Girardi Deals with a Short Deck

When your team wins the game it’s easy to justify the decisions made therein. This morning, R.J. examined Joe Maddon’s moves in last night’s game against the Yankees and expressed a positive impression. While I don’t necessarily agree with the sac bunt call, which also led to the loss of the DH, it didn’t exactly hurt the Rays’ chances of winning the game. Otherwise, it seemed like Maddon made the right — i.e., obvious — moves, and it led to a win. Girardi, on the other hand, made some curious decisions that ended up hurting his team’s chances.

The most obviously bad move was going to Sergio Mitre in the 11th. He has questionable command to begin with, and after a week of inactivity it was unlikely he’d be at his sharpest. Even if Reid Brignac hadn’t homered, chances are he, Evan Longoria, and Carlos Pena would have gotten to him at some point. Once Mitre entered the game it was effectively over. The Rays were going to hit him at some point.

Girardi did have limited options for that 11th inning. David Robertson and Joba Chamberlain were not available. Mariano Rivera was essentially unavailable, though Girardi did say he would have brought him in to save a game. He has shown a willingness to use Rivera in a tie game on the road this season, and in fact has done so as recently as Friday. But Rivera is 41 and could certainly have used the rest. That left just a short set of arms available for extra innings. Unfortunately, that set included the team’s worst arms.

The truly bad bullpen decisions came earlier. Kerry Wood threw 11 pitches in the ninth, but didn’t come out for the 10th. That could have helped extend the game. Boone Logan has been effective since his latest recall and has pitched a full inning, or even more, on several occasions. Last night, Girardi used him for just one batter. There’s no guarantee that he could have staved off defeat, but he certainly gives the Yankees a better chance of survival than Sergio Mitre. So while going to Mitre in the 11th was essentially the only possible decision, Girardi’s prior decisions necessitated it.

Yet Girardi’s oddest decision of the night had nothing to do with the bullpen. It had to do with the exact bunting situation for which R.J. praised Maddon. Nick Swisher couldn’t start because of a gimpy knee, but he did pinch hit for Greg Golson. Since Swisher couldn’t play the field that meant rookie Colin Curtis had to take over in right field and in the ninth spot, which sets the stage for the top of the 11th.

Austin Kearns led off with a single. Up came Curtis Granderson. He hit eighth because the lefty David Price started the game, but this time around he was facing the righty Grant Balfour. Facing the right-handed throwing Balfour gives Granderson an advantage, but Girardi squandered it by having him bunt Kearns to second. That brought up Colin Curtis, who predictably made an out. So, essentially, Girardi traded two outs so Derek Jeter would get a shot to drive in the runner from second. While Jeter has looked better in the past two games, he has had a generally poor season at the plate. He put a good swing on a pitch, but ended up flying out to right. One batter later the Rays walked off.

Without Robertson and Chamberlain available, and for all practical purposes without Rivera, Girardi had tough choices to make. Unfortunately, he seemed to pull the wrong string at the wrong time. He doesn’t get a pass on this one. He gets a break of sorts because of his team’s handicap, but even so he could have made better decisions with the weapons he had. He wasn’t the sole reason the Yankees lost the game, but with a few different (better) moves the game might have ended on a different note.



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Joe also writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues.


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Trevor
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Trevor
5 years 9 months ago

Think this statement needs to be re-worded:

“This gives Granderson an advantage, but Girardi squandered that by having him bunt Kearns to second. That brought up Curtis, who predictably made an out”

Drakos
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Drakos
5 years 9 months ago

Why wasn’t Joba available? The last him he pitched was Friday and he’s only pitched four times this month.

Lucas Apostoleris
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5 years 9 months ago

He’s approaching 65 appearances this year, and the Yankees want to him limit him whenever they can. That being said, I wish that Girardi had pitched him yesterday and sat him down in a game where the bullpens weren’t of as paramount importance.

Will
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5 years 9 months ago

Why does he get a break for overworking his bullpen in Texas (and over the last week-plus) to the point that his team was ill prepared against its division rival? You are essentially cutting him slack for his earlier mismanagement.

Also, why are we simply accepting that Joba and Mariano were not available? Why? Because Girardi said after the game? Even though he wouldn’t exactly say why?

Furthermore, I believe YES showed Robertson warming in the pen during the ninth. Why? No one asked.

Finally, the 2-0 bunt is not subordinate to the discussion. With a depleted bullpen, you have to give your team the best chance to score. Girardi failed in that regard as well.

Girardi does not deserve a break for last night. He mismanaged the game.

Captain
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Captain
5 years 9 months ago

im not so sure Robertson was warming up, i dont remember them showing him actually tossing. He and Mo did get up and appear to walk toward the mound at some point but they didnt show them warming up after that.

and you have to accept that Joba and Mo were unavailable because Giraridi said it. there were opportunities for them to be used and he went with a worse option from his pen. i doubt that was done for no reason at all.

Will
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5 years 9 months ago

In a game last week, Girardi said he left Arod into run, despite replacing him with Pena on defense the next half inning, in case the Yankees batted around (at which point, they would have scored 7 times). Do you think that was the real reason, or a revisionist excuse for a mistake? It’s not entirely unlikely that he did the same last night.

Will
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5 years 9 months ago

Javy not pitching well? He had gotten into the sixth and was lifted after an infield single? That’s doesn’t wash. The main culprit was the decision to use Hughes for only one inning (11 pitches), despite it being his throw day, and burning Logan, Wood and Robertson in only 30 pitches combined. Also, another bunt (3-0 on Cervelli) contributed to the extra innings as well. In other words, mismanagement.

Mariano WASN’T available, but would have been used in a save situation (not with the game tied and the middle of the order up, but probably with a three run lead). Joba, meanwhile has barely pitched all month. He is healthy. He is available today. But, he couldn’t pitch yesterday? Joba said he could (and Javy too), but maybe they aren’t being honest?

Why would Robertson be tossing along side Mo in the top of the ninth? Also, in the pregame, Girardi implied Swisher and Gardner wouldn’t be used and how did that work out?

Mike D
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Mike D
5 years 9 months ago

Mariano is 40. He turns 41 in the offseason.

dan l
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dan l
5 years 9 months ago

Girardi is a terrible manager! Ritardi needs to west!

aweb
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aweb
5 years 9 months ago

“Mariano Rivera was essentially unavailable, though Girardi did say he would have brought him in to save a game. ”

Then he wasn’t unavailable at all. I would hope a writer at fangraphs would be mocking a statement like this, which contradicts itself in the same sentence, rather than providing it.

He was available at the mercy of a statistic (and a relatively dumb one at that). Whether or not he could use the rest is not at issue, it’s whether he was available to pitch. Since he was seen warming up at one point, and the fact that Girardi says he was available, it’s safe to assume he could have pitched, even if just one inning. No one is claiming that Rivera never gets used in these situations, we’re just waiting for a better explanation than “he wasn’t available, except he was”. Maybe his warm-up earlier didn’t go well?

phoenix
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phoenix
5 years 9 months ago

what really upset me were how he burned through the good relievers so quickly. only 11 pitches for wood in the ninth and he did not come out in the tenth when he easily could have. he can throw 30+ pitches, so why not let him in a tie game with a depleted bullpen? then to use boone logan for only one batter was so stupid. he is another one who can give you a full inning. had girardi followed this, he would have wood for the ninth and tenth, logan for the 11th, and then chad for the twelth. he struggled but did not give up the run(s). also joba has been playing much less of late, despite his many appearances this year, so i dont buy that girardi could not use him. in an important game like this, in extra innings, when two guys who said were not available pinch hit already, i think you can make an exception. i mean joba did start last year, so it’s not like he is in uncharted innings limit territory. the 2-0 bunt by granderson was terrible as well, though not as bad as the pitching decisions. grandy has been much better lately and he was going up against a righty with no outs and a runner on. let him swing the bat because he knows how big of a moment this is, and i believe that he could come through. such bad bad managing… the rays were playing without a DH and without crawford, and girardi managed himself out of the advantage.

dutchbrowncoat
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dutchbrowncoat
5 years 9 months ago

maybe my mind is in the gutter, but i definitely mistook the ‘E’ in teh final word of the article title to be an ‘I’.

Rob in CT
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Rob in CT
5 years 9 months ago

Sounds like a combination of “Coffee Joe” and a manager who cares more about keeping his players healthy & rested for the playoffs than securing homefield advantage for the AL playoffs.

The bunt was dumb. I’m not sure Kerry Wood is a multi-inning reliever, though. I think it’s defensible to use him in 1-inning stints. He’s not exactly the picture of health..

Bill
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Bill
5 years 9 months ago

Wood can’t throw more than 11 pitches?

Spunky
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Spunky
5 years 9 months ago

I completely agree with your point about Mitre. It is funny then that right after this article was posted, Girardi called on Boone Logan to get the final out of the 5th inning but gave up a 3-run homerun.

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