"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Not Awesome


The Yanks scored four runs with two men out in the top of the first inning against Kevin Millwood and it looked like it was going to be an enjoyable evening.

But Joba Chamberlain was not impressive. He could not locate his fastball and gave back two runs in the second as the Rangers staged a two out rally of their own. Millwood righted himself and worked a four pitch third. Chamberlain responded and got the first two men out in the fourth on seven pitches. Then he went to a full count on Pudge Rodriguez and walked him on a fastball off the outside corner. It was the kind of pitch that drives me crazy about Chamberlain. It’s as if he’s trying to be Mike Mussina, too fine. With Pudge up, why mince around–just go after him, baby. This is Pudge Rodriguez after all, a man who is allergic to the base on balls.

That was the start of the ending for Chamberlain as the Rangers hit five singles and took a three-run lead. Most of the hits were bloopers and bleeders–some bad luck for Chamberlain, but still, his propensity for two giving up two strike, two out hits continues. Chad Gaudin relieved Chamberlain, worked out of one bases loaded jam, but gave up two dingers, as the Rangers built a 10-5 lead.

The Yanks did make it interesting in the ninth, loading the bases and then scoring four runs to draw the score to 10-9 win nobody out. Crowd going nuts and smelling a comeback win. First and second, and Nick Swisher was asked to bunt. My wife didn’t think it was a smart move and said as much before Swisher popped out to Michael Young at third. Then Melky Cabrera lined into a double play and the Yanks lost

Heart racing, blood-pumping—a blow-out turned into a heart-breaker. The game designed to bust your hump.

The lead is now six, as the Red Sox beat the White Sox again in Boston.

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1 Mattpat11   ~  Aug 25, 2009 11:18 pm

I’m sure Swisher will get thrown under the bus too. Remember when Girardi put in a pinch runner and the Melky bunted? People were appalled and Girardi immediately blamed Melky.

Then we did it again a few weeks later?

2 JeremyM   ~  Aug 25, 2009 11:23 pm

I think Steinbrenner would revive his famous statement about Irabu and use it on Joba if he was still lucid enough. He has to stop nibbling.

3 williamnyy23   ~  Aug 25, 2009 11:36 pm

I wish there was some way to get rid of Joe Girardi before the World Series. I wonder what Tonya Harding is doing these days?

4 williamnyy23   ~  Aug 25, 2009 11:38 pm

Jim Tracy giving Girardi a run for his money in bonehead decision by a manager that most prevented his team from winning. With first base open, two outs and the tying run on 3rd in the 9th, Tracy pitched to Manny. Manny, of course, tied the game with a hit.

5 a.O   ~  Aug 26, 2009 12:27 am

Chamberlain either has a confidence problem or a control problem. It seems obvious to me that it's the former. Somebody needs to start kicking his ass. Somehow, I don't see Eiland doing that. And he needs a more regular schedule.

6 Mattpat11   ~  Aug 26, 2009 12:37 am

Oh, and Mussina never would have walked Pudge

7 Bobtaco   ~  Aug 26, 2009 12:50 am

The bunt was a good call, just not with Swisher. Would you have pinch bunted there?

Swisher has shown himself this year to be a poor bunter, but you have to put the bunt on to move the runners to second and third, and stay out of the DP.

Then you have this year's clutch king, Melky and hot as hell Jeter, with chances to tie the game with a sac fly, or win it with a single.

Right? Right...?

8 monkeypants   ~  Aug 26, 2009 1:29 am

[7] Pinch bunted with whom? I know the two man bench is deep, deep, deep. But wasn't Hairston already in the game as a PR? That leaves Hinske (????) to bunt. Maybe someone on the 13-man staff can pinch bunt? Mitre?

9 Raf   ~  Aug 26, 2009 1:39 am

[7] I don't know about that. Swisher could've worked a walk, he could've also ended the game with a big fly. I would trust his batting eye in that situation. Especially with Francisco seemingly falling apart.

10 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Aug 26, 2009 1:59 am

I understood the bunt, playing for the tie at home in what was by then a one-run game. That said, my reaction wasn't so much a logical one as an emotional one: I felt that giving Texas an out at that point was going to calm them down and take the wind out of the rally. Not sure it did: Melky smoked the ball and Hairston barely beat the force but didn't get that call. What can you do? Maybe try not getting in a 10-5 hole in the first place. Meanwhile, if Swisher gets that bunt down, the infield plays in. Does that mean Melky's ball gets through? Probably means no DP if nothing else.

11 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Aug 26, 2009 2:01 am

Bunting is not necessarily wrong in that situation, but with Swisher?!?! I'm outraged by that decision..giving away an out against a very wild closer is just bad bad bad..

12 Mattpat11   ~  Aug 26, 2009 2:19 am

[11] More appalling is keeping the bunt on after the first try.

13 williamnyy23   ~  Aug 26, 2009 6:15 am

[7] The bunt was a bad call with anyone; with Swisher, however, it was horrific. Melky has been in a major slump, so giving away an out to set him up was poor strategy. Of course, if the Yankees were facing a closer who had been pitching well (both in the game and season), I could see trying to just squeeze that tying run across the plate. The reality, of course, was Francisco was terrible. Getting that first out seemed like an impossible task. Sure enough, Joe Girardi to the rescue...for Texas.

14 williamnyy23   ~  Aug 26, 2009 6:17 am

[12] You mean Girardi should have reacted to Swisher's initial futile attempt? Why should a manager be expected to react to the situation and adapt to his personnel?

I just hope the Yankees do not play any close, meaningful games.

15 OldYanksFan   ~  Aug 26, 2009 7:58 am

[12] I agree. I didn't want the bunt, but the idea of a DP there was a killer, so a bunt seemed the lesser of 2 evils. But after mssing the first high heat attempt, I saw Swish could not bunt this guy. Plus Swish is a fly ball guy as well as a walk guy, so I would have called the bunt off.

All of our guys take big swings, looking to drive the ball. The Angels would have tied/won in that situation, because their hitters would have just pounded the ball down into the ground, avoiding the DP and advancing the runners.

This team can't play small ball. Nobody has that mentality... except maybe Jetes. I think Jr. was safe at 2nd. I was 'happy' to lose 10-5. But that ending was heartbreaking. With no out, I honestly though we would at least tie it. Brutal.


16 Sliced Bread   ~  Aug 26, 2009 7:59 am

I agree with those who didn't mind going to the textbook bunt.
But as others have noted Swish is not a bunter. Pena is, and would have been a great choice to pinch bunt last night. Too bad he wasn't an option. Given the apparent lack of bunting options on the bench I would have had Swish in the upright batting position. Guy like that can end the game swinging. No pie for you this time, Swish.

17 OldYanksFan   ~  Aug 26, 2009 8:06 am

By the by....
I still think we Win the Division, but it will still be a fight,
Boston is getting both Dice-K and Wake back soon.
Papi is nit hitting for average, but popping HRs at a reasonable rate. He ain't Big Papi anymore, but he ain't the black hole he as 2 months ago.

One thing I admire about the Midget and Youk. With 2 strikes and in certain situations, they know how to cut down on their swing and go into 'protective hitting' mode. Everyone wants to drive the ball, but some guys know when not striking out and just getting wood on the ball is what is more important. JD and to some extent Jeter can do that, but with everyone else in our lineup, their 2 strike approach is no different then their 2-0 approach.

That's what's so frustrating about these guys. They always play the same game. The actually game situation seems to have no affect on their approach.

18 Rich   ~  Aug 26, 2009 8:09 am

If Joba doesn't have a physical problem (I suspect it is an arm strength issue), they are doing an abysmal job of developing him. I'm not sure how much that he will be able to contribute for the rest of the season.

To make matters worse, Mitre and Gaudin are on the roster because of Joba's innings cap, and that further weakens the team because they both stink.

I understood the urge to bunt, but not with Swisher. According to Pete Abe he has seven career bunts.

19 Paul   ~  Aug 26, 2009 9:44 am

Why is the base assumption here that the manager isn't trying? It's like people want to assume he's trying to be as stupid as possible. That's a fan response and that emotional attachment, when they have a six game lead on the division, undermines any rational analysis.

It seems to me Girardi's using these games as a chance to learn some things. After Joba made it an early blowout, he tried a few things. One was Marte. Another was seeing if this team, especially the 8th hitter, could play small ball in a big situation. Yeah, he failed. But who here honestly thinks Girardi is going to do it the exact same way next time? Or who here thinks he's going to order Swisher to take bunting drills today?

Neither are going to happen. So why get all melodramatic about a game that won't mean much in the season?

[10] has it right. It was a defensible call in the game situation. The player may not have been right, but the manager picked a good time to find out if it was ever an option.

20 Paul   ~  Aug 26, 2009 9:51 am

[17] Ortiz has a .760 OPS in August. That's like having Melky as the DH. Without any speed or defense. By the way, the Sox are paying over $10 million for that production. That's horrid. They'd be significantly better if they played Kotchman at 1B and let Lowell DH.

[18] Really? His whole season is now in doubt? Because he was rusty?

The problem is there is no blueprint for developing young pitchers. In three years, Joba has a 136 ERA+. As a starter he has pitched 198 innings to a 3.81 ERA. It's very hard for me to fault how they've decided to develop him (and now it seems, Hughes). As a fan I'd like them to be less conservative, but I certainly understand it.

21 The Hawk   ~  Aug 26, 2009 9:59 am

I'm a fan of the bunt, and I didn't see the situation last night. But I agree in principle with those who say that is neither the time nor the guy to be bunting with. A pitcher having control problems + a batter good at working the count, and poor at bunting means ... don't bunt.

I am being the ultimate second-guesser here but I'm pretty sure I'd have felt the same way had it unfolded before my eyes.

22 williamnyy23   ~  Aug 26, 2009 10:06 am

[17] The Yankees has struck out 769 times. Boston has struck out 878 times. The Red Sox do NOTHING better than the Yankees at the plate. The Yankees lineup is one of the best in their history. The problem with last night was not a failure of the batters. It was the failure of Joba and the stupidity of Girardi. And still, the lineup almost overcame both.

23 williamnyy23   ~  Aug 26, 2009 10:09 am

[19] So, Girardi is using games in August to see if Swisher can bunt? If that's really what he was doing than he is even more stupid for doing that than simply thinking the bunt was a good strategy.

[20] In the game thread, we debunked the 136 ERA+ myth. As a starter, he is ERA is much higher at 3.81 when you extract his relief stats. While still above average, his ERA as a starter has been trending down since his start in Boston last July.

24 Rich   ~  Aug 26, 2009 10:18 am

[20] Really? His whole season is now in doubt? Because he was rusty?

Really? You know that his primary problem is rust when he has been inconsistent all season and never has had the consistent velocity that he had last season? Really?

25 Raf   ~  Aug 26, 2009 10:18 am

Another was seeing if this team, especially the 8th hitter, could play small ball in a big situation.

Which would've been fine if the 8th hitter was Melky, or Peña or Hairston or Molina, or if they were playing in the NL. Swisher's an OBP guy, he's a power guy. Francisco was on the ropes, having given up a walk and 3 singles. Even if Swish GIDP's, you still have the tying run @ 3b with Melky coming up to bat

26 The Hawk   ~  Aug 26, 2009 10:22 am

Imagine if this was a playoff game? Wow.

Hey what did Girardi have to say about the bunt there?

27 Rich   ~  Aug 26, 2009 10:31 am

[26] He said that Swisher has bunted successfully this season and that he wanted to get the runner to 3B. I can't remember who said it, but the person who related his quotes on the air said that Girardi bristled at the question.

28 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Aug 26, 2009 10:46 am

[4] Manny's godlike, that way.

Now, why in the heavens would anyone bunt with Nick Swisher? More to the point, why doesn't NIck Swisher know how to bunt?

29 Paul   ~  Aug 26, 2009 10:48 am

[22] You're overstating the strength of their lineup. It's good but it's not that good. And from your other comments, I may be about to wade into treacherous turf in arguing with an emotional fan.

[23] Sure, just as he was using the game to see what Marte has. Like I said, unless you think Girardi is either going to repeat this mistake (and it seems you do, especially in the post-season) but without forcing Swisher to take bunting drills, I don't really see the complaint. If we see it again, you'll have a legitimate gripe. If we don't all this here is just noise. Why get so worked up about one game in August. I think Girardi was using the opportunity to test some things. Thinking your 8th hitter may have to lay down a bunt isn't an absurd notion, especially not in the game context. You're only right here if Girardi learns nothing from the attempt. Based on his history, I think the guy has shown himself to be capable of learning on the job. More importantly, if Swisher gets one down (and I think almost every MLB hitter should know how to catch the ball with the bat), the Yankees likely win the game.

Joba's ERA as a starter is 3.81. That's excluding his relief work. This site is very helpful with these arguments. Find Joba's page, then go to his career splits, then find his splits as a starter versus as a reliever.

[24] Sure, he's been inconsistent. But that's what you get from young and old pitchers and the meatheads - Burnett - in between. Where Joba falls is still left to be determined. At his best, he's a very valuable starter. At his worst he'd be better as a setup guy/closer.

[25] Sorry, but if you say even with the DP, you're not analyzing this as the manager. He wants one run, preferably two. A runner at 3rd and two outs is much less likely to score than runners at 2nd and 3rd with one out.

There are odds for these sorts of things. Someone here must know them.

30 Paul   ~  Aug 26, 2009 10:52 am

[26] Who's to say he plays it the same way in a playoff game?

31 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Aug 26, 2009 10:54 am

[17] Agreed, although I'm not sure I've noticed the midget ever cutting down. I do notice when I watch other teams play that there are still hitters around who shorten up to good effect.

I know I've said this a lot, but really, I don't understand why shortening up and bunting are not, well, *fundamental* tools all players are expected to master.

It must be a question of coaching in the minors or even before. And I really don't see why players with such talent can't master both driving the ball *and* slapping the ball and especially bunting the ball.

32 williamnyy23   ~  Aug 26, 2009 10:54 am

[26] Yes....imagine if this was a playoff game. That has been my theme all season. It's all well and good to brush off Girardi's decisions in the regular season, but the margin for error in the post season is much greater. This is such a talented team that the biggest obstacle to winning the World Series is the incompetent game management by Girardi. That's very sad.

[27] Swisher has also reached base about 170 times. I wish someone would have responded with that fact.

33 Paul   ~  Aug 26, 2009 11:10 am

[32] I'm going to disengage after this comment because it's obvious you're emotional on this topic. I mean, you think every game in a 162 game season should be managed like a playoff game? Seriously? How long have you been watching baseball?

If the Yankees lose in the post-season it will be because of one of two things:

1) The starting pitching was too inconsistent. Joba's a part of that but he actually has more post-season experience than Burnett. And given CC's history, he's no sure thing either.

2) The hitting ran into hot pitchers. The hitting is good but not historically good to overcome very good pitchers (Verlander, Weaver, Beckett, Lester, Carpenter, Wainwright) that get dominant at the right time.

In order for Girardi to be responsible they'd have to perform poorly in more than a few close games. How's their record this year in one-year games? How's their record relative to the Pythagorean standings?

34 williamnyy23   ~  Aug 26, 2009 11:15 am

[29] I am not overstating anything. The teams OPS+ this season is 118!! The 1998 Yankees checked in at 116; 2007 Yankees at 117; 1939 Yankees at 111; 1936 Yankees at 115; 1932 Yankees at 119 and 1961 Yankees at 109. Of the ones I could find, only the 1927 (128) and 1931 (125) rate significantly better. In other words, they are THAT good.

[29] Again, if Girardi is really using the 9th inning of an August game to see if Nick Swisher can bunt, he is beyond than incompetent. Just because Swisher is batting 8th doesn't mean he acquires the magical ability to bunt like Phil Rizzuto. Of course, that's all besides the point because even a successful sacrifice would have still be an awful strategy.

Your assumption that "even if Swisher gets one down" is off base. Even putting aside the fact that Melky has been in a bad slump, by giving away that out, Girardi reduced the run expectancy for the team from 1.573 to 1.467. It may be a small decline, but it is one nonetheless. Also, keep in mind that the Yankees needed not one, but two runs to win this game. Basically, Girardi put on a high risk/low-to-now reward play. In any field, that represents a horrible decision.

35 The Hawk   ~  Aug 26, 2009 11:16 am

[29] "I think Girardi was using the opportunity to test some things."

If that's the case, it's insane. You don't test some things in that situation. You play. To Win. The game.

[30] Who is to say? Not me.

36 Rich   ~  Aug 26, 2009 11:16 am

[29] Sure, he’s been inconsistent. But that’s what you get from young and old pitchers and the meatheads – Burnett – in between. Where Joba falls is still left to be determined. At his best, he’s a very valuable starter. At his worst he’d be better as a setup guy/closer

I don't doubt that he has a bright future in some capacity if he can remain healthy (and perhaps recover from whatever may be holding him back physically this season).

At [18] I said: "I’m not sure how much that he will be able to contribute for the rest of the season."

AJ's quality start percentage is a team leading 68%. Joba's is 46%,

AJ IP/GS is 6.3. Joba's 5.4.

Joba has been more inconsistent on the season to date, and if you're right that rust is a factor, that may only get worse.

So I stand by my statement at [18].

37 williamnyy23   ~  Aug 26, 2009 11:22 am

[33] Please disengage then. The last time I checked, most teams play to win every game with regard to strategy. It's one thing to rest players with a big lead, but to suggest that managers attempt sub optimal strategies as a test is silly. Even if the notion was true, what would getting down one sac prove anyway? That's hardly a compelling sample from which to prove a skill.

Feel free to disagree all you want, but if the Yankees lose in the post season, there is a great chance that Girardi will be front and center. Hopefully, the team is firing on all cyclinders so we don't have to find out.

38 The Hawk   ~  Aug 26, 2009 11:22 am

Joba is a problem child. I can't believe the contortions this team has gone through to get him ready for the post-season, given what they're getting back from him. I honestly do not want to see him starting a playoff game. I don't know if I even want to see him relieving either. The Yankees are asking for it if they want to stick Chamberlain in a post-season rotation with Burnett. It'll be like a psych ward out there.

39 Raf   ~  Aug 26, 2009 11:22 am

[29] If I'm analyzing this as a manager, I see that a pitcher has given up a walk and 3 consecutive hits, so let the batter swing away. I see Swisher is likely to walk. I see Swisher has the ability to put one in the seats. So I'd let Swisher swing away.

Francisco this year (career);
LD: 24% (21%)
GB: 23% (32%)
FB: 53% (47%)

Swisher this year (career);
LD: 16% (13%)
GB: 39% (26%)
FB: 45% (60%)

I'd take my chances with Swisher.

There are odds for these sorts of things. Someone here must know them.

Haven't found updated data, but from baseballanalysts
1&2, 0 outs, 1.504 runs are expected
1&2, 1 outs, .922 runs are expected
2&3, 1 outs, 1.410 runs are expected
2&3, 2 outs, .592 runs are expected

I'd like to dig more into the topic, when I have the time.

40 Mattpat11   ~  Aug 26, 2009 11:28 am

[19] Girardi did do the pinch runner-bunt debacle again a few weeks later, so I could see him trying this again.

41 Paul   ~  Aug 26, 2009 11:54 am

Okay, last post before I flee the emotional reactions to a tough loss:

I'm going to make two assumptions.

1. Games decided by one run are more often due to luck. You expect teams to finish at .500 in one run games. When they don't, let's just pretend to give the difference to the manager.

2. Games are decided by who scores more runs than they give up. So, over the season, the teams that score more than they give up will tend to win more games. Most teams play to this difference. When they don't, let's just pretend to give the difference to the manager.

Based on those two assumption, let me present the top ten 2009 manager rankings:

Scioscia +17 wins
Gonzalez +10 wins (FLA)
Girardi +9 wins
LaRussa +6 wins
Washington +6 wins (TEX)
Wakamatsu +5 wins (SEA)
Leyland +4 wins
Manuel +4 wins (PHI)
Francona +3 wins
Torre +5 wins

That seems like a pretty sensible list. All the veteran managers on there are usually lauded for their skills. Obviously there's only one Scioscia.

The point is, for as difficult as it is to measure the impact of managers, in the case of Girardi he's in good company. And if you're curious, the mangers at the bottom of this list are almost all unproven (with woeful teams). Pinella and Guillen come out the worst for established managers.

I don't expect the data to erase the emotion. But I do hope it's enough to give that emotion pause next time. There is very little evidence to think Girardi is a net negative. But there is evidence to think he's a net positive - perhaps as good as top 5 in the game. If you disagree I'd love to see the list, with data, of the managers who are better.

If any of you have the time, I'd love to see how these assumptions play out with managers over their careers. For instance, Girardi was at +11 last year. Scioscia was at +22. LaRussa was at -4. And Torre was at -8.

42 Paul   ~  Aug 26, 2009 11:55 am

Torre is at +3 this year.

43 The Hawk   ~  Aug 26, 2009 12:35 pm

If it's the bottom of the ninth inning with two men on and no outs, and you're trailing by one run (against a possible play-off foe) and the division isn't clinched, you do not experiment.

Now that may just be my womanly emotions talking - after all, I needed some serious aromatherapy after last night's loss, which admittedly I didn't witness, but the emotional shockwaves were enough for me to light some lavender candles and cry myself to sleep.

44 dogsurfdog   ~  Aug 26, 2009 12:46 pm

There's no reason for everyone to freak out. Girardi made a decision, the Yankees lost one game. Maybe if he had let Swisher swing away, they would have won. Or maybe he strikes out and the game plays out exactly as it did. Or maybe he would have lined into a triple play to end the game. If you want to debate, that's fine, but there's no point in getting pissed off about it, and there's no point in chastising Girardi for hypothetical postseason decisions that might make.

45 williamnyy23   ~  Aug 26, 2009 12:47 pm

[41] The data doesn't erase the "emotion" because it has no basis in any rational analysis. The Yankees could be said to be overperforming their run differential because of one game (probably even if you also net out their most lopsided win)...the Wang debacle against Cleveland. Using pythag. to evaluate managers is well, as you suggested, playing pretend. Besides, the Yankees are only at +6 anyway.

46 williamnyy23   ~  Aug 26, 2009 12:48 pm

[44] Why shouldn't someone who wants the Yankees to win get "pissed off" because a stupid decision by the manager played a significant role in a loss?

47 Rich   ~  Aug 26, 2009 12:57 pm

What does being pissed have to do with it? The idea is to put your team in the best position to win. Girardi didn't do that.

48 dogsurfdog   ~  Aug 26, 2009 1:03 pm

Sorry, I wasn't clear. It just seemed to me that what started as a debate was starting to get sarcastic and snippy. But I realized after I posted that that my pointing it out is even more obnoxious. So I'll just bow out and leave this thread alone.

49 Paul   ~  Aug 26, 2009 1:27 pm

[46] The data doesn’t erase the “emotion” because it has no basis in any rational analysis.

That's pretty funny given all of your comments in this thread.

I presented two assumptions as baldly as I could. You've argued with one. The other I'm sure you'll bring up Mariano and the comeback wins.

The problem for your emotion is who Girardi clusters with on this score. No crappy manager is on that list. Not one.

The problem is it's only one year. And so I started to look at last year which showed the same positive trend. Girardi's 2006 was closer to average and that's where we need more data. But more data is always better than no data. You've given no data apart from one very debateable strategic choice.

The surfing dog is right. This thread is a lost cause. Carry on.

50 williamnyy23   ~  Aug 26, 2009 1:42 pm

[49] Just about every team on that list is a playoff contender. I don't think it should come as a surprise that more talented teams outperform run differential. Now, you could argue that the reason the teams are contenders is because of the ability of their managers. I don't think the two go hand-in-hand. Using run differential to determine managerial ability has no solid foundation, so it is a pointless pursuit.

The crux of the issue today is one specific decision, which data and consensus opinion have indicated was a poor one. Your defense of Girardi stems from the fact that you think he was just experimenting. Apparently, you don't really have a defense for him after all, so yes, this thread is likely finished. Not because it is a lost cause, but because no credible support for the decision has been offered. Carry on in deed.

51 Raf   ~  Aug 26, 2009 1:59 pm

[44] I wouldn't say that I'm "pissed off," I'm more baffled than anything else. Caught off guard, for the reasons explained in last night's thread, and [39]. I thought it to be a poor decision then, I think it's a poor one now.

[49] FWIW, I don't particularly think that Girardi brings anything special to the table, and is pretty much just like the rest of the managers in MLB. Maybe he'll influence a couple of games, but overall he won't make much of a difference. The players play well, he's a genius, the players don't play well, he's a moron.

52 RagingTartabull   ~  Aug 26, 2009 2:03 pm

[52] NO HE'S TEH MORON!!11

sorry...someone had to say it on this page

53 Paul   ~  Aug 26, 2009 2:09 pm

[50] Wait, Florida is playoff team? Seattle is a playoff team? Again, you can't refute data with no data. More to the point, Girardi last year showed a +11 when the Yankees weren't a playoff team. How do you explain that one then?

which data and consensus opinion have indicated was a poor one.

That's false. And funny enough the data is in this thread!

[39] found what I was looking for. Thanks!

a) 1&2, 0 outs, 1.504 runs are expected
b) 1&2, 1 outs, .922 runs are expected
c) 2&3, 1 outs, 1.410 runs are expected
d) 2&3, 2 outs, .592 runs are expected

The manager wanted to trade the odds of scoring no runs for the odds of scoring one run.

You might say "What, look at those odds for 1&2 and no out!".

And then all I'd have to point to is the difference between (a) and (b) vs. (a) and (c). If Swisher makes a non-productive out, the chances of scoring even one run go way down.

See, I'm flexible what I can't read another human being's mind. Girardi could have been testing Swisher or he could have simply been playing the odds. But to say he's stupid is a discussion point that goes nowhere. It was a defensible and rational decision even more so if you assume, like I do, that a guy with an .800 OPS in his career should know how to bunt.

Damn, I'm still banging my head against a wall expecting it not to hurt. I need to stop doing that.

54 Paul   ~  Aug 26, 2009 2:20 pm

[51] And yet the odds you found showed it was an easily defensible choice.

By the way, wasn't using Marte a test? Managers at this time of year are always trying to probe what kind of playoff team they have. I have no trouble with that. In fact, that's exactly what they should be doing with a 7 game lead in the division. Of course, those tests should be within reason. If he's asking A-Rod to bunt, we have problems. A guy playing a corner OF spot with subpar career power and terrible home numbers this year? Yeah, he should be able to lay one down from time to time. And the only way to find out if he can is by trying. Try again though, and we have problems.

As for managers, that list shows only Scioscia stands out. And that's not surprising. But Girardi isn't far behind and for two years running. Their ultimate impact is a fun debate. The problem is people can't assume managers have an important impact then close their ears to all data that tries to address that impact. I know I'd love to see more data on the topic. It's tough but not intractable.

55 williamnyy23   ~  Aug 26, 2009 2:29 pm

[53] Florida is 5 games out of the wild card. Maybe you think they aren't a contender, but I think most would agree they have a ligitimate shot.

As for "providing data", where are you getting yours from? The Yankees only outperformed their pythag. by 2 wins in 2008 and most of that was made up in September after the Yankees had fallen out of the race. I appreciate the effort to back up your point with "data", but it would be even nicer if the data was accurate.

As for the run expectancy data (which I also provided in an earlier post), you keep assuming the best case for the bunt and the worst case for swing away. In that case, why not assume Swisher would have lined into a triple play (it just happened after all). That would really back up your point. It is very easy to argue that by using an inexperienced bunter (7 sacs in his career) versus a hard throwing pitcher (usually hard to bunt), Girardi was creating a situation wherein a 1&2, 1 out situation was more likely than if Swisher was allowed to hit. Absent a real knowledge of the variables, we are left with the run expectancy of the two static situations (1&2 no outs without a bunt; and 2 and 3 1 out with a bunt). As the data shows, Girardi's trade off lessens the total likely runs scored.

Instead of reading minds and trying to decipher inaccurate and inapplicable data, perhaps it would be best to stick to the realm of what we know. Girardi's decision to bunt Swisher was a stupid one for all the reasons previously cited. You can inssist that Swisher, batting 8th that night, SHOULD be able to bunt, but that's irrelevant to what he CAN do. A manager needs to adapt to different situations and utilize his players to the best of THEIR ability.

So again, please do stop banging your head against the wall...it doesn't make for a convincing argument.

56 williamnyy23   ~  Aug 26, 2009 2:34 pm

[54] Marte was brought into a 10-5 game. I think you can see the difference in leverage, right? It's also funny that you think Arod should not bunt (136 OPS+), but Swisher should (120 OPS+). Arod is definitley more potent, but both men are way to productive to sacrifice their AB for an out. I am not sure where you are getting your stats, but Swisher's career SLG% of .456 is FAR from subpar. His 21 HRs are also FAR from terrible.

57 Andyroo   ~  Aug 26, 2009 2:43 pm

Swisher may not bunt a lot, but he has, successfully, and recently to boot. Not this past series but the one prior to that vs Boston. Saturday game on fox, got his man to third and I believe it was Molina that got the sac fly to bring him home.

58 Raf   ~  Aug 26, 2009 2:48 pm

[53] But if he's playing the odds, then why bunt, when you already have a walk with 3 consecutive hits? When you have a flyball hitter against a flyball pitcher? When you have a hitter that can win the game on one swing?

Had the player been Melky, Peña, Hairston, Cervelli or Molina, sure, have them square around and lay one down. I wouldn't have had a problem with that; none of them have Swisher's power, or his ability to get on base.

As for Marte, I don't know if that was a test, but to his credit, Marte has a body of work that shows what he's capable of. I don't know if a handful of innings (ML & MiL) tossed between now and the end of the season should outweigh all the other innings he's tossed before then.

59 Paul   ~  Aug 26, 2009 2:48 pm

[55] I present two assumptions. You continue to ignore one of them. Argue the details all you want, but the trends are clear based on the clusters that are formed. On one measure, Girardi has been among the best managers in the game over the last two years. I eagerly await an alternative measure. Please, pretty please, do the work for me.

As the data shows, Girardi’s trade off lessens the total likely runs scored.

And yet, it still scores one run. Scenario (b) does not.

Actually, I'm "insisting" that a career .810 OPS outfielder should know how to bunt. That he hits eighth is related, of course.

The whole problem with this thread, as the surfing dog pointed out, is that one data point is being used to get melodramatic about the future. That's the epitome of logic FAIL. There's also the problem though that Swisher has had three *successful* sacrifices this year. Girardi was asking him to do something he's done previously for him AND that he SHOULD be able to do.

60 Bama Yankee   ~  Aug 26, 2009 2:51 pm

I'm curious why some people are quick to forgive a Major League player for his poor bunting skills but not forgive a Major League manager for his poor decision making skills...

For the record, I'm for the bunt in last night's situation. Swish has to get the bunt down. His lack of career sacrifices shouldn't matter, it's not like he can't practice that situation everday until he learns how to do it. It's not like he is Albert Pujols...when you are batting your weight (unless you're Babe Ruth...;-) , you should expect to be asked to bunt and you should work on it until you are able to execute it.

61 Raf   ~  Aug 26, 2009 2:53 pm

[57] Swisher has 3 SH this season

5-17 vs MIN
5-31 vs CLE
8-8 vs BOS

62 williamnyy23   ~  Aug 26, 2009 2:55 pm

[59] I am ignoring your arguments because they are based on INCORRECT data. You tried to claim that Girardi was 11 wins better than the Yankees 2008 run expectancy. You also inflated the 2009 figure. It's not enough that you are randomly using statistics to prove a point, but you are also pulling them out of thin air.

At this point, I am definitely going to let you have the floor on this because the combination of flawed logic and flat out erroneous data make further futile.

63 Paul   ~  Aug 26, 2009 2:57 pm

[56] Seriously you're choosing one year to compare A-Rod and Swisher? Why be disingenuous? You seem awfully invested emotionally in this discussion, especially for a team in first by six games. Why? Did Girardi kill your dog?

64 williamnyy23   ~  Aug 26, 2009 2:58 pm

[60] Part of the reason is because I don't mind a productive hitter not mastering a skill that I think is largely detrimental. It's kind of like not learning how to steal 3B with two outs. Some skills are better left unlearned. A manager, however, needs to understand when to employ a strategy like a bunt.

[61] So, if he has done it (3 of his 7 times coming this year), then why the need to experiment? That was a silly argument to begin with, but at least it can be dispensed with. Of course, Swisher's limited bunting history is just a part of the equation, as has been enumerated here in fine detail.

65 Paul   ~  Aug 26, 2009 2:59 pm

Read my post again. Two assumptions. The 11 wins are based on both.

Again, please give me an alternative measure. Problem is, you won't find what you're looking for. So why bother?

66 williamnyy23   ~  Aug 26, 2009 3:08 pm

[65] I missed the part about you "pretending" to give managers credit for one run victories. While completely baseless, at least that's better than inaccurate stats. Since we are pulling measures out of pretend land, I'll go with wins/$ payroll as my measure. Now, I really don't think there is a good correlation, but it can't be worse than the assumptions you keep making.

I am sure we can all pull things out of a hat, but just because a tried and tested measure of a manager's ability doesn't exist doesn't give us carte blanche to present our "pretend" measurements as having any kind of authority.

67 Bama Yankee   ~  Aug 26, 2009 3:09 pm

[64] Just because you think that bunting is largely detrimental doesn't mean that it is. Bunting has always been a part of baseball and until the Sabermetric gurus get it outlawed then 8th place hitters who are batting .200 with 3 homers at their home park should learn how to make some productive outs since they tend to make one 80% of the time. Especially, if their manager is as incompetent as some think and might actually flash a bunt sign in a tight spot...

68 Paul   ~  Aug 26, 2009 3:21 pm

[66] The funny thing about hypotheses (which all start in pretend land - even those of Einstein) is that they need data to test them. I had a hypothesis and presented data. I anxiously await actual data, not one decision, to support your pretend land view.

69 Raf   ~  Aug 26, 2009 3:26 pm

8th place hitters who are batting .200 with 3 homers at their home park should learn how to make some productive outs

That .200 hitter is also getting on base at a .376 clip.

70 Start Spreading the News   ~  Aug 26, 2009 3:30 pm

William, why are you saying that Swisher *can't* bunt? The data doesn't show that. Swisher has bunted in the past and even though he doesn't bunt all the time, he can be expected to lay down the bunt.

I didn't have a huge problem with the bunt. I understood the logic. But I would have preferred that they wait till the pitcher threw a strike first.

71 Bama Yankee   ~  Aug 26, 2009 3:43 pm

[69] Good point. Actually, I'm not totally against him trying to draw a walk in that situation. However, even a bad bunter probably has a better chance of moving the runners over than a guy with a great eye has of getting walked in that situation. Even though I would have called for the bunt in that situation, I would not have been upset to see Swish swing away either.

My reason for liking the bunt is that if you are a good bunter you can control the situation and tie the game with two outs (the second one being a sac fly)...making outs is a lot easier than not making outs... If I can get my professional "out-makers" to ply their trade and get me a run that ties the game, then I'd go for it. Hence the need for all major leaguers to work on their ability to make productive outs.

72 Bama Yankee   ~  Aug 26, 2009 3:46 pm

[70] "But I would have preferred that they wait till the pitcher threw a strike first."
Me too. Make him throw you a strike. He might throw four balls before he throws one strike.

73 Sliced Bread   ~  Aug 26, 2009 3:48 pm

wow. just checking back in since this morning. not to belittle anyone's points, (many good ones all around) I'm surprised the Great Bunt Debate is still raging.

Town hall meeting anyone.... anyone?

Anyone seen the revised Joba Map? Anyone?

74 Start Spreading the News   ~  Aug 26, 2009 3:53 pm

[71] While I would have waited for at least a strike before bunting, even assuming Swish gets on at .400 OBP clip, it means he gets out 60% of the time. That means that there is a very good chance that you will make an out (when you are willing to settle for one run and extra innings). In that case, I would rather give up an out and get runners safely at 2 and 3rd, rather than a double play chance with Swisher running down to 1st. Even if Swish strikes out or pops up, it isn't a productive out.

So I would have bunted as well-- just after the pitcher has shown the ability to throw a strike.

75 The Hawk   ~  Aug 26, 2009 3:54 pm

Do those run expectancy odds factor in Nick Swisher at the plate and an unravelling pitcher on the mound? Because a lot of the reason people are against the bunt there is who was involved in the play.

76 The Hawk   ~  Aug 26, 2009 4:02 pm

Btw, this "emotional" canard has been going on for a while in this thread. It's sort of lame; I'd like to see the data for it! "According to Message Board Reference.com, your pulse rate increased by 15% during the typing of your last post ..."

77 Start Spreading the News   ~  Aug 26, 2009 4:16 pm

[75] I would guess that the run expectancy would be pretty high for an unravelling pitcher with 2nd and 3rd with 1 out. There is a chance that Texas would have walked Melky to set up the double play for Jeter who hits a lot of ground balls. Then the game would have hinged on Jeter up at bat with the bases loaded.

Even if Texas doesn't walk Melky, then it would have been up to Melky to get a run in with a drawn-in infield.

78 RagingTartabull   ~  Aug 26, 2009 4:17 pm

just to divert from the sensless beating of this poor defenseless dead horse...

Peter Gammons speaking to Michael Kay on 1050 AM just now mentioned how some Dodgers have been grumbling about the way the pen has been used over the last few weeks...interesting.

79 williamnyy23   ~  Aug 26, 2009 4:42 pm

[67] You asked why do people not get upset at the player and I gave you an answer from the only person for whom I could speak...myself. Having said that, I also agree that 8th place hitters batting .200 with 3HRs should be able to bunt, but that most certainly doesn't apply to NIck Swisher. If Molina was up, I would fully support the bunt as a strategy. Most players (and certainly most Yankees), however, do not fall into that category.

80 williamnyy23   ~  Aug 26, 2009 4:57 pm

[70] Nick Swisher has 7 sac bunts in his career. Can he do it? Yes. He also has 7 SB in his career, but in most instances using Swisher to steal a bag would be awful strategy. Just because something has been done a few times in the past doesn't mean one can expect it to be done again in the future. Nick Swisher does not have a track record that suggests he is a good bunter.

[71] If you are looking for the best way to get Hairston to 3rd base, why not have him steal? Hairston has stolen 3rd base 30 of 35 times, or a success rate of 86%. I am not sure what Swisher's Sac Bunt rate is, but I'd have to believe it isn't better than 86%. What's more, the upside of a SB is much greater because it isn't a strategy based on giving away an out.

[74] In considering that Swisher makes out 60%, you also have to factor in what percentage of his outs would move the runners along. Swisher hits a lot of flyballs, so an out very well could have had the same effect as a bunt. Similarly, you have to factor in the success rate of the bunt. Everryone keeps treating it as automatic, but there is a real risk that it will not be laid down properly.

[75] No, and that's really the main point. A manager has to have a feel for his player and the situation he is in.

81 Bama Yankee   ~  Aug 26, 2009 5:04 pm

[79] Fair enough. I understand what you are saying, but if your manager is likely to call for the bunt, shouldn't you be able to execute it? I mean, even with your personal disdain for the sacrifice bunt, if you were a player for the Yankees....[Bob Sheppard voice]"Now batting for the Yankees, williamnyy23..."[/Bob Sheppard voice]....wouldn't you think that you might be called upon to lay down a bunt in that situation and therefore, work on it a little (or a lot if you weren't good at it) during BP?

"I also agree that 8th place hitters batting .200 with 3HRs should be able to bunt, but that most certainly doesn’t apply to NIck Swisher." Why does that not apply to Swisher...those are his numbers at YS this year?

82 Bama Yankee   ~  Aug 26, 2009 5:16 pm

[80] I wouldn't necessarily be against the SB attempt in that situation (but he better make it). If he got thrown out at third for the first out of the inning...well, then we would all be beating a different dead horse today wouldn't we? ;-)

You miss my point, Swisher's inability to bunt should be an issue. As Ken Singleton says, he is a major league baseball player...he should be able to bunt. Heck, I learned how to bunt in little league...but I never learned how to hit. I will admit that you have to practice the bunt to the point that it has a huge success rate for it to be a viable option in that situation. But you also have to admit (along with the other anti-bunting contingent) that in a pressure packed situation (like last nights game or in a playoff game) sometimes the defense botches the play and therefore it is not *always* an automatic out.

83 Bama Yankee   ~  Aug 26, 2009 5:19 pm

[82] I meant to type: "Swisher's inability to bunt *shouldn't* be an issue."

84 Raf   ~  Aug 26, 2009 5:26 pm

If you are looking for the best way to get Hairston to 3rd base, why not have him steal?

Ivan Rodriguez?

but if your manager is likely to call for the bunt, shouldn’t you be able to execute it?

Sure, depending on the player. Peña, Cervelli, Molina, Hairston & Gardner to name a few. If they can't lay down a bunt, certainly there's a problem with that. Neither of these players have the power potential or the on-base potential of Nick Swisher.

But you also have to admit (along with the other anti-bunting contingent) that in a pressure packed situation (like last nights game or in a playoff game) sometimes the defense botches the play and therefore it is not *always* an automatic out.

Wouldn't that be even more of a reason to swing away? Also in a pressure packed situation, maybe the pitcher is unable to throw strikes. Maybe in a pressure packed situation, he'll accidentally lay one in there that Swisher could put in the upper deck.. Swisher has more HR's at the Stadium, than he has SH :)

85 NoamSane   ~  Aug 26, 2009 5:29 pm

[71] Mad props to Bama Yankee for allowing that someone disagreeing with him made a good point!

Mere seconds before Swisher squared to bunt on the first pitch, I was telling my wife "Swisher's going to walk right here." And I fully believe he would have. Swisher walks at a very high rate, and was facing a pitcher who looked wild and rattled. That's the best argument for not bunting in that particular spot.

Generally though, I don't understand why Girardi gets as much derision as he does. I think he's doing OK. Better than OK with bullpen management, which is commonly bungled by most managers these days and is very important, the way the game is played these days. All managers regularly make decisions that backfire (anyone remember Sciosia's failed suicide squeeze in the 9th vs. Boston in the ALDS last year). I don't see why among current managers, Girardi is particularly bad. I don't see that there are others available that are obviously vastly superior to him either.

86 NoamSane   ~  Aug 26, 2009 5:31 pm

[80] I gotta say. I doubt any of Hairston's steals of 3B were with a LH hitter at the plate and Pudge R. behind it.

87 williamnyy23   ~  Aug 26, 2009 6:05 pm

[81] If I was Pena, I would practice my bunt everyday. If I was Swisher, I would not spend much time on it because every second dedicated to bunting could be used to hone a more useful skill.

I didn't realize you were citing Swisher's YS split, which while dramatic is more likely an aberration than an indicator of compromised ability in the Bronx. I would rather work off of Swisher’s career record which has him at an OPS+ around 115.

[82] Sure, a bunt could be botched, but I wonder what the success rate is for a hitter who swings while the corner infielders are standing 50 feet away (a factor mitigating against a DP).

[84] Francisco has a big leg kick and didn't seem too interested in the runners. Also, while Pudge WAS a great thrower, he has only averaged a CS rate around 32% over the past three seasons.

88 Bama Yankee   ~  Aug 26, 2009 6:09 pm

[84] "Wouldn’t that be even more of a reason to swing away? Also in a pressure packed situation, maybe the pitcher is unable to throw strikes. Maybe in a pressure packed situation, he’ll accidentally lay one in there that Swisher could put in the upper deck.. Swisher has more HR’s at the Stadium, than he has SH :)"

Maybe. Again, I would have had Swish take pitches until he got a strike...and then I would have had him bunt. My argument is two-fold: the bunt is not *always* giving away an out (the defense still has to make the play in a pressure situation) and a guy like Swisher needs to be able to get the bunt down at a very high percentage if he manager plans to use that stategy (if he has difficulty or does not feel confident with the bunt, then he should work on it in the cage until he can execute).

89 Bama Yankee   ~  Aug 26, 2009 6:26 pm

[85] Thanks, NoamSane. Just trying to keep it real. I don't mind giving credit where credit is due. I don't have a problem with Raf's strategy. My problem is with those who say that the bunt was a stupid strategy and those who think that Swisher should not be able to bunt. But even then, I respect that opinion and I guess I will just have to agree to disagree with them. It has been a fun debate (just not too fun for the dead horse... ;-)

90 NoamSane   ~  Aug 26, 2009 6:44 pm

[87] Yes, but what is Pudge's CS rate at 3B?
you're willing to risk, at nearly a 1/3 failure rate, turning 1st & 2nd - no outs into runner on 1st one out? Versus a sac bunt? Why is that any better? I don't see it.

[89] I think we're trying to hurt the dead horse's offspring through expired-horse nerve endings at this point!

91 williamnyy23   ~  Aug 26, 2009 7:05 pm

[90] My point was you could take random statistics to assign probablity to events, but ultimately you have to let the situation and the player dictate the action. I most certaintly wouldn't have had Hairston steal 3B, but would have preferred that strategy to giving away an out. The bottom line for me is wild + ineffective pitcher + patient and productive Swisher = swing away.

92 NoamSane   ~  Aug 26, 2009 7:38 pm

[91] I completely agree with your bottom line point, william.

93 Paul   ~  Aug 26, 2009 8:25 pm

Left out of the debate completely is that Swisher K's more often than he walks. He always has too. If you let him hit, you're also open to the K.

The situation was far from certain. The manager made a defensible call, one he's made, and been right about, three times this season. I doubt see any reason to nail the manager unless you already have biases against him. As for when to bunt, that's up to the player. It's not the manager's fault he didn't take a pitch or two.

As for Swisher the player I'd love to know what else he should be working on instead. He's average as a corner bat and he's average as a fielder. Those two major things aren't improving. If he's not stealing bases and he can't lay down a bunt, what is he going to improve?

94 NoamSane   ~  Aug 26, 2009 9:23 pm

[93] I agree -- all players have plenty of time to work on bunting, and most should. Even if they just concentrated on it during spring training, they could all become good or great bunters.

I don't agree -- if the sign says bunt then you're not taking a strike, you're bunting the first strike you see. It's not up to the player.

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