

    GCL champs!

  7. Ed says:

    While I’ve liked Girardi’s bullpen management in the past, I’m not as big on it this year.

    Have we already forgotten that RAB had a D-Rob Dry Hump Counter in the sidebar for the first few weeks of the season? Let’s not forget that it wasn’t removed because Girardi’s usage of him changed.

    • Mike Axisa says:

      It was taken down because it took up too much real estate and because it was very tough to track everyday.

      • Ed says:

        That was my point. The Dry Humps were a significant enough issue that you guys felt it worthy to take note of on a daily basis for a while, and it continued even after you stopped reporting it.

    • Lazy Bones Andruw Jones says:

      To be fair it wasn’t until after Joba and Soriano went down that Robertson took on much more importance.

      At the time Joba, Soriano, and Mo were the 7-9 innings guys. Robertson’s role was what Corey Wade’s role is now.

  8. Howie says:

    Going from Torre to Girardi in terms of bullpen management… the saying “night and day” doesn’t quite describe it.

  9. virginia yankee says:

    CCs travails started after he came back twice in the twice rain delayed start — the first time he was working on a perfect game the 2nd time was unwise at best — Last night in a “GAME GIRARDI SHOWED RESTRAINT” CC through 123 pitches in 6 innings — it might make sense to keep 6 pitchers even substituting ANYONE for Hughes and Burnett to give CC some time off

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