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News of the Day – 8/11/09

Today’s news is powered by Blue Jays . . . and the Fab Four:

Joe Girardi committed himself to Phil Coke in the eighth inning despite having six right-handed relievers on his roster, meaning Coke would have to face four straight right-handed batters after Jacoby Ellsbury. With Philip Hughes apparently unavailable after pitching Friday and Saturday—but for just one out each day—Girardi reacted by making none of his other righties available. It mattered less in the important matchup—letting Coke face Victor Martinez, batting right-handed, would have been the play in any case—but had Coke retired Martinez, he would have been asked to get Kevin Youkilis and Jason Bay with the tying run on base, and that would have been a huge risk. It was yet another odd decision by a man for whom running a bullpen is a daily challenge.

Girardi prepared a lineup sans Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui for Monday’s series opener against the Blue Jays, and said that more rest could be expected as the Yankees wrap up their homestand before hitting the road for an 11-day trip to Seattle, Oakland and Boston. . . .

Matsui sat for the second consecutive game, but Girardi said that the designated hitter was physically fine and the move was more about having Jorge Posada get a half-day as a DH. Girardi said that he expects to play Matsui on Tuesday and probably Wednesday, as well.

Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira are also among those who might see a day off, or at least reduced duty, this week against Toronto; Teixeira prefers to DH rather than have a complete day off.

Girardi said that Alex Rodriguez, who has homered in the past two games, made it through the Boston series fine, but he could also see rest before New York hits the road.

[My take: We may get on him a bit, but he’s still two years from the beginning of his supposed “peak years”.]

  • Bubba Crosby turns 33 today.  Crosby spent parts of three seasons with the Bombers.  He had been part of the Dodgers’ side of the package that brought Scott Proctor to the Yanks in 2003.  His lifetime slugging percentage of  .300 is the 16th lowest in the DH era for outfielders with 250 or more career ABs.   Pop quiz: Bubba is NOT Crosby’s given first name.  What is it? (answer later)
  • On this date 80 years ago, Babe Ruth hits his 500th career home run, off of the Indians’ Willis Hudlin. Second place all-time in homers at the times was Cy Williams, with 237.
  • On this date in 1980, Reggie Jackson hits his 400th career home run, in the Yankees’ 3-1 victory over the White Sox at Yankee Stadium.
  • And finally, in the “not related to the Yankees but still newsworthy in a ‘you can’t make this stuff up’ vein” . . . ChiSox GM Kenny Williams got arrested ticketed, for JAYWALKING . . . on the same day he acquired Blue Jay (not doing much walking or anything else for that matter) Alex Rios!
  • Pop quiz answer: Richard (Stephen Crosby)

Categories:  Diane Firstman  News of the Day

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1 Rich   ~  Aug 11, 2009 9:40 am

Last season, I wrongly thought that Girardi was good at bullpen management for two reasons: 1) Joba's dominance while he was in the pen until mid-June made him look good; and 2) he got more out of Farnsworth than Torre.

But it has become apparent that it's not his strength. To cite the most recent example, why did Aceves pitch 4 innings if he isn't being stretched out to start (Girardi said Mitre is staying in the rotation)? Now, he can't be used for at least three days.

His unwillingness to give Melancon a real shot is despite having not let up a run in his last 5IP is also hard to understand.

As for allowing Coke to pitch to Martinez, Coke's FB% is 46.6 %, that's awfully high. The only reason that Coke was the best choice is that he may have been the only choice, because of Girardi's prior bullpen mismanagement in the series.

2 RagingTartabull   ~  Aug 11, 2009 9:45 am

I'm sorry but that is quite possibly the worst song in the entire Beatles catalog.

Wow Merlyn Mantle, huh? Seeing her in interviews always made me think of what Jacy Farrow from "The Last Picture Show" must have ended up like.

3 Rich   ~  Aug 11, 2009 9:53 am

The Cybill Shepherd character? (I had to look that up) Whoa,. that's pretty generous in terms of looks.

4 williamnyy23   ~  Aug 11, 2009 10:00 am

[1] I also think Girardi's bullpen management, which while not Torre bad, has been exaggerated because: (1) well, he isn't Torre bad; and (2) last year’s group seemingly overachieved tremendously (the regression of guys like Edwar and Veras this season mitigate against the notion that they did well last year because of Girardi’s influence).

In many cases, Girardi’s mismanagement is not evident in the moves he makes in the current game, but the prior decisions that wind up forcing his hand. For example, using Coke on Sunday isn’t awful when you only have Gaudin and Mo available, but what is awful is using Hughes for two 1/3 inning appearances. In other words, Coke was used because Girardi’s mismanagement ensured he’d be the only available arm.

Similarly, Girardi claimed he had to use Aceves for 4 innings because he didn’t want to go to Gaudin, who threw a side session last weekend and got “warm” on Sunday. Well, the obvious question is if Girardi wasn’t going to use Gaudin in the 8th inning on Sunday, why did he “get warm”?

5 rbj   ~  Aug 11, 2009 10:01 am

I lived in Seattle for a year, and Portland, OR for three. They do ticket for jaywalking.

6 Sliced Bread   ~  Aug 11, 2009 10:08 am

speaking of Yankee wives: anybody catch the pic of Kate Hudson with Karen Burnett, Amber Sabathia, and Michelle Damon in the NY Post today? Kate's flashing a sideways peace sign. Is that some Beverly Hills gang symbol shawty copped out of the Urban dictionary?

7 a.O   ~  Aug 11, 2009 10:13 am

@ #5: I've never been ticketed for jaywalking after living 10 yeArs in Portland and Seattle. But it is indeed done.

But, Diane, Kenny Williams was ticketed, *not* arrested. Big difference.

8 RagingTartabull   ~  Aug 11, 2009 10:22 am

[3] truth be told I had to double check the name too. But I'm just saying she seemed like such a good ol' gal who was probably the prom queen and the head cheerleader and all that back in Commerce and she married Mr. All-American and they were gonna live happily ever after, and it didn't quite work out that way.

Either way, R.I.P Merlyn.

9 flycaster   ~  Aug 11, 2009 10:22 am

C'mon folks, with the ad nauseum "analysis" of Girardi's presumptive bullpen idiocy. He has managed the team to the best record in baseball, in the toughest division in baseball, but you are insistent that every loss must somehow be his fault. What you always fail to take into account is that he has two primary responsibilities: win today, and keep the staff strong and healthy for 162 games plus (hopefully) the month of October. Keeping those two things as first priority means you just can't always keep every ideal matchup available for every game. You just can't deploy your bullpen as if the series you're playing will be the last of the season.

Look, I know criticizing the manager is de rigour, and lots of fun, but I'm one who's not buying it this time.

10 williamnyy23   ~  Aug 11, 2009 10:34 am

[9] That's all well in good, but do you have a rebuttal to any of the criticism? For example, what about using Phil Hughes for 10 pitches over the weekend? Just because the Yankees were able to get 6 shutout innings after MO, and just because Damon and Tex went back to back, doesn't mean Girardi gets credit for managing the team to two wins.

These are the kinds of decisions that come home to roost in October.

11 Rich   ~  Aug 11, 2009 10:37 am

[9] He has a humongous payroll advantage over every other team in MLB. So he should have regular season success.

You may think it makes sense to continue to start Mitre, or to use Aceves for four IP thereby making him unavailable for days, or to not give Melancon a shot despite effective pitching, or to make any number of moves. I don't.

12 Diane Firstman   ~  Aug 11, 2009 10:50 am


You are right .... I've corrected it. :-)


Hey, I was only going for the Toronto connection :-)

13 monkeypants   ~  Aug 11, 2009 11:36 am

[9] Rather, what has become de rigueur is Girardi's willingness to trust only a handful of relievers, who are used with great frequency, while others rot at the end of the pen. I'm not sure how that keeps the former rested and the latter fresh. The way Hughes has been used all season, from his promotion-demotion ot the pen, to his whipsawing between 4 pitch and 30 pitch outings, has been baffling to me.

14 monkeypants   ~  Aug 11, 2009 11:38 am

[2] I've always had a soft spot for George Harrison weirdness, and in any case, surely "Revolution 9" is their worst song by far.

15 seamus   ~  Aug 11, 2009 11:43 am

I agree with [9]. I actually think Girardi has managed the bullpen quite well.

[13] MP, I disagree. While there does seem to be one guy at the bottom of the pen that gets little use, the rest seem to get regular use. Maybe i'm wrong but that is my impression. Well, you and I will have to disagree on Hughes. :)

16 monkeypants   ~  Aug 11, 2009 11:51 am

[15] Yes, we disagree in that I think he should have been starterized. But surely you cannot agree with the way he has been deployed out of the BP, especially lately?

As for the 'pen, maybe I exaggerate. But look at the number of appearances: Coke (53), Mo (47), Hughes (31, partial season in BP), Aceves (30 partial season in BP), Robertson (32). After that, no one has been used more than 25 times (though that includes injured Bruney).

When you extrapolate for injuries and part time starting duty, a clear pattern seems (to me) to emerge: Mo, Hughes, Coke and Aceves are trusted. Robertson is only sometimes trusted. Everyone else is not trusted and therefore used less frequently, if at all (including Bruney, who is now in the "not trusted" category, it seems).

17 Raf   ~  Aug 11, 2009 11:58 am

Girardi’s willingness to trust only a handful of relievers, who are used with great frequency, while others rot at the end of the pen

You can substitute any manager for Girardi.

18 seamus   ~  Aug 11, 2009 12:08 pm

[16] Hasn't Robertson only been up part of the year? Otherwise, I'm not sure we'd want that ratio much different. We've had a lot of close games and do we really want Robertson in as many of them as Hughes and Mo and Aceves?

I agree somewhat (for example, 1/3 inning on Friday night). But not that much. Most of Hughes short pitch counts have been entire innings. He went through a period of throwing with extreme efficiency. Should Girardi have kept him in longer? possibly, but I didn't object to it.

19 ms october   ~  Aug 11, 2009 12:14 pm

[17] i am not in the extreme camp about girardi's managerial effectiveness or lack thereof. i think he has made some decisions that could have been better, and some of these decisions fall into a distinct pattern.
while it is true that you can substitue any manager for him and get within a certain relam of behavior on something like bullpen usage, we (yankee fans) were told that girardi was smarter than your typical manager - but so far he is just like any other manger - not surprising but a tad disapointing.

20 seamus   ~  Aug 11, 2009 12:19 pm

One thing I do want to say that I love about Girardi is I think he is very effective at losing the DH late in the game and shifting player around in the order/field.

21 seamus   ~  Aug 11, 2009 12:21 pm

On a completely different note, I'm making my first baseball road trip this weekend. We are driving to Detroit for the Royals-Tigers on Friday night. Then Milwaukee for the Astros-Brewers. Then Chicago for the Pirates-Cubs (go Pittsburgh!). Anyone have any advice? I've gotten some tips on parking in Chicago. Any ways to save money? Drinking during the tailgate I guess.

22 joejoejoe   ~  Aug 11, 2009 12:22 pm

I'm happy with Girardi's management of the bullpen. I think it's cherry picking to pull individual games out and say 'Ah-ha!'. Stats in baseball tell a lot but they don't say a lot about rest and recovery and confidence and I think in those categories the Yankee bullpen is as good as it can be.

23 monkeypants   ~  Aug 11, 2009 12:30 pm

[19] Well put.

[20] Agreed, especially lately. Though to pick nits, the decision to carry 13 pitchers for several games (for no apparent reason) limited his opportunities to use and rest position players cleverly. Ransom at 1B was simply unforgivable, though maybe only because it gave me Miguel Cairo flashbacks.

24 williamnyy23   ~  Aug 11, 2009 12:31 pm

[21] My only advice would be don't stay in Detroit!

25 monkeypants   ~  Aug 11, 2009 12:32 pm

[18] But was Robertosn only up part of the year because, as an untrusted reliever, he was shipped out? Maybe to make room for Tomko? I don't recall, to be honest.

26 seamus   ~  Aug 11, 2009 12:32 pm

[24] yeah we have hotels set up already. Staying in kalamazoo.

27 seamus   ~  Aug 11, 2009 12:32 pm

[25] I don't recall either.

28 Chyll Will   ~  Aug 11, 2009 12:33 pm

I'm still trying to figure out if Girardi's strategy is long or short-term in regards to how he uses his bullpen. His decision to let Mitre continue after gaining the lead back that he had predictably given up (and predictably lost again) leads me to believe he's trying to conserve his bullpen for a likely post-season run, in which case I would expect his bullpen usage to be quite different than what we've seen lately (it would be new territory with this team, in fact). But then, what to make of his usage of Phil Coke, the only lefty in the pen, on Sunday against all those righties?

I'm confused... 8p

29 williamnyy23   ~  Aug 11, 2009 12:35 pm

[28] That also wouldn't explain burning Aceves for 4 innings either.

30 Chyll Will   ~  Aug 11, 2009 12:37 pm

[29] Ironically, if he had brought Ace in an inning earlier, he might not have had to use him that long, unless there was absolutely no pen last night. Which brings us back to what IS is strategy?

31 Rich   ~  Aug 11, 2009 12:59 pm

[19] not surprising but a tad disapointing.

You understate my level of disappointment ms. o, but that was a well reasoned post.

32 Bama Yankee   ~  Aug 11, 2009 1:04 pm

[21] "I’ve gotten some tips on parking in Chicago."

Hopefully, they told you to make sure you don't leave your 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California with a couple of shady guys in a parking garage.... ;-)

33 Horace Clarke Era   ~  Aug 11, 2009 1:20 pm

Raf saith:

"Girardi’s willingness to trust only a handful of relievers, who are used with great frequency, while others rot at the end of the pen."

You can substitute any manager for Girardi.


And ol' Hoss agrees.

Without watching bullpen sessions, being in on discussions with pitching coaches and bench coaches, it is just silly for us to keep trotting out some name (and the names change) and crying 'He isn't getting a chance!' Happens all the time, fans latch on to the next nebulous 'difference-maker bullpen stud-in-waiting' ... Melancon Roolz!

Every manager has (if he's lucky!) the four guys he wants to use and 'the rest of the bums'. When you are KC you have all bums and one closer. Having said this, I am often baffled by what Girardi's doing. And I continue to wince/wonder about ... how to solve the problem of Joba? (You all know the tune.)

And, without checking the game thread, I was puzzled by the Damon pinch hit call last night. Only logic I can make of it was Joey was hoping for a one-handed short-porch two-out homer.

34 Shaun P.   ~  Aug 11, 2009 1:29 pm

[25] [27]

OK, here's the timeline, best I can make it out:

4/1, Robertson starts year at SWB (MLB bullpen is Mo, Marte, Bruney, Veras, Edwar, Coke, Albaladejo)
4/16, Robertson called up when Nady goes on DL
4/17, Robertson down for Miranda (replaced the next day by Claggett, replaced the next day by Jackson)
4/24, Wang went on the DL, Robertson came back
5/8, Robertson goes down for Tomko
5/26, Bruney goes (back) on the DL (retro to 5/20), Robertson recalled and has been in the bigs ever since

(Note that was Bruney's second DL stint, which accounts for his lack of use.)

I don't think Robertson was shuttled back and forth because he wasn't trusted - rather, Girardi was trying to find out what he had and was limited in what he could do. At the start, Mo, Coke, and Marte weren't going anywhere - and neither were Bruney and Veras, both out of options. So he used the last two slots (Albaladejo and Edwar) to shuffle guys in an out - and things got complicated with Wang's ineffectiveness/injury and then the other starters all pitching so little. Indeed, I'd say Girardi has shuffled the 'pen around quite nicely, and while I think I'd rather have Gaudin in the rotation, Mitre at AAA, and Melancon in the 'pen - that's perhaps more nit-picking than anything else.

Also note that as the starters have each pitched more and more innings, somebody in the 'pen isn't going to get much work. It happens - which is why 7-man bullpens are probably stupid.

If anything, the Yanks have too many good relievers - which is a nice problem to have. And when Marte comes off the DL next week, Mitre probably goes down and Gaudin takes his rotation slot.

35 monkeypants   ~  Aug 11, 2009 1:42 pm

[34] It happens - which is why 7-man bullpens are probably stupid.

Yes! The recent (albeit temporary) increase to an 8-man pen, seemingly because the organization couldn't think of anything better to do, was even more stupid. That has, at least been rectified.

and things got complicated with Wang’s ineffectiveness/injury

Wang's poor handling was really the beginning of a sequence of silliness that has brought us to Mitre starting and Girardi claiming that they have "no other options." Whether to pin this on Girardi or Cashman or both is difficult to disentangle.

36 Rich   ~  Aug 11, 2009 1:43 pm

I still think Melancon would be better than Marte, Mitre, or Gaudin:

No RA in his last 5 ML IP.

2009 mL: K/9: 9.3 WHIP: 0.89

I don't get it.

37 Raf   ~  Aug 11, 2009 1:55 pm

Wang’s poor handling was really the beginning of a sequence of silliness that has brought us to Mitre starting and Girardi claiming that they have “no other options.”

That isn't necessarily true. There were several options then, there are several options now. If Girardi doesn't or didn't think there were options (moving Gaudin, Aceves or Hughes into the rotation now, calling up Towers & Igawa from SWB, claiming Smoltz or Padilla off the scrap heap, fashioning a start from a 7-8 man pen, or skipping a starter), I'm afraid he may not be as sharp as I thought...

38 monkeypants   ~  Aug 11, 2009 1:57 pm

[37] Trust me, I firmly agree that there are other options. I'm just saying what he said, and noting that the present discussion is the culmination of a much longer process.

39 Raf   ~  Aug 11, 2009 2:08 pm

we (yankee fans) were told that girardi was smarter than your typical manager

I know, and I was skeptical, given that there really wasn't anything special (to me) that he showed in Florida.

One other thing that should be noted that Girardi managed Mitre in FLA, so that may also factor into his decision (the "trust") to keep him in the rotation.

40 Raf   ~  Aug 11, 2009 2:10 pm

[38] Fair enough, just trying to point out that despite Girardi's words to the contrary, that there were options. But that may be Girardi's "managerspeak" coming through as well.

41 seamus   ~  Aug 11, 2009 2:48 pm

[32] haha nice.

42 The Hawk   ~  Aug 11, 2009 2:55 pm

That is a dreary song. Real "trippy" George, congrats.

I wouldn't count "Revolution 9" as a song anyway, it's just a sound collage. Maybe it's bad as far as those things go, I don't know but to compare it to, say, "Love Me Do" would be a stretch.

Girardi needs to quit working on his biceps and deltoids and work on his head muscle.

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