When Joe Girardi was in Florida, his handling of his young pitching staff during a rain delay earned him quite a bit of criticism and potentially a one-way ticket out of his job.
The day was September 12, 2006, and Josh Johnson was on the mound when an 82-minute rain delay hit. Girardi put Johnson back on the mound, but the youngster came down with a case of forearm tightness that night. He would throw just 15 innings in 2007 before losing last year and this to elbow surgery. While Johnson has publicly stated that the rain delay was not the cause of his elbow woes, this incident lingers on Joe Girardi’s record.
Nearly 19 months later, Girardi found himself faced with another young pitcher and another case of rain. The forecast in Kansas City tonight called for rain, lots and lots of rain, and so Joe Girardi opted to keep Kennedy out of the game so as not to burn a Kennedy start and so as to avoid managing through a rain delay.
During the early innings, it seemed like a wise strategy. For once, the weather forecast was right, and rain came down in sheets, blanketing the field in rivulets of water. But onward marched the game. Brian Bruney shut down the Royals; Billy Traber shut down the Royals; and for one inning, Kyle Farnsworth shut down the Royals.
But then disaster struck, and it is here that we have to wonder whether or not to nitpick tonight’s game. With no score in the fifth and the rain visually lightening up, Girardi left Kyle Farnsworth in to pitch a second inning. Kyle Farnsworth is the master of the one-inning appearance. He made a grand total of zero appearances last year of more than an inning, and while he has complained about that, the results tonight bore out Joe Torre’s one-inning handling of Farnsworth.
In this second inning, Farnsworth gave up a home run to John Buck, hitting just over .100 on the season, and then another run on an 0-2 slider to Jose Guillen, hitting .128 at the time. He lost his effectiveness, and he lost his pitching smarts at the same time.
In the sixth inning, Girardi brought in the starter Ian Kennedy for a brief three-inning appearance. Kennedy got into some wind-aided trouble in his first inning of work and gave up two runs. But he settled down after that to restore some faith in his pitching among Yankee fans.
The nitpicking is, of course, moot. The game should have been stopped for rain at some point; the field was a mess, and both teams were struggling through the weather. But had Girardi’s strategy been put to the test, the Yankees pitchers needed to pitch 9 scoreless innings to keep pace with this team’s anemic offense.
I can’t help but question Girardi’s decision tonight. Call it Monday-morning quarterbacking; call it the nature of a baseball blog. For four innings, Girardi’s choice looked like a solid one, but in the fifth, it fell apart. Why leave Farnsworth, a one inning at his best, in for a second inning? Why not go with Ian Kennedy when the game was clearly going on? Missing offense or not, the ghost of Josh Johnson’s elbow loomed large over this game.
Triple-A Scranton (11-0 beatdown courtesy of Louisville)
Juan Miranda: 2 for 4, 1 K
Eric Duncan & Nick Green: both 1 for 3, 1 2B – Green committed a throwing error
rest of lineup: combined 1 for 21, 1 BB, 2 K – Bernie Castro picked up a single … Jason Lane drew a walk
Steven “don’t call me” White: 4 IP, 11 H, 9 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 HB, 0-9 GB/FB – as ugly as it gets
Heath Phillips: 2 IP, zeroes, 2 K – this year’s Ben Kozlowski
Scott Patterson: 2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 2-4 GB/FB – okay, who kidnapped the real Scott Patterson?
Jose Veras: 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 K, 1 HB
I just want to throw out some feelers to see who would be interested in doing an RAB day at the park. It would be Sunday, June 8th, and we’d be sitting in the tiers. Figure on $20 a ticket, though they might be less. That’s the quote I’m getting now. We’d start by hanging out somewhere before the game — Lot 3 might be out, since we were busted for grilling there last Sunday. If you’re interested, leave a reply. · (25) ·
No, we don’t have any answers on the great DL debate. PeteAbe says that it might actually be Morgan Ensberg who hits the DL. Something about a “mysterious knee injury.” Jorge’s injury isn’t being considered serious enough for a DL stint, and there is no further word on Derek Jeter.
Clearly, much of this can change in the 45 minutes leading up to the game. The Yanks have to make a roster move in that interim, and I’ll update this post once I get word, probably from Abraham or Feinsand.
Update: Yep, it’s Ensberg to the DL. And I’m apparently unfamiliar with Central time. The game starts at 8, not 7.
And on the mound, number thirty-one, Ian Patrick Kennedy.
Kinda strange that Molina is hitting ahead of Melky, eh?
Mark Feinsand is reporting that Alberto Gonzalez is with the team in Kansas City. This suggests one of two things. 1) Jeter is headed for the DL. 2) Shelley Duncan is headed down temporarily. Feinsand notes, and I can’t argue with his logic, that if Posada was the one hitting the DL, we’d also be seeing Chad Moeller in KC. Still, the possibility exists that both Jetes and Po hit the DL. · (9) ·
Saberscouting — the best new baseball blog out there — weighs in on the Phil Hughes velocity debate with a stellar piece dissecting Hughes’ mechanics. Frankie Piliere’s final words are worth noting:
So, what’s my point in this article? A. Too much is being made of other supposed issues in his mechanics prior to his follow through. I hope I was able to ease some Yankee fans fears that there really is no other changes up this point in his delivery. The change I did touch on however, I do think could be a direct cause of his lessened velocity since over the past year. Is it because of the hamstring injury? I can’t say for sure either way, but considering much of my focus in this article has been on that front leg in question, it is certainly possible.
But, the bottom line is right now is that from what I can see, Hughes is pushing against that front leg and not driving over and through it. Hence, the reason for the less aggressive looking follow through with his leg that I pointed out above. The problem is not arm speed, nor is it arm angle or the way his hands are breaking, at least from what I can tell. Through 75% of his delivery, essentially nothing has changed. The leg lift and follow through certainly appear different, though…
So, what to do? I’d say the first step would be taking some pressure off of that right shoulder. And, to do that, Hughes would need to once again be aggressive with his legs and get that high rear leg lift. This will certainly make his bend at the waist much more smooth, rather being pulled down by his shoulder. In my opinion, he simply needs to get his weight transfer flowing smoothly right over and through his front side rather than his weight transferring into that front leg but not over it.
Unlike Pags, Piliere doesn’t see this as a major problem, and he even allows for the fact that the Yanks would prefer Hughes to stay in the lower 90s with better control. He also feels it is an imminently correctable delivery flaw stemming from Hughes’ hamstring injury. As the youngster grows more comfortable, I fully expect to see his delivery creep back up.
Finally, it’s worth noting something John Manual said in a Baseball America chat today. “Hughes threw in the 90-94 range consistently in the minors,” Manual said, “and it’s not really a matter of dispute. We wrote 91-95 in our ’07 Handbook, and that might have been a tick high, but he was 92-94 in our ’06 Handbook, and 90-94, touching 95 in our ’05 Handbook, coming out of high school.”
That’s basically what we’ve seen from Hughes. Pitchers who throw 94 don’t do so on every pitch; they generally sit around 91-92. This idea that Hughes ever threw 96 is a fallacy created by the hype. By the time the summer rolls around, Hughes will be right where he and the Yankees expect him to be. Hopefully, by then, we’ll look back on this debate and see it as much ado about nothing.
Long-time yankee Graig Nettles is out of prostate cancer surgery and resting comfortably at home. Nettles, 63, opted for surgery this month after serving as a Spring Training instructor in Tampa. I’ll have more on Nettles and the Yankees of the late 1970s in my upcoming review of The Greatest Game. · (1) ·
The Dodgers and Yankees both sit at 4-4 a few games behind their respective division leaders. Despite the 3000 miles separating New York from Los Angeles, though, these teams this year will be linked by Joe Torre.
Today, Rick A., a new contributor at My Baseball Bias, waxes nostalgically about Joe Torre. With the Yankees seemingly struggling at 4-4 in the early goes, Rick wonders, “In hindsight, was it a bad move to essentially get rid of Torre?” He equivocates on the answer and ends by reaffirming something upon which all Yankees agree: We will always look back fondly on the Joe Torre Era.
I’d like to take a short stab though at answering the question posed by Rick. I think the answer is a resounding no. To me, Joe Torre and the Yankees will forever be linked. He was named the manager of the team before my 13th birthday and served in his role until I was 24. I doubt any Yankee manager will last as long as Torre did during my lifetime, and my high school years are filled with memories of the Yankees winning the World Series year after year.
Then, for me, along came college and with it, Joe Torre’s magic touch disappeared. I watched the Yankees lose two World Series, lose one divisional series in four games and lose historically to the Red Sox in 2004. It was, in fact, after that momentous ALCS that I believe Torre and the Yanks should have parted company.
Hindsight aside, during those last four games, we saw the Yankees outmaneuvered and out-managed. Torre showed his proclivity for his guys when he went with Bernie Williams over Kenny Lofton even in obvious situations. He showed his tendencies toward bullpen abuse. He showed a lack of creative strategy when he didn’t steal off of the Wakefield-Varitek battery or bunt off of Curt Schilling.
But the Yanks let Joe linger, and the last three seasons for Torre seemed more like a battle than anything prior had. It wouldn’t have been a kneejerk reaction to dismiss Torre in 2004, and it wasn’t a bad move to let him go in 2007.
So far, I have no qualms with Joe Girardi. I think he’s done a great job of managing the bullpen through the first eight games, and the players seem to respect him as they did Torre. He might not deliver four World Series championship in his first five seasons as manager, but who can? I’ll miss Torre for what he represented; I don’t miss him for his managing quite yet.